May 10, 2019 Update
A federal judge has temporarily blocked USCIS from enforcing or applying a new unlawful presence policy that penalizes F, J, and M visa holders who violate the terms of their status. The government is expected to appeal the decision. For now, this means USCIS must revert to the policy in place prior to the August, 2018 memo. Under the previous policy, F, J, and M visa holders with an I-94 admission for “D/S, or Duration of Status” can only accrue unlawful presence subsequent to a status violation finding by USCIS or an immigration judge. Despite the ruling, immigration status violations can still lead to a visa denial or a denial of admission to the U.S. For more information please read the Fragomen Worldwide Alert, 5/3/2019.
Previous updates can be seen below:
December 21, 2018: Princeton joined 65 other colleges and universities in opposing a new federal policy that would impose harsh and retroactive immigration penalties for even innocent mistakes by international students, researchers and professors holding certain types of visas. More about the lawsuit...
What you need to know about the new policy: U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced implementation of a new policy effective August 9th 2018, which may trigger harsh penalties for individuals who violate the terms of their U.S. immigration status. These rules already apply to persons holding other visa types (e.g., H-1B, O-1). If you hold a F or J visa, including dependents, it’s critical that you avoid violations of status. While status violations have always carried the possibility of a visa denial or a denial of admission to the U.S., the new rules provide for additional sanctions. Under the new rules, status violations will trigger accrual of unlawful presence and can result in an admission bar of 10 years for accrual of one year or more; a 3 year bar for unlawful presence of 180 days or more. Accrual of less than 180 days of unlawful presence, after a status violation, is still a serious situation and can result in a visa denial, denial of admission to the U.S., removal from the U.S., and a denial of immigration benefits (e.g., OPT, change of status to H-1B).
What You Can Do to Prevent Problems:
Avoid violations of your immigration status, including that of any accompanying dependents. Some examples of status violations include:
Please consult with your Davis International Center advisor if you have any questions.
Source: Fragomen Worldwide Alert, 8/9/2018