Dear UMass International Student & Scholar Community,
The International Programs Office is glad to inform you of some encouraging, updated news:
On Thursday evening, February 9, the 9th Federal District Court in San Francisco unanimously denied an appeal by the U.S. government to lift a nationwide Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the President’s Executive Action barring travel and related immigration benefits to citizens and nationals of 7 countries (Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq) who have been directly affected by the recent action. The complete court ruling can be found here: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/02/09/17-35105.pdf
What this means:
Essentially there is now an indefinite continuation of the “ban on the ban.” That is to say, all travel, U.S. visa processing and USCIS immigration benefits will continue uninterrupted as before the January 27 Presidential Executive Action. This ruling now means that until further notice:
- There is no travel ban for citizens of the 7 countries
- There is no ban or restrictions on U.S. consular visa interviews for any citizens of the 7 countries (or dependent family members)
- There is no ban or interruption to any previously filed, or upcoming applications for immigration benefits with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), including Optional Practical Training (OPT), STEM OPT extensions, change of immigration status, extension of immigration status, etc. for citizens of the 7 countries
- There is no interruption of U.S. consular visa interview waivers for visa renewal (extension) applications for any citizen that is otherwise eligible
What happens next?:
There are indications that the President will contest the 9th District Court ruling. If this happens, the next step would be for the United States Supreme Court to hear the case. If this happens, it would likely take several months for the case to reach the Supreme Court and for the Court to rule and make a final decision on the case.
Even though the recent Presidential Executive Action was directed toward citizens and nationals from the specific 7 countries, (Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq) there has been considerable and understandable concern among all of our entire UMass international community. We would like to reiterate the following:
- Despite some media reports, there are no additional countries besides the 7 who are (were) subject to the President’s January 27 Executive Action.
- There have been other “leaked” or previews of other proposed Executive Action, but at this time, there are no existing or planned actions to change the regulations to Optional Practical Training (OPT) or H-1B visas.
- There are no changes or restrictions to travel, visa appointments or other immigration benefits for our UMass F-1, J-1 and H-1B and Permanent Residency members, and their dependents
Please refrain from relying on “information” that you might see or hear from unconfirmed sources on social media or other friends or family members. The IPO will remain UMass’ official source of information and guidance for any changes to immigration regulations or policies related to F-1, J-1, H-1B or permanent residency for those under UMass immigration sponsorship. We also wish to remind you that the UMass website “Federal Actions” (https://www.umass.edu/federal-actions) will continue to be the most accurate and updated source of information for the UMass community on these, or other Federal events.
A final reminder to underscore that UMass has many outstanding resources on campus that are here to serve you, and are always available to you:
- Student Affairs & Campus Life (http://www.umass.edu/studentlife/welcome-vice-chancellor)
- Student Legal Services Office (http://www.umass.edu/slso/)
- Office of Religious and Spiritual Life(http://www.umass.edu/orsl/)
- Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (http://www.umass.edu/counseling/)
- Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (http://www.umass.edu/humres/faculty-and-staff-assistance-program)
- Updates will continue to be provided as further developments happen. Please do not hesitate to contact IPO for any questions or clarifications.
Kalpen Trivedi, Executive Director, IPO
Ken Reade, Director, International Student & Scholar Services, IPO