Notice to Drexel Community: U.S. Immigration Policy Changes
A statement from Drexel University President John A. Fry
Drexel's global ties are integral to our mission, whether in educating international students here on campus, placing Drexel undergraduates in career-making co-ops with overseas companies, or creating new knowledge through research partnerships that span continents. We will do everything possible to preserve these critical relationships and to safeguard the students, faculty, and professional staff who are at the heart of what we do. These members of the Drexel community have our strongest backing. We encourage all those potentially affected to check with Drexel's International Students and Scholars Services for updated information and advice on any travel plans, as University officials will continue to monitor the situation closely.
Read President John A. Fry's full statement regarding Support for International Students, Faculty, and Staff.
Haiti: Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Designation
On May 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) starting May 21st for 18 months. Haitian nationals who are already residing in the U.S., at the time of this announcement, are eligible for the TPS benefit. For more information, please visit the Official website of the Department of Homeland Security.
U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Russia
Effective May 12, 2021 the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia will reduce consular services offered to include only emergency U.S. citizen services and a very limited number of age-out and life-or-death emergency immigrant visas. This reduction in services is due to the Russian government’s April 23rd notification of its intention to prohibit U.S. Mission Russia from employing foreign nationals in any capacity. Non-immigrant visa processing for non-diplomatic travel will cease.
ISSS will continue to closely monitor any further development regarding this reduction in consular services and communicate additional information when available.
President Biden Adds India to the List of Regional COVID-19 Travel Bans
Effective May 4, 2021, foreign nationals who have been physically present in India within 14 days of travel to the United States will not be permitted entry, unless they qualify for an exception. For the list of certain foreign nationals who are not subject to the ban, please consult the Proclamation.
This same type of travel ban is already in effect for Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, EU Schengen countries, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Like the other bans, the India travel restrictions will remain in place until terminated by the President of the United States (U.S.). Currently there is severely limited criteria and standards for nonimmigrants to pursue the national interest exception under the existing regional COVID travel bans.
As a reminder, regional COVID-19 travel restrictions are in addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order that requires a negative COVID-19 test or evidence of recent COVID-19 recovery for any international air travel to the U.S. The CDC requirement affects all travelers seeking to enter the U.S. from abroad.
ISSS will continue to closely monitor any further development regarding these regional travel bans and communicate additional information when available.
Sources: Fragomen Immigration Alerts
National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland, and India
On April 26, 2021, the Department of State (DoS) Secretary Blinken made a national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions to all regional travel restrictions currently related to the spread of COVID-19. As a result of this determination, together with national interest determinations already in place, travelers subject to these proclamations, due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and India, who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure; journalists; students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs, may now qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE).
Students and academics subject to these proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, or India may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later. Students and academics subject to the European regional bans do not need to meet this requirement.
Students with a valid F-1 visa intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies. Students seeking to apply for a new F-1 visa should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for the F-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.
As with all NIEs for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States under a Presidential Proclamation, if circumstances warrant, the Secretary of State may revise the national interest determination. As the global pandemic evolves, the DoS continues to seek ways to process more visa applications, in line with science-based guidance from health authorities, and with the health & safety of its staff and applicants as their main priority.
ISSS will continue to closely monitor any further development regarding this exception and communicate additional information when available. Please refer to the following NAFSA resource page for a detailed explanation of the newly expanded NIE and its implications for new and continuing students, scholars, and staff: NAFSA COVID-19 Restrictions on U.S. Visas and Entry.
Sources: American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs
DHS Announces Special Student Relief (SSR) Employment Benefits to Venezuelan and Syrian Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship [BURMA (MYANMAR) RECENTLY ADDED]
On April 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted Federal Register notices announcing the suspension of certain regulatory requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant students from Venezuela and Syria who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a result of the humanitarian crises in their country of citizenship.
DHS stated that affected Venezuelan and Syrian lawful F-1 nonimmigrant students may request employment authorization (i.e. Economic Hardship for off-campus employment), work an increased number of hours while school is in session (i.e. on approved CPT, Pre-Completion OPT, and/or Economic Hardship), and reduce their course loads while continuing to maintain F-1 status (i.e. Undergraduate must maintain a minimum of 6 credit hours, Graduate must maintain a minimum of 3 credit hours).
The notice applies exclusively to F-1 nonimmigrant students who meet all of the following criteria:
- Are citizens of Venezuela or Syria,
- Were lawfully present in the U.S. in an F-1 nonimmigrant status on April 22, 2021,
- Are enrolled in an SEVP-certified school,
- Are currently maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status, and
- Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crises in Venezuela or Syria.
How long is this Special Student Relief (SSR)* applicable?
The suspension of these requirements will remain in effect until:
- September 9, 2022 for Venezuelan students.
- September 30, 2022 for Syrian students.
*Please note that SSR And Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are different. TPS may be offered to various visa classifications, when applicable, including F-1 students. However, SSR, when applicable, is only offered to eligible F-1 students.
For more information on your eligibility and how to pursue this benefit, please contact Mladenka Tomasevic, Executive Director of ISSS, at email@example.com.
