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 argued 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.
On February 6, 2020 the U.S. District Court issued a permanent injunction invalidating the 2018 Unlawful Presence memo. The injunction was implemented nationwide.
In April 2020 Department of Homeland Security appealed the District Court's decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, but on July 31, 2020 the agency filed a motion to dismiss its own appeal. On August 3, 2020 the Fourth Circuit dismissed the appeal, ending the litigation on the Unlawful Presence policy change. 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.