International Students and Scholars Should Expect Delays Entering the U.S.
Effective immediately, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) officers at the air, land and sea ports of entry will be required to verify the SEVIS record of every entering international student and scholar holding F, J or M nonimmigrant visa status. Because officers do not currently have access to SEVIS at primary inspection points, international students and scholars will be referred to Secondary Inspection, a separate area from the regular line where more complex immigration admissions issues are addressed.
What this means is that international students and scholars entering the U.S. by air, land or sea in F or J status should plan that their U.S. entry process could take extra time (1-3 hours). This is particularly important for students who are going through Customs in between flight connections.
CBP is working to provide SEVIS access to officers at primary inspection sites, but until that is completed international students and scholars should expect delays.
Effective April 30, 2013 U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) will begin implementing an automated Form I-94 arrival and departure record process at air and sea ports-of-entry. For travelers entering the U.S. through a land border crossing, CBP will continue to issue the paper Form I-94. The implementation is expected to be completed over a four-week period, with the Boston, New York and Newark airports scheduled for the week of May 7, 2013. Under the new system, international travelers, including F-1, J-1, H-1B, TN, E and O nonimmigrants arriving to the United States by air and sea will no longer receive a paper Form I-94 as part of the immigration inspection and admission process. Instead, CBP will create an electronic record of arrival using information from both Department of Homeland Security and Department of State. CBP will issue an admission stamp in the traveler's passport documenting the date of admission, port-of-entry, class of entry (visa status), and duration of admission. Following admission, travelers will be able to access and obtain an electronic print-out of the I-94 record of admission on the CBP website at http://www.cbp.gov/I94. The print-out will contain the I-94 number, which is required in applications for such benefits as Social Security numbers and state driver's licenses. The website is expected to go live on April 30, 2013.
For more information about I-94 automation, please see the CBP announcement at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/i-94_instructions/i94_rollout.xml
I-94 Quick Reference at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~ovis/docs/i94quickreference.pdf
USCIS link is here.
The Department of State website link is here.
The IRS site link is here.
The Department of State website link is here.
U.S. Mission to India expands the Interview Waiver Program for certain nonimmigrant students who are renewing their visas to attend the same school. The link to Dept of State's announcement is here.
U.S. Consulate Chennai, India website - http://chennai.usconsulate.gov/visas.html
U.S. Embassy Khartoum, Sudan website - http://sudan.usembassy.gov/
U.S. Consulate Chennai, India website - http://chennai.usconsulate.gov/
For more information, please visit Department of State website: http://www.travel.state.gov/
U.S. Embassy New Delhi, India website - http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/pr090512.html
The link to Department of State's website is here.
In a memo dated August 10, 2012, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency instructed officers at U.S. ports-of-entry to stop issuing admission stamps on the Form I-20 presented by international students seeking admission to the country. CBP link is here.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has reported a fraud scheme targeting foreign nationals in the United States. Individuals posing as Immigration Officers are reportedly calling foreign nationals and claiming a problem with immigration records, asking the foreign nationals to pay a penalty to resolve the issue. These individuals may have personal information and in some instances are asking foreign nationals to confirm information such as a visa or Form I-94 Admission number. If you receive such a call, please contact OVIS. Do not forward any funds or disclose personal information.
IRS site link is here.
President Obama announced that his administration will offer temporary relief from deportation to certain young persons without immigration status who came to the United States before the age of 16, have lived here continuously for five years, and meet other eligibility criteria. The press release issued by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is available here.
The link to the USCIS announcement is here.
A limited number of NIV appointment slots for July 1 through August 17 will open up through the Embassy's Operator Assisted Visa NIV Appointment Booking Service during the third week of June. The number of appointments available per day will be limited to 200, with priority given to Student/Exchange Visitor and Petition-Based visa categories. There will be limited B-1/B-2 appointment availability during this time and, as a result, applicants who have been refused B-1/B-2 visas in the past six months will only be able to schedule appointments after August 17.
For more information about ELIS, visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/uscis-elis.
As of April 20, USCIS had received a total of 35,900 H-1B cap filings for FY 2013, including 25,000 cases against the standard cap of 65,000 and 10,900 filings against the cap exemption of 20,000 for foreign nationals holding U.S. advanced degrees. Click here for the USCIS announcement.
The State Department has confirmed that the annual limit in the EB-2 preference category for China-mainland born and India has been reached for the current fiscal year.
Department of State press release - http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/03/187114.htm
ICE Fact Sheet - http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/syrian.htm
U.S. Embassy London, U.K. website - http://london.usembassy.gov/visanews014.html
U.S. Embassy Beijing, China website - http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/20120209amb-visa.html
The Department of State recently discovered difficulties with its database communicating with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program's SEVIS database. As a result, on November 18, 2011 the Department of State confirmed it was temporarily halting the issuance of F, M and J visas. On November 21, 2011 the agency announced that the technical problems have been resolved and that it has instructed embassies and consulates to resume issuing F, M and J visas immediately.
The Department of Homeland Security launches its StudyInTheStates website - http://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/
Immigration & Customs Enforcement issues new Fact Sheet on Applying for a Driver's License or State ID Card - http://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/dmv_factsheet.pdf
The State Department has issued revised results for the Fiscal Year 2012 Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery. Foreign nationals who entered the FY 2012 lottery during the filing period from October 5, 2010 to November 2, 2010 may now return to the official lottery website to check their results. In May 2011 the State Department voided the original results due to an internal computer error.
The Department of Homeland Security has ended its NSEERS registration program by removing all countries from its designated list. The announcement can be found on the Customs & Border Protection agency's website at:
Certain applicants for employment and family-based green cards will now be able to apply for a single card that combines the employment authorization document and the advance parole travel document. You can read the announcement from USCIS here:
New USCIS filing fees will take effect November 23, 2010. USCIS announced increases in fees for many immigration filings, including I-765 applications for EADs, H-1B petitions and premium processing cases. Filings postmarked on or after November 23 must include the new fees.
Click here for the USCIS Fact Sheet
Citizens and eligible nationals of participating Visa Waiver Program countries may apply for admission to the United States at U.S. ports of entry as nonimmigrant aliens for a period of ninety days or less for business or pleasure without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa, provided that they are otherwise eligible for admission under applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. On March 4, 2010, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, designated Greece as a country that is eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program. Accordingly, this rule updates the list of countries authorized to participate in the Visa Waiver Program by adding Greece.
Last Updated: 5/8/13