To our International Students:
On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision with two rulings: (1) it agreed to hear in October, 2017 the Trump Administration’s appeal of two court orders blocking enforcement of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order suspending entry to the U.S. of nationals from six countries (Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen) (EO) titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, and (2) the Court allowed the Administration to enforce the EO’s 90-day ban on nationals from entering the U.S. However, the Court narrowed the scope of the ban to apply to only those who do not have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S.”
This letter describes how the ruling affects different members of our community. If anything is not clear, or you would benefit from further clarification or discussion, please reach out to your ISO Advisor. We are here to help and support you.
The good news: Nationals from the six designated countries can seek entry into the U.S. if they have a close family relationship with a “U.S. person” such as a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, or if they have a formal, documented relationship with an U.S. entity and such relationship was formed in the ordinary course. Admission to, or enrollment at, MIT constitutes a formal bona fide relationship with an entity in the U.S. [documented by official visa document Form I-20 (F-1 students) or Form DS-2019 (J-1 students), letter of admission to MIT, and, for current students, proof of enrollment/transcript].
As a reminder, the EO does NOT apply to:
- U.S. Citizens
- U.S. Permanent Residents (already granted status and issued a “Green Card”)
- Individuals who are not nationals of the 6 designated countries
- Dual nationals traveling on a passport and visa document from a country other than the 6 designated countries
- Individuals with existing valid visas to the U.S. issued by a U.S. Embassy/Consulate
- Individuals currently in the U.S.
Guidance issued by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicate that the Executive Order’s 90-day ban was implemented on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 8:00pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Based on reports of guidance provided by the U.S. Department of State to U.S. Consular Posts, the following assessments of the impact of the implementation of the EO to our international students from the 6 designated countries:
- Newly Admitted Students to MIT, who have been issued their visas from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, will be able to enter the U.S. using those valid visas and appropriate visa documents issued by MIT. Please note that you should plan for additional questioning by U.S. Customs and Border Protection when entering the U.S. (which is standard protocol for entry to the U.S. by individuals from the 6 designated countries, and can be applied to any individual entering the U.S.).
- Newly Admitted Students who have applied for, but have NOT yet been issued, your visa from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, will have their visa applications processed to a decision. If the visa application is approved, you will be able to enter the U.S. to pursue your program of study at MIT. If the U.S. Embassy/Consulate requests additional information to process your visa application, please contact the ISO immediately.
- Newly Admitted Students who have not yet applied for a visa from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate will continue to be able to schedule visa interviews with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate and have your application processed. ISO advises that you schedule your visa interview as soon as possible to provide sufficient time to secure your visa and arrive at MIT for orientation programs on campus.
- Current students with a valid U.S. student visa in their passport, issued by a U.S. Embassy/Consulate, may enter the U.S. to continue their status as students at MIT;
- Current students from the 6 designated countries, who do NOT have a valid student visa to re-enter the U.S., and are considering travel outside the U.S., should be in contact with your ISO Advisor. While the guidance from the U.S. Department of State indicates that student visa applications will continue to be scheduled and processed, processing times may be impacted. We recommend consulting the U.S. Consulate website for further information and guidance.
- For MIT alumni currently on authorized periods of F-1 Optional Practical Training, F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training, and J-1 Academic Training, and who do NOT have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa issued by a U.S. Embassy/Consulate, and are considering travel outside the U.S., should be in contact with your ISO Advisor. We also advise that you consult with your OPT/Academic Training employer for their guidance on travel outside the U.S. (especially if your employer has/will be filing for an employer-sponsored visa on your behalf). While visa interviews for F-1 and J-1 visas will continue to be scheduled and processed, we recommend consulting the U.S. Consulate website for further information and guidance.
- Dependent visa holders in F-2 or J-2 status will be impacted similarly to their F-1 or J-1 primary family member as outlined above.
- For dependents or family members seeking to apply for a tourist visa (B-2) at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate and enter the U.S. for short (non-professional, non-business-related) visits, the guidance is not clear at this time. We recommend consulting the U.S. Consulate website, in the applicant’s country of residence, for further information and guidance.
All travelers to the U.S., regardless of nationality, should expect increased security and vetting procedures both at U.S. Embassies/Consulates and at their ports-of-entry to the U.S.
The ISO will continue to update the “Major Immigration Updates” page on the ISO website as additional information is received from the various government agencies.
We know that these new developments add additional uncertainty as you make your academic and travel plans. If you have any questions regarding your specific situation, we encourage you to contact your ISO Advisor so that we can help.
David C. Elwell
Associate Dean and Director
MIT International Students Office