Integrity Legal

Archive for July, 2018

5th July 2018

It would appear that Thailand is not the only jurisdiction which is tightening immigration regulations and enforcement. In recent weeks, an announcement from the agency which oversees immigration matters is likely to have a significant impact upon future immigrants and non-immigrants alike. For example, in a recent press release from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) it was noted that certain non-immigrants such as J-1, F-1, and M-1 visa holders will no longer be granted an effective reprieve from accruing unlawful presence in the USA through use of so-called “duration of status” exemption.

What is “duration of status”? Duration of status (also referred to as “DS”, “D of S”, or D/S in certain immigration circles) refers to the status by which certain non-immigrant are admitted into the United States. In this blogger’s opinion it was designed to streamline immigration functions as certain exchange visitor programs and course curricula do not necessarily have a definite end date (this is especially the case with so-called practicum courses following after a more organized academic schedule). Due to the fact that it is somewhat difficult to nail down policymakers allowed for “duration of status” to act as a sort of floating grace period. In the past, those admitted in this status were unable to accrue unlawful presence once admitted even where a course or other reason for admission had clearly terminated. This lead to what some would describe as abuse of the system. This was simply a “loophole” in the rules that allowed such individuals to obtain later immigration benefits without the need to worry about an finding of inadmissibility for overstay since unlawful presence could not ever be determined. Pursuant to a recent announcement from USCIS this appears to be changing. To quote directly from the USCIS website:

Individuals in F, J, or M status who fail to maintain their status on or after Aug. 9, 2018, will start accruing unlawful presence on the earliest of any of the following:

  • The day after they no longer pursue the course of study or the authorized activity, or the day after they engage in an unauthorized activity;
  • The day after completing the course of study or program, including any authorized practical training plus any authorized grace period;
  • The day after the I-94 expires; or
  • The day after an immigration judge, or in certain cases, the BIA, orders them excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).

This change in policy will have a significant impact upon those who have been admitted to the USA in one of the above categories. Moreover, those previously admitted in duration of status who are no longer pursuing the program for which they were admitted are well advised to consult an immigration attorney soon in order to understand their options. Obviously, failure to remain in lawful status could harm future applications for further immigration benefits pursuant to the forthcoming rule change. It seems logical to infer that more findings of accrued unlawful presence are likely to be made in future immigration cases and in that case such matters will only be remedied through use of an I-601 waiver petition.

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