Recent changes in how the USCIS interprets the law means that students who violate their immigration status will now accrue unlawful presence. It is extremely important that all international students maintain their immigration status.
On February 6, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina issued a permanent nationwide injunction blocking the August 8, 2018 USCIS policy memo that sought to change how days of unlawful presence are counted following a violation of F, M, or J nonimmigrant status.
For detailed information please refer to NAFSA's webpage.
USCIS has made significant changes to its policy regarding F or J nonimmigrants who violate their status. Under the new policy, USCIS will start counting days of unlawful presence the day after an F or J status violation occurs (unless the student applies for reinstatement). In the past, unlawful presence did not accrue until a USCIS official or immigration judge made a formal finding of a status violation.
This means that when an F-1 or J-1 student violates their immigration status, the amount of time they remain in the U.S. after the status violation is counted as "unlawful presence". If 180 days of unlawful presence is accumulated, you can be barred from the U.S for 3 years. If 1 year of unlawful presence is accumulated, you can be barred from the U.S. for 10 years.
It has always been important to maintain your immigration status. However, the consequences to violating your status are now significant and can impact your eligibility to remain in the U.S. or return to the U.S. in the future. To avoid violating your immigration status, we strongly recommend that you: