Legal Updates & Advisories
The information presented here is intended to provide guidance and resources to all members of the Rutgers community regarding immigration policies, executive orders on immigration, and other regulatory updates that impact international students and scholars as well as Rutgers’ ability to host them. As we learn more information, we will continue to update this page.
During the year, ISSS sends out periodic emails to international students at Rutgers - New Brunswick and RBHS. All international students in F-1 and J-1 status are automatically signed up for these emails. If you work at Rutgers and want to be added to our email list so that you can stay aware of issues affecting international students, email firstname.lastname@example.org. These messages are archived under the Deadlines and Alerts section of the Rutgers Global website.
USCIS POLICY GUIDANCE ON OPT - SEPTEMBER 30, 2019
Practical Training: Determining a Direct Relationship Between Employment and a Student’s Major Area of Study
F-1 visa regulations allow you to engage in employment on OPT/STEM Extension OPT in jobs that are directly related to your field of study. The new guidance explains that students are responsible for providing a description of how their job duties relate to their major area of study, which DSOs then must review and report to SEVIS or retain in the student's file. The guidance also provides examples of how this coursework relevance can be explained.
Learn about the guidance in detail here.
VISA DELAYS AND DENIALS - JUNE 2019
In recent times, students and scholars have been known to face extra scrutiny and delays during international travel and in the process of obtaining a new visa, or even renewing a visa for continued study or research. ISSS recommends that any international students or scholars who will need to apply for a U.S. visa to follow our travel recommendations, stay abreast of changing policies and current news, keep up with government advisories, and plan in advance:
U.S. Department of State Resources
travel.state.gov is the primary source of information regarding travel delays, alerts, and warnings. Please refer to:
DELAYS IN PROCESSING OPT FOR F-1 STUDENTS -- JUNE 2019
F-1 students who have applied for OPT are facing unprecedented delays in receiving their EADs (employment authorization documents). These delays are being experienced across the country and can affect all recent graduates or those looking to receive their degrees in the near future. F-1 students are not permitted to begin working until they get their EADs. They cannot travel outside the US and reenter without their EAD and a job offer. Therefore these delays can result in loss of opportunities or jeopardize a student’s legal status in the U.S. While in previous years, OPT applications have taken an average of 2-3 months to be processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), processing times this year are much longer than in previous years. Recent estimates are that OPT processing times could take as long as 5+ months.
Follow these links for more information on these delays:
SEVIS FEE INCREASES - EFFECTIVE JUNE 24, 2019
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is increasing the SEVIS fee for F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors. The new fees will be $350 for F-1 students and $220 for J-1 exchange visitors. This fee is paid before students apply for their visa, and evidence of the fee payment is required at the visa interview. The fee is paid online at fmjfee.com. There is further information about this SEVIS fee at https://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/faq. For information about which F-1 students are required to pay the SEVIS fee, go to https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/paying-the-i-901-sevis-fee
USCIS UPDATES POLICIES RELATED TO REQUESTS FOR MORE INFORMATION FOR APPLICATIONS – EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 2018
The USCIS has updated their policies related to issuance of the Request for Evidence (RFE) and the Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) for immigration applications. These new policies are effective for applications filed on or after September 11, 2018. In the past, the USCIS would only deny an application without first issuing an RFE or a NOID if the documentation showed evidence that violated laws or if there was deemed to be no possibility of approval.
The new guidance gives the USCIS adjudicators the discretion to deny an application without issuance of an RFE or NOID if the required documents are not submitted with the application. Thus, it is important to provide the documentation requested for immigration applications. Also, if someone has violated their status, such as working without authorization, that may result in a NOID. Experience has shown that there are more issues with applications submitted at the last minute, so it is important to begin the application process as early as possible, to allow for more options in case an application is denied.
USCIS CHANGES POLICY RELATING TO UNLAWFUL PRESENCE FOR F AND J VISA HOLDERS – EFFECTIVE AUGUST 2018
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) changed how their agency will calculate unlawful presence for F, J, and M nonimmigrants, including dependent family members, who fail to maintain their status in the United States. This USCIS policy memorandum explains the change, effective August 9, 2018.
This change will affect students who stay in the U.S. after their status ends or who violate their status by not following the F-1 or J-1 regulations. Sometimes students might not even realize the problem.
Examples of when unlawful presence could start counting:
I-20 expires before graduation and student forgets to request an I-20 extension
Failure to enroll in full-time classes without qualifying for a part-time exception and notifying ISSS
Withdrawal from school without notifying ISSS first
Working off campus without ISSS and government permission
Working on campus for more hours than allowed
OPT application denied after 60-day grace period ends
Staying in the U.S. after the 60-day grace period expires (for F-1 students)
Staying in the U.S. after the 30-day grace period expires (for J-1 students)
This change is significant as it could affect students’ and exchange visitors’ eligibility to change to a different nonimmigrant status, seek permanent resident status, and/or return to the United States if they travel abroad after accruing a certain number of days of unlawful presence.
TRAVEL BAN: SUPREME COURT RULING ALLOWS FOR RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL – JUNE 2018
On June 26, 2018, the US Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s Presidential Proclamation of September 24, 2017 which restricted travel to the United States for those from specified countries (citizens, "nationals" of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). This proclamation is commonly referred to as the “travel ban” and does not affect students or scholars who are currently in the United States, but places restrictions on those who are applying to enter the country. Because of the Supreme Court decision, the restrictions are in place are expected to be enforced indefinitely as of now.
The Department of State (DOS) has posted an announcement summarizing instructions to consular officers on the implementation of the travel ban. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement and FAQ on June 29, 2018.
Students and scholars from the affected countries should contact ISSS before making any overseas travel plans.
NEW GUIDANCE FROM USCIS REGARDING CHANGE OF STATUS TO F-1
USCIS updated their guidance on Changing to a Nonimmigrant F Student Status on February 6, 2018. This change could have major consequences if your change of status request is denied and you failed to maintain your current legal status throughout the change process. Students considering applying for a change to F-1 status while remaining in the United States are strongly encouraged to consult with an immigration attorney, especially if their current legal status will expire within less than one year.
For more information regarding applying for change of status, review the following links