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National Association for College Admission Counseling- Foreign and Refugee Students

Foreign and Refugee Students


Since taking office in January 2017, the Trump administration has made several decisions that will impact the ability of foreign nationals to pursue higher education studies in the United States. This page aims to summarize these decisions as they are announced and provide updates as necessary.  For legal advice related to the recent immigration policy changes, please contact an immigration attorney or an accredited representative of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Travel Ban and Extreme Vetting

In January 2017, President Trump announced Executive Order 13769 which sought to suspend entry in to the United States from visitors of seven countries for 90 days. Commonly referred to as "Travel Ban 1.0," the order was declared unconstitutional by a Federal District Court in Washington State and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and was not implemented.

President Trump then announced Executive Order 13780 in March 2017, which revoked and replaced Executive Order 13769 and sought to suspend entry from visitors from six countries for 90 days. Several states sued to prevent the order from being implemented; in June 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that "Travel Ban 2.0" could be partially implemented. The 90-day prohibition has since expired.

On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued Proclamation 9645, which reported the results of the worldwide review conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State as tasked in Executive Order 13780. The Proclamation establishes varying restrictions to travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, and Venezuela. On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled this indefinite ban on visitors from these countries as constitutional, meaning students and other individuals traveling to the United States from these seven countries face significant limitations. This NAFSA resource provides a breakdown of the regulations established by country.

An exception exists for students of Iran on F, M, and J visas. NACAC encourages member institutions to seek legal counsel about what guidance they should provide to enrolled international students, particularly those from these countries.

The January 2017 Executive Order also called for what is commonly referred to as “extreme vetting.” Consequently, the US Department of State announced that it would request those selected for extreme vetting to provide “all prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses, phone numbers, and 15 years of biographical information when applying for a US visa." Technically, this information is not required, but failing to include it may result in the delay or rejection of an application.

NACAC believes these decisions will have immediate and long-term consequences on the attractiveness of the United States as an education destination and the many US high schools and colleges that serve international students. Read NACAC’s statement opposing the Supreme Court's June 2018 decision to uphold the proclamation.

Country Specific Updates 

  • Russia

    Visa operations across Russia were reduced following drastic cuts to US Department of State personnel by the Russian Federation in 2017 and the closure of US Consulate St. Petersburg by the Russian Federation in March 2018. Per the Department of State’s website, nonimmigrant visa services are available on a reduced scaled at the US Embassy Moscow, the US Consulate Yekaterinburg, and the US Consulate Vladivostok. Applicants should expect long wait times for appointments at these locations. Applications that reside in Russia may also apply at any US embassy or consulate outside of Russia.


Counseling and Admission


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