Updates on Presidential Executive Orders Affecting Immigration

Recently signed Presidential Executive Orders affecting immigration have caused concern among international students, scholars, their families, and their faculty and departments in the University.  This page is the repository for relevant communication from the University as well as news items of interest in this context and it offers guidance to assist you as you consider your options.  Please visit this page often as we anticipate frequent updates. Please use the links below to jump to sections of particular interest:

To see the full text of Presidential actions (Executive Orders and Memoranda), please visit https://whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions.

January 27, 2017, OIA message sent to international students and scholars

January 29, 2017, Message regarding immigration from President Zimmer and Provost Diermeier

January 29, 2017, Message regarding immigration from Executive Vice Provost Sian Beilock and Dean of Students in the University Michele Rasmussen

January 30, 2017, Letter to President Trump from President Zimmer and Provost Diermeier

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January 30, 2017, 12:00-1:20PM, Political Theory Workshop with Aziz Huq of the Law School and Tamara Felden of the Office of International Affairs, Saieh Hall 021

February 1, 2017, Please note: Sections of the document Guidance for International Students and Scholars that appeared here have been updated in light of the continuing Temporary Restraining Order imposed against the Executive Order and appear below.

February 8, 2017, Information Session on the Executive Order on Immigration, Wednesday, February 8, 6:00-8:00PM, Ida Noyes Hall, Cloister Club

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February 4, 2017, Important Update: On February 3, 2017, a Federal Judge imposed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Executive Order that has recently prevented individuals from seven countries from entering the U.S.  In response to the TRO, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has stated that entering the U.S. for members of those countries is back to “business as usual” and that CBP will fully comply with the TRO nationwide. Please click here for the full text of the TRO and http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/03/politics/federal-judge-temporarily-halts-trump-travel-ban-nationwide-ag-says/index.html for CNN’s report on it, which offers additional interpretation. As always, please contact OIA at international-affairs@uchicago.edu or 773.702.7752 if we can answer any questions.

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February 7, 2017, Update on Support for the UChicago International Community from Executive Vice Provost Sian Beilock and Dean of Students in the University Michele Rasmussen

February 8, 2017: Important Update: On February 3, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) halting the enforcement of certain provisions of the Executive Order signed by President Trump on January 27, 2017, and the U.S. government brought an emergency motion for a stay of that order. On Thursday, February 9, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the motion, which means that the TRO remains in place for now. For the full text, please see http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/02/09/17-35105.pdf

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February 13, 2017:  Temporary Restraining Order remains in effect.

The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the U.S. District Court for the Western district of Washington remains in effect.  OIA will post updates as they become available, both here and in the News section of https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu.

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Remaining in the U.S. versus Traveling Abroad (February 13, 2017)

Anyone who is currently in the U.S. in lawful status, including individuals from the seven countries indicated in the Executive Order (EO) of 1/27/2017, can remain in the U.S. for as long as their status is valid. For example, a student with an I-20 that expires at the end of the student’s program in the University does not need to do anything other than follow the usual steps to maintain lawful status. (For details on maintaining status for F and J students, please see https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/page/students/current.) International students and scholars in F and J status can extend their status through the usual process.  (For details on extensions of status, please see https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/search/node/extension.) If you are remaining in the U.S. and you are maintaining your lawful status, there is nothing new you have to do.

If you must travel, a valid visa is required to return to the U.S. (For details on documents required for travel and for visa renewals, please see https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/page/travel-0.) In addition to the documents listed on our website, it may be helpful to carry your University of Chicago ID card. If you are a student, we recommend obtaining a Letter of Fulltime Enrollment, available from OIA’s front desk on a walk-in basis. If you are an employee, we recommend obtaining a letter confirming your continuing employment with the University, typically available from the HR Professional in your department or office. If you are in F or J status, it is also essential that you have a valid travel signature. (Please see https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/page/travel-0.) Travel signatures are available at OIA’s front desk on a walk-in basis.  Our hours are Monday – Thursday, 9:00am – 4:00pm and Friday, 10:30am – 4:00pm.

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Travel and Re-entry to the U.S. - all Countries (February 13, 2017)

For those departing the U.S. with the intention to re-enter relatively soon (after a conference, a family vacation, a leave of absence, etc.), we recommend you take caution and plan more extensively than you would have before the Executive Order (EO).  If you believe that your country of birth, country of citizenship, or recent travel destinations may cause particularly close scrutiny on the part of immigration officials, carefully consider if travel is necessary.

If you travel, be prepared for delays at all stages of the process. If you are applying for a new visa, you may find that lead-times for visa interviews have lengthened, that there is a greater probability of administrative processing (background checks) before a visa will be issued, and that administrative processing may take longer.  If you have connecting flights within the U.S., schedule sufficient time between flights to accommodate possible delays, such as having to pass through secondary inspection at a port of entry. (More about secondary inspection below.)

