“Travel Ban” (Executive Order 13780, issued March 6, 2017) Update

Students and Scholars –

On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court (the Court) issued an opinion which allowed part of Executive Order 13780 (the revised “travel ban”) to go into effect on Thursday, June 29.  

The Court’s decision limited the impact of the ban, which attempts to bar visa issuance and entry to the United States for foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  In its decision, anyone who has a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” is exempted.  As long as an individual from those six countries can prove a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity that is “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course” [rather than a relationship being formed specifically for the purpose of qualifying for this exemption], the ban will not apply to them.  

In its ruling, the Court specifically stated that students from the designated countries who have been admitted to a University are considered to have this ‘bona fide relationship’ with an American entity. So too would a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company (for those of you on J-1 Research Scholar status, Post-Completion OPT, or who are pending a change of status to H-1B).

Remember that even prior to this court decision, a national of one of the six restricted countries was already exempt from the travel ban (per the express terms of the March 6 Executive Order) if he/she falls into one of the following categories: 

  • U.S. lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
  • Dual national traveling on a passport from a non-restricted country; (Canadian permanent residents are not exempt); 
  • Possesses a valid, multiple-entry U.S. visa and is otherwise admissible to the United States;
  • Applicant for adjustment of status with valid advance parole;
  • Granted asylum in the United States; or
  • Admitted as a refugee or is a refugee whose travel was already formally scheduled by the U.S. State Department.

How this Supreme Court Opinion Impacts NC State:

  • There is no change on travel guidance to our international campus community. Due to the continuing uncertainty regarding the travel ban and how these ‘bona fide relationships’ will be reviewed (The Court will hear oral arguments on the full Executive Order in October 2017) we still recommend that impacted individuals refrain from travel if at all possible.
  • Individuals from any of the six countries who are currently outside the U.S. and need a visa to enter should still be granted a visa and admitted, with clear evidence of a bona fide relationship. According to the Court, examples of a bona fide relationship include:
  • Close familial relationships (DHS and DOS have issued FAQs on the definition of a close familial relationship.  The state of Hawaii already challenged this definition in District Court, so this may change);
  • Students at U.S. universities or individuals who have already been admitted or are attending a U.S. university;
  • Employees of U.S. entities or individuals that have already accepted employment or are working with a U.S. entity; or
  • Foreign nationals invited to lecture to an American audience
  • The Department of State has issued an FAQ regarding implementation of the Executive Order.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (which governs Customs and Border Protection) has also issued an FAQ regarding implementation.
  • All international travelers should continue to expect delays during visa appointments and at ports of entry. Consular officers abroad and CBP at all ports of entry will now have to accommodate the Court’s ruling and agency protocol and make additional decisions regarding who to admit into the U.S., which will undoubtedly cause additional delays.   
  • As always, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will continue to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether the individual is admissible to the U.S.  It’s possible CBP will decide to re-review the bona fide relationship to the U.S., even if the person already met this burden and obtained an entry visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy overseas. If travel is necessary, we strongly recommend that individuals from any of the six countries carry extensive documentation showing their bona fide ties to the United States.  Please work closely with OIS if you must travel to prepare this documentation.
  • The executive order also authorizes the DHS and DOS to grant discretionary waivers of the entry ban where the denial of entry would cause hardship or the foreign national’s entry is in the national interest and entry would not pose a threat to national security. However, the stringent criteria and lack of a clear application process suggest that waivers may be difficult to obtain.

If you decide to travel, please make an appointment with an advisor at OIS so that we can advise you on what documentation to travel with and what to do should you encounter difficulty in getting a visa in time to return for classes or if you encounter difficulty at the Port of Entry.

The Office of International Services, International Employment, and the Office of General Counsel are closely monitoring the government’s implementation of the Supreme Court decision and the executive order, and will provide further information as developments occur. 

New Fraud Alert: Department of Homeland Security Hotline

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Hotline Telephone Number has been used in scam to obtain personally identifiable information. The DHS OIG has issued a fraud alert to warn individuals of reports that the DHS OIG Hotline telephone number has been used recently as part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country.The perpetrators of the scam represent themselves as employees with “U.S. Immigration” and can alter caller ID systems to make it appear that the call is coming from the DHS OIG Hotline telephone number (1-800-323-8603). The scammers demand to obtain or verify personally identifiable information from their victims through various tactics, including by telling individuals that they are the victims of identity theft. Many of the scammers reportedly have pronounced accents.

