The University of Washington ranks among the top universities in the country in international student enrollment. Now the university is working to inform its 8,900 international students about a recent policy change by the Trump administration with big potential consequences.
The policy change concerns what’s called unlawful presence. If you accrue 180 days of unlawful presence in the U.S., you can be barred for three years from reentering the country.
Machelle Allman, assistant director of international student services at UW, said under the new policy change, the clock for unlawful presence will start ticking as soon as an international student has what used to be considered a minor violation of their visa status.
“It could be dropping below full-time enrollment, such as if a student had an illness, or it could be if they inadvertently allowed their document to expire and they were still studying,” she said.
Allman said her office is advising more students to seek legal advice than in the past.
She said she does not know of any international students who have accrued enough unlawful presence to be at risk for being barred from reentering the country, but she said university officials across the country are alarmed about the potential impact.
“I know that designated school officials, international student advisors, (and) immigration attorneys are very, very concerned about the tone that this sets and the potentially very high consequences for minor or technical infractions,” Allman said.