Skip Navigation

News

Date: Mar 2020

On Friday, March 20, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the temporary suspension of premium processing for all I-129 and I-140 petitions due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Full announcement available on the USCIS website.


Some of the immediate impacts are as follows:

  • Effective immediately, USCIS will not accept any new requests for Premium Processing.
  • Petitions previously filed with USCIS with Form I-907 for Premium Processing service *and* receipted *should* be processed.
  • ALL H-1B cases filed on or after March 20th will be subject to regular processing by USCIS.
  • USCIS is presently working on H-1B cases submitted under regular processing that were received on or before November 21, 2019.
  • Any individuals inside the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status that is nearing expiration (such as F-1 students with Optional Practical Training or J-1 Exchange Visitor status), will be unable to work after their current immigration status/work authorization expires. They will be unable to return to work until the H-1B petition is approved by USCIS and OIS is in receipt of the H-1B approval notice. It will be impossible to predict and manage these employment gap periods. However, their right to remain in the U.S. is preserved as long as the H-1B petition is pending at USCIS before their current status or grace period expires.
  • New hires who are presently abroad will have longer periods that they must wait until the H-1B petition is approved in order to secure the H-1B visa stamp to enter the U.S.
  • Individuals already in H-1B status within in the U.S. who are sponsored by JHU will, in most cases, be able to begin employment at JHU under H-1B portability rules once USCIS has received a timely-filed JHU H-1B petition.
  • Departments will need to explore contingencies for individuals who are forced to wait for regular processing of their H-1B petitions. Teaching loads, course offerings, rotations, and research projects are just some staffing needs that will likely be impacted.

The OIS will continue to process all H-1B requests in progress and file those cases under regular processing during the suspension period. We will monitor all pending petitions as closely as possible but cannot make reliable estimates for adjudications under regular processing. As soon as the premium processing suspension is lifted and in consultation with sponsoring departments, OIS will submit premium processing requests for cases pending at USCIS. In very limited circumstances, USCIS may consider a request for expedited service. Expedite requests should be submitted by the I-129 petitioner [i.e. the H-1B advisor who filed the case], so individuals and Department should consult OIS about a request to expedite.

The following message was emailed by the Office of International Services to currently enrolled J-1 degree-seeking and exchange students students on March 18, 2020.

 

We are reaching out to address concerns you may have regarding your visa status now that we have confirmation that courses will continue via remote instruction for the rest of Spring 2020.

 

UPDATE ON REMOTE INSTRUCTION

 

As we mentioned in our email communication on March 13, the move to remote instruction will not have a negative effect on your visa status during this term regardless of whether you remain in the U.S. or depart. Please review our general guidance for J-1 students below. We will also continue to update our FAQs for current students as the situation progresses. If you have not yet decided whether to remain in the U.S. or depart, you can discuss your personal circumstances with an advisor from OIS to weigh the pros and cons for your specific situation.

 

MAINTAINING J-1 STATUS

 

During this time, you must still maintain your J-1 status by doing the following:

- Enroll in a full-time course load unless you have been approved for a reduced or no course load by OIS.

- Update your U.S. local address within 10 days of a change. You do not need to report an address change if you departed the U.S. and are residing abroad at this time.

- If your DS-2019 will end at the end of this term but you need additional time to complete your program of study, you must apply for an extension at least 30 days before the DS-2019 end date regardless of whether you are within the U.S. or abroad.

- Continue to maintain health insurance that meets the J-1 requirements.

 

If you are completing your program this term and plan to apply for Academic Training, you must be in the U.S. to begin your position within the 30 day period following your last date of enrollment.

 

OTHER IMMIGRATION CONSIDERATIONS

 

If you choose to do any of the following, you should contact OIS for guidance BEFORE doing them because these actions will likely impact your visa status:

- withdraw from classes or take a leave of absence

- drop below full-time status

- depart the U.S. and complete your degree program remotely from abroad

 

OIS staff are available by phone and email to answer questions you may have. Please review information regarding our operational changes on our website.

The following message was emailed by the Office of International Services to currently enrolled F-1 students on March 18, 2020.

