Policy Changes for Nonimmigrant Students and Exchange Visitors

Policy Changes for Nonimmigrant Students and Exchange Visitors

USCIS issued a policy memorandum yesterday changing the way USCIS will calculate unlawful presence for F-1 and J-1 visa holders (as well as their dependents). Previously, F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors who were granted duration of status (D/S) would not start accruing unlawful presence until either USCIS made a formal determination that a status violation had occurred or an immigration judge ordered a foreign national deported.

Under the new policy which will go into effect on August 9, 2018, F-1 and J-1 visa holders will begin to accrue unlawful presence on the earliest of any the following:

  • The day after the student/exchange visitor no longer pursues the course of study or authorized activity, or the day after the person engages in unauthorized activity
  • The day after the grace period, after having completed the course of study, program, or practical training (OPT/CPT)
  • The days after the person’s Form I-94 Arrival/Departure record expires
  • The day after an Immigration Judge orders the person deported or removed

Under this new policy, it is important that F-1 and J-1 visa holders be vigilant with respect to maintaining status and be careful not to engage in any “unauthorized activity”.

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