Changes to visa length for some Chinese students
The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) has issued guidance to consular officers in China that could result in shorter visas for a small number of Chinese students beginning June 11, 2018.
While most Chinese nationals began receiving a multiple-entry F-1 student visa for a maximum of five years beginning November 14, 2014, graduate students who are studying in major fields related to robotics, aviation, and high-tech manufacturing may, at the discretion of the consular officer, now receive a multiple entry visa for a shorter 1-year time frame.
An F-1 visa is travel permission that must be valid on a day a student enters the U.S. but does not have to remain valid for the entire time a student stays in the U.S., provided the student continues to maintain lawful status. Students who enter the U.S. with a valid visa may remain in the U.S. for the duration of their program of study as well as any related periods of Optional Practical Training after program completion. However, students who receive a shorter visa under this change in guidance may be required to obtain a new F-1 visa each year if they travel outside of the U.S. and wish to return.
It is expected that consular officials will review student’s major fields of study and determine the length of the F-1 visa on a case-by-case basis. This change is not expected to affect visa applications for undergraduate students from China and should not affect students who have already been issued a visa for a longer duration. However, the policy change may still impact Chinese graduate students in the above-specified fields of study if they are still be in the process of applying for new F-1 visas this summer.
If you have specific questions about how this change might affect your situation, please feel free to contact your ISSO advisor directly.