According to multiple new press reports, and as part of the continuing trade tensions between the United States and China, the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) has issued guidance to consular officers that will impact U.S. visas issued to Chinese citizens. These reports indicate that there will be two principal areas affected on June 11, 2018:

  1. Student visas: Historically, DOS visa officers have had the discretion to determine the duration of an F-1 visa according to the anticipated length of the student’s graduate program. Under this new guidance, DOS plans to limit the length of visas issued to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) graduate students to only one year if they are studying in areas such as robotics, aviation, and high-tech manufacturing.
  2. Special clearance: The new guidance also instructs consular officers to secure “special clearance” from multiple U.S. agencies before issuing visas for researchers and managers working for companies on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s list of entities requiring such additional scrutiny.

According to these press reports, the actual visa application process will not change, but the issuance of these visas may take several months due to the time necessary to secure this special clearance.