DHS Updates

Important updates and guidance by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security 

January 12, 2021: The frequently asked questions (FAQ) have been updated to reflect the Spring 2021 guidance.

December 9, 2020:  A news article stated, "Nonimmigrant students should continue to abide by SEVP guidance originally issued in March 2020," said the spokeswoman, Carissa Cutrell. "The guidance enables schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the public health emergency generated by COVID-19."  https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/12/09/federal-guidance-foreign-students-remains-same-spring

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of State have not yet published Spring 2021 guidance related to COVID-19 and F or J regulations.  Please visit the ISS COVID-19 FAQ for more information.  ISS will be updating the FAQ to reflect the recent statement from SEVP.
The Texas A&M University System submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security proposed regulation to replace duration of status.  Click here to read the comments.  DHS has not published a final rule or designated if or when the final rule would go into effect.

More information regarding the proposed regulations is located at https://www.nafsa.org/professional-resources/browse-by-interest/proposal-replace-duration-status

Recent Employment-Based Changes and Proposals

January 7, 2021, USCIS announced "has announced a final rule that will modify the H-1B cap selection process, amend current lottery procedures, and prioritize wages."  The rule is scheduled to go into effect March 9, 2021.

October, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor published interim final regulations regarding H-1B and labor certifications. 

December 1, 2020, there was a court injunction regarding the regulations. 

More information regarding the interim final regulations is located at https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/recent-employment-based-changes-and-proposals
Optional Practical Training Legality

A lawsuit regarding the legality of Optional Practical Training (OPT) has been going on since 2016.  The Texas A&M University System signed on to the Amicus Brief in support of OPT.  https://www.presidentsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Final-OPT-Amicus-Brief-list.pdf
More information regarding the lawsuit is located at https://www.nafsa.org/professional-resources/browse-by-interest/stem-opt-washtech-litigation
OPT enforcement

The Department of Homeland Security has begun terminating students on OPT SEVIS records if the student has not updated their employment information and exceeded the 90 days of unemployment.  If a student receives a letter mailed to them stating that their SEVIS record is going to be terminated, they should reach out to ISS immediately.
DHS is also targeting fraudulent employers and students who report that they are working for a fraudulent employer. 
More information regarding the DHS actions is located at https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/ice-opt-enforcement-actions