Government Updates

The United States government makes changes to immigration and travel policy for international students and scholars. Get informed on the latest updates.

DHS Changes Due to COVID-19

Effective May 11, 2023, all COVID related travel restrictions have been lifted, including the requirement that visitor must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by an approved vaccine.

Other Government Updates

Strengthening the H-1B Non-Immigrant Visa Classification Program (Department of Homeland Security)

This DHS rule largely focuses on revamping the definition of specialty occupation and third-party worksites. Under the new rule employers must demonstrate to DHS that a direct relationship exists between the stipulated required degree field and the duties for the position. In simple terms, more scrutiny will be given to applications to demonstrate the position meets the definition of “specialty occupation”.

Employees located at sites that are not owned, leased, or operated by the University will be limited to one year approvals. This rule could affect some of our UC positions and could make it more difficult to obtain H-1B visas for certain positions.

Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States (Department of Labor)

On October 8, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) published an interim final rule that modifies how Prevailing Wage Determinations (PWD) are issued for nonimmigrant workers in the H-1B and E-3 visa classifications as well as the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) system used for permanent resident petitions. This rule is effective immediately and focuses on wages paid to employees.

In enacting this interim rule, the DOL argues that previous wage levels were artificially low which provided an incentive for employers to hire and retain foreign workers at wages well below their U.S. counterparts. As a result, DOL has adjusted the PWD wage levels, increasing many levels by $30,000 or more. If this rule is not changed (or legally challenged), fewer H-1B hires will be possible. Instead, employees will need to be hired on different immigration status (J-1 or O-1), provided they qualify.

On September 5, 2017, President Trump announced that Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was being rescinded and that that new applications for individuals seeking Deferred Action status would no longer be accepted. 

On January 9, 2018, U.S. District Court judge William Alsup ordered a nation-wide temporary injunction on the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, stating the decision to end the program was based on a “flawed legal premise.” This decision orders the federal government to resume accepting renewal applications from anyone who had DACA status before Sept. 5, 2017. The USCIS was ordered to post “reasonable public notice” on the process to apply to renew DACA.

Students needing assistance with the DACA renewal application fee may want to visit the Mission Asset Fund. This organization is providing grants for the renewal application fees.

On April 24, 2018, Washington DC federal judge John Bates ruled that the Trump administration’s claim that  DACA was unconstitutional “was virtually unexplained.” As a result, he has given the administration 90 days to better explain why DACA is unconstitutional. This opens the door potentially for those who have never held DACA status before, but who otherwise qualify, to apply for DACA protection. Currently, only those hold the status or held the status prior to September 5, 2016 can apply for extensions. This ruling could change that by the end of July. We will monitor the administration’s response to ruling and update this site when more details are available.

Students could have a visa denied based on national security issues if they are from countries that sponsor terrorism or if they are studying in fields that fall on the Technology Alert List. At the very least, such individuals will have to undergo a security clearance by the U.S. Department of State before a visa can be issued. This security clearance could take several months to complete.

The Technology Alert List consists of a “Critical Fields List” as well as a Department of State list of designated “State Sponsors of Terrorism." Studying or conducting research in a critical field or originating from a designated state will make a student or scholar subject to a security clearance check before their visa is issued.

  • Conventional Munitions: technologies associated with warhead and large caliber projectiles, fusing and arming systems, electronic counter measures and systems, new or novel explosives and formulation, automated explosive detection methods and equipment.
  • Nuclear Technology: technologies associated with the production and use of nuclear material for peaceful and military applications include. This includes materials, equipment or technology associated with nuclear physics or nuclear engineering.
  • Rocket Systems: technologies associated rocket systems and unmanned air vehicles including ballistic missile systems, space launch vehicles and sounding rockets, cruise missiles, target drones and reconnaissance drones.
  • Rocket System and Unmanned Air Vehicle Subsystems: technologies associated with propulsion including solid rocket motor stages and liquid propellant engines. Other critical subsystems include re-entry vehicles, guidance sets, thrust vector controls and warhead safing, arming and fusing.
  • Navigation, Avionics and Flight Control Usable in Rocket Systems and unmanned Air Vehicles: These capabilities directly determine the delivery accuracy and lethality of both unguided and guided weapons. Associated technologies include: internal navigation systems, tracking and terminal homing devices, accelerometers and gyroscopes, rockets and UAV and flight control systems, and global positioning system (GPS).
  • Chemical, Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering: associated technologies used to produce chemical and biological weapons.
  • Remote Sensing, Imaging and Reconnaissance: technologies associated with satellite and aircraft remote sensing including military and intelligence reconnaissance activities, drones and remotely piloted vehicles.
  • Advanced Computer/Microelectronic Technology: Advanced computers and software that play a useful role in the development and deployment of missiles and missile systems, and in the development and production of nuclear weapons, over-the-horizon targeting, airborne early warning targeting, and electronic countermeasures (ECM) processors.
  • Materials Technology: technologies related to the metallic, ceramic and composite materials for structural functions in aircraft, spacecraft missiles, undersea vehicles and propulsion devices.
  • Information Security: technologies associated with cryptographical systems to ensure secrecy of communications video, data and related software.
  • Laser and Directed Energy Systems: technologies associated with laser guided bombs, ranging devices, and lasers having critical military applications.
  • Sensors: technologies associated with marine acoustics, missile launch calibration, night vision devices, high speed photographic equipment and magnetometers
  • Marine Technology: technologies associated with submarines and deep submersible vessels, marine propulsion systems designed for undersea use and navigation, radar, acoustic/nonacoustic detection;
  • Robotics: technologies associated with artificial intelligence, automation computer-controlled machine tools, and pattern recognition technologies.
  • Urban Planning: technologies associated in the construction or design of systems necessary to sustain modern urban societies including architecture, civil engineering, community development, environmental planning, geography, housing, land use and urban design.
  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Syria