Sources: Study in the States, Fragomen Immigration Alerts, Klasko Client Alert
Recent Orders and Announcements
On February 28th, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that they will be offering some accommodations to Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT Extension applicants affected by processing delays in issuing application receipt notices. The following will be applied to OPT and STEM OPT applications received between October 1, 2020 and May 1, 2021:
- 14-month OPT period: Students will be allowed to complete their post-completion 12-month OPT period within 14 months of their OPT EAD approval date. Under the standard rule, they are required to complete OPT within 14 months of their I-20 program end date. If you receive an OPT EAD for less than 12 months, please notify ISSS immediately. You will be able to request a correction from USCIS.
- Refiling your OPT application after rejection: Students whose timely filed OPT and STEM OPT applications were rejected after the timeframe to timely submit will be allowed to refile their applications. These applications must be received by May 31, 2021, to be treated as filed on the original date.
- Request for Evidence (RFE) for missing or deficient signature: USCIS will issue a request for evidence (RFE) instead of denying OPT/STEM OPT applications that contain missing or deficient signatures if they were received by USCIS during the relevant timeframe. However, please note that the USCIS policy permitting rejection of applications with missing or deficient signature remains in place so applications should be checked for sufficient signatures prior to filing.
For more detailed information, please see Fragomen Immigration Alerts. If your OPT or STEM OPT is rejected, please immediately contact ISSS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 11, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Burma [Myanmar] for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from March 11, 2021 through September 11, 2022 (18 months). Only individuals who are already residing in the United States (U.S.) are eligible for TPS. Individuals who can demonstrate continuous residence in the U.S. as of March 11, 2021, are eligible for TPS under Burma’s designation.For more information please visit the Official website of the Department of Homeland Security.
On March 8, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from March 9, 2021 through September 9, 2022 (18 months). Eligible individuals will be able to apply for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)-related Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). For more information, please visit the NAFSA: Association of International Educators website.
On January 26, President Biden signed a proclamation continuing without interruption the regional COVID-19 travel bans in place for Brazil, European Schengen countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Previously, former President Trump ordered that these restrictions expire on January 26. The new proclamation also adds the Republic of South Africa, effective January 30, to the list of countries subject to the ban. Separate proclamations issued by the Trump administration for China and Iran are still in place. Foreign nationals are prohibited from traveling if they have been physically present in any of these countries/territories within 14 days of travel to the U.S.
Under this new proclamation, F-1 and J-1 visa holders traveling from the EU Schengen countries, U.K, and Ireland will continue to be eligible for the national interest waiver.
Additional recent immigration and travel updates:
- As of January 26, all international air passengers over the age of two entering the U.S. are required to show proof of negative test for COVID-19 or proof of having recover from COVID-19 before they will be allowed to board their flights. This regulation requires passengers to get a test within three days of their flight to the U.S.
- On January 20, President Biden signed a presidential proclamation that lifted two nationality-based travel bans, ban 3.0 and ban 4.0, issued by the previous administration. Ban 3.0 was instituted in 2017 and restricted nationals of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen from traveling to the U.S. Ban 4.0 was instituted in early 2020 and restricted nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (Burma), Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania from traveling to the U.S. The proclamation charged the Department of State to review all immigrant visas denied under these bans. Additionally, DOS is asked to ensure that previously denied applicants are not prejudiced against if they re-apply for visas.
- On January 20, President Biden directed the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to “take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA”.
- On January 20, President Biden announced that he plans to send an immigration reform bill to Congress. This bill is expected to provide a pathway to U.S. permanent residence (“green card”) and citizenship for undocumented foreign nationals who were present in the U.S. on or before January 1, 2021, including those holding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This reform bill is in preliminary stages and its future remains unclear.
- On January 14, the Trump administration revised the final rule that will restructure the prevailing wages system for H-1B, E-3, H-1B1, and PERM programs. The new rule contains significant prevailing wage increases for all wage levels, though the new minimums are not as high as initially sought in October 2020. This rule is set to take effect in March 2021, but the wage minimum will not be imposed until July 1, 2021. It is still unclear if the new administration will challenge this ruling.
ISSS will continue monitoring further developments and update our website as needed. For more detailed and up-to-date information about all relevant immigration changes, please consult the Biden Administration Immigration Portal recently developed by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Our NAFSA colleagues developed this portal to follow significant immigration-related changes and initiatives especially relevant to higher education.
On December 3, 2020, a New York federal district court ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fully restore the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under the order, DHS must start accepting both initial DACA applications and renewals. Additionally, DHS must start issuing advance parole travel documents and two-year DACA and DACA Employment Authorization Document (EAD) renewals. As of December 7, DHS reinstated accepting initial DACA applications and renewals, as well as applications for DACA advance parole travel documents. For more detailed information, please consult DHS website.
Source: Fragomen Immigration Alerts
On December 1, 2020, the US District Court for the Northern District of California suspended the Department of Labor’s (DOL) prevailing wage increase that went into effect on October 8, 2020 and prevented implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposed H-1B changes which were set to take effect on December 7, 2020. According to the court ruling, both DOL and DHS failed to allow public comments before the rule became final.