The DHS OIG is taking this matter very seriously and is investigating the situation. As a reminder, DHS OIG never uses its Hotline number to make outgoing calls — the phone line is only used to receive information from the public. Individuals should not answer calls purporting to be from 1-800-323-8603, and should never provide personal information during calls purporting to be from the DHS OIG Hotline. It continues to be perfectly safe to use the DHS OIG Hotline to report fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement within DHS components or programs. Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this telephone spoofing scam is urged to call the Hotline or file a complaint online via the DHS OIG website www.oig.dhs.gov. You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint and/or report identity theft.

For additional information on common scams and tips on what to do if you are contacted by a scammer, please review the Scam Alert information on the OIS website.

2018 Scam Alert

Dear Students and Scholars,

OIS has been informed that international students and scholars continue to be subjected to scams involving calls appearing to be someone from a government agency including the FBI, USCIS, IRS, the Wake County Detention Center, and even 911. The caller may demand personally identifiable information or payment with a specific method such as wire transfer or gift cards to resolve an error with your record. These calls are completely false.

In some cases, the caller claims you did something wrong regarding your immigration status or taxes, and that you are going to be deported. They claim that you are under surveillance, and that you cannot contact any other individual or go to any website to confirm this issue. They state that you must wire money to them to start an investigation, or to pay a fine, etc. and they ask you to provide other sensitive personal and financial information in the process including your Social Security Number, bank account information, and other identity documents. Even if the caller already has a lot of information about you, do not share any additional personal or financial information such as your SSN, bank account, or debit/card information. 

If you receive a similar call, understand the following:

  • No government agency or agent will call you to demand payment over the phone. Even in cases where legitimate money is owed (such as taxes) the government will communicate with you in writing, not over the phone.
  •  911 is not a number that you will receive a call from. The only time that 911 may legitimately show up as a number in your caller ID is in the case of a “Reverse 911” call (which will give safety information advising a threat in your area, and is usually a recorded message. Very similar to the Wolf Alert system).
  • The government will not demand a particular method of payment (such as wire transfer, gift cards, etc.). There will be multiple methods of payment available.
  • The government will not ask for your personal or financial information such as your SSN, bank account information, credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • The government will not threaten arrest or deportation over non-payment.
  • A government agent cannot remain anonymous- they must disclose badge information.

What should you do if you get such a call?

  1. Do NOT transfer any money or share any personal or financial details, even if the caller already has a lot of information about you.
  2. Try to get the name and contact number for whomever is calling, along with a badge number.
  3. HANG UP!!! Do not answer any additional calls from that number.
  4. Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
  5. Call NC State University Police at 919-515-3000 immediately to report it to the university. Then call OIS at 919-515-2961 or email ois@ncsu.edu.

What should I do if I already gave them personal information or transferred money?

  1. Call NCSU Police at 919-515-3000 to file a report. The police will most likely not be able to get you back your money if the money was already picked up after being wired. However the police report can be helpful in making other credit protection reports.
  2. Please also notify OIS so that we can keep abreast of new aspects to any fraud scam to further alert students and scholars.
  3. If you gave someone your Social Security Number, report that to the SSA. Also read this publication for additional information.
  4. Report it to the Federal Trade Commission or to an appropriate state authority. Click here for information on where to report scams in your state.
  5. Monitor your credit. The Federal Trade Commission has developed an extensive guide to managing identity theft. Some of this you may not need if you are not noticing any fraudulent activity on your credit report, but you must check your credit report to be sure. You are entitled to a free report every year.

How did they figure out I was here on a visa? How did they get my phone number?

OIS and NC State University strictly protects your status as an international student or scholar. Most often, identifying you as someone on a visa is an informed guess based on information that you have made public.

  1. Check your Linkedin and other job search accounts. Remove your phone number and address from any posted resume or summary of your work history. Leave only email.
  2. Check all other social media accounts, particularly if they are public. Remove your phone number for those accounts, and be careful with the personal information you post.
  3. Check your Directory information on the NC State website. You can choose what you want listed on the Directory such as only listing email, and students can also choose to not be listed at all.

