Immigration Law Updates

11/18/2021

Recently USCIS has denied post-completion OPT for applicants lacking one year in F-1 status.  Previously, USCIS approved such OPT for applicants with one year of study in another immigration status.  If you are an NC State student affected by this change, email our office studentlegal@ncsu.edu for advice and assistance.

10/7/2021

Until 12 p.m. on November 9, 2021, nationals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States may register for the diversity visa lottery.  If selected, a registrant may apply for a green card as early as August 2022.  More information about the eligibility requirements and registration can be found at https://dvprogram.state.gov/.

8/27/2021

Starting October 1, 2021, green card applicants will be required to obtain full COVID-19 vaccination to clear their immigration medical exam.  Waiver for this requirement based on medical, moral, or religious ground may be requested.
https://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/panel-physicians/covid-19-technical-instructions.html

7/20/2021

Effective today, applicants for change of status to F-1 are no longer required to file bridge applications.  Previously, such bridge applications were required to cover gaps from when the applicants’ statuses expired until their applications for change of status to F-1 were adjudicated.  Find out more on the UCIS website.

7/19/2021

On July 16, a federal court determined that the DACA program is unlawful but only prohibited the government from granting initial DACA applications.  The federal court’s decision will likely be appealed.  At this time, current DACA recipients continue to retain their deportation relief, employment authorization, and eligibility to file for DACA renewal.

6/10/2021

Employment authorization documents (EADs) for employment-based and family-based adjustment applicants may now be issued for two years of validity, an increase from one year under the prior policy.

6/10/2021

In a return to a 2013 policy, USCIS officers are instructed to first afford applicants for immigration benefits the opportunity to provide additional evidence on cases that could establish eligibility with such evidence, instead of outright denials.

6/10/2021

Through August 31, 2021, employers that are operating remotely may continue to inspect their new employees’ Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, remotely by video, fax or email.

5/27/2021

Until December 31, 2021, U.S. citizens will be able to return to the United States on an expired U.S. passport.  More information can be found here.

5/27/2021

For the academic year 2021-22, the U.S. immigration agency will continue to follow its March 2020 guidance for international students.  Some important provisions are:

  • An international student in the United States may remain to continue a fully online program of study.
  • The requirements for full course of study may be waived as a result of COVID-19.
  • Students may continue to engage in on-campus employment remotely.
  • The SEVIS record of an F-1 student who is outside the United States for more than 5 months will not be terminated if he/she is making normal progress in the course of study.
  • A student who is abroad must return to school when in-person instruction resumes.
  • Time spent studying outside of the United States during the pandemic counts toward the one-year requirement for CPT and OPT.
  • Students on OPT may work fewer than 20 hours a week.
  • A visa may be issued to an applicant for a new program of study if it is hybrid with some-person requirement.

04/12/2021

F-1 students may now file online the I-765 application for optional practical training (OPT).  Online filing allows applicants to submit forms electronically, check the status of their cases, and receive notices from USCIS online.

03/01/2021

USCIS announced flexibilities for F-1 students affected by delayed Form I-765 receipt notices. These include 14-month OPT period flexibilities, option to refile after rejection, and RFEs for missing/deficient signatures.  https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-extends-flexibilities-to-certain-applicants-filing-form-i-765-for-opt

10/8/2020

The U.S. government proposed a rule that would change the period of authorized stay of an F or J international student from duration of status (D/S) to that with a specified end date.  Currently, an international student may stay in the United States with D/S, an unspecified period of time for a student to pursue a course of study and training.  Under the proposed rule, the period of authorized stay instead would not be more than two or four years, depending on the student’s country of birth or citizenship.  A student with a need to stay in the United States beyond such an end date would have to apply for an extension with the government, not the university.

The proposed rule indicates that a student currently with D/S stay may remain in the United States up to the program end date on Form I-20 or DS-2019.  But if the student leaves the United States and is permitted to reenter, the student would be given a specified end date as mentioned above.

Until October 26, 2020, anyone can comment on this proposed rule at http://www.regulations.gov by entering the number ICEB-2019-0006.  The proposed rule, a brief summary, and a short guide on how to comment are available at the links below.  The government will review the comments and decide whether and when the proposed rule will go into effect.

https://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/pdfs/Immigrants/FJISummary9-27.pdf

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ES_20180809_RegComments.pdf

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ICEB-2019-0006-0001

10/8/2020

Until 12 p.m. on November 10, 2020, anyone with a high school education or its equivalent who was born in a certain country or who is a spouse or child of a relative born in an eligible country may register for the diversity visa lottery.  The registration is free.  If selected, the registrant could be eligible to apply for a green card as early as August 2021.  More information about the eligibility requirements can be found at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/.  If you plan to apply for or renew a nonimmigrant visa in the future, such as an F or J visa, a U.S. consular officer might consider your diversity visa lottery registration in determining whether you would return home and whether to grant or deny you the nonimmigrant visa.