What does this mean?
In response to federal court decisions:
- On December 3rd, the DOL reverted to the government’s Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage data that was in use prior to the October 8, 2020 DOL rule change. For Drexel hiring units that wish to sponsor foreign nationals for H-1B, this signals a departure from the high prevailing wage determinations that have been quoted by Drexel ISSS since October 8. Beginning December 9, 2020 Drexel University is eligible to submit labor condition applications for H-1B petitions utilizing the pre-October 8 wage data. Drexel University has until January 4, 2021 to ask DOL to review prevailing wage determinations that were issued using the higher wage data under the October 8 rule change.
- On December 4th, the DHS announced that they will fully comply with the court’s decision and confirmed that the rule set to take effect on December 7 had been rescinded. The H-1B program rules that existed prior to the DHS rule change of October 8, 2020 remains. The DHS rule of October 8 introduced stricter eligibility criteria for H-1B specialty occupations, placed new restrictions on the placement of H-1B workers at third-party worksites, and reinstated evidentiary and oversight policies for sponsoring employers.
What happens next?
While the court’s decision is immediate, a government appeal is possible. Additionally, agencies remain empowered to reissue the regulations in the remaining weeks of the Trump administration. The future of this rule remains in question.
Sources: NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Fragomen Immigration Alerts, Klasko Client Alert
On October 6, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that they will tighten the criteria for the H-1B program by narrowing the definition of "specialty occupation" for H-1B employees. This regulation will become effective on December 7, 2020.
On October 8, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a new regulation that significantly lifted prevailing wages for the H-1B, E-3, H-1B1, and PERM programs. This regulation is effective immediately. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that they will tighten the criteria for the H-1B program.
- The DOL prevailing wage rule does not apply to prevailing wage determinations issued prior to October 8, 2020.
- Neither the DOL or DHS rules impact F-1 or J-1 students and work authorizations attached to their status (e.g. OPT, STEM OPT, CPT, Academic Training).
Please reach out to ISSS at email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns about the new regulations and their impact on you or, if you are Drexel hiring department, any of your current and future employees.
More information is available on NAFSA's web page DOL Interim Final Rule on OES and Prevailing Wage Determinations
On September 25, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule to eliminate the Duration of Status (D/S) for F and J visa holders and replace it with fixed periods of stay. An additional group of individuals impacted by this rule are representatives of foreign media in the U.S. on I visas. As a reminder, F-1 and J-1 visa holders and their F-2 and J-2 dependents are currently admitted into the U.S. for D/S. D/S means that they are allowed to stay in the U.S. as long as they maintain their immigration status, plus any time on post-graduation practical training (F-1 and J-1 students), plus a grace period (60 days for F visa holders and 30 days for J visa holders).
If the rule is finalized as proposed, DHS plans to make the following changes:
- Eliminate D/S. Instead of being admitted for D/S, F and J visa holders would be allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 4 years regardless of the expected length of their program determined by their schools. Certain groups (see below) will be subject to a more limited 2-year admission. If programs are not completed in the allotted 4 or 2 years, respectively, they would be eligible to apply for an extension of stay through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Currently, extensions of programs are processed by their visa sponsor (e.g. Drexel University)
- Groups subject to a limited 2-year admission:
- Individuals born in or are citizens of countries on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List. Countries on the list as of 9/28/2020: North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and Syria.
- Citizens of countries with an F and J total visa overstay greater than 10% according to the most recent DHS Entry/Exit Overstay report.
- DHS would have the discretion to limit certain groups of students enrolled in specific areas of study (e.g., nuclear science) to only 2-year admission for U.S. national interest purposes.
- Students (F-1 only) attending institutions not accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary of Education.
- F-1 and J-1 visa holders sponsored by schools not fully enrolled in E-Verify.
- Shorten grace period from 60 to 30 days for F visa holders. Instead of the current period of 60 days, F visa holders will have a period of 30 days following their program end date, or the end date of their post-graduation OPT, to prepare for their departure from the U.S., transfer to another school, or apply for a change of immigration status.
- Limit ESL study participation. F-1 students in a language training program would be restricted to a lifetime aggregate of 24 months of language study, including breaks and an annual vacation.
- Limit F-1 student participation at the same educational level. Any student who has completed a program at one educational level would not be allowed to change to another program at the same level more than two additional times while in F-1 status for a total of three programs for the lifetime of the student.
- Limit F-1 participation on the reverse matriculation level. Any student who has completed a program at one educational level would be allowed to change to a lower education level one time while in F-1 status.
DHS is also proposing other changes for F-1 visa holders:
- Extend the F-1 cap-gap from October 1 to April 1. This would be an automatic extension of F-1 OPT cap- gap work authorization until April 1 of the fiscal year for which the H-1B petition is filed.
- Applicants for post-completion OPT would be able to submit their application to the USCIS 120 days before their program end date. Currently, the earliest OPT can be received by the USCIS is 90 days prior to the program end date.
