Unlawful Presence Policy

Unlawful Presence

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued a policy directed at F, J and M visa holders. According to this policy, USCIS will begin counting and tracking “unlawful presence” for any individual on one of these visas, who does something intentionally or unintentionally, either to violate the terms of, or to “lose” their legal status. 

Under the previous immigration policy, students did not accumulate 'unlawful presence' if they violated their visa status until DHS made that determination. 

Under the new policy, which took effect August 9th, 2018, the unlawful presence count will begin the day after a visa status has been violated, even before a DHS officer determines that there has been a status violation.

Some potential ways (not all) that students can violate their immigration status include:

  1. Dropping below full-time enrollment status without permission from CIE.
  2. Working without employment permission
  3. Remaining in the U.S. beyond the grace period after graduation, completion of their OPT (Post Completion/STEM) or Academic Training

‘Unlawful presence’ could subject F and J visa holders to a reentry bar. Those who accrue more than 180 days of unlawful presence and then depart the U.S.may be subject to a three year or ten-year bar, and be ineligible to apply for a visa, admission or adjustment to permanent residence.

Link to the USCIS Policy Memorandum: USCIS Policy published Aug 9th, 2018 

Maintain your Immigration Status! If you think you may be out of status, please schedule an appointment with a CIE advisor immediately!