In a Q&A section on its website, Customs and Border Protection (CBP, the inspection authority at ports of entry) has posted information that is relevant, including the statement that

“travelers are being treated according to the travel document they present. For example, if they   present a Canadian passport, that is how they are processed for entry.”

(Please see https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states.) In other words, dual citizens will be able to travel with the documents they consider most appropriate under the circumstances. 

If you are an international student or scholar holding a Form I-20 or DS-2019 and you have dual citizenship, your passport and your immigration document must match. If you wish to update the information on your Form I-20 or DS-2019, please contact OIA at international-affairs@uchicago.edu.

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What is Secondary Inspection and What Should I Expect there? (February 13, 2017)

Many ports of entry are still working to implement recent instructions, such as the guidance from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) mentioned above, and more travelers may be sent to secondary inspection than usual.  The CBP officer at the initial inspection point can only see limited information, so if a question arises about your record that cannot be resolved very quickly, the officer must refer you to secondary inspection to have it resolved.

If you are referred to secondary inspection, prepare for a potentially lengthy wait time. Processes are not necessarily handled on a first-come, first-served basis. While waiting in the secondary inspection area can be uncomfortable, stressful, and time-consuming, think of it as an inconvenience rather than a calamity.  It is essential to remain polite and generally cooperate with the process.

CBP officers may require you to hand over your mobile devices, such as your phone, tablet and/or laptop, and they may copy information and/or review your stored contacts. While in secondary inspection, you may not be given the opportunity to make phone calls or otherwise make contact with others.  Some questions can be resolved by CBP contacting OIA to confirm information about an international student or scholar. We recommend having OIA’s contact information available. For students, any emergency call should be made to the Dean on Call at 773.834.4359. For employees, during regular office hours from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, call 773.702.7752. After hours, 312.439.2305, for employee emergency calls only. CBP e-mail inquiries should be sent to tfelden@uchicago.edu and marked urgent.)

If you wish to retain an immigration attorney (or as a precaution get in touch with one before you travel), OIA can assist you in finding a law firm that has worked with the University or with members of the University community in the past.

If you are presented with a document and asked to sign, please read it carefully. You may be given an option to either withdraw your request for admission to the US or receive “expedited removal”; signing a document withdrawing your request for admission is a better option.

You should not sign a Form I-407 or otherwise abandon your permanent residency status.

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New Communication Tool (February 13, 2017)

Since each of OIA’s lists is designated for a specific population (e.g. international students or J-Scholars) and the current immigration climate is generating interest beyond our traditional service populations, we have launched a new list. Updates_on_executive_orders_on_immigration@lists.uchicago.edu is now available for anyone who would like to receive updates and notifications when new information has been posted to our website. There are two methods to subscribe: Click on the link above and enter "subscribe" in the subject line, then click send. Or access lists.uchicago.edu and search for Updates_on_executive under the search icon. The full name of the list should appear. Once you click on it you should see the word "subscribe" in maroon in the lower left section of the window.  Of course, we will continue to provide information to all our traditional lists as well.

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Additional Resources (February 13, 2017)

If you believe that you require the assistance of an immigration attorney, OIA can assist you in finding a reputable law firm. Please contact us at https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu and indicate that you want to hire an immigration attorney.

Several of the leading U.S. law firms regularly publicize updates on their websites, and you may find their information helpful. Please see:

Resources such as Student Health and Counseling (for students, https://wellness.uchicago.edu); Perspectives, the University’s Employee Assistance Program (for employees, www.perspectivesltd.com); and Spiritual Life, offering support in many faith traditions (spirit.uchicago.edu), are all available free of charge.  Questions regarding the academic impact of the EO should be directed to your Dean of Students (students) or department (postdoctoral researchers and employees), and OIA will gladly assist in connecting you to University resources as well.

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A Reminder: Visa versus Status (February 13, 2017)

The Form I-20 or DS-2019 issued to F-1 students and J-1 students or scholars is not a visa, but is the document showing the lawful status of the individual. This document must never expire, and anyone in F or J status must carry a valid Form I-20 or DS-2019 at all times. A valid visa is required to enter the U.S., but not for the time one spends in the U.S. For additional  information, please see https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/page/visa-vs-status. Please also see https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/search/node/extension for information on extending one’s I-20 or DS-2019.

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February 13, 2017, UChicago and 16 other universities file brief in immigration case

"The University of Chicago and 16 other major research universities have filed an amici curiae (“friends of the court”) brief in Darweesh et al. v. Trump et al., a federal court case that challenges the Jan. 27, 2017 Executive Order on immigration." For the full article, including a link to the amicus brief, please visit  https://news.uchicago.edu/article/2017/02/13/uchicago-and-16-other-universities-file-brief-immigration-case.