- Automatic extension of employment authorization for some F-1 visa holders when a timely extension of stay is filled with the USCIS. This extension would only be applied to STEM OPT, on-campus employment, and off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship. Note: CPT and OPT applicants would not be eligible for this extension.
Additional proposed changes for J-1 visa holders:
- Extension of 240-day rule: if they file timely extension of stay applications that remain pending beyond their period of admission (four or two years), J-1 visa holders will receive an automatic extension of employment authorization for up to 240 days.
- Potential J-1 extension during H-1B cap adjudications: If H-1B cap adjudications are delayed, DHS would have an option to extend J-1 visa holders while their H-1B cap case is pending.
What happens next?
DHS will accept public comments on the rule for 30 days after publication. After the 30-day comment period is over, the DHS will review the feedback and could make revisions based on the public comments. The final rule may be quite different from the current proposed rule. It is also possible that the proposed rule will be rejected entirely.
ISSS will continue to closely monitor any further development regarding this issue and communicate additional information when available.
Sources: Fragomen Clients Alerts and NAFSA: Association of International Educators
Update: On September 29, 2020, a federal judge blocked USCIS fee increases. New fees and form versions associated with the final USCIS fee rule are now on hold. ISSS will continue monitoring further developments and provide more information when available.
On August 3, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new filing fee schedule. The new schedule will take effect on October 2, and an increase average is 20%. Among others, the application fee for Optional Practical Training (OPT), work authorization for F-1 students, will increase from $410 to $550.
For the full new fee schedule, please consult the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Website.
On August 3, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) directing the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) to take steps to ensure that the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers are not adversely affected by H-1B workers. Additionally, the EO focuses on a review of foreign hiring by federal contractors. This will most likely lead to more H-1B compliance enforcement, such as increase in H-1B application investigations, petition denials, worksite investigations, etc. For more detailed information about this EO, please consult NAFSA: Association of International Educators and Fragomen Immigration Alerts.
On July 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) filed a motion to dismiss its own appeal of the lower court's decision to block enforcement of USCIS's August 2019 unlawful presence memo. This decision is significant in many ways for F-1 and J-1 students and scholars. To learn more about the impact, please read a blog by Ronald Klasko, a Philadelphia immigration attorney.
Update: As of September 22, 2020, USCIS resumes its public rule nationwide. Adjustment of status applications submitted on or after February 24, 2020, and before October 13, 2020, will most likely receive a request for evidence for Form I-944. Effective October 13, 2020, all adjustment of status applications must be filed with Form I-944 or they will otherwise be rejected. If you think that this decision may affect your pending or future application with the USCIS, ISSS encourages you to consult with an immigration attorney.
On July 31, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced their future steps following a recent federal district court decision to temporarily bar the implementation of the U.S. Government public charge rules. The USCIS stated that they comply with the order and will not require individuals filing for certain immigration benefits (e.g. permanent residence, change of status, an extension of status) to provide information about their receipt of public benefits. This decision will be applied to applications postmarked July 29 or after. For applications received by the USCIS before July 29 and currently pending, adjudicators will not consider any information that the applicant provided relating to the public benefits.
What Does This Mean for International Students and Scholars?
We may expect that the USCIS will appeal the court decision but, nevertheless, the announcement has an immense impact on international students and scholars applying for any of the immigration benefits mentioned above.
ISSS will continue to monitor any further updates on this topic and will communicate additional information when available.
On July 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responded to the recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision that allows DACA to remain in place for now, by announcing that they will be reconsidering the program, including the possibility of entirely rescinding it in the future. In the meantime, the DHS will start implementing the following changes immediately:
- DACA renewals will be limited to one year (currently two years).
- Reject all initial requests for DACA, including associated applications for employment authorization.
- Reject new and pending requests for advanced parole (travel document) except under exceptional circumstances.
What Happens Next?
DHS did not provide any additional information about the timeline of its plan to review the DACA program or what this review may entail.
ISSS will continue to closely monitor any further development regarding the DACA program and communicate additional information when available.
On July 24, 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE) agency released updated guidance offering more clarity as to what international F-1 students, both current and new incoming students, will be allowed to do to in fall 2020 in light of the continuing public health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ICE continues to offer flexibility to current students by allowing them to remain and, if they are currently outside the U.S., return to their campuses regardless of the mode of instruction their schools will offer in the fall — in-person, hybrid, or entirely remote.
However, new incoming students currently outside of the U.S., can travel to the U.S. to start their program ONLY if they will NOT participate in 100 percent remote programs.
What Does This Mean for Drexel F-1 International Students?
Drexel's plan for fall 2020 is to feature a hybrid approach to learning, research, and student life. Classes will be taught both in-person on campus and remotely. Drexel's primary goal is to support the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff. To ensure that, as well as to fulfill the University's mission of teaching, research and service, the Office of the Registrar has designed various instructional methods. For more information on course registration, as well as descriptions, please review the Course Registration Process. The hybrid model of instruction currently offered by Drexel is temporarily permitted by ICE, but there are still certain rules that F-1 students must follow to ensure compliance with immigration regulations.
