Important Immigration Updates
Below are immigration updates important to Clemson's international students, scholars, and faculty.
Updated Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Potential Government Shutdown Effect on Immigration Agencies
There has been much speculation in the news that the federal government is headed for a shutdown starting October 1, 2023, if the U.S. Congress fails to agree on annual spending or reach a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the federal government.
When this has happened in the past, the contingency plans for each federal agency have varied. The White House keeps an updated page on its website with each agency’s plan for a federal government shutdown. Information on Agency Contingency Plans can be found here.
Here is an overview of the immigration agencies:
- U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). User fees fund USCIS and do not depend on federal funds for its operations. Processing of all applications and petitions is expected to continue. The only exception is if a petition or application requires the certification of another affected federal agency, such as an H-1B petition that requires certification by the Department of Labor (DOL).
- U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The Office of Foreign Labor Certifications (OFLC) oversees most immigration processes and is part of the DOL, which has typically been closed during government shutdowns. DOL will likely not accept or process any Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), Prevailing Wage Determinations, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification (PERM). Additionally, as mentioned above, the operational status of DOL impacts USCIS petitions that require a certified LCA (H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 visa petitions). Historically, USCIS would temporarily allow the LCA requirement for status maintenance filings to be exempted. Similarly, the DOL’s status may impact the timing requirements of PERM applications. In the past, DOL has extended any deadlines that fell during a government shutdown.
- U.S. Department of State (DOS). Consular operations and visa issuance may or may not be operational during a shutdown. DOS maintains a small reserve of funds for continued operations. However, the Department of State has reduced or halted visa issuance during prior shutdowns. Anyone with international travel plans that would require them to obtain a new visa stamp while abroad should monitor the situation closely and may need to cancel their travel plans or risk being unable to return to the United States.
- Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Borders will remain open and CBP will be operational, so individuals entering with a valid visa should not encounter any issues with ports of entry. However, individuals who plan to apply for an immigration benefit at a port-of-entry or a pre-clearance facility (such as TNs and L-1s for Canadian nationals) will need to check the operational status of the location at which they intend to apply for the latest information.
- E-Verify. E-Verify is unavailable during a government shutdown. As a result, E-Verify employers will not be able to verify employment eligibility or take any other action in E-Verify. The three-day rule for E-Verify cases will be suspended, and the time during which employees may resolve Tentative Non-confirmations will be extended. Employers are not permitted to take any adverse action against an employee whose query is in an extended interim case status due to the government shutdown. The government will release additional information on how to address situations that cannot adhere to traditional E-Verify deadlines if or when a shutdown occurs. This disruption does not affect I-9 obligations.
It is important to check each agency’s contingency plan as the situation unfolds because shutdown operations have varied with each presidential administration.
U.S. Department of State Issuance of F-1 Student Visas
The U.S. Department of State will now issue F-1 student visas up to 365 days in advance of the start date for a course of study.
COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements Ending for International Travelers to United States
As of May 12, 2023, COVID-19 vaccines will no longer be required for international travelers entering the United States via air, land ports of entry, and ferry terminals. The U.S. government said the rescission of these travel restrictions was in alignment with the end of the Public Health Emergency scheduled for May 11, 2023.
- DHS Statement on the Lifting of Title 19 Requirements (May 2, 2023). https://bit.ly/3B3YqVT.
- White House statement (May 1, 2023). https://bit.ly/3nsNZYU.
- CDC statement (May 5, 2023). https://bit.ly/44CqRI4.
Beginning April 27, 2023, J-1 DS-2019 Digital Signatures and Electronic Distribution
March 28, 2023
The U.S. Department of State announced that Designated Sponsors for the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) can digitally sign and electronically transmit J-1 DS-2019s effective April 27, 2023. With this change, Designated Sponsors, like Clemson, can either:
- Print and physically sign paper forms in ink, scan and save them, and electronically transmit them via email,
- Or, sponsors can use digital signature software to sign DS-2019s and then electronically submit them.
After receiving the DS-2019s electronically, J-1 visitors will still need to physically print and hand-sign their own DS-2019 for travel or other purposes.
Visa Fee Increases Effective May 30, 2023
March 28, 2023
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) will raise visa processing fees, effective May 30, 2023. These are the visa processing fees for an entry visa application at an embassy or consulate abroad. Changes impacting students, scholars, and employees:
- NIV MRV*, Student and Exchange Visitor Visas - changing from $160 to $185.
- NIV MRV*, H, L, O, P, Q, R - changing from $190 to $205
* NIV MRV = Nonimmigrant Visa Machine Readable Visa
CDC Terminates COVID-19 Test Requirements for Travelers from PRC, Hong Kong, and Macau
March 10, 2023
On March 10, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rescinded the Order titled “Requirements for Negative Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test Result or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 for Aircraft Passengers Traveling to the United States from the People’s Republic of China.”
This rescission takes effect for flights departing to the United States from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Designated Airports* on or after 3 pm EST on March 10, 2023, and will be published in the Federal Register.
This means that starting March 10, 2023, at 3 pm EST, air passengers will no longer need to get tested and show a negative COVID-19 test result or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 prior to boarding a flight to the U.S. from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Macau, or through a Designated Airport.
Additional University Resources:
Clemson University COVID-19 Updates
Clemson University Graduate School
Clemson University Undergraduate Studies
Clemson University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
Clemson University Student Health Services (Redfern)
Other Important Links: