IssueNet Quarterly Summary - Fall 2020

Highlighting the top issues reported through NAFSA IssueNet. Prepared by Cory Owen, Chair, Student Subcommittee, International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice (ISS RP) Committee.

Top Issues

  1. Impact of COVID-19:
    1. Additional work for DSO needing to add remarks to SEVIS records, reprint I-20s, and submit data fixes
    2. SEVP Fall 2020 Status Quo Guidance still leaves some questions, particularly for change of level students.
    3. DHS and TSA end the airport restrictions so that eligible international students, scholars, and employees may enter at any airport--however, country-specific COVID restrictions still remain in place
  2. OPT filing issues with an increase in rejected applications and delays in receiving EAD cards
  3. There are reports of U.S. Consulates requesting different and unusual documents for visa issuance, lots of