ISSS continues to closely monitor the development of this situation and will communicate additional and appropriate information via the ISSS FAQs webpage.
In a hearing before a federal district judge in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 14, 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agreed to rescind the July 6 guidance and the follow-up July 7 FAQs. According to this guidance, international F-1 students were not permitted to remain in or travel to the U.S. if they are enrolled in schools and/or programs that are entirely online for the fall term. The guidance also stated that, if a school changes its operational stance mid-term and, as a result of that change, international students switch to only remote classes, they must depart the U.S. immediately or take other steps to ensure they continue maintaining their immigration status (i.e. transfer to another school providing in-person instruction).
What Happens Next?
We expect that the SEVP will either issue new guidance for fall 2020 or will make conforming revisions to guidance from March 9 and March 13, respectively. As a reminder, the March guidance gave F-1 students the flexibility to continue maintaining their immigration status as schools started shutting down in-person instruction and implemented emergency procedures that included mostly online/remote courses. Students were allowed to continue their studies full-time online/remote on a temporary basis due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Under normal circumstances, international students can only enroll in one online (up to 3 credits) course per full-time enrollment.
Until the SEVP provides additional information, it remains unclear how this decision will impact incoming students currently outside of the U.S. The March guidance stated that those students should remain outside the country.
If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our Office of International Students and Scholar Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On July 6, 2020, the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which is a unit within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issued temporary procedural guidance applying to international students on F-1 visas for the fall 2020 term. While the SEVP continues to provide some flexibility to schools and international students during the global pandemic, this newly issued fall guidance provides less flexibility than the accommodations instituted in March 2020 that applied to the spring and summer terms.
According to the Fall 2020 Guidance
- International students on F-1 visas attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall term nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction, to remain in lawful status. If they do not, students may face immigration consequences that include, but are not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings. If these students opt to continue attending their current schools, they may study remotely from outside the U.S. and maintain active SEVIS records.
- International students on F-1 visas will be allowed to attend schools adopting a hybrid model – that is, schools operating partially in-person and permitting students to take more than one remote class (or three credits) with certification from their school. Under normal circumstances, immigration regulations do not allow international students in the U.S. to take more than one online class per term. All international students on F-1 visas enrolled at Drexel fall into this category.
- International students on F-1 visas attending schools that have opted to operate in-person are bound by existing federal regulations and can take no more than one remote class (three credits) per term.
- If a school changes its operational stance mid-term, and as a result of that change, international students switch to only remote classes, those students must then depart the U.S. immediately or take other steps to ensure they continue maintaining their immigration status (i.e. transfer to another school).
What Is the Impact of This Guidance?
Given that Drexel University has adopted the hybrid model for fall 2020, the new temporary exemptions allow our students to take more than one course online. The Office of International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) will work with the Office of the Registrar and the University’s academic advisors to ensure that all international students remain compliant.
ISSS, along with numerous ISSS offices nationwide, expect to see more guidance from the SEVP. While we continue to expect additional clarifications to the guidance, we also need to be prepared that this guidance is final and act accordingly to ensure both institutional compliance and that every student enrolled in the hybrid model in the fall is in compliance with immigration regulations. According to the guidance, WE MUST:
- By August 1, submit our fall 2020 operational plan to SEVP.
- By August 4, update and re-issue all I-20 forms to reflect our operational plan. Before we can do so, we must confirm, for each student, that the model is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load in the fall, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. In order to successfully comply with this requirement, we will need to closely work with academic departments, the registrar's office, and others, to ensure that accurate information is transmitted to SEVIS. At this time, the estimated number of I-20s that we will have to issue is close to 3,000.
- For students presently outside of the U.S., both current and incoming, ensure that they receive updated I-20s prior to them applying for a student visa (if applicable) and re-entering the U.S.
ISSS will continue to closely monitor the development of this situation and will communicate when additional and appropriate information is available. Updates will be made available at drexel.edu/isss.
Presidential Proclamation 10052, which temporarily suspended the issuance and entry of certain categories of H-1B, H-2B, J and L nonimmigrants, expired on March 31, 2021. While there are currently no visa classification-based nonimmigrant travel bans in effect, several COVID-19 related travel bans remain in place. Additionally, U.S. embassies/consulates worldwide are experiencing reduced operations and backlogs in visa issuance. For more detailed information, please visit Fragomen Immigration Alerts.
On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation extending and amending the Executive Order of April 22nd, 2020, which suspends entry into the U.S. for certain aliens who present a risk to the U.S. labor market following the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. This proclamation is effective as of June 24th, 2020 and valid through December 31st, 2020.
WHO IS IMPACTED?
This proclamation applies to the following individuals currently outside the United States who do not have a valid non-immigrant visa on the effective date of the proclamation:
- H-1B and H-2B
- L-1A and L-1B
- J-1 exchange visitors under the following DS-2019 categories: intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair and summer work travel participants, and
- Dependent spouses and children of above visa types
If you are currently at Drexel on any of these visas, please consult with the ISSS prior to making plans to depart the U.S., if you are expected to return and resume your program or employment.
