Notice on U.S. Immigration Policy Changes
UPDATE: June 26, 2017
On Monday, June 26, 2017, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments on the President Trump’s Travel Ban when it reconvenes in the Fall. In the meantime, portions of the Travel Ban for individuals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen will be permitted to go into effect.
The Court has ruled, however, that the ban can only be enforced against individuals who are unable to demonstrate “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States”, such as those who have been admitted to a US University or who have accepted offers of employment with US entities.
Therefore, we do not anticipate that this new ruling will affect our international population at Penn at this time.
As always, we remind you to make sure you carry complete documentation when travelling, to anticipate potential delays, and exercise caution and prudence in making travel plans.
If you have any questions, please reach out to ISSS for additional advice. We will be in touch with addition updates as further developments arise.
On Monday, March 6, the Trump administration issued a new executive order effective March 16, 2017. This order reinstates a travel ban for nationals of six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and is in effect for 90 days. The ban could be extended and countries could be added or taken off the list at a later time.
While the Executive Order does allow for some case by case waivers, under the order nonimmigrants from the six countries cannot in the normal course obtain a US entry visa to initially come to the US, nor can they renew a US entry visa to return after a trip abroad if a new visa is needed. The new executive order also reinstitutes the 120-day pause on refugee programs but no longer imposes an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
Penn is dedicated to ensuring that all international members of our community thrive on our campus. We understand that rapid changes in immigration policy create uncertainty and apprehension for our international students and scholars and the entire Penn community. Penn remains fully committed to these valued members of our community, and to engaging globally to bring the best scholars and students from around the world to our campus. We will continue to monitor changes in federal immigration policy and provide timely updates to the Penn community.
The new Executive Order DOES NOT APPLY to:
- Iraq: Iraq has been removed from the list of banned countries, however, travelers from Iraq may experience longer delays in visa issuance;
- Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States (“green card” holders);
- Any foreign national who had a valid visa at 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on January 27, 2017, or those who have a valid visa on the effective date of March 16, 2017;
- Any foreign national who has a document OTHER than a visa, valid on March 16, 2017 (or issued thereafter), that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission (e.g., an Advance Parole document);
- Green card holders and dual nationals presenting the passport of a country that is not listed are not prohibited from entering the United States under the revised travel ban;
- Any dual national of a designated country when traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;
- Any foreign national traveling on designated diplomatic visas; OR
- Any foreign national who has been granted asylum, any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States, or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
We continue to encourage all foreign passport holders to carefully assess the risk of traveling outside of the United States for the immediate period due to the possibility of further policy changes. Please contact ISSS as follows with any further questions:
- F-1 students – contact your ISSS assigned advisor as shown in iPenn
- J-1 students and scholars – contact Frank Calabrese, ISSS Associate Director
- H-1B and other employment based status – contact the ISSS advisor who worked your most recent petition
You can also visit ISSS during walk-in advising hours Monday-Friday, 1pm - 4pm or by appointment (http://global.upenn.edu/isss/advising).
If you do travel abroad, we encourage international members of the Penn community to consider using Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) as the primary port of entry to the United States. Given Penn’s proximity to the airport, we will be able to respond to stranded travelers at Philadelphia International Airport in a more timely fashion.
There is a lot of uncertainty at this time, and we are closely monitoring the current and future Executive Orders and other changes affecting our international students, scholars, faculty and staff, and will communicate any updates as they develop.
Until more information becomes available, we advise the following:
All international students, faculty, staff, and scholars (this includes passport holders, citizens, nationals, dual nationals, etc.) planning to travel outside the U.S.: Carefully assess whether it is worth the risk to travel outside the country. We encourage you to contact your assigned advisor in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, +1.215.898.4661 for guidance and to discuss additional specific questions resulting from the immigration suspension.
We encourage those who choose to travel to be sure that they have complete documentation that they have maintained their status here in the US, including paystubs, their most recent appointment letter or transcript, and proof of insurance, in addition to the status specific documents listed here: https://global.upenn.edu/isss/travel#documents
All international students, faculty, staff, and scholars currently abroad who may be affected by this executive order: Contact , Director of International Risk Management and visit the International Travel Guidance website. International SOS (ISOS) is also available 24/7 for your security needs: +1.215.942.8478 (Penn Member ID: 11BSGC00012).
There have been reports of scammers contacting our international population and pretending to be from government agencies. In emails and phone calls, students are asked to pay taxes, fees, etc. to maintain their status in the U.S. Such scams may also list additional countries subject to the restriction or include warnings that students will soon have to leave the United States. Please be assured that such practices are not routine and government officials will not contact you by phone. If you receive such a call, please do not provide any personal information over the phone and please contact ISSS immediately.
Penn Law Immigration Information & Referral Clinics for the UPenn Community
Friday, March 24, 11am-2pm, Greenfield Intercultural Center - REGISTER HERE
Saturday, April 8, Time TBD
Co-hosted by Penn Law’s Transnational Legal Clinic & Toll Public Interest Center
Penn Law attorneys and law students will screen members of our UPenn community regarding immigration issues, provide information and advice, and offer referrals for more intensive attorney representation when appropriate. Penn’s Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will also be on hand to answer questions.
As always for any international travel, we strongly encourage you to enter your itinerary and contact information in the Global Activities Registry (GAR). Doing so enables us to expedite assistance if you need help while abroad. In light of the current immigration policy changes, it will also enable us to advise you prior to departure if immigration policy changes may affect your trip.
Help if Prevented from Returning to the U.S.
If you have been barred from getting on a return flight to the U.S. or detained at a U.S. port of entry, please contact Penn Police, 1-215-573-3333, who will notify appropriate Penn personnel.
Penn is piloting the use of Kitestring to assist Penn travelers who are arriving in the United States. This technology will allow you to create an automated emergency contact system that may be useful if you are detained or delayed entering the United States. Click here for a guide on how to use Kitestring.
Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions
On Friday, March 3, 2017, USCIS announced that it will suspend Premium Processing for all H-1B petitions, effective April 3, 2017 until further notice. The option of Premium Processing provides a response to all H-1B petitions within 15 days for an additional fee. The full announcement can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-will-temporarily-suspend-premium-processing-all-h-1b-petitions
This change means that after April 3, 2017, all H-1B petitions will be submitted using the regular processing. Currently the USCIS regular processing time for H-1B petitions is approaching 9 months. ISSS will make every effort to submit Premium Processing applications already in its possession before this deadline. If you have already submitted an application for Premium Processing, you should not be affected by this change in the short-term.
ISSS will continue to accept complete applications for Premium Processing until Friday, March 10, 2017. ISSS will not be able to meet the April 3 deadline for application materials submitted after that date. If you have an application already pending with ISSS that has not yet been submitted to USCIS, we urge you to consider upgrading to Premium Processing by the end of this week. In this case, please provide a check for $1225, made payable to US Department of Homeland Security to the ISSS advisor assigned to your case no later than Monday, March 13.
ISSS advisors will reach out to administrators with pending applications on an individual basis. It is imperative that you cooperate with them in providing any requested documents in a timely manner and according to any deadline suggested by the advisor. Outstanding documents may cause the application to be delayed beyond the April 3 deadline.
Penn Human Resources: +1.215-898-7281
Division of Public Safety: +1.215-573-3333
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): +1.215-898-7021 (nights and weekends, ask for CAPS counselor on call)
Student Intervention Services: +1.215-898-6081
University Chaplain: +1.215-898-8456
Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs: +1.215.573.4332, email: