On Friday, May 3, a Federal District Judge in North Carolina enjoined the Trump Administration’s effort to change the immigration policy on “unlawful presence” as it is applied to foreign students, in Guilford College et al. v. McAleenan, et. a.l. The concept of unlawful presence was first introduced into the immigration laws in 1996 to impose a penalty on those who remain in the U.S. after their authorized period of stay expires. This penalty, a bar, known as the “3/10-year bar,” is imposed from the day the foreign national departs the U.S., preventing their return for either 3 or 10 years, depending on whether they remained more than 180 days or 365 days after their authorization expired.
The key to imposing this bar, however, depends on the calculation of the date the authorized stay expired. For foreign students, who are admitted for the duration of status (d/s), there is no certain date by which they are told they must depart the United States. Therefore, in 1997 Legacy INS announced a policy that students would be deemed unlawfully present only when an immigration officer or Immigration Judge made a determination that they had violated their status. In the event such a determination was made, the student was informed of the decision and then given 180 days to depart the U.S. before the 3- or 10-year bar would be imposed. Continue Reading