Response to the Executive Order on Immigration

Travel Ban Update (June 26, 2017): The U.S. Supreme Court announced on June 26, 2017, that it will review the federal administration’s travel ban executive order. The travel ban had been placed on hold by lower courts. Until its review can occur this fall, the Supreme Court is allowing some aspects of the travel ban to be implemented, with limitations.

Students and scholars from the six countries who have questions or need assistance should contact The International Office (intoff@northwestern.edu), which will provide referrals to free legal consultations as needed. For emergencies or assistance outside the International Office's normal operating hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm), please use the After Hours Contact.

The U.S. Supreme Court said that prior to its full review this fall, it will allow partial implementation of the federal administration’s March 6, 2017, executive order, which limited entry to the United States for nationals of six countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Supreme Court said the ban “may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The court provided examples including “a foreign national who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member” and students from the designated countries who have been admitted to a U.S. university (e.g. Northwestern University).

By its terms, the travel ban executive order does not apply to lawful permanent residents of the United States.

More details may emerge in the coming days, including information about when and how the partial travel ban will be implemented. This website will be updated. Individuals from the affected countries who have travel planned, or who otherwise have questions or need assistance, are encouraged to contact The International Office as outlined above.

Travel Ban Update (March 2017) On March 6, 2017, a revised Executive Order was issued by U.S. President Donald Trump banning citizens and nationals of six countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from traveling to the U.S. for at least 90 days. This new Order takes effect on March 16, 2017, and is different from the Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017, in that those from impacted countries holding lawful permanent residence status in the U.S. or dual citizenship, including citizenship in at least one country which is not one of the listed countries will not be barred from entering the U.S.  In addition, citizens and nationals of the six listed countries who already hold valid nonimmigrant visas will not be barred from entering the U.S. under the authority of the Executive Order as long as their visas have not expired.   The following FAQ’s have been prepared to answer common questions—if you have a more specific question, please contact your advisor in the International Office.

1. When does the new Executive Order go into effect?
The Executive Order issued on March 6, 2017, which was to have gone into effect onl March 16, 2017 (at 12:01 A.M., Eastern Standard Time), was temporarily blocked by a judge in Hawaii. It is possible that the Trump administration will appeal this ruling. We will be in touch with any new developments.

2. Which countries are listed in the new Executive Order?
Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Note: Iraq, which was listed in the Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017, is not listed in  the most recent Executive Order.

3. Who is covered by the new Executive Order?
The new entry ban applies to citizens and nationals from the six countries listed above.  However,  does not apply to the  individals who are citizens or nationals of one of the six countries and also are within one of the classifications listed below:

  • Lawful permanent residents of the U.S.;
  • Nonimmigrants, including F-1 students, F-2 dependents, J-1 students/scholars, J-2 dependents, H-1B employees, H-4 dependents, etc., who are in the U.S. in nonimmigrant lawful status on March 16, 2017, unless they depart the United States and do not have a valid unexpired visa authorizing their admission to the U.S. for the purposes of that visa
  • Holders of valid nonimmigrant visas issued on or before January 27, 2017 or holders of nonimmigrant visas valid as of March 16, 2017, unless they depart the United States and do not have a valid unexpired visa authorizing their admission to the U.S. for the purposes of that visa;
  • Dual citizens of one of the six countries listed and the U.S. (individuals in this category are considered U.S. citizens and therefore are not subject to the Executive Order ); and
  • Dual citizens of one of the six listed countries and a country which is not the U.S. and not one of the six listed countries, who will enter the U.S. with a valid passport issued by a country which is not from one of the six countries.

4. What does the new Executive Order do?
The new Executive Order bans citizens and nationals from the six listed countries without current valid visas from traveling to the U.S. for at least 90-days beginning on March 16, 2017.  Students, scholars, employees and their dependents from the six countries with valid unexpired F, J, H , or who are currently in the U.S. for the purpose of studying or working at Northwestern, and all other required documentation may be allowed to return to the U.S. following international travel.  However, if you are from one of the six listed countries and currently in the U.S. with a valid I-20 (F-1 immigration document), DS-2019 (J-1 immigration document), H-1B I-797 Approval Notice, or in another valid nonimmigrant status, our guidance to you is to remain in the U.S. for the time being.  International travel by individuals from these countries during the period of the travel ban carries a very real risk that they may not be permitted to reenter the country or will encounter prolonged delays at entry which may include search of your baggage and personal electronic devices.  Moreover, if your nonimmigrant visa expires before your return to the U.S., you will not be admitted to the U.S. until you are issued a new nonimmigrant visa permitting your return.  Issuance of a new visa would require that you be granted a waiver of the travel ban by the U.S. Secretary of State.  See FAQ #8. 

