Immigration Overview

As the United States seeks to develop immigration policy which balances security concerns with the desire to remain a welcoming society, we continue to see a pattern of stricter interpretations of existing regulations and introduction of new regulations in a way we have not experienced before. For international scholars and faculty, this means that you must pay close attention to any communication you receive from the Office of International Scholar and Faculty Services regarding updates/changes in immigration regulations.

The US immigration law classifies international scholars and faculty in the US as temporary non-immigrant aliens ("aliens" means any person not a citizen or national of the United States) unless you are a Legal Permanent Resident or “green card holder” As international scholars and faculty, you are in the US on a non-immigrant visa, usually H-1B or J-1. Some could also be in F-1 status with approved Optional Practical Training and a valid Employment Authorization Card (EAD card) or in J-2 status with a valid EAD card. If you have any questions, please don't ever hesitate to contact Tom Hartvig Thomsen to ask for advice. You will find many useful websites published both by US government agencies and different organizations or immigration attorneys. However, for the most accurate and up to date advice, I always ask that you rely on information provided by the Office of International Scholar and Faculty Services.

The immigration regulations and policies in the US are administered by the US Department of Homeland Security. There are three major agencies under Department of Homeland Security charged with administering and enforcing US immigration regulations:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): The primary functions of ICE are immigration and customs investigations, customs air and marine interdiction, immigration and customs intelligence, detention, and removal.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP): As a single unified border agency, CBP is charged with border patrolling, customs service, and immigration inspection at the ports of entry (land borders, airports, and harbors). When you enter the US, your first contact will be with an agent from this agency.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): Most adjudication of immigrant and non-immigrant benefits will be done by USCIS either at the local USCIS Office or by mailing applications to a USCIS Service Center.  As a scholar/faculty you might be filing an application for change of status, for Adjustment of Status or for benefits for a spouse. These are all examples of applications adjudicated by USCIS.