Federal Court Temporarily Blocks Enforcement of Unlawful Presence Memo for F, J, and M Nonimmigrants

May 6, 2019

On Friday, May 3, a federal district court judge issued a nationwide preliminary injunction, ordering immigration officials to temporarily cease enforcement of the August 9, 2018 policy memorandum entitled “Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.” This memorandum expanded the ways that unlawful presence is calculated for F, M, or J nonimmigrants. The memorandum makes it more likely that individuals in one of these statuses could be subject to three or ten-year bars on reentering the United States. The preliminary injunction stems from a lawsuit filed by several colleges and universities against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


Although this ruling is a positive development for foreign students and scholars, it is important to remember that this is only a temporary order, and, it is possible that the decision will be overturned or appealed in the future. Nevertheless, in the short term, this is welcome news and shows that there are major concerns with the government’s policy memorandum.