Update: On February 6, 2020, a permanent nationwide injunction invalidated the previous unlawful presence memorandum.
This is a summary of the recent policy memorandum on Accrual of Unlawful Presence released by USCIS on August 9, 2018. The complete Memorandum is available at https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Laws/Memoranda/2018/2018-08-09-PM-602-1060.1-Accrual-of-Unlawful-Presence-and-F-J-and-M-Nonimmigrants.pdf
An international student who does not follow the requirements for maintaining their legal F or J non-immigrant status can lose the benefits of that status and begin to accrue days of unlawful presence in the U.S.
Common violations of status include but are not limited to:
- Failure to extend I-20/DS-2019 program end date in a timely manner
- Unauthorized drop below full time enrollment
- Unauthorized off-campus employment
- Failure to complete a SEVIS transfer or change of education level in a timely manner
If you are an international student and you violate your status, you immediately lose your eligibility for immigration benefits such as employment, extension, transfer, or travel endorsements. If you are out of status and would like to continue your studies, you must take action to get back into lawful status in order to regain eligibility for immigration benefits. You are required to meet with an ISS advisor if you are in violation of your F or J status. The ISS advisor will provide you with your options and assist you with the appropriate course of action.
What is Unlawful Presence?
When an F or J nonimmigrant has overstayed the time they were legally permitted to be in the U.S. in F or J status, they begin to accrue unlawful presence.
When Does Unlawful Presence Begin?
Effective August 9, 2018, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) made changes to its policy on how it calculates days of unlawful presence for F, M, and J nonimmigrants.