Note: it is still unclear if there is any impact on Canadian citizens, who are not required to apply for a visa to enter the U.S.
WHO IS EXEMPT?
The following individuals are exempt from the proclamation:
- Individuals outside the U.S. in possession of a valid visa as of June 24th
- J-1 Students, Professors, Research Scholars, Short-term Scholars
- Individuals present in the U.S. on June 24th, including those still waiting for a change of status approval under the FY 2021 H-1B cap.
For full list of exemptions and waivers, please consult the proclamation.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The Departments of Homeland Security and Labor are charged to develop regulations to ensure that H-1B, EB-2 and EB-3 programs do not disadvantage U.S. workers. These regulations could impose more strict eligibility criteria as well as immigration compliance enforcement, such as worksite investigations. These policy updates may be forthcoming.
The ISSS will continue to closely monitor the development of this situation and will communicate when additional and appropriate information is available. Updates will be made available at drexel.edu/isss.
Sources: Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak, Fragomen Immigration Alerts, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators
On June 18, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the President Trump administration may not immediately proceed with its plan to end DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, also stating that the administration could work to remedy the procedural issues that led to the decision. For now, current DACA program participants:
- will continue maintaining their status, including their employment authorization.
- will be eligible to apply for the renewal of their status and employment authorization.
At this time, it is unclear if:
- the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be accepting applications for initial DACA participation, and
- current DACA participants will be able to apply for travel authorization.
Both have been suspended since 2017.
Sources: Fragomen Client Alerts, Supreme Court of the United States.
Presidential proclamation suspends entry of certain Chinese F and J Visa holders with ties to entities that support People’s Republic of China (PRC) military initiatives:
On May 29th, 2020, President Trump signed a Proclamation suspending entry into the U.S. for certain F-1 and J-1 visa holders from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) effective June 1st, 2020.
WHO IS IMPACTED?
The Proclamation applies to Chinese nationals seeking to enter the U.S. as F-1 or J-1 visa holders to pursue graduate study or conduct research, if they:
- “Receives funding, is currently employed by, studies at, or conducts research at or on behalf of...an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the PRC’s ‘military-civil fusion strategy',"
- “has been employed by, studied at, or conducted research at or on behalf of...an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the PRC’s “military-civil fusion strategy’”
For the purposes of this proclamation, “military-civil fusion strategy means actions by or at the behest of the PRC to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance the PRC’s military capabilities.”
WHO IS EXEMPT?
The Proclamation does NOT affect:
- Chinese nationals seeking to enter the U.S. to pursue undergraduate studies.
- Chinese nationals pursuing studies or research in fields not deemed to advance China’s military-civil Fusion strategy.
- U.S. lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders) and the spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
For a full list of exemptions, please consult the proclamation.
WHO WILL BE DETERMINING WHETHER AN INDIVIDUAL IS SUBJECT TO THE RESTRICTIONS AND HOW?
The Department of State and US embassy and consular officials will determine at the time of the visa interview if a foreign national is subject to the proclamation. The Department of State has not disclosed how determinations will be made; however, they have confirmed that the following resources could be useful in providing background information and understanding on which foreign nationals may be subject to the proclamation:
Similarly, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may refuse entry to foreign nationals who they deem are subject to the proclamation. Customs and Border Protection may refuse entry to foreign nationals at US ports of entry who have been flagged under the proclamation and are ineligible for entry. Drexel ISSS will continue to receive and process I-20 and DS-2019 applications for foreign nationals.
Source: NAFSA: Association of International Education
WHAT HAPPENS TO INDIVIDUALS ALREADY IN THE U.S.?
The Secretary of State will consider whether Chinese nationals currently present in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 immigration status, and meeting the above listed restrictions, will be impacted by this proclamation.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security are charged to, within 60 days, “review non-immigrant and immigrant programs and shall recommend” additional measures that “would mitigate the risk posed by the PRC’s acquisition of sensitive U.S. technologies and intellectual property.”
The ISSS will continue to closely monitor the development of this situation and will communicate when additional and appropriate information is available. Updates will be made available at drexel.edu/isss.
Sources: Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China, Fragomen Immigration Alerts, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
On April 22nd, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) restricting the entry of certain categories of employment-based and family-based immigrants into the United States. The order applies to the following foreign nationals:
- Individuals who are outside of the U.S. as of April 23, 2020, and
- Do not have an immigrant visa on April 23, 2020, and
- Do not have an official travel document other than a visa. These documents include advanced parole, an appropriate boarding foil, or a transportation letter.
While immediate family members of U.S. citizens, such as spouses and minor children, and permanent residents are exempt, the EO does apply to other relatives.
The EO does NOT affect:
- Non-immigrant visa holders (e.g. F-1, J-1, H-1B, O-1). This includes F-1 students on CPT, OPT and STEM OPT, J-1 students on Academic Training, J-1 Scholars, etc. No F-1, J-1, or H-1B status benefits are impacted.
- Newly admitted and confirmed students and scholars who are currently outside the U.S. and plan to apply for non-immigrant visas (F, J, TN, etc.) once U.S. consulates resume their operations.
