Articles Posted in Student Visas



President Obama’s executive action announced on November 20, 2014 fell short in many ways than one for many people residing in the United States—both legally and illegally. Though a marginalized few have been allowed to come out of the shadows, some of the world’s best and brightest have been completely ignored by the executive action altogether. The United States would be quite a different place without our hard working immigrant population and without our foreign born innovators, movers, and shakers.

Obama’s announcement on November 20th notably left out any indication that the creation of a more expedient and efficient system would be considered— through which highly skilled and highly capable foreign workers would be able to more easily attain permanent residency and visas. Industry leaders in areas such as the Silicon Valley, seeking to employ such highly skilled and highly capable foreign workers for their startup companies, have expressed their concerns, forming groups such as, albeit with the knowledge that Congress must act in order for an all-encompassing solution to be reached.

Though Obama’s speech shed little light on the topic, a memorandum released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security following the speech is much more informative. The memorandum announces that inventors, researchers, and founders of start-up enterprises who do not qualify for a national interest waiver, but who have been awarded what is considered ‘substantial’ financing by a U.S. investor OR who ‘hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting edge research’ can attain parole authority under section 212(d)(5) of the INA,6 on a case-by-case basis after being assessed by the DHS. Possessing parole in this situation would authorize extraordinary inventors, researchers, or start-up entrepreneurs to temporarily conduct their research or development of innovative ideas or their business while in the United States.

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By Ekaterina Powell, Esq.

Our office has received a few inquiries on the subject of volunteer work while on OPT and consequences of unemployment, and we have decided to address these issues in further detail for our readers.

Conditions of Employment while on OPT

Guidance following the Courts Decisions on Same Se Marriage continue to be released. The latest is regarding Student Visas.

The Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs has advised consulates that their officials may issue derivative visas based on same – sex marriage if the marriage is “recognized in the place of celebration.” That is, if the country where the couple married recognizes same – sex marriage as legal, then the U.S. government will recognize the union as legal for visa issuance, irrespective of where the couple plans to reside.

So from now on School DSOs and other officials may issue I-20 to same sex spouses of F1 and M1 students. These are ground breaking changes and we are excited. See the email below with the announcement.

Great commnets by Mr. Brent Renison, Member of the AILA Media-Advocacy Committee, he calls on the Obama Administration to grant OPT extensions to recent graduates with job offers who did not win the H-1B lottery. The feeling is that International students come to the US spend good money on education, and can stay to contribute to advance our country. But instead of a welcome note, they get the Boot every time.

During the first week of April, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received approximately 124,000 petitions for H-1B work visas, more than the yearly limit of 85,000. That not only means that all the H-1B slots for the entire fiscal year 2014 running from October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014 are used up already, but that 39,000 applicants were rejected. The rejection notices came via returned petitions during the middle of May.

For foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities who have job offers from U.S. employers following graduation, this has meant being forced to give up, pack up, and leave the country. Take Joanita Bora, for example. She graduated from Willamette University in Oregon with a Master’s of Business Administration, and was offered a job in her field following graduation. She was able to work under a one-year work permit under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) category, post graduation. Her employer filed an H-1B petition on her behalf, but Joanita was one of the unlucky thousands whose petitions were not selected in the random lottery for the slots. Her OPT ended in May, and without an H-1B petition in place, she was given just 60 days to leave. Now she has returned to India, but has started a facebook page to express her frustration.

My office received a few concerned calls from family members of Aristotle University Students. The University is in a center of a heated media investigation into the legitimacy of this Institution to provide education and issue student visas.

Questions have been raised by students for some time about this school. They say the school’s academic program and its operators seem more concerned about collecting fees than providing education.

Many students unconvinced the school is providing the kind of instruction and course work it advertised on its website. That website was taken down last week as questions about the school began to mount.

Quick update from AILA, President Obama signed the Iran Nuclear Threat Reduction Bill on August 10, 2012. Section 501 directs DOS to deny visas and DHS to exclude from the United States, any Iranian citizens seeking higher education in the United States to prepare for a career in Iran’s energy, nuclear science and nuclear engineering sectors, as well as related fields. This provision applies to visa applications filed on or after the date of enactment of this Act.

As such, Iranian applicants in the United States wishing to change status to F-1 to pursue post-secondary studies in the energy, nuclear science, nuclear engineering or related fields, will be denied by DHS.

Similarly, consular posts will deny F-1 visa applications from Iranian applicants wishing to pursue post-secondary studies in the energy, nuclear science, nuclear engineering or related fields.

This is very important notice to all of you international Students out there. Recent NAFSA alert announces that CBP will no longer stamp I-20s at ports of entry (POEs). USCIS is reported to be reaching out to other agencies, such as the DMV, to inform them of the change, since many agencies require the I-20 stamp prior to granting benefits.

On August 15, 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unofficially confirmed for NAFSA that:

“CBP is no longer stamping I-20s at POEs. Recognizing that some staff at certain benefit granting agencies (for example, motor vehicle agencies) look for a stamp on these documents before granting a benefit, USCIS is conducting extensive outreach to ensure that these agencies are aware of this change.”

I have been saying for many years that the visa system is unfair for foreign artists. Take the story of Seny Daffe. Daffe was granted a visa that allows culturally unique artists entry to the U.S. In Burlington, he joined the African dance company Jeh Kulu, where he taught drumming. He held dance classes and ran workshops at local schools. He performed with the National Ballet of Guinea and performed at First Night events across the state.

In November, Daffe returned to Conakry, Guinea, to visit his family and brush up on his skills. But when he tried to come back to Vermont, he learned that he was now barred by State Department officials from returning to the U.S.

Daffe says the State Department told him that his ties to this country were too strong – his ties to his own country too weak. The question was whether he intended to eventually return to Guinea. This is a common reason for denials.

Some good news to help speed up the process of getting a Student Visa. On January 19, 2012, President Obama announced an initiative to improve and speed up the visa process for certain categories of travelers. One of the cornerstones of this initiative is the Department of State’s Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Waiver Pilot Program, under which certain foreign visitors who were interviewed in conjunction with a prior visa application may be able to renew their visas without undergoing another interview.

What are the prevailing interview and fingerprint requirements of the U.S. nonimmigrant visa (NIV) application process?

Generally, all Non Immigrant applicants must make a personal appearance and be interviewed by a consular officer. In addition, visa applicants must provide biometric identifiers for verifying their identity (the biometric identifiers currently required are fingerprints and a photo image).

With the recent announcement that Illegal immigrants can now apply for state-financed scholarships and aid at state universities after Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he had signed the second half of a legislative package focused on such students, we wanted to share some facts on such students.

This is a guest article by Carol Brown from

Families immigrate to the United States constantly, and many of them bring children along with them. Immigrant adults with dubious legal status have it bad enough, but their kids face even more difficulty, unable to achieve their dreams in a country they consider home. About 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools every year, and their presence is not insignificant. Although they are guaranteed a public school education through grade 12, their future in college is much less certain. From federal Financial Aid restrictions to reduced opportunities, students with undocumented status face a lower quality of education and future careers than their legal classmates. Read on, and we’ll explore several important facts about their experiences in the United States.