A new rule recently issued by the USCIS drastically changes existing immigration policies relating to those in the U.S. on student visas and exchange visitors.
Under the new policy, beginning in August, students and exchange visitors on F, J, and M non-immigrant status (and their dependents) who fail to maintain their status in the U.S., may be subject to re-entry “bars” of up to ten years, depending upon how long they remained in unlawful status prior to leaving the U.S.
Prior to the new policy, individuals in these visa status’ were exempt from the bars to re-entry, allowing students and exchange visitors who violated their visas and remained in the U.S., to be allowed to re-enter the U.S. without any legal impediments as a result of their previous overstay in the U.S..
Beginning August 9, 2018, F, J and M visa holders who fail to maintain status before and after that date, will begin accruing unlawful status. Failure to maintain status includes those who violate the terms of their visa, those who drop out of school or no longer pursue a fulltime course of study and those who remain inside the U.S. past the expiration of authorized employment or grace period.
Those who accrue 180 days of unlawful status and then leave the U.S. will be barred from re-entering for 3 years and those who overstay by 365 or more days will be barred for 10 years. This policy is just a part of the administration’s overall crack-down and restrictions on legal immigration visas.