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The following message was sent on May 5, 2021 to students in F-1 status, international students admitted for the 2021-22 academic year and international students intending to enter the U.S. in F-1 status to continue an academic program for the 2021-22 academic year.    

 

Greetings from the Office of International Services. We sincerely hope you and your family members are remaining healthy and safe during these challenging times.

We are reaching out to provide a few immigration-related updates for the 2021-22 academic year.

STUDENT AND EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM (SEVP) GUIDANCE FOR STUDENTS IN F-1 STATUS

On April 26, 2021 SEVP announced that they will continue their March 2020 guidance for the duration of the 2021-22 academic year which allows certain flexibilities for F-1 students attending schools that have not returned to normal operating conditions.

Implications for current students who were in F-1 status as of March 9, 2020 and who have maintained their status continuously:

  • These students may continue to take any combination of online, hybrid or in-person courses including a fully online course load either from within or outside the U.S. as made available by their school or program.

Implications for students who enter(ed) the U.S. with an initial I-20 to begin a program in summer 2020 or later including newly admitted students planning to attend JHU in summer or fall 2021:

  • These students can enter the U.S. to begin a program of study if their program is not 100% online and the student will not take a course load that is 100% online.
  • These students should take at least one in-person course per term while the current SEVP guidance is in effect.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE (DOS) UPDATES

  1. National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland and India

Department of State has expanded a National Interest Exception (NIE) to students from all COVID travel-restricted countries that will allow them to enter the U.S. even if they have been in a designated country in the 14 days immediately prior to travel to the U.S. A separate announcement includes students traveling from India. Please note that the announcement does not address all situations in detail. In cases where it does not address your situation specifically, we recommend that you reach out to your local U.S. consulate for guidance.

Implications for students traveling to the U.S. from travel-restricted countries:

What we know from the announcement:

  • F-1 students from the named countries may qualify for an NIE if their academic program begins or continues on August 1, 2021 or later.
  • F-1 students with a valid F-1 visa who will begin or continue their academic program on August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact a U.S. consulate to obtain an individual NIE prior to travel.
  • F-1 students who are applying for a visa will automatically be considered for an NIE.

Questions that the announcement does not answer:

  • Can continuing students qualify for an NIE if they plan to enter the U.S. sooner than 30 days before their next term’s start date?
  • Are F-1 students on OPT eligible for an NIE and, if so, are there any conditions on when they can enter the U.S.?
  • Do students whose programs begin prior to August 1, 2021 need to request an NIE from their U.S. consulate, and if so, will they be issued an NIE to enter the U.S.?
  1. Visa Appointment Availability

Unfortunately, the vast majority of U.S. consulates worldwide remain temporarily closed or open for emergency services only. This will be the primary hurdle for new students wishing to arrive for study inside the U.S. this fall. DOS is allowing individual consulates to determine its level of operations based on local conditions, and it is unknown when there will be a full return to routine visa services. DOS has pledged to prioritize student visas over most other nonimmigrant visas, however. Students who have received their I-20s and require a new visa should submit a visa application and schedule their visa appointment for the earliest possible opportunity.

 

All students should fully review OIS’s recently updated COVID-19 Immigration-Related FAQs for details. If you have questions after reviewing the FAQs, please reach out to OIS at ois@jhu.edu or 667-208-7001.

 

Sincerely,

Office of International Services

The message below was sent to all students in F-1 status with a pending or requested OPT or STEM OPT.

You are receiving this email because the Office of International Services (OIS) recently issued you an I-20 with an OPT or STEM OPT recommendation and your request is still in Pending or Requested status. As you may be aware, USCIS is experiencing delays in issuing receipt notices for form I-765 filings. As a result of these delays, USCIS is extending flexibilities to some OPT and STEM applicants who filed their form I-765 on or after October 1, 2020. Please carefully review the full USCIS statement online.

