POLICY CHANGE: J, M, AND L VISAS
USCIS has posted a policy memorandum that will change the current policy for students and exchange visitors radically. The policy makes it extremely more likely that those in F, M or J status will find themselves gaining the status of unlawful presence and becoming subject to three and ten-year bars to admission.
This policy is following other policy changes that make the overall picture of the immigration world a grim place to be if you are an immigrant with shaky status. Unlawful presence, in regard to the old policy, accrues when an individual stays in the United States beyond the date granted upon entry. The status of unlawful presence is one that no one wants. This is a status that leads to the 3 or 10 year bars. Under current policy, F, M, or J visas are issued no specific end date to their statuses, so they cannot start accruing unlawful presence unless USCIS actually makes a formal finding of a violation of status or they are ordered removed, deported or excluded.
Under the expected policy change, now a simple violation of status, where knowing or unknowing, without any formal finding can start the clock for unlawful presence. USCIS has indicated that this new policy aligns with President Trump’s Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States Executive Order which directs strict enforcement of all immigration laws. Again, showing us that the President’s hard line stance on immigration is across the board in all categories.
By Hamzey Sobh