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Immigration and Visa Changes

Recently, the U.S. government has made some immigration and visa changes that affect F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors. It is very important for students to maintain their immigration status while in the U.S. We constantly monitor changes in immigration and visa regulations and/or policies affecting international students and scholars. 

Updates will be posted on this page for your convenience when they become available. International students and scholars who have questions about these changes should contact our office.

 

SEVP Portal Will Be Available To Students for Only Six Months after OPT Ends

Beginning in October 2019, students on OPT will only have access to the SEVP Portal for up to six months after their OPT ends.

Students who are five months or more beyond their OPT end date will receive emails informing them that their Portal access will end in 30 days, so they should make a copy of the portal record for future reference.

Determining a Direct Relationship Between Employment and a Student's Major Area of Study during OPT

On September 27, 2019, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program issued policy guidance on the obligations of schools and students to document that there is a direct relationship between the student's major field of study and the work the student does on during OPT and STEM OPT.

Documenting the Direct Relationship: International students are responsible for providing a description of how their OPT employment relates to their major area of study, which then must be reviewed by EKU international advisors. Students can enter this description in SEVIS, by using the SEVP Portal or using EKU OPT Reporting Form.

Your written explanation, should include your job title, employer name, major area of study, whether full time or the average hours worked per week, and a brief explanation of how the job is directly related to your studies. The regular duties should be explained and the connection between those duties and the degree described (See examples provided here).

New, Increased I-901 SEVIS Fee

Effective June 24, 2019, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) increased the I-901 SEVIS Fee. The new fees are as follows:

FEE TYPE 

OLD FEE

 NEW FEE 

I-901 for F-1 Students

 $ 200

$ 350

I-901 for  J-1 Exchange Visitors

$ 180

$ 220

This only affects the following students:

  • All prospective F and J students coming to the U.S.
  • Any student applying for a change of nonimmigrant status to F-1 or J-1 status 
  • An F or J student applying for reinstatement of student status after being out of status for more than five months
  • An F or J student who has been absent from the United States for more than five months and wishes to return to school.

Social Media Question on Visa Applications

Effective June 3, 2019, the Department of State (DOS) has added a "social media" question to Form DS-160, the standard online application used by individuals to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. The item requires applicants to select the social media platforms that they have used during the past five years, and to provide any identifiers or handles they used on those platforms.

USCIS Request for Evidence (RFE) and Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) New Policy

Effective, September 11, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a policy memorandum (PDF, 113 KB) has granted its adjudicators the full discretion to deny applications, petitions, and requests without first issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) if the required documents are not submitted with the application.

Prior to this policy change, USCIS would normally issue an RFE or NOID, giving the applicant a chance to provide additional documents or explain the deficiencies.

USCIS Unlawful Presence New Policy for F-1 and J-1 Nonimmigrants and Their Dependents

Effective, August 9, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) changed its policy on when to begin counting the days of lawful presence when F-1 students or J-1 exchange visitors and their dependents violate their immigration status.

Under the new policy, USCIS will start counting days of unlawful presence, the day after an individual in F or J status violates his or her status. Prior policy did not count unlawful presence until a USCIS official or immigration judge made a formal finding of a status violation.

Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence, may be subject to a 3-year or 10-year ban from admission to the U.S.