August 29, 2018
To: The Rensselaer Community
From: Prabhat Hajela, Provost; Curtis Powell, Vice President for Human Resources; and LeNorman J. Strong, Interim Vice President for Student Life
Re: Immigration Changes Impacting the Rensselaer Community (Updated)
During the past 10 months, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced policy changes that make it more difficult for highly skilled foreign nationals to study and work in the United States. In particular, we have noticed higher rates of denials and requests for evidence to secure work authorization for skilled foreign nationals. At Rensselaer, we have a number of international faculty, staff, and students, and we will continue to support these members of our community.
As the U.S. immigration laws, policies, and procedures are rapidly changing, the Office of the Provost, the Office of International Services for Students and Scholars (ISSS), and the Division of Human Resources are keeping abreast of these immigration changes and will assist and support our international students, scholars, faculty and staff.
The recently-announced immigration policy guidance memos that may cause delays, denials, or accelerated accrual of unlawful presence, include but are not limited to:
- Ability of USCIS to deny applications without first issuing a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) or a Request for Evidence (RFE);
- Ability of USCIS to directly refer persons who have gone out-of-status to deportation proceedings;
- Dramatic changes to the accrual of unlawful presence for students and exchange visitors without a formal government finding that the student is out of status upon:completing or no longer pursuing the course of study or authorized activity, or
- completing or no longer pursuing the course of study or authorized activity, or
- engaging in unauthorized activity.
Note: The accrual of unlawful presence will be suspended for a student on F or J visa who files a reinstatement application within five months after going out-of-status, or if an application is ultimately approved. These changes - together with potential future changes and a backlogged government immigration system - will require foreign nationals and the administrative and faculty leaders to be more vigilant and anticipatory than ever before in planning for, and filing immigration applications.
We ask that you take the following actions to minimize potential denials, delays, and/or request for evidence:
- Consult with ISSS and/or the Division of Human Resources to inform foreign national students, faculty, and staff well in advance so that the necessary immigration applications (e.g., new visas, extensions, changes-of-status) can be filed as early as possible to minimize risk;
- Consult with ISSS and/or the Division of Human Resources in advance of any transition of a student, faculty, or staff member that could impact visa/immigration status.This includes transition from student to employee (including research assistants and post-doctoral positions), changes in location or institution, changes to title and/or pay, and changes in discipline of study - (Six months notice is not too soon, and three months should be considered the minimum); and
- Inform international students, faculty, and staff to minimize international travel to avoid the risk of lengthy delays; and if travel is required, consult with ISSS and the Division of Human Resources before travel.
Should you have any questions or information regarding immigration services, please contact and/or access the following links: the Office of International Services for Students and Scholars: https://info.rpi.edu/isss Ph. (518) 276-4966 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Division of Human Resources: http://hr.rpi.edu/ Ph. (518) 276-6302 Contact the Division of Human Resources.