- Individuals with currently pending immigration benefit applications with USCIS (e.g. green cards, change of status application, etc.) or individuals currently planning to submit those types of applications, if they otherwise meet the criteria of those immigration benefits.
The EO also does NOT affect:
- Lawful U.S. permanent residents (“green card” holders).
- Certain individuals working in healthcare (e.g. physicians, nurses, etc.) and medical researchers helping to combat COVID-19, including their spouses and children under the age of 21.
- EB-5 investors, individuals whose presence in the U.S. is in the national interest of the country, individuals whose entry furthers U.S. law enforcement objectives, asylum seekers, and certain other special immigrant entrants (e.g. Iraqi and Afghani nationals who have assisted the U.S. military).
The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor are charged to, within 30 days, review all non-immigrant programs and recommend other measures appropriate to “stimulate the United States economy to ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of the United States workers.” It is unclear at this time how this will unfold and what, if any, additional implications, and/or additional restrictions could be imposed after this temporary restriction ends in 60 days.
For more detailed information, please review Client Alert: President Trump Signs Executive Order Limiting Most Inbound Immigration by Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP.
ISSS will continue to closely monitor the development of this situation and will communicate when additional and appropriate information is available. Updates will be made available on the ISSS website.
On February 26, 2018, the US Supreme Court said that it will stay out of the dispute concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for now, meaning that, for the time being, participants will still be able to renew their status.
On February 26, 2018, US District Judge Philip Gutierrez in California ruled that the government cannot revoke DACA recipients' work permits or other protections without giving them notice and a chance to defend themselves. The ruling also temporarily blocks officials from revoking DACA protections from others without following a procedure "which includes, at a minimum, notice, a reasoned explanation, and an opportunity to be heard prior to termination."
To learn more, visit https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/inland-empire-immigrant-youth-collective-v-nielsen-decision.
On January 12, 2018 U.S. Customs and Immigration Services announced that it is again accepting renewal requests from DACA recipients.
For more information, visit https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-response-january-2018-preliminary-injunction.
If you have any questions or need assistance renewing please do not hesitate to ask the ISSS Office.
On Monday, December 4th, the United States Supreme Court voted to allow the enforcement of a travel ban that had previously been struck down. Based on the December 2017 Supreme court ruling, the prohibitions put in place in the September 24th proclamation are in effect.
On September 24, 2017, the White House issued a Presidential Proclamation titled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats.”
The proclamation restricts visa issuance and entry to the United States for citizens/nationals of eight countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. (Citizens/nationals of Sudan are no longer subject to the travel restrictions placed on them by the now-expired Executive Order 13780.) The Proclamation addresses different categories of visas and statuses for each of the eight countries. There will be a gradual implementation of the proclamation, beginning on October 18, 2017.
For more information about a proclamation versus an executive order, please see below.
The new restrictions mainly address the issuance of immigrant visas, (such as green cards), and B1/B2 business tourist visas, not the F1, J1, and H-1B visas used by many Drexel University students, scholars and employees.
Chad, Libya, Venezuela, and Yemen:
- Consulates are still issuing employment-based (such as, H-1B) visas, as well as F1 and J1 visas for passport holders from Chad, Libya, and Yemen.
- Entry is suspended for new immigrants and visitors (permanent residents and B2 tourists), though nationals of these countries may apply for a waiver. are still issuing F1 and J1 visas for passport holders from Chad, Libya, Venezuela, and Yemen. Consulates are still issuing employment-based (like, H-1B) visas from Chad, Libya, Venezuela, and Yemen.
- Consulates are still issuing employment-based (such as, H-1B) visas, as well as F1 and J1 visas for passport holders from Venezuela.
- Government officials and members of their immediate family are barred from receiving business and tourist visas (B1 and B2).
- F1 and J1 visas are still being issued to students and scholars from Iran, although they may be subject to increased scrutiny (administrative processing is one potential result). All other visa categories are restricted for citizens/nationals of Iran. Employees may not be able to apply for employment based visas such as H-1B, O-1, unless they are eligible for a waiver. If you have questions regarding hiring an employee and need assistance, contact Drexel’s ISSS.
North Korea and Syria:
- Citizens/nationals of North Korea and Syria will not be issued nonimmigrant/immigrant visas in any category. Students, scholars and employees from these countries will not be able to obtain a visa to enter the United States unless they are eligible for a waiver.
Somalia and Iraq:
- Although there are no specific restrictions on nonimmigrant visa issuance for citizens/nationals of Somalia and Iraq, they will face additional security clearances in the visa application process.
- In and outside of the US, all valid visas and green cards will remain active and cannot be revoked solely because of this Proclamation.
- People who hold dual citizenship (with one of the eight countries on the list and another country not on the list, ex. Dual Iranian-Canadian citizenship) are exempted from travel restrictions so long as they enter the US using the passport pertaining to the country not on the list.
- There will be a gradual implementation of the proclamation, beginning on October 18, 2017.
- This proclamation has no set expiry date. This is an ongoing process and we are likely to see an update to this order every 180 days until further notice.
