A new presidential proclamation, effective at noon June 1, 2020, suspends the entry of certain students and researchers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) into the United States. Undergraduates are specifically excluded from the ban, among others. Chinese students comprise the single largest foreign student population in the United States, at approximately 360,000. About 3,000 are reportedly affected by the proclamation.
Why was the ban imposed?
The proclamation states that the PRC’s acquisition of sensitive U.S. technologies and intellectual property to modernize its military is a threat to the United States’ “long-term economic vitality and the safety and security of the American people.” The proclamation charges that the PRC uses some Chinese students, mostly post-graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, to operate as “non-traditional collectors of intellectual property.” Some observers also see it as part of a general souring of relations between the two countries.
Who is affected?
- Certain nationals of the PRC seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the United States. The proclamation states that the Secretary of State will provide for the identification of those affected. Specifically included is any national of the PRC seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the United States (except for undergraduates) who “receives funding from or who currently is employed by, studies at, or conducts research at or on behalf of, or has been employed by, studied at, or conducted research at or on behalf of” an entity in the PRCC that implements or supports the PRC’s “military-civil infusion strategy.”
- The latter term is defined in the proclamation as “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.”
Who is exempt?
- S. lawful permanent residents
- Spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children
- Those whose travel falls under section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement or who would otherwise be allowed entry into the United States under applicable international agreements
- Those studying or conducting research in a field involving information that would not contribute to the PRC’s military-civil fusion strategy
- Those whose entry would be in the national interest
- Those seeking asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture
What questions remain?
The proclamation specifically includes only those seeking entry into the United States as nonimmigrants, but directs several agency heads to review both nonimmigrant and immigrant programs and recommend or take action on any other measures that would mitigate the risk. So the longer-term result could be much more far-reaching.
- “Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China,” May 29, 2020, https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-nonimmigrants-certain-students-researchers-peoples-republic-china/
- “U.S. to Expel Chinese Graduate Students With Ties to China’s Military Schools,” New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/28/us/politics/china-hong-kong-trump-student-visas.html
- “Picking Flowers, Making Honey,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute, https://www.aspi.org.au/report/picking-flowers-making-honey
- “In Military-Civil Fusion, China is Learning Lessons from the United States and Starting to Innovate,” Center for a New American Security, https://www.cnas.org/publications/commentary/in-military-civil-fusion-china-is-learning-lessons-from-the-united-states-and-starting-to-innovate
Contact your WR attorney for advice in specific situations.