Federal Immigration Policy Changes

The Office of Visa and Immigration Services (OVIS) provides immigration advising and services to international students, scholars, faculty and staff. OVIS created this page to provide information to the Dartmouth Community regarding important changes in federal immigration policy, including the immigration-related Executive Orders issued by the White House.

November 11, 2019

Presidential Proclamation on Health Insurance

On October 4, 2019 the Administration issued Presidential Proclamation 9945, Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System. The Proclamation, scheduled to take effect November 3, 2019,  requires that applicants for immigrant visas to the U.S. show to the satisfaction of a consular officer that they will be covered by sufficient health insurance within 30 days of entry, or that they have sufficient financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs.  On November 2, 2019 the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon issued a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of the Proclamation for 28 days.  A hearing is scheduled for November 22, 2019 to determine whether a longer-term injunction will be issued.

November 11, 2019

Public Charge Rule Enjoined by Federal Courts

The U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of New York, Northern District of California, Eastern District of Washington, the Northern District of Illinois and the District of Maryland issued orders stopping Department of Homeland Security from implementing and enforcing the final rule on Public Charge.  Most of the injunctions are nationwide and prevent USCIS from implementing the rule anywhere in the U.S.  

August 16, 2019

USCIS issues new Public Charge regulation

On August 14, 2019 the Dept of Homeland Security published a final rule governing how the government interprets the public charge grounds of inadmissibility.  The public charge determination happens during the adjustment of status application process for permanent residence (green card) and when a foreign national seeks admission based on an immigrant visa.  The rule does not apply to asylees and refugees.  The new rule, set to go into effect October 15, 2019, changes the standard for determining public charge from an individual being primarily dependent on public benefits, to an individual who received a specified public benefit for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period.  The rules lists specific public benefits, including but not limited to TANF, certain Section 8 Housing and Rental Assistance, SNAP, and certain Medicaid benefits.  USCIS has a webpage with FAQs on the new Public Charge rule.  As of August 16, 2019 thirteen states have filed a lawsuit challenging the Administration’s rule. OVIS will continue to monitor the rule and provide updates.

July 22, 2019

Administration imposes ban on asylum seekers coming to the U.S. from third countries

U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Justice jointly issued an interim final rule, effective July 16, 2019, establishing a bar to asylum eligibility for individuals coming through a third country and then seeking entry to the U.S.  The rule requires individuals to apply for asylum in one of the countries they traveled on their way to the U.S., with limited exceptions.

The Press Release containing a link to the rule can be found on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website.

On July 24, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an Order granting a preliminary injunction that stops the government from continuing to implement the new asylum rule pending a final judgment or further order from the Court.  

May 6, 2019

Change to unlawful presence policy for F and J nonimmigrants

In August 2018 USCIS issued a Memorandum implementing a major change to how the agency determines whether an F or J visa holder has "overstayed" their period of authorized stay in the U.S.

The change in policy took effect on August 9, 2018. NAFSA, the Association for International Educators, has a helpful summary of the changes.

Dartmouth joined more than 60 U.S. colleges and universities in signing onto an amicus brief filed in support of a legal challenge to the unlawful presence policy.  The brief was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on December 21, 2018, in support of a lawsuit filed by Guilford College and four other plaintiffs against Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.   The amicus brief argues that the new unlawful presence policy harms international students and scholars holding F, J and M status, and the institutions which host them.

On May 3, 2019 the U.S. District Court issued a nationwide injunction temporarily blocking the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing the unlawful presence policy.  The Court injunction will continue until the litigation is resolved. OVIS will continue to monitor the case as it develops and will update our website. 