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New Executive Order released on March 6, 2017

On March 6, 2017 a new Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States was signed.  It revokes Executive Order 13769 of January 27, 2017 and differs from the previous order in several respects, including clarification of who is subject to and who is exempt from the suspension of entry to the U.S. The new Executive Order takes effect on March 16, 2017.

Contents of the Executive Order are excerpted below. They include provisions that directly impact members of our international community and those whose work and life takes them to areas of the world under close scrutiny by U.S. immigration authorities. To date, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency responsible for inspection and ports-of-entry, has not issued guidance on how certain details of the order will be managed.  OIA continues to monitor reactions to and follow-up by government agencies.  As soon as we have a better understanding of what the provisions below mean in practical terms, we will provide further updates. In the meantime, we encourage all those who anticipate travel in the coming weeks and months to consult with OIA in case of questions.  This includes international students and scholars and their faculty advisers and departments. It also includes U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have concerns about future travel. OIA is here to help you and to provide information and support.

About the Executive Order

The countries affected are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraq is no longer included in the list of countries, but the order states that “[d]ecisions about issuance of visas or granting admission to Iraqi nationals should be subjected to additional scrutiny to determine if applicants have connections with ISIS or other terrorist organizations, or otherwise pose a risk to either national security or public safety.” (Section 1(g))

It further states that “the suspension of entry pursuant to section 2 of this order shall apply only to foreign nationals of the designated countries who:

  • are outside the United States on the effective date of this order;
  • did not have a valid visa at 5:00 p.m., eastern standard time on January 27, 2017; and
  • do not have a valid visa on the effective date of this order.”  (Section 3(a))

The language of the order also outlines exceptions as follows:

“Exceptions. The suspension of entry pursuant to section 2 of this order shall not apply to":

  • any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
  • any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled in to the United States on or after the effective date of this order;
  • any foreign national who has a document other than a visa, valid on the effective date of this order or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission, such as an advance parole document;
  • any dual national of a country designated under section 2 of this order when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country.” (Section 3(b))

Finally, the order describes conditions under which waivers of the suspension of entry from one of the six countries listed in Section 1 might be issued, namely when “denying entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship, and that his or her entry would not pose a threat to national security and would be in the national interest.” (Section 3(c))

“Case-by-case waivers could be appropriate in circumstances such as the following":

  • the foreign national has previously been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, is outside the United States on the effective date of this order, seeks to reenter the United States to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry during the suspension period would impair that activity;
  • the foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside the United States on the effective date of this order for work, study, or other lawful activity;
  • the foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry during the suspension period would impair those obligations;
  • the foreign national seeks to enter the United States to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g. a spouse, child, or parent) who is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien lawfully admitted on a valid nonimmigrant visa, and the denial of entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship” (Section 3(c)).

Additional provisions in Section 12:

“(c) No immigrant or nonimmigrant visa issued before the effective date of this order shall be revoked pursuant to this order."

"(d) Any individual whose visa was marked revoked or marked canceled as a result of Executive Order 13769 shall be entitled to a travel document confirming that the individual is permitted to travel to the United States and seek entry. Any prior cancellation or revocation of a visa that was solely pursuant to Executive Order 13769 shall not be the basis of inadmissibility for any future determination about entry or admissibility.”

For the full text of the order, please see https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/06/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states.

Please visit this site often as we will publish updates as soon as they become available.

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Federal Judges Impose Temporary Restraining Order on New Executive Order on Immigration: On March 16, 2017, a new Executive Order on immigration was to go into effect that restricted travel to the U.S. by nationals from 6 countries and provided clarification of who would be exempt from the ban and who might be able to obtain a waiver.  On March 15, 2017, two federal judges imposed temporary restraining orders which prevented the new Executive Order from going into effect.  It is not yet known how the legal process surrounding the Executive Order will unfold, nor have government agencies offered guidance in case the Executive Order will go into effect eventually.  OIA is monitoring events closely and will continue to provide updates as soon as new information becomes available.  If you have questions, please contact OIA at international-affairs@uchicago.edu or 773.702.7752. We also recommend that you review the information athttps://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu under the link Updates on Presidential Executive Orders Affecting Immigration.

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April 3, 2017: Update on Support for UChicago’s International, Undocumented and DACA students and scholars from Executive Vice Provost Sian Beilock and Dean of Students in the University Michele Rasmussen

Appeals Court Upholds Injunction Against Travel Ban

On May 25, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the District Court’s nationwide preliminary injunction halting the enforcement of the travel ban set forth in the executive order on immigration issued on March 6, 2017. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is also evaluating a nationwide preliminary injunction against the executive order in a separate appeal and it is not yet known when the court will rule. However, as long as one nationwide injunction remains in place, the travel ban cannot go into effect.

We will update this site as relevant new information becomes available.