OISA Update Regarding Executive Order

January 30, 2017

This email was sent to Grinnell’s international students and exchange visitors on 1/30/2017, shortly after the signing of Executive Order: “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States." International students also receive regular FYI email messages from the OISA, sharing reminders and promotive special events. Students and exchange visitors are invited to make individual appointments to discuss unique, individual questions and scenarios, by visiting Student Affairs or calling 641-269-3700.

To: International Students and Exchange Visitors
From: OISA
Date Sent: 1/30/2017
Subject: Update regarding Executive Order

Clearly, the emerging U.S. political climate has been a great cause for concern for many. We want to reassure you that the OISA, along with the College community at large, deeply values your presence here! I have received numerous messages of care and concern from students, but I have also received an outpouring of care from staff, faculty, students, FIS hosts, alumni, and other community members. They have all been messages of affection and support toward Grinnell’s international student community! 

As you may know, starting on January 25, the new U.S. President began signing a series of executive orders. Several address various aspects of immigration regulations and practices. There are also drafts of other orders that have been leaked to the press, so there may be more to come. I will focus here on the orders that have already been signed and that impact Grinnell’s international students and exchange visitors. Please understand that things are moving quickly, legal challenges are expected, and clear guidance and answers are not immediately available.

Executive Order: “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the U.S.” was signed on Jan. 27. The order is focused on issues relating to refugees, but some parts will also impact Grinnell international students.

  • Sec. 8. Visa Interview Security, suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program. It appears that all visa applicants will be required to apply through an in-person appointment with the U.S. consulate, regardless of country of citizenship. This would impact, for example, the bank system that is used by many Chinese citizens to renew visas. Students who need to apply for an initial or renewed F or J visa should expect to make an appointment at the appropriate U.S. Consulate. We cannot predict appointment wait times or processing times, nor can we confirm whether F and J visa applicants will be eligible for priority appointments, as has been the case in the past. The main advice that we can offer is to plan ahead. You can visit the website of the consulate where you will renew your visa, to research current wait times.
  • The order also sets forth Entry Restrictions for Specific Countries, and suspends entry into the U.S. for immigrants and nonimmigrants from specific countries, for 90 days (with the exception of diplomatic, NATO, C-2, G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas). This currently impacts citizens of: Iran; Iraq; Libya; Somalia; Sudan; Syria; Yemen. We have reached out to our students who have presented passports from these countries.
    It seems to include visa issuance as well as admission into the U.S., even if the traveler possesses a valid visa. There is no clarification on whether this impacts only those who hold citizenship from those countries; or if it also includes those who may have been born there, but reside or hold citizenship elsewhere; or even those who may be citizens of other countries who have lived there or are traveling from those locations. *If this applies to you, but you have presented a different passport to the OISA, please notify us immediately.
    These individuals do not need to leave the U.S. If they are already inside the U.S., they may continue with their student or scholar activities as normal. However, individuals from these countries are not being permitted to enter the U.S. for a period of up to 90 days. Anyone who was planning to travel outside the U.S., may not be permitted to return to the U.S. until the 90 days is over, barring any other possible future restrictions.
    *Additionally, out of caution, international students and scholars who are from predominantly or majority Muslim countries that are not on this list may also want to carefully consider any risks if you are planning to travel outside the U.S. It is not clear if this list of 6 countries may be expanded at any time.

In addition, please be reminded of the following:    

F-1 Students and J-1 Exchange Visitors:             

  • We recommend caution for any international student or scholar who will travel outside the U.S. in the near future.  If you plan to travel, or if you are currently outside of the U.S. (OCS), please double check that your documents are in order well in advance.  
  • Always keep your passport valid for a minimum of 6 months into the future, and keep your SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 up to date (your residential address, declared major, recent travel endorsement, etc.);
  • If you choose to attend a protest or rally, it is our recommendation that you avoid an arrest by engaging in peaceful protests only, and by avoiding violence or marching on restricted areas or roadways;
  • If you are using F-1 CPT, Pre or Post completion OPT, or STEM OPT, be sure to report any address changes, employment starts and changes, etc. within 10 days of the change. (There are no changes to these benefits yet, but OPT and STEM OPT may come under review, as listed in an unreleased draft Executive Order. H-1B changes have also been proposed.)

DACA (Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals):

Note that both the President and Speaker Paul Ryan have recently (01/25/17) said DACA enrollees “will be taken care of” and “not harmed.”  We expect some guidelines within the next four weeks. The BRIDGE Act and SAFE Act (legislative bills) are two temporary remedies being considered in place of DACA.


An executive order has been issued (01/25/17) by Pres. Trump to increase enforcement concentration on undocumented persons with criminal backgrounds. Note that this policy has been an ICE enforcement emphasis for several years already. However, even stricter enforcement guidelines for deportation and detention are proposed.

We will continue to monitor these changes with the help of professional networks and legal counsel and will keep you informed.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. You can visit the Student Affairs Suite, or call 641-269-3700. We are happy to meet with you!

Karen Edwards, Associate Dean and Director
Brenda Strong, International Student and Scholar Advisor
Jaime Chambers, International Student Advisor

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