September 24, 2017

Presidential Proclamation (Travel Ban #3)

Policy Updates

  • June 26, 2018 – In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the current version of the travel ban, which restricts individuals from certain countries from entering the U.S. The affected countries are Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Iran and Somalia. The restrictions differ from country to country, and are in the background information on this webpage.
  • December 4, 2017 – The U.S. Supreme Court stayed preliminary injunctions that had partially blocked the September 24, 2017 ban. This decision allows the government to enforce the travel ban, pursuant to the specific terms of the ban, on all of the eight countries listed: Chad; Iran; Libya; North Korea; Syria; Venezuela; Yemen; and Somalia. While Iraq is not subject to the ban, the September 24, 2017 Proclamation did say that nationals of Iraq seeking entry to the U.S. would "be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks to the national security or public safety of the United States."
  • On April 10, 2018 the White House announced it was lifting the travel restrictions on Chad because the government of Chad had improved their identity management and information sharing practices.

Background on the September 24, 2017 Proclamation

On September 24, 2017, the White House issued a Presidential Proclamation titled "Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats" based on the provision of the March 6, 2017 banning travel into the U.S. of citizens from designated countries. The proclamation removes Sudan from the list of six countries with travel restrictions, and adds North Korea, Chad and Venezuela to the list of designated countries. The designated countries under the proclamation are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen. The types of restrictions differ for each country. For example, the restrictions for Venezuela are limited to officials working for specified government agencies and their family members.

The White House issued a Fact Sheet on the proclamation.

Preliminary injunctions issued by U.S. District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland blocked enforcement of the bans on Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. But on November 13, 2017 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed the scope of the Hawaii District Court's injunction, allowing the travel ban on citizens from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen to go forward, with an exemption for individuals who have a credible claim of a "bona fide relationship" with a person or entity in the U.S. A bona fide relationship can include a family relationship (parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, brother or sister-in-law, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, cousin), or a qualifying relationship with a U.S. entity that is formal, documented, and not created for the purpose of evading the Presidential Proclamation. Travel and entry restrictions on citizens of North Korea and certain diplomats of Venezuela remain in effect.

On November 17, 2017 the Department of State issued guidance on the September 24, 2017 Proclamation following the Ninth Circuit's ruling. According to the guidance, visa applicants from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria or Yemen who lack a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. will be denied a visa, unless the individual is exempt or qualifies for a waiver under the Proclamation.

On December 4, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the preliminary injunctions and allowed the provisions of the Proclamation to take effect pending resolution of the federal appeals court cases.


April 18, 2017

Executive Order

On April 18, 2017 the White House issued an Executive Order entitled "Buy American Hire American." According to an April 17 White House press briefing, the Hire American portion of the Executive Order refers to "the body of law and policy concerning how our immigration, visa and guest worker programs are operated to ensure proper protections for American workers."

While the Executive Order does not impose any immediate changes to current employment-based immigration programs, it does call for the Departments of Homeland Security, Labor, State and Justice to propose new rules and issue guidance on both temporary and permanent employment-based programs that would "protect the interests of United States workers."

The Order also asks the agencies to suggest reforms to the H-1B program "to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries." OVIS will continue to monitor the implementation of the Order and update this page.

March 6, 2017

Executive Order and the U.S. Supreme Court

On March 6, 2017 the White House issued a new Executive Order on immigration, "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States." You can read the Executive Order and Fact Sheet here. On May 25, 2017 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision upholding the Maryland District Court's preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order. On June 12, 2017 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion upholding the portion of the Hawaii District Court's injunction that blocked the 90-day ban on entry to the U.S. It did not block the section of the Executive Order that creates a framework for a future indefinite entry bar that could be applied to any country that is unwilling to provide the U.S. with the information it requires in order to issue a visa for admission.  On June 1, 2017 the federal government filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to accept its appeal of the Fourth Circuit's decision against the Executive Order.

On June 26, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court heard the government's appeal of the lower court decisions blocking the administration's executive order.  In its opinion, the Court upheld portions of the lower court injunctions, but allowed the government to stop entry of foreign nationals "who lack any bona fide relationship" with U.S. persons or entities. On September 7, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that certain family relatives be allowed to enter the U.S. while the travel ban is pending judicial review. Under the ruling, effective September 12, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins are exempt from the travel ban. The Ninth Circuit also ruled that refugees formally accepted by a refugee resettlement agency would also be exempt from the ban, but the Supreme Court blocked that part of the Ninth Circuit's ruling. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the travel ban case on October 10, 2017.

