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New visa regulations for 2002

Several important changes implemented by the INS in early 2002 that may affect people using student, business and visitor visas.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") has made three new rules, which specifically impact foreign nationals who wish to study or visit the United States.

First Rule

The first rule prohibits foreign nationals who enter the United States as visitors from attending a United States school prior to the INS' approval of a change of their status to the appropriate student category. This first new rule is effective immediately upon its publication in the Federal Register. Previously, visitors were allowed to remain in the United States and attend a United States school while their applications for a change from visitor to student status were pending. Those visitors currently in the United States may still rely on this previous rule.

Second Rule

The second rule makes the following significant changes to the B visitor category:

Although these new rules directly impact foreign national students and visitors, United States employers will directly feel their impact. United States employers often bring in foreign nationals as business visitors for several purposes such as attending seminars or observing a United States office that is affiliated with the visitor's foreign employer. Business visitors may still receive the minimum period of admission of 6 months, however they will no longer receive a maximum initial admission period of 1 year. In addition, business visitors may have difficulty receiving extensions, as they must now prove an "unexpected or compelling humanitarian reason" for the extension. The INS has stated situations such as the delay in the conclusion of a business matter would qualify for an extension.

Additionally, the new rules specifically prohibit changes from the B visitor category to the F (academic) or M (vocational) student categories. These rules do not address changes from the B visitor category to other nonimmigrant categories such as the J category (including exchange students), H-3 category (trainees), or the H-1B category (professionals). In these situations, an application for a change of status from the visitor category may receive closer scrutiny by the INS.

Third Rule

The third rule denies discretionary relief to persons who have received a final order of removal and fail to surrender to the INS within 30 days. According to the INS, 89 % of non-detained foreign nationals who have received final orders of removal fail to surrender for deportation.


Changes to the student and visitor nonimmigrant categories have been anticipated as a reaction to the attacks of September 11. It is well known that most of the terrorists involved in the attacks were admitted to the United States as visitors or students. The INS has acknowledged that these changes are made as part of its efforts to increase national security and control immigration to the United States.

Please note that these new rules have not yet been published. The above discussion is based upon our best understanding of information as provided by the INS.

For further questions about these, or any other U.S. Immigration topics, please feel free to contact our San Diego, CA office and speak with one of our attorneys at (858) 793-1600 or e-mail us at gperl@hirson.com

San Diego, gperl@hirson.com; Newport Beach, hirson@hirson.com; Los Angeles, CA hirson-la@hirson.com; New York, NY, hirson-ny@hirson.com; Wilton, CT, hirson-ct@hirson.com; Phoenix, AZ, hirson-az@hirson.com; Las Vegas, NV, hirson-lv@hirson.com; Toronto, Canada, hirson-toronto@hirson.com

Submitted by: Claudio Fleiner

Pages Updated On: 30-Dec-2007 - 03:12:02
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