Students and Exchange Visitors Face Harsh New “Unlawful Presence” Rule from Trump Administration

The Trump Administration intends to crack down on F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors who violate the terms of their status. Under a new policy, effective August 9, 2018, even a minor, unintentional violation could trigger “unlawful presence.” Remaining in the U.S. for too long after such a violation could result in being barred from returning to the U.S. for 3 or 10 years, depending on the circumstances. Students and exchange visitors need to learn what activities trigger unlawful presence and what remedial steps to take after a violation. Continue reading “Students and Exchange Visitors Face Harsh New “Unlawful Presence” Rule from Trump Administration”

AP: Potential Visa Sanctions on Chinese Officials Over Xinjiang Abuses

 

Gerry Shih reports for the AP today that the U.S. government may pursue sanctions on Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses in the western region of Xinjiang. Shih has recently reported elsewhere on a sweeping security crackdown in the region. 

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Stone said Wednesday that the U.S. was deeply concerned about China’s detention of at least “tens of thousands” of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims and could take action under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act.

Beijing has defended its crackdown as a “People’s War on Terror” and a necessary move to purge separatist and religious extremist elements from Xinjiang, a vast region with more than 10 million Muslims. But an extrajudicial detention program has swept up many people, including relatives of American citizens, on ostensible offenses ranging from accessing foreign websites to contacting overseas relatives.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Stone said the U.S. was particularly concerned about the detained family members of six journalists — four U.S. citizens and two U.S. permanent residents who have reported on Xinjiang — working for Washington D.C.-based Radio Free Asia.

“The information we have, including about detention centers, paints a disturbing picture,” Stone said. “We will continue to raise our concerns with the Chinese government and call for legal due process in the detention of any citizens.”

According to Shih, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, Republican leaders of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, have asked the U.S. ambassador to Beijing, Terry Branstad, to visit the region and collect information on Xinjiang officials responsible for the mass detention policy.

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act allows the U.S. government to place travel and financial restrictions on individuals anywhere in the world given credible proof of their role in human rights violations or corruption. In Dec. 2017, President Trump enforced the Act for the first time by designating 52 people and entities as subject to sanctions. This included a Chinese police official who oversaw the Beijing detention center that held Cao Shunli, a human rights activist who died in custody. Human Rights Watch applauded Trump’s action.

The law is named after whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who was imprisoned and murdered in 2009 by Russian authorities after exposing a large-scale fraud.

The President may lift the application of sanctions under the Act upon a determination either that the person did not engage in the activity for which sanctions were imposed or that the person has already been sufficiently punished and is unlikely to engage again in such activity.

“Alias Certificates” Required from Immigrant Visa Applicants at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou

The latest Immigrant Visa Instructions published by the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou on Nov. 24, 2017, require that an applicant who has “ever used another name or alias on legal documentation or for other official purpose must provide a certified alias certificate” (别名证明文件). Continue reading ““Alias Certificates” Required from Immigrant Visa Applicants at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou”

Death by a Thousand Cuts: Evisceration of the Foreign Service

The Trump administration’s war on immigration has included an array of tactics. There have been full frontal assaults, such as the Muslim ban, cancellation of DACA, the border wall, and the RAISE Act. Simultaneously, the Trump administration is using the tactic of death by a thousand cuts: numerous assaults in the administrative agencies and courts intended to make immigration slower, more expensive, and painful. Here’s but one example. Continue reading “Death by a Thousand Cuts: Evisceration of the Foreign Service”

National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival

Chodorow Law Offices will be closed during the upcoming Chinese National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holidays.

  • Sept. 30 (Saturday): Open.
  • Oct. 2-8: Closed.
  • Oct. 9 (Monday): Open.

Similarly, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates General will be closed, on the following schedule:

  • Oct. 2-8: Closed.
  • Oct. 9: Closed for Columbus Day (U.S. holiday).

Best wishes for the holidays. In the event of an emergency during the holidays, you can reach your case manager or attorney by cell phone.

Steve Miller, Meet Saum Song Bo: What the Statue of Liberty Symbolizes

On August 2, White House adviser Stephen Miller held a press conference defending President Donald Trump’s support for the RAISE Act, legislation that would reduce legal immigration to the United States.

CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked whether the bill is in keeping with Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, The New Colossus, at the base of the Statue of Liberty, which reads in part: Continue reading “Steve Miller, Meet Saum Song Bo: What the Statue of Liberty Symbolizes”

Quick Takes on Visa Law News

Daniel Bell, Why Anyone Can Be Chinese (Wall St. Journal, July 14, 2017): Daniel Bell is a Canadian by birth who has who has taught political science in China for twenty years, speaks Chinese, and studies Confucian philosophy. In this essay, he writes, “I identify with Chinese culture” but objects that “no one considers me Chinese” because he is white. He wishes that China would “embrace those” like him “who meet the cultural criteria of Chineseness.” He recommends that China institute a “meritocratic immigration policy open to all.” / Bell’s most recent book, The China Model (2015), analyzes the philosophical and practical flaws of democracy, while arguing for the “China Model” in which a society’s leaders are chosen on the basis of meritocracy–through examinations and performance evaluations. Let’s put aside momentarily the question of to what extent China’s party-state really is meritocratic. Let’s also put aside the question of whether embracing “the cultural criteria of Chineseness” equates to merit. Bell’s yearning to belong is understandable because it is a primal, universal urge. But how can his proposed “meritocratic immigration system” overcome racial conceptions of what it means to be Chinese, especially since Bell says that “the obstacles are not legal”? Continue reading “Quick Takes on Visa Law News”

Be Prepared for Likely H-1B Visa Changes

This year’s H-1B season has many of us nervously watching President Trump’s moves. Just last week the President signed executive orders to build his promised wall at the border with Mexico and to find and deport unauthorized immigrants. A third executive order last Friday barring refugees and travelers from seven countries deemed predominantly Muslim has heightened the anxiety among foreign nationals and prompted protests. His pen has not yet reached the H-1B program, but that could happen in his first 100 days. Continue reading “Be Prepared for Likely H-1B Visa Changes”

Presentation: New China Policies for Foreigner Work Permits and Investment (Beijing, Jan. 6)

Get the latest on China’s implementation on the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs’ Notice on Implementation of Plans for Employment Licenses for Foreigners Coming to China for Work (国家外国专家局关于印发外国人来华工作许可制度试点实施方案的通知) and the Ministry of Commerce’s Interim Measures on Record-filing Administration for the Establishment and Alteration of Foreign-Invested Enterprises (外商投资企业设立及变更备案管理暂行办法). The target audience is HR managers and foreigners working, investing, or doing business in China. Read more.

Mexicans and Chinese: Why Such Different Experiences in Immigration Court?

immigration-courtIn the United States, persons charged with serious crimes are entitled to court-appointed lawyers if they cannot afford one. But the government is under no such obligation to provide professional legal representation to immigrants facing deportation, because they are facing civil, not criminal, charges. And that often means that even children in immigration court are left to defend themselves against trained attorneys representing the government and arguing for deportation. Continue reading “Mexicans and Chinese: Why Such Different Experiences in Immigration Court?”

U.S. State Department Updates Birth Certificate Specifications for Chinese Immigrant Visa Applicants

The U.S. State Department has issued an Apr. 4, 2016, update to its Reciprocity Schedule specificying the birth certificates that should be available to mainland-born Chinese immigrant visa applications.

According to the update, original medical certificates of birth (出生医学证明 chusheng yixue zhengming) should be available for persons born starting 1996. This update follows on the heels of the PRC Ministry of Health’s establishment of a nationwide database of medical birth certificates dating back to 1996 to verify identity for social insurance, school enrollment, emigration, and other purposes. The State Department explains that “Due to the lack of a standardized format for birth certificates prior to 1996, original medical certificate of birth (when available) along with a notarial certificate of birth should be requested.”  Such notarial certificates are based on the household register (HHR), which “appears to be extremely susceptible to fraud and manipulation, especially if the holder lives outside of a major metropolitan area.” Continue reading “U.S. State Department Updates Birth Certificate Specifications for Chinese Immigrant Visa Applicants”