Other types of scams to be aware of:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Hotline Scam

Employment Scam Targeting College Students

Email Phishing Scams

Learn more about common scams and frauds at https://www.usa.gov/scams-and-frauds

Resources for Student Success: A Letter from an International Student

I am an International Graduate Student who came to NC State with a lot of dreams. I graduated from the best University in my home country; studies were never an issue for me until now. A couple of months before my arrival I came to know that I have a severe health issue. I decided not to give up because I was very confident may be over confident that I can easily manage and I really wanted to peruse my higher education. I use to have severe headaches unable to concentrate over that I started doing on campus work for the living. I was willing to work hard but I was unable to do that, as a result, I got very low GPA. I should visit health Centre in every 45 days to do my blood work for adjusting the dose.

As the days passed my health got improved so as my GPA, by the end of the second semester I was in Academic Probation. I decided to graduate in three semesters, in order to do that I need straight A’s in my final semester. There comes the worst days of my life, the immense pressure and constant question of what if I fail to graduate. My entire struggle for a year and a half will be wasted, I should return with empty hands. My parents will understand but I was not prepared to be a loser so I worked hard but I missed to graduate by 0.03 GPA. This time, it is not my health impacted the grades it’s the pressure of what if, I was in short of a couple of marks, which made me apply for reinstatement and stay for an entire semester.

A lot of people helped me to get through this among which my Advisor, DGP, professors, my doctor, student Ombuds and finally OIS advisor Kelia. From my experience, I made some mistakes so I would like to share some useful information, first if you have any health issue please keep in touch with the doctor, try to reduce the course load, take some easy course to maintain GPA and do not work more than 20 hours. Keep in touch with you advisor and department let them your situation all the time. If you are facing any psychological issues please use the counseling center and the student Ombud services. And finally, always I insist keep in touch with an OIS advisor, stick to one person so that it becomes easy for them and you to understand the situation. I had a great time in NC State and a lifetime lesson of “ NEVER TAKE ANYTHING GRANTED”.

 

Anonymous

 

CLARIFICATION FROM OIS:  OIS wants to clarify the role of Student Ombuds Services.  Although Student Ombuds Services may assist students who are experiencing psychological distress with other related academic and interpersonal issues, the counseling or treatment of mental health issues is not their primary purpose.  That remains the work of the Counseling Center.

Student Ombuds Services can assist students with any number of concerns including: Interpersonal conflicts with faculty, advisors/major professors or peers, Graduate committee function, Groups/team functioning, Housing issues, exam procedures, ethical concerns, and verification of absences.  OIS has found them to be very useful in helping international students navigate any number of academic concerns on campus and we encourage students to learn more about their office.

From the Director’s Desk:  Professionalism in the United States

The start of a new school year is always exciting.  Whether it is your first semester and you are getting your first job in the United States somewhere on-campus, or you are returning from a rewarding internship experience that you did while on Curricular Practical Training, the start of a new year is a perfect time to think about what it means to be “professional” in the United States.

Being “professional” or “professionalism” isn’t a term that is limited to professions that require extensive education or that require a suit and tie.  While professionalism may look somewhat different depending on whether your job is as a food service worker, a research assistant, a software engineer or Accountant at a Fortune 500 company, there are some expected traits that exhibit good professionalism here that employers will expect you to have if you are going to succeed in your career in the United States.  Here are some traits of professionalism that are common across all careers in the United States:

Arrive on time:

Punctuality is incredibly important in the United States, when you are meeting a classmate or professor, and especially if you have a job.  In the United States, people expect you to show up on time to start work or for meetings – to arrive late gives an impression that you don’t care about your job.

Dress appropriately for the workplace:

What you will wear to work will depend on the job- whether it is a uniform, lab, or office environment, there will be different expectations.  It is perfectly okay to ask what the dress code is at any new job.  Regardless of the dress code however, a universal rule is that you should arrive neat and clean.  All scents should be neutral and devoid of body odor, strong cologne, or incense.  Keep in mind that how you dress after you start a job and the way you dress for an interview are very different.  Even in places where employees dress more casually for work, it is usually expected for someone to dress professionally for an interview.

Be a Team Player:

In order to succeed in the U.S. workforce, you should be able to work well in a team.  Offer to assist other co-workers if they are overburdened.   Something that will also help you build respect among your co-workers is to avoid gossiping about your co-workers, and not over-sharing your personal problems.

Take responsibility for mistakes:

Making mistakes is a part of learning, and because we are human, even the most competent person will occasionally make a mistake.  In the US work environment, it is a valued trait when employees admit an error.  You should learn from that mistake, and get assistance in training or technique to ensure it doesn’t happen again, but admitting a mistake instead of blaming others will also make you a respected and valued member of the team.

