While the foreign students were optimistic about exercising OPT (optional practical training) to extend their stay under an F-1 visa, the Trump government has surprised them with a new policy on late Friday. The draft policy tightens the rules related to the calculation of visa overstay by the foreign students.
The policy by the US government is currently open for public comments. Under the proposed policy, unlawful presence days will be computed the day that student fails to maintain his/her ‘immigration status’. It further iterates that the immigration status is not maintained the day student stops pursuing the academic course.
With the existing policy, foreign students get 60 days of period post completion of their study to change the immigration status. If they find a work opportunity under 60 days after graduating the opted course, they can change their immigration status and continue to stay in the US or go back to home country.
Under the newly drafted policy, the immigration status is not maintained the day students stop pursuing the course, engage in an unauthorized activity or complete their program and authorized grace period. The day authorities discover the violation of any law, the unlawful presence clock starts ticking. In such cases, an immigration judge can pass a judgment of deportation.
The changes in the policy will result in counting more days as unlawful presence. Based on the number of unlawful days, the student can be expelled the university or even barred obtaining a permanent US residency. Fragomen, a global immigration laws firm said, “The new policy can create hurdles for students who fall out of their immigration status and wish to apply for a visa or change their status to that of a US permanent resident.”
The policy has further illustrated the rules. If a student accumulates more than 180 days of unlawful presence during a single stay, he can be subjected to a ban of 3-10 years re-entering the country. Unlawful stay of more than one year can result in a permanent ban. The policy will be going into effect August 9, 2018.
In an official statement, L Francis Cissna, the director of USCIS said, “USCIS is dedicated to our mission of ensuring the integrity of the immigration system. F, J, and M non-immigrants are admitted to the US for a specific purpose, and when that purpose has ended, we expect them to depart, or to obtain another lawful immigration status.”