Guidance on International Travel and U.S. Immigration Changes

Guidance on International Travel and U.S. Immigration Changes
June 16, 2017

Notice on U.S. Immigration Policy Changes

On March 6, the U.S. administration issued a new executive order on immigration that revoked and superseded the executive order issued on January 27. The new order, which was scheduled to take effect for 90 days beginning March 16, restricts entry into the U.S. by nationals from six designated countries. The countries include Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

On March 15, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order to halt enforcement of the new executive order nationwide. Hours later, a U.S. District Court judge in Maryland issued a nationwide preliminary injunction to prohibit enforcement of the ban. Then on May 25, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the nationwide injunction invalidating the travel ban, as did the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on June 2.

Along with the Harvard International Office (HIO), we've been working with offices across the University to understand the executive orders and subsequent restraining orders so that we can properly advise and support our affiliates. This remains a very fluid situation with significant judicial activity, and we'll update our guidance as the situation evolves.

Key Points of the New Executive Order

  • New visas will not be issued for nationals of the six designated countries during the 90-day period.
  • All foreign nationals may face increased scrutiny in applying for a visa and in entering or re-entering the U.S.
  • All applicants for visas must undergo an in-person interview.
  • Additional countries could be added to the designated list at any time.
  • The 90-day period could be extended.

Exclusions from the New Executive Order

The new executive order does not include:

  • Foreign nationals who are lawful U.S. permanent residents (green card holders)
  • Holders of a valid U.S. visa
  • Dual nationals traveling on a valid passport from a non-restricted country
  • Holders of certain types of diplomatic visas
  • Individuals who have been granted asylum
  • Refugees already admitted to the U.S.

Guidance for Harvard Affiliates

Although the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction halted enforcement of the new order, the administration has appealed to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case and overturns the injunction, the administration has announced that the order will go into effect 72 hours afterward. Alternatively, if the Supreme Court decides to hear the case and upholds the injunction, it's also possible that the administration could issue another revised executive order. Given this uncertainty, you're encouraged to heed the following advice:

Foreign nationals from the six designated countries: Contact your HIO advisor to discuss any travel plans outside the U.S. or any need to either renew your visa stamp or to obtain a new visa classification. See HIO's immigration updates and resources for more information. HIO can also provide you with contact information for immigration attorneys.

All other foreign nationals: Due to the uncertainty of other countries being added to the new executive order or a subsequent order, we encourage you to discuss any travel plans outside the U.S. with your HIO advisor and to consult with your advisor about any need to either renew your visa stamp or to obtain a new visa classification. See HIO's immigration updates and resources for more information. HIO can also provide you with contact information for immigration attorneys.

U.S. citizens or foreign nationals planning to travel to one or more of the six designated countries: The executive order does not prohibit travel to the six designated countries; however, the potential exists for reciprocal measures to be taken by the six designated countries, meaning that they may deny visa applications or entry to U.S. travelers or other travelers. If you plan to travel to one of these countries, you should confirm with the embassy or consulate that issued your visa to determine if you will be permitted to enter that country. Be mindful that upon attempted re-entry to the U.S., you may face increased scrutiny and delays.

Register International Travel

Regardless of your international destination, we strongly encourage you to enter your itinerary and contact information in the Harvard Travel Registry. Doing so enables us to expedite assistance if you need help while abroad. In light of the current immigration climate, it will also enable us to advise you prior to departure if immigration policy changes may affect your trip.

Travel Tips

  • Expect security and customs delays and increased scrutiny upon attempted re-entry into the U.S.
  • Give yourself extra time and be patient.
  • Carry your passport, valid visa document and valid visa stamp (if applicable), a letter from Harvard attesting to your status, your resume/CV, and the HIO contact information (see below).

24/7 Immigration Assistance While Abroad

If you travel abroad and you encounter problems when attempting to re-enter the U.S., contact HIO's hotline at +1-857-302-3772 (outside of regular business hours) or HIO's main line at +1-617-495-2789 (during regular business hours).

The hotline should only be used for urgent immigration-related issues, which may include requests for clarifying your visa status or Harvard affiliation, or answering other questions from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers or similar government officials.

Routine inquiries, such as guidance on your ability to travel, the risk of traveling, or the issuance of new or renewed visa documents, should be directed to HIO's main line.

For international medical and security emergencies, our Harvard Travel Assist program remains your primary resource.

A Message for the Harvard Community

Harvard's global community has long demonstrated its dedication to educational advancement and the pursuit of knowledge. We remain steadfast in our mission to support and enable Harvard's international travelers and activities. We share your concerns about the executive orders on immigration, and we’ll continue to work with offices across the University to advise and support you.

Mental Health Resources

We recognize the emotional strain that these events and the weight of uncertainty are placing on all of us. If you'd like to speak with a counselor or a mental health professional, contact one of the departments listed below.

  • For students: Counseling and Mental Health Services, which is provided through Harvard University Health Services
  • For employees: Employee Assistance Program, which includes free, expert, confidential consultations and referrals to professionals near your work or home
  • For students and employees traveling abroad: Harvard Travel Assist, our 24/7 global emergency medical and security program, through which you can access English-speaking mental health professionals and connect to Harvard-specific and U.S.-based counseling resources

Additional Resources