10/1/2020

For any USCIS request or notice issued between March 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021, USCIS extends flexibility by allowing each applicant an additional 60 days from the deadline on the request or notice to respond.

9/30/2020

Until November 19, 2020, employers with employees working remotely due to COVID-19 may verify remotely by video, fax, or email the identity and employment authorization documents of the employees.

9/29/2020

On September 29, 2020, a court temporarily prohibited USCIS from increasing the filing fees for immigration benefit requests.  Applicants may continue to follow the current fee schedule until the court makes a final decision.

08/25/2020

A new version of the Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization must be used beginning on August 25, 2020.

07/31/2020

On July 31, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicated that it would not challenge the decision of the U.S. District Court in North Carolina prohibiting DHS from enforcing its memo that would otherwise adversely impact on the determination of unlawful presence for F, J, and M international students.  Unlawful presence may result from failure to maintain status, such as unauthorized employment.  Currently, unlawful presence for these students begins to accrue only after a formal finding by DHS or an immigration judge.  A finding of unlawful presence may prevent an international student from being able to change status, apply for a visa, or get permanent residency.

06/1/2020

Presidential Proclamation regarding international Chinese students within the USA

On May 29, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation that authorizes the revocation of the visa of any Chinese student or researcher currently in the United States in F or J status at the graduate or post-doctorate level who has been affiliated with an entity in China that implements or supports China’s military-civil fusion strategy.   The affiliation may be past or present and in the form of receiving funding, employment, education, or research.  Military-civil strategy means actions by or at the behest of China to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance China’s military capabilities.

The proclamation also authorizes the denial of entry into the United States by such a student or researcher.

The proclamation does not apply to:

  • Undergraduate students;
  • The spouse of a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • Any member of the United States Armed Forces or his/her spouse or child;
  • Anyone whose stay is in the United States’ national interest or law enforcement objectives;
  • Applicant for asylum or similar protection; or
  • Representative at or expert for the United Nations, or anyone the United States is obligated to permit entry under international agreements.

The proclamation is effective from June 1, 2020 until terminated by the President.

Under current law, once the F or J visa is revoked, the student or researcher may be subject to deportation.  Any NC State student who has questions about this proclamation may contact University Student Legal Services at studentlegal@ncsu.edu for advice.

04/14/2020

No adverse immigration consequences for noncitizens to receive recovery rebate (stimulus check) under the CARES ACT

In adjudicating an application for a green card, change of status, or extension of status, USCIS will not consider receipt of recovery rebate (stimulus check) as public benefits under the public charge inadmissibility determination.  Public charge refers to individuals who are primarily dependent on publicly funded programs and who thus may be denied a green card or a nonimmigrant status.  Therefore, noncitizens may receive such stimulus checks without any immigration consequences.

No adverse immigration consequences for noncitizens to apply for unemployment benefits

In adjudicating an application for a green card, change of status, or extension of status, USCIS will not consider unemployment benefits as public benefits under the public charge inadmissibility determination. Public charge refers to individuals who are primarily dependent on publicly funded programs and who thus may be denied a green card or a nonimmigrant status.  Therefore, noncitizens eligible for unemployment benefits should apply for such benefits.

Suspension of immigration interviews in the United States

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is suspending in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers.  The suspension is effective until at least May 3. Those needing assistance with emergency services should call the USCIS Contact Center, https://www.uscis.gov/contactcenter.

https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-coronavirus-2019-covid-19

DSO’s at the Office of International Services may now email Form I-20 to a student.

03/27/2020

F-1 students may leave the United States to complete the spring term online.  As long as they are making normal progress in their course of study, their SEVIS record would not be terminated, even if they have been abroad for more than five months.

An F-1 student may engage in CPT during their time abroad, provided the student is:

  • Enrolled in a program of study in which CPT is integral;
  • The DSO authorize CPT in advance of the CPT start date; and
  • Either the employer has an office outside the United States or the employer can assess student engagement and attainment of learning objectives electronically.

03/21/2020

NCSU OIS answers for frequently asked questions by international students

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ

No adverse immigration consequences for noncitizens to seek medical care related to COVID-19

USCIS will not consider testing, treatment, nor preventive care (such as vaccine if one is later available) related to COVID-19 in adjudicating an application for a green card, change of status, or extension of status.  Public charge refers to individuals who are primarily dependent on publicly funded programs, such as the medical program Medicaid, and who thus may be denied a green card or a nonimmigrant status.  Therefore, noncitizens with symptoms that resemble COVID-19 should seek necessary medical treatment and preventive services, even if such treatment and services are funded or provided by the U.S. government.

Suspension of routine visa services abroad

The U.S. Department of State is suspending routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates.  As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html

Country-specific travel restrictions

If you plan to travel outside the United States, you may learn about any travel restriction at your destination country at:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html