7/6/20 Message to UAF Employees

July 6, 2020

To: UAF Employees

From: Anupma Prakash, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

Re: International Programs and Initiatives update

You have likely heard news coverage related to immigration, specifically related to a recent presidential proclamation and guidance from the Department of Homeland Security. The UAF Office of International Programs and Initiatives is tracking these continuing changes. Following is some information about how they may affect students and employees.

Degree-seeking students on F-1 visas

On July 6, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program at the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidance for international students and schools. The guidance makes it clear that international students cannot take a full online course load and remain in the U.S. To help address that concern, UAF is offering a “hybrid model,” which means a mixture of online and in-person classes. This is one of several exceptions identified in the guidance. The UAF Office of International Programs and Initiatives will continue to monitor guidance from the federal government and will update UAF departments and international students as new information becomes available.

UAF continues to issue immigration documentation for new international students to begin their academic program this fall. Although we have been able to ship that documentation to international students, they are finding it challenging to schedule visa interviews in some locations, since U.S. consulates have suspended routine visa services due to COVID-19. Additionally, travel restrictions and decreased number of commercial flights may complicate international students' travel to Fairbanks.

Current COVID-19 travel-related presidential proclamations remain in effect for the following countries: Brazil, Canada, China, Iran, Ireland and United Kingdom, and the European Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland). While there is no information or guidance on termination, updates, or changes to these bans, some Canadian citizens in student status have been successful in entering the U.S.

IPI staff is continuing to communicate and work with students outside the U.S. who have been subjected to the travel bans.

Presidential proclamation effects on employees

The suspension of regular visa services and travel bans apply to H-1B, O, and J statuses as well. Additionally, and more importantly, the new Presidential Proclamation issued June 22 and effective June 24 may have a serious impact on our new, future or continuing H-1B employees. This proclamation bars all H-1B employees and their dependent family members from entering the U.S. through Dec. 31, 2020. Certain J-1 categories were also included with this ban, however it will not affect the following J-1 categories:

  • Short-term scholar
  • Research scholar
  • Student intern
  • Non-degree student.

The proclamation affects new, potential, and current H-1B employees in the following ways:

  • U.S. entry for all new and continuing H-1Bs who do not have a visa stamp prior to June 24 will be prohibited.
  • Per the proclamation, if the visa stamp was issued on or before June 24, the H-1B and/or the dependent should be allowed to reenter the U.S. However, if travel was to a country that has been banned from U.S. entry, they will not be able to return.
  • The proclamation has been amended to exclude Canadian citizens entering in H and J status as they do not require a visa.

Because of the uncertainty created by this proclamation, we are encouraging H-1B employees and dependents to remain in the U.S. until we receive further guidance. In addition, current H-1B employees should not leave the U.S. to renew their visa per the current ban. Finally, it is not advisable to enter the U.S. in a business or visitor status (B or Visa Waiver Program) and later change to an H-1B. The change of status will be denied.

If you have questions about your visa status, or that of your employees or students, I encourage you to contact the UAF Office of International Programs and Initiatives for assistance. Here are the specific contacts:

Joanna Cruzan, scholar senior immigration advisor, jgcruzan@alaska.edu

Reija Shnoro, student senior immigration advisor, rsshnoro@alaska.edu