- Citizens/nationals of Sudan are no longer subject to the travel restrictions placed on them by the now-expired Executive Order 13780.
- Drexel University advises that anyone from any of the above countries who wishes to travel consult with ISSS first. Any appropriate legal counsel referrals will be made. Consults can be requested by emailing email@example.com.
For more information you can read the Proclamation, the Fact Sheet and FAQ issued by the White House, and the announcement on the Department of State website.
On September 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiated the orderly phase out of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DHS will provide a limited, six-month window during which it will consider certain requests for DACA and applications for work authorization, under specific parameters. Read the memorandum from Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke for details. (https://www.uscis.gov/daca2017)
Current DACA recipients may continue to use their employment authorization documents (EADs) through their current expiration date, unless the EAD is otherwise terminated or revoked.
DACA renewal applications pending as of September 5, 2017 will continue to be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis. DACA recipients whose benefits will expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 may file for a renewal no later than October 5, 2017. Any DACA or associated EAD application filed after October 5, 2017 will be rejected by USCIS. This means that anyone who has a DACA-based EAD expiring between now and March 5, 2018 must file an extension by October 5, 2017.
All properly-filed initial DACA applications filed as of September 5, 2017 will continue to be adjudicated. No applications for first-time DACA applications will be accepted going forward.
Unfortunately individuals whose DACA EADs expire on or after March 6, 2018 are not eligible for a renewal.
Any member of the Drexel Community who has questions or concerns about their status or their study here at Drexel as a result of this announcement should reach out to ISSS as firstname.lastname@example.org. The office will make all appropriate legal council referrals.
- Second Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States - issued March 6, 2017
- First Presidential Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States - Executive Order 13769 – issued January 27, 2017
Summary prepared by AILA and American Immigration Council, Jan. 27, 2017.
- Presidential Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States - Executive Order 13768 – issued on January 25, 2017
Summary prepared by the National Immigration Project, Jan. 26, 2017 [PDF]
- Presidential Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements - Executive Order 13767 – issued on January 25, 2017
Summary prepared by AILA and American Immigration Council, Jan. 27, 2017.
What are executive orders, presidential memoranda, and proclamations?
"Executive orders, presidential memoranda, and proclamations are used extensively by Presidents to achieve policy goals, set uniform standards for managing the executive branch, or outline a policy view intended to influence the behavior of private citizens. The U.S. Constitution does not define these presidential instruments and does not explicitly vest the President with the authority to issue them. Nonetheless, such orders are accepted as an inherent aspect of presidential power. Moreover, if they are based on appropriate authority, they have the force and effect of law." From Congressional Research Service Report, Executive Orders: Issuance, Modification, and Revocation [PDF].
A "Know Your Rights Refresher"
As a reminder to immigrant communities, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) released a helpful guide that explains what individuals should do if they encounter law enforcement or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials: Know Your Rights Refresher
Here you can access These easy-to-use resources were created by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
International Students and Scholars Services
International Students & Scholars Services (ISSS) staff advises international students, scholars, and faculty with advising based on their immigration status while here in the U.S. Services include orientation, preparing/filing immigration documents, advising on U.S. employment regulations and and any Presidential updates.
International Students & Scholars Services website
Student Center for Inclusion and Culture
The Student Center for Inclusion and Culture (SCIC) educates students about social justice and identity, and provides resources that foster awareness. We empower students with the knowledge, tools, and experiences to promote global citizenship. The SCIC offers spiritual support, presentations, training, and cultural programming.
Student Center for Inclusion & Culture website
Office of Global Engagement and Education Abroad
The Office of Global Engagement and Education Abroad provides the support and infrastructure necessary to take advantage of expansive new international opportunities both in our community and abroad. Study abroad, international programs, and international health and safety are just a few of the primary focuses of OIP.
Video of Drexel Forum on the Executive Order Banning Travel
Office of Global Engagement and Education Abroad website
Office of Equality and Diversity
Dragons who have experienced discrimination or harassment, including sexual harassment or misconduct, can come to the Office of Equality and Diversity (OED) for resources, information, and options. OED also offers educational programs to prevent and respond to bias incidents. University policy prohibits discrimination or harassment based on national origin.
Office of Equality & Diversity website
The Counseling Center offers free, confidential counseling services provided by mental health professionals to currently enrolled full-time undergraduate and graduate students in an atmosphere that is welcoming and comfortable for ALL students.
Counseling Center website
The Mission of Drexel Human Resources (often referred to as HR) is to partner with members of the Drexel community to create, cultivate and implement policies, processes and programs that support Drexel's mission and strategic plan while enhancing the overall Drexel experience. Benefits, compensation, employee relations, and learning and development comprise some of the HR departments.
Human Resources website
Spiritual and Religious Life
We encourage students to take advantage of the spectrum of resources available to support their spiritual identity development and expression of religious traditions. This mission is supported through workshops, local and student organizations, as well as campus ministers.
Spiritual and Religious Life website
Drexel will continue to provide the necessary access, resources, support services and educational opportunities that we have offered international students over the past decades regardless of the recent rhetoric in our nation's election.