The flexibilities include:

  • Providing students with a full 12-month period of OPT even if the OPT end date will extend beyond the allowed period of 14 months after the end of the student’s program. This provision also allows students with an approved period of less than 12 months to request a corrected EAD with a new end date.
  • Allowing students whose initial application was rejected to reapply even if it’s beyond the required application timeframe. A new I-20 from OIS is not required when reapplying.
  • Issuing a request for evidence (RFE) for applications that have been receipted and have missing or deficient signatures instead of denying the application.

If you believe you are eligible for one of the flexibilities being afforded by USCIS, please reach out to us at ois@jhu.edu to discuss your situation. It is important that OIS is aware of your plans so we can advise you and help ensure that your F-1 SEVIS record is properly updated.

On January 12 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] announced a COVID-19 testing requirement for all air passengers entering the U.S. Effective January 26, all travelers will be required to provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test before they will be allowed to board their flight to the U.S. The test must be administered within 72 hours of the departure flight to the U.S. and travelers must provide written documentation by paper or electronic copy of a negative test result to the airline. Airlines will deny boarding to travelers who cannot comply with this requirement. If you are planning travel to the U.S. on or after January 26, please consult your airline for specific procedures for presenting your testing results.

Please note that this new federal requirement does not affect or change the university’s testing requirements as outlined in the Return to Campus guide.

If your planned entry to the U.S. will be delayed due to this requirement, we recommend that you inform your JHU department and OIS of the change in your travel plans. In general, students entering the U.S. in F-1 status with an “initial” I-20 can do so up to 30 days after the start date on their form I-20 but it is important to ensure that a late arrival will not negatively impact academic progress in your program.

The following message was sent to all students in F-1 or J-1 status on November 3.

The Office of International Services (OIS) has been informed of another recent scam targeting international students in the United States. This latest alert came from a university in California.

Essentially, an imposter fraudulently represents himself or herself as an ICE officer or agent in an attempt to elicit some form of payment from you for immigration benefits or other immigration services.

· The imposter will identify himself or herself as a federal law enforcement officer, employee or contractor of ICE, or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

· The imposter will demand money, sexual favors, or merchandise from you claiming to be able to help you get an immigration benefit, legal status, or documents

· The promised benefit or service is never received

 

LEGITIMATE ICE OFFICERS WILL NEVER:

· Offer lawful immigration status or other immigration services in exchange for money, sexual favors, or merchandise

· Use the internet or telephone to contact a member of the public to offer immigration services in exchange for payment through pre-paid cash cards like GreenDot or services like Western Union and MoneyGram

· Use a third-party person to solicit and collect a fee from a member of the public in exchange for immigration services

· Ask you or any member of the public for payment of any kind

 

DO NOT MAKE ANY PAYMENTS, PROVIDE ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION, OR ALLOW ANYONE INTO YOUR HOME. If you feel pressured, simply hang up the phone, or if the person is at your door, lock the door and tell the individual you must contact JHU Security before continuing, and then call 9-1-1 for emergency police assistance.

Report any fraudulent schemes to the anonymous ICE Tip Line: 1-866-347-2423. Also, please notify OIS immediately at ois@jhu.edu or by calling 667-208-7001 and provide as much detail as possible so that we may alert JHU Security.

Please take a few minutes now to review the OIS resource on Scams and Frauds here.

 

Thank you for your vigilance in helping to prevent scams and frauds against Johns Hopkins students.

 

Sincerely,

The Office of International Services

USCIS announced on Friday, October 16, 2020 that it would increase the fee for Premium Processing effective October 19, 2020. The full announcement is available on the USCIS website.

As the fee is effective immediately, cases already in process with an OIS advisor are subject to the new fee. If your Department has submitted USCIS filing fees to the OIS in connection with an H-1B case, please contact the OIS advisor assigned to the case. You will need to request a new check from Accounts Payable for $2,500 and take the necessary steps to void the previously issued check for $1,440. To assist Departments, our Memo for Accounts Payable has been updated to reflect the new fee amount.