On May 29, President Trump issued a proclamation suspending the entry of Chinese nationals seeking to conduct research or study at the graduate level pursuant to an F or J visa if they have been associated with Chinese entities that support China’s “military-civil fusion strategy” (defined in the proclamation as actions by or at the behest of China to acquire and divert foreign technologies to advance China’s military capabilities). The proclamation exempts students seeking to enter to study at the undergraduate level, and will remain in effect until terminated by the President.
While it does not currently affect those with F or J visas already in the U.S., the proclamation directs the Department of State to consider whether Chinese nationals in the U.S. who would be affected by the proclamation should have their visas revoked. Additionally, the proclamation leaves open the option for further restrictions by directing the Department of State to review nonimmigrant and immigrant programs and recommend additional measures to mitigate the risk posed by the Chinese government’s acquisition of sensitive U.S. technologies.
While relatively few of the approximately 360,000 Chinese students and researchers in the U.S. will be immediately affected by the proclamation, it contains no standards for determining whether a student is associated with the “military-civil fusion strategy” and thereby invites consular officers and CBP to refuse visas or entry upon mere suspicion of an individual’s ties to China’s military. The proclamation is likely to receive strong pushback from U.S. universities with large numbers of Chinese graduate students and researchers who pay full tuition rates and whose research efforts are publicly available.