 

We are reaching out to address concerns you may have regarding your visa status now that we have confirmation that courses will continue via remote instruction for the rest of Spring 2020.

 

UPDATE ON REMOTE INSTRUCTION

 

As we mentioned in our email communication on March 13, the move to remote instruction will not have a negative effect on your visa status during this term regardless of whether you remain in the U.S. or depart. Please review our general guidance for F-1 students below. We will also continue to update our FAQs for current students as the situation progresses. If you have not yet decided whether to remain in the U.S. or depart, you can discuss your personal circumstances with an advisor from OIS to weigh the pros and cons for your specific situation.

 

MAINTAINING F-1 STATUS

 

During this time, you must still maintain your F-1 status by doing the following:

- Enroll in a full-time course load unless you have been approved for a reduced or no course load by OIS.

- Update your U.S. local address within 10 days of a change. You do not need to report an address change if you departed the U.S. and are residing abroad at this time.

- If your I-20 will end at the end of this term but you need additional time to complete your program of study, you must apply for an extension at least 30 days before the I-20 end date regardless of whether you are within the U.S. or abroad.

 

OPT

 

If you are completing your degree program this term and plan to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you must be in the U.S. at the time you file your OPT application with USCIS.

 

OTHER IMMIGRATION CONSIDERATIONS

 

If you choose to do any of the following, you should contact OIS for guidance BEFORE doing them because these actions will likely impact your visa status:

- withdraw from classes or take a leave of absence

- drop below full-time status

- depart the U.S. and complete your degree program remotely from abroad

 

OIS staff are available by phone and email to answer questions you may have. Please review information regarding our operational changes on our website.

The following message was emailed by the Office of International Services to currently enrolled J-1 degree-seeking and exchange students on March 11, 2020.

 

By now, you have likely read the message from President Daniels cancelling in-person classes and transitioning to remote instruction until at least April 12. We are reaching out to address concerns you may have regarding your J-1 status during this time.

 

First, we want to assure you that the Office of International Services (OIS) will not take any action on your J-1 SEVIS Record as a result of this temporary change.

 

Second, please know that you do not need to take any action in regard to your J-1 visa status as a result of this change other than continuing your coursework remotely as directed by the institution. However, if you choose to do any of the following, you should contact OIS for guidance BEFORE doing them because these actions will likely impact your J-1 status:

- withdraw from classes or take a leave of absence

- drop below full-time status

- depart the U.S. and complete your degree program online from abroad

 

Finally, university offices remain open at this time so OIS staff continue to be available to answer your questions during walk-in hours, by phone, and via email. Contact info for OIS locations can be found on our website.

The following message was emailed by the Office of International Services to currently enrolled F-1 students on March 11, 2020.  

 

By now, you have likely read the message from President Daniels cancelling in-person classes and transitioning to remote instruction until at least April 12. We are reaching out to address concerns you may have regarding your F-1 status during this time.

 

First, we want to assure you that the move to remote instruction will not have a negative effect on your visa status. As you are aware, it is important for F-1 students to maintain their visa status which typically includes restrictions on the number of online (remote) courses you can count towards full-time enrollment. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), the U.S. Government entity that manages the F-1 visa program, issued a statement this week recognizing the need for universities to hold classes remotely as a preventive measure under these special circumstances. Therefore, engaging in online courses during this time is not considered a violation of your F-1 status.

 

Second, please know that you do not need to take any action in regard to your F-1 visa status as a result of this change other than continuing your coursework remotely as directed by the institution. However, if you choose to do any of the following, you should contact OIS for guidance BEFORE doing them because these actions will likely impact your F-1 status:

- withdraw from classes or take a leave of absence

- drop below full-time status

- depart the U.S. and complete your degree program online from abroad

 

In accordance with University guidance for on-campus events, we are cancelling all in-person OPT sessions through April 12. The exact same information from those sessions can be viewed online (see “OPT Application Process” step 1).

 

Finally, University offices remain open at this time so OIS staff continue to be available to answer your questions during walk-in hours, by phone, and via email. Contact info for OIS locations can be found on our website.