The government will need to determine whether a foreign national has a bona fide relationship that will allow him or her entry to the U.S. On June 28, 2017 the State Department issued a cable instructing consular posts on the implementation of the order. The guidance contained a restricted definition of close family relationship, but on July 13, 2017 the U.S. District Court in Hawaii ruled that the definition was unjustifiably narrow, and expanded it to include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers and sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Based on the language in the Order, students who have been admitted to a U.S. college or university should be eligible for a visa and admission, and individuals who have been offered an appointment or employment at a U.S. college or university should also be eligible for a visa and admission, but ultimately it will be up to the discretion of State Department consular officers at U.S. consulates or embassies abroad, and to U.S. Customs & Border Protection at the ports-of-entry as to whether a foreign national will be able to come to the U.S.

Frequently Asked Questions About the March 6, 2017 Executive Order

What does the March 6, 2017 Executive Order do?

The March 6 Executive Order rescinded the January 27, 2017 Executive Order. Among its provisions, the new Order:

  • Imposes a new 90-day bar on admission of individuals from six countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen;
  • Removes Iraq from the list of designated countries;
  • Exempts U.S. permanent residents, dual citizens with citizenship in a designated country and a third country, and individuals with a valid U.S. visa for entry to the U.S.;
  • Imposes a 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, but removes the indefinite ban on refugees from Syria;
  • Calls for expedited completion of a biometric entry-exit tracking system

Who would have been impacted by the March 6, 2017 Order?

According to the Order and Fact Sheet, the new entry bar will NOT apply to the following individuals who are citizens or nationals of the six countries:

  • U.S. lawful permanent residents in possession of a valid green card or temporary I-551 stamp
  • Nonimmigrants (i.e. H-1B, F-1, J-1, etc.) who are in the United States in lawful status on March 16, 2017
  • Holders of a valid nonimmigrant visa that is valid for reentry to the U.S.
  • Dual citizens of one of the six countries and the United States
  • Dual citizens of one of the six countries and another country not on the list of six who enter the United States on the passport from the non-designated country
  • Individuals who are traveling on a diplomatic visa, NATO visa, C-2, G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-4 visas

Individuals from one of the six countries who do not fall within one of the above exceptions would be subject to the entry bar for a period of at least 90 days from the date of the Order.

Would dual citizens with citizenship in one of the six countries and another country (other than the U.S.) be exempt?

Yes, the March 6 Order states that individuals with dual citizenship in one of the six countries and another country (other than the U.S.) are exempt. Because this situation is fluid, and airlines and individual U.S. ports of entry may not be implementing the Order consistently, OVIS recommends that individuals with dual citizenship contact their OVIS advisor prior to making any international travel plans, including to Canada.

Could the list of countries be expanded under the March 6 Order?

The March 6 Order includes provisions that would allow the government to expand the list of designated countries. OVIS will continue to monitor this and provide any updates as they become available.

January 27, 2017

Executive Order

The March 6, 2017 Executive Order rescinded and replaced the January 27, 2017 Order.

Among its provisions, the Executive Order suspended entry to the United States "of immigrants and nonimmigrants" from seven countries for a period of 90 days from the date the Order was signed. The seven countries included Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Although the Order covered U.S. lawful permanent residents (green card holders), following significant public protest and a lawsuit by the ACLU, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly released a statement invoking an exception to the entry ban for U.S. lawful permanent residents on a case-by-case basis.

A January 29, 2017 DHS Fact Sheet includes the language of the statement.

Litigation Related to the January 27, 2017 Executive Order

A federal court judge in Seattle, Washington issued a temporary restraining order on continued implementation of the Executive Order nationwide. On Thursday, February 9, 2017 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government's request for an emergency stay on the District Court's temporary restraining order.

The TRO prevents the enforcement of certain sections of the January 27 Executive Order, including the provision that prevented individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S., and the provision suspending the admission of refugees.

While the government had the option to seek review by the Circuit Court, or appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, it instead issued the March 6 Executive Order expressly rescinding the January 27 Order.

Frequently Asked Questions About the January 27, 2017 Executive Order

Are applications for U.S. immigration benefits impacted by the Executive Order?

On February 3, 2017 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its website with a statement that the agency will continue to adjudicate applications for benefits regardless of country of origin. There has been no indication that USCIS will change this policy in light of the March 6 Order.

What should international students, scholars, faculty and staff from countries other than the list of six consider with regard to travel?

OVIS will continue to monitor what is happening and issue updated information as it becomes available. For now, based on the Fourth Circuit's decision, the March 5 Order will not be enforced.  If you are a citizen of one of the designated countries, please contact your OVIS advisor prior to any international travel.

If you are from a country OTHER than one of the six listed and you have international travel plans, please ensure your passport is valid for reentry, that you hold the appropriate, valid visa in your passport, and that you carry with you all required immigration documents (Form I-20 for F-1 students, DS-2019 form for J-1 Exchange Visitors, H-1B approval notice for H-1B employees, etc.).

If you are traveling outside the U.S., and also need to apply for a new visa prior to returning to the U.S., you may experience additional delays during the visa application process, including administrative processing delays that can take several weeks to be completed. Please be sure to check with the U.S. embassy where you will apply for the visa for required documentation and timelines. You can find estimated wait times for visa applications on the State Department website:

Do Customs & Border Patrol agents have the right to search electronic devices at the borders and airports?

The government claims broad discretion in this area. Information about Customs & Border Patrol's search authority can be found on the agency's website. The ACLU has some helpful information on its website about how to prepare for and handle these situations at the land borders and airports.

What are the other immigration-related Orders?

On January 25, 2017 the White House issued two Executive Orders on border security and interior enforcement that will significantly expand deportations and detention of undocumented immigrants. The White House, in a memo released on February 20, 2017, stated that recipients of DACA would be exempt from these provisions. There are a number of organizations with helpful information and resources on their websites about these Executive Orders and the memos released by the Department of Homeland Security on February 20, 2017.

What about DACA?

DACA recipients are not impacted by the March 6 Order. For more information on DACA and undocumented students, please refer to the OVIS resource page.

What legal resources are available?

What is Dartmouth doing?

Dartmouth has formed an Immigration Working Group to monitor and analyze the impact of the Executive Orders and other immigration policy changes, and to share information with Dartmouth students, scholars, faculty and staff. Information about the Immigration Working Group can be found on the Office of the Provost website.

President Hanlon and Provost Dever sent a message to the Dartmouth community on March 8, 2017 regarding the March 6 Executive Order. Read the full message.

In response to the January 27 Order, on February 13, 2017 Dartmouth joined 16 other academic institutions as signatories to an amicus brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in the case of Darweesh et al. v. Trump et al. The case challenges the January 27, 2017 Executive Order. Read the brief.

President Hanlon sent a message to the Dartmouth community on January 29, 2017 regarding the January 27 Executive Order, and stated Dartmouth's support for its repeal. Read the full message.

President Hanlon also joined other university presidents from across the nation in signing a letter to Donald Trump urging him to "rectify the damage" done by his executive order. Read more about this and the College's support for international students and scholars.

OVIS will continue to reach out to affected individuals to advise them regarding travel outside the U.S. OVIS is working closely with campus partners, including The Frank J. Guarini Institute for International Education, home of Dartmouth's Off-Campus Programs, to ensure that affected students, scholars, faculty and staff do not depart the U.S.

Executive Order Resources

Community Resources

The Dean of the College website includes a listing of community resources available to assist students in need of resources and support.