For the past 20 years, student visa holders were not punished harshly for innocent or technical violations of their F-1 status. For example, an international student who drops below a full course of study by dropping a single class for a semester could be consider in violation of status. Current law has allowed such a student to correct that minor infraction by leaving the U.S. and reentering with his or her valid F-1 student visa. Under the policy, scheduled to take effect August 9, 2018, this same student could be considered to be accruing “unlawful presence”, an immigration law term of art that potentially carries massive consequences such as being barred from returning to the U.S. for 3-10 years. These consequences are obviously wildly out of proportion to students who commit minor infractions of their student status. International students bring brainpower, cultural diversity, energy, and innovative impulses to the United States, not to mention paying tuition and contributing to the economy while in school and afterwards. Over ½ of the American startup companies valued at one billion dollars or more were started by immigrants.
Read the NFAP policy brief here.
This article summarizes the differences between “unlawful presence” and violation of status and reminds us of another harsh new reality under the current administration’s anti-immigrant agenda.
Timothy R. Bakken