June 25, 2020
UCI Office of Global Engagement recently hosted an immigration update event which brought together a range of experts to share their insights and perspectives and allow UCI community members to ask questions about U.S. regulations that may affect international students and scholars. The meeting addressed concerns about President Trump’s recent proclamation that restricts foreign nationals with certain employment-based visas, including the H-1B visa for skilled workers, through the end of the year.
Louis Bronstein, Assistant Director of Federal Government Relations, UCI, started the meeting with a summary of President Trump’s recent executive order.
Stephen Lee, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development and Professor of Law, UCI, explained the context of this administration’s approach in a general sense.
- This administration tends to characterize immigration as a crisis and emergency couched in terms of protecting U.S. labor.
- Recent proclamations are using COVID-19 to point to labor problems and addressing high unemployment.
- This administration uses emergency powers repeatedly to change or set policy – such as closing the border and restricting flow of people and products with Mexico.
Simonas Jarusauskas, Assistant Director, Scholar Services, UCI International Center, explored the topic of H-1B visas and employment-based issues more in depth and discussed how this affects different groups.
- The proclamation doesn’t directly affect UCI international scholars and faculty who are physically in the United States in another status such as F-1, J-1, TN, O-1, etc.,
- It does not directly affect those who currently hold H-1B status already in the U.S. or are in the process or awaiting approval of H-1B change of status or extension of status petitions in the U.S.
- The proclamation would however affect the H-1B holder’s international travel plans and re-entry into the U.S., if the H-1B visa in their passport is no longer valid.
- Students are recommended to contact the UCI International Center for details as well as as well as advice on a case by case basis.
- The proclamation affects UCI departments’ decisions to hire and sponsor international scholars and faculty, and as such, there are alternatives to consider, such as obtaining a J-1 research scholar or short term scholar category sponsorship from UCI Online Resources, sponsorship by UCI for an O-1, or TN sponsorship for Canadian citizens.
David Ware, Immigration Attorney, Ware Immigration, closed the event by detailing those who are affected by the June 22 Executive Order.
- U.S. Embassies and consulates abroad have paused visa processing currently, so this would be a problem.
- If individuals are currently in the U.S. and need to apply for visas or extensions from within the U.S., they should be ok.
- This proclamation is tied to COVID-19 and the economy.
Notes from Q&A:
- The U.S. is preventing entry through statutory authority.
- Once someone is in the country, the U.S. has less authority to reduce benefits
- Advocacy – OPT users were spared the impact of this proclamation largely by Senate and Congressional pushback. This is an indication of the importance and use of advocacy.
UCI is committed to supporting our community members from around the world who share the values of learning and discovery to make the world a better place. The UC system complies with applicable laws and regulations and actively advocates for policies that further its academic mission.