Be honest:

This isn’t just about telling the truth- it is also about omitting relevant information or misrepresenting yourself or your skill set.  Honesty about not being trained or equipped to do something is the best policy- it will avoid mistakes, and potentially even injury, if you disclose your lack of training or experience.  It will not be a liability as long as you can also explain how you are a quick learner and already learned to do something similar – something we refer to as “transferrable skills”.

Only leave a job with appropriate notice:

The minimum expected amount of notice that any employee should give before leaving a job is two-weeks.  Some jobs and professions require additional notice – for many jobs requiring an advanced degree one month is a minimum, maybe more in order to smoothly transition your work duties.  There are of course some instances in which it is okay to leave a job without notice- if you aren’t being paid as promised, if your safety is threatened, if you are being asked to do something illegal are some examples.   However, absent those types of circumstances, how you leave a job is just as important as how you performed when you were in the job.  Every former employer is a potential source of feedback on your performance in the United States, regardless of whether or not you listed them as a reference.

Practice good ethics in accepting job offers:

A job search process is an arduous one for any employer.  Not only are considerable time and resources being used for the search itself, but the planning of projects is being done before you even arrive on-site, based on your acceptance of the offer.  It is important to understand that when you begin your work life in the United States, whether it is in food service at Campus Enterprises or at an employer that recruits at NC State, the job offer, even one that is verbally accepted, creates a contractual relationship between you and that employer.  To reneg on that job offer has consequences, and in small industries where portions of companies are bought and sold, you may find yourself needing to work with that company again.  You could even lose the new offer, because employers who discover that an individual reneged on an offer with a competitor may see you as untrustworthy and unethical.  These are not terms you want associated with you before you even begin your career!

 

Your career in the U.S. begins at NC State!

Please remember that as an international student, your career and professional reputation are beginning right here, right now, while you are a student at NC State.  On-campus employment is a wonderful opportunity that assists students financially, and some will get invaluable experience in their field of study.  Sometimes however, students who are working outside of their fields in areas requiring more manual labor, such as in food service, or service related jobs such as Campus Recreation or the Library, develop a mindset that this job or their supervisor will not help them in their chosen careers, and therefore perhaps don’t treat the job as seriously.  These students couldn’t be more wrong!

Hiring managers are of course looking for relevant experience, however they are also evaluating professionalism.  What will their former employer say about them?  Would they rehire the student?  Were they punctual? Did they perform tasks correctly and on time? Were they good team players?  Did they ever complain when asked to do something?   Hiring managers know that they can train an employee to do the task at hand, but these other traits? They display professionalism, and are much harder to train.

Amongst on-campus employers at NC State, recent instances of international students quitting a job without notice or reneging an offer before starting has created a climate where on-campus employers are now hesitant to hire international students.  This has negative consequences for all international students, many of whom depend on on-campus work.  It is also extremely short-sighted on behalf of the students, who at this point could have a solid job on-campus, where they can build their professional reputation and references for that summer internship they are hoping for off-campus.

Over the summer, several graduates from NC State (also all international students) reneged post-completion job offers at one company.  That employer is now questioning whether they should recruit from NC State at all going forward, because they question the professional ethics being taught to NC State students.   This is an impact that not only affects the other students that might have been hired in place of these individuals, and the reputation of NC State students in general, but also threatens the very reason many of you chose NC State as your school- the ability to get a job with a reputable employer after graduation.

It should also be noted that departments on campus are taking notice.  Depending on the circumstance, reneging on an off-campus offer for either internships or post-completion work will find the student unable to use the Career Development Center or ePack as a resource, will not be able to participate in on-campus interviews, and departments have created ‘black lists’ where students will not receive any future support regarding references or letters documenting acquired skills.  This can ultimately impact a future green card application, where documenting skills is a critical part of the Labor Certification process.

OIS and the Career Development Center will be offering a number of workshops this year regarding professionalism, resumes, job searching and interviewing, as well as the visa processes for off-campus employment.  Please keep an eye out for those sessions and if you are in doubt about how to handle a tricky employment issue in the U.S. please ask!  If we can’t assist you we will refer you to the best resource to assist.  We look forward to working with you all to facilitate your employment experiences and to make the hiring of NC State International Students a pleasant and rewarding experience for all involved!

 

Elizabeth James, Director