Fixed Visa Time Limit Proposals for Journalists, Researchers & Students

The Trump Administration has announced proposals to impose a fixed time limit on visas for foreign journalists, researchers and students in the US.

The new rule will see visas in the I, F, and J categories end on a fixed date rather than being valid for the “duration of status”, i.e. for as long as it takes the visa holder to finish their degree or research project.

The changes would instead see a mandatory 4-year expiration date brought in, or two years for those taking language training.

There is also expected to be limited scope to apply for an extension.

The proposals, detailed in a 256-page document published by the US Department of Homeland Security last Thursday, are set to eliminate the existing duration of status rule due to government concerns about national security and abuse of the current visa program rules.

If implemented, the rule will affect foreign journalists and visa holders who, under current regulations, are allowed to live in the US on a temporary basis to seek a higher education degree, to participate in a work-and study-based exchange visitor program and those with unique skills.

In addition, DHS has also proposed that nationals from countries linked to high rates of visa overstays (over 10%) should be subject to a two-year limit on stay. Nationals from countries on the US Sponsor of Terrorism List would also be subject to a 2-year limit.

International students who are currently in the US would be able to remain under the pre-existing rules, without exceeding 4 years from the effective date of the final rule, according to the proposed rule.

The proposed rule is at the public consultation stage for 30 days.

DHS will then have to review all comments, draft the final rule, and submit this to the Office of Management and Budget for review before a final rule can take effect. Implementation is unlikely before the Election, or possibly Inauguration.

US immigration advice

NNU Immigration are specialist US attorneys based in London. For advice on US visas or immigration, including guidance on policy and rule developments, please contact us.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

Last updated: September 26, 2020