5. I am a  lawful permanent resident of the U.S. with an approved green card can I travel, and if so, what am I required to carry when traveling internationally?
Yes, you may travel. It is important that you have with your  actual lawful permanent resident (“green”) card or a unexpired passport stamp evidencing you are a legal permanent resident and a valid passport.  A notice of approval of an application for adjustment of status is not sufficient proof of your status as a lawful permanent resident.  We also recommend that you carry proof of your current U.S. residence and your current employment or school enrollment.   

6. I am a dual national with citizenship from one of the six listed countries and another country not on the list and not the U.S.: am I able to travel to apply for an immigrant/nonimmigrant visa and travel to the U.S.?
The new ban does not apply to you so long as you apply for a visa and enter the U.S. on the basis of a valid passport issued by a country which is not one of the six listed countries.

7. I am a dual national with citizenship in one of the six listed countries and the U.S.:  am I able to travel to the U.S.?
Yes. You are U.S. citizen and will be permitted to enter the U.S. upon presentation of your U.S. passport.

8. I am an international student at Northwestern University on an F-1 or J-1 visa (and may/may not have F-2 or J-2 dependents) from one of the six listed countries: can I travel internationally? (Note: the same information applies to international scholars on either J-1, H-1B, or O-1 visas and their J-2, H-4 or O-3 dependents.)
At this time and throughout the period of the travel ban, our guidance to you is to remain in the U.S. and avoid any international travel.  While the Executive Order states you can return to the U.S. following international travel if you have a valid, unexpired visa, international travel by you carries a very real risk that you may not be permitted to reenter the country. Moreover, we anticipate you will encounter lengthy delays at entry, which may include search of your baggage and personal electronic devices.  In addition, if your visa is expired, you will not be allowed to return to the U.S. unless you are issued a new nonimmigrant visa.  Issuance of a new nonimmigrant visa should will require that you be granted a waiver of the travel ban by the U.S. Secretary of State. Northwestern University has no information at this time regarding how difficult it will be to obtain such a waiver or how long the waiver process will take. You also should not rely on the regulatory provisions which allow in limited circumstances for the automatic extension of expired visas following travel to Mexico or Canada or certain Caribbean islands since we have no information regarding the availability of such extensions for citizens or nationals of the six listed countries during the travel ban.

If you have an urgent situation that may make international travel seem necessary (e.g. for family emergency), you should consult with  the International Office immediately so we can arrange a consultation with an immigration attorney who can further assess the risks associated with your travel abroad for your return to the U.S. For After-Hours contact information, please visit the Contact Us section of our website.

9. I am a student/scholar coming from a country which is not one of the six listed countries: can I travel?
Yes, but students/scholars and their dependents may encounter delays upon entry which may include search of your baggage and personal electronic devices. Be sure to carry your immigration documents (I-20, DS-2019, H-1B Approval Notices, etc.), valid passport, and admission or employment letters. For students, we strongly recommend you request a Status Verification Letter from the International Office and an Enrollment Verification Letter from the Registrar’s Office. We also suggest you carry unofficial transcripts and a printout from CAESAR showing your next quarter’s registration. For scholars and other employees, we recommend you carry a letter confirming your appointment and/or employment with Northwestern. Your hiring departments can provide this to you.

10. I am an international student (not from one of the six listed countries) at Northwestern on an F-1 or J-1 student visa, what am I required to carry when traveling abroad?
If you are an international student on an F-1 or J-1 student visa, you will need the following documents to travel: your I-20 or DS-2019 with an updated travel signature on page 2 (the signature should be dated within the past 12-months), a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp, and a valid passport (valid at least 6-months into the future). If you are a student from a Muslim majority country, please review the information listed in FAQ #9, #13, and #14 regarding the increased scrutiny to which you may be subject.

11. How many times can I use my I-20 or DS-2019 with an updated travel signature?
You may enter as many times as you need within the 12-month window from your last travel signature. A valid travel signature on an I-20 or DS-2019 means the signature was provided by the International Office within the past 12-months. A signature is not required each time you enter the U.S.

12. I am an international student traveling internationally and I forgot my I-20/DS-2019, what should I do now?
If you have a scanned copy of your I-20/DS-2019, print and carry it with you on your return travels to Evanston/Chicago. If you do not have a scanned copy and do not have an I-20/DS-2019 issued by Northwestern University, you may be denied entry into the U.S., or you may be issued a Form I-515A. Form I-515A allows you to enter the U.S. conditionally. If you are issued a Form I-515A at passport control, you must respond by submitting required documents within 30-days of the date of your arrival. If you are issued a Form I-515A, please plan to visit the International Office during walk-in advising hours.

13. I am an international student on F-1 OPT (Post-Completion or STEM OPT) and am a citizen of either one of the affected countries or another country: can I travel?
If you are an international student on F-1 OPT, you will need the following documents to travel: your I-20 with an updated travel signature on page 2 (the signature should be dated within the past 6-months), a valid unexpired F-1 visa, and a valid passport (valid for at least 6-months into the future), AND your approved Employment Authorization Document (OPT EAD Card).

14. I am an international student on J-1 academic training: can I travel?
If you are an international student on J-1 academic training, you need the following documents to travel: valid DS-2019. Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, with current travel signature, valid passport, unexpired J-1 visa, status letter from the International Office, and employment letter

15. What if I am detained by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) at the airport and they need to speak to someone at Northwestern?
Occasionally students are stopped by CBP and held until CBP can speak to someone at the university. Please instruct CBP to contact the International Office at 847-491-5613. IMPORTANT NOTE: A forgotten I-20/DS-2019, outdated travel signature, etc., do not constitute an emergency in this situation and you should refer to FAQ #12 above if this situation applies to you.

16. Should I carry around documentation of my immigration status while going about my everyday life?
If you are not a U.S. Citizen and an  employee of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) asks to see your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you. If you are over 18, carry your immigration documents with you at all times. If you do not have immigration papers, you have the right  to remain silent.  You should never lie about your citizenship status or never present fake documents. (Source: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights)

We also recommend carrying photo identification with you at all times—this could be a driver’s license, temporary state identification card, passport card, your Wildcard (Northwestern University ID card), or even your passport.

17. What if after I am admitted to the U.S. I am questioned about my immigration status?
You have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status with police, DHS officers or any other government officials. You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country.  (Please note:  Separate rules apply at international borders and airports and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.) (Source: aclu.org/know-your-rights)

If you are detained or taken into custody by a law enforcement officials, including ICE or other DHS officers, you have a right to be represented by a lawyer and the right to contact for assistance a Consulate of any country of which you are a national or citizen.  You have the right to be silent and to refuse to sign anything until after you have an opportunity to speak with a lawyer or a Consular officer.

18. I have been contacted by telephone by someone claiming to be from the DHS, including ICE, or claiming to represent other federal agencies (IRS, FBI, U.S. Dept. of State, etc.), what should I do?
If you are contacted by telephone or email by someone claiming to be a federal agent or someone asking you  to confirm personal information (name, citizenship, date or place of birth, address, bank information, etc.), you should not confirm or provide any information.  Instead you should immediately contact the International Office to inform the Office of the communication you received and seek our advice.

19. I have a pending application for OPT (or STEM OPT) or a pending Change of Status Application (I-539) with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and I am from one of the six listed countries. Will USCIS continue to process my pending applications?
Yes. At present, our understanding is that USCIS will continue to accept, process, and approve (where eligible and applicable) pending I-765 (OPT) or I-539 (Change of Status) applications submitted by anyone currently in the U.S., who is a citizen of one of the listed countries.

The International Office is available Monday–Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm at 847-491-5613 or by emailing intoff@northwestern.edu. We understand these recent developments may be upsetting, but please know we are here to support you and will do the best we can to convey information as it becomes available to us.

Please be sure to take good care of yourself, and let the Internation Office us know if you have any further questions about the latest Executive Order or concerns about your immigration status.