On August 9, 2018 USCIS issued policy guidance on the accrual of unlawful presence for F, M and J nonimmigrants. Under the proposed policy, USCIS would begin counting unlawful presence when there is a violation of status. The violation could be intentional or unintentional, knowing or unknowing. Accrual of unlawful presence days begins the day after a violation occurs. Accrual of more than 180 days of unlawful presence triggers a bar to reentry to the U.S. of three years. Accrual of more than 365 days of unlawful presence triggers a bar to reentry to the U.S. of ten years.
The Department of Homeland Security was stopped by a federal court from implementing the unlawful presence policy, and during the appeals process the government withdrew its own appeal, ending the litigation. It is still possible that the federal government will seek to adopt this change through the rulemaking process and introduce it as a new regulation rather than a change in policy. OVIS will provide updates as new information becomes available.
It is crucial that F-1 students understand and adhere to the rules governing maintenance of status. OVIS works closely with our F-1 student population to monitor student data reported in SEVIS, advise students on maintaining valid status including reporting obligations, travel and employment restrictions, and to communicate changing policy and regulations. Students, in turn, are responsible for understanding and following the rules and regulations governing their F-1 status.
If you have questions about maintaining your status, contact your OVIS advisor.