U.S. Suspends Entry of Certain Graduate Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

On May 29, 2020, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation suspending the entry of a small subset of Chinese nationals that seek to study or conduct research in the United States, citing a threat to the “long-term economic vitality” of the United States “and the safety and security of the American people.” The accompanying press release notes that the proclamation “will not affect students who come to the United States for legitimate reasons.” The proclamation takes effect on June 1, 2020.

Specifically, the suspension is targeted at individuals on F or J visas who are associated with entities that support the “military-civil fusion strategy” of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).  The proclamation defines “military-civil fusion strategy” as any “actions by or at the behest of the PRC to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance the PRC’s military capabilities.” The proclamation delegates authority to the Secretary of State to establish standards and procedures for the identification of individuals that are encompassed by the proclamation.

Although the proclamation principally concerns the suspension of entry for individuals currently outside the United States, it also authorizes the revocation of existing visas for individuals present in the country. Under existing U.S. immigration law, individuals who are subject to a visa revocation may be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings.

The suspension does not apply to the following individuals:

  • Students seeking to pursue undergraduate studies;
  • Individuals on other employment-based visa classifications (H-1B, L-1, O-1, etc.);
  • Spouses of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents;
  • Members of the United States Armed Forces or their spouses or children;
  • Individuals whose travel is permitted pursuant to certain international agreements;
  • Individuals on F or J visas who will be studying or conducting research in a field that does not implicate the PRC’s “military-civil fusion strategy”; and
  • Persons “whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives” or otherwise “be in the national interest.”

Finally, the proclamation directs the relevant government agencies to propose any additional immigration measures that would “mitigate the risk posed by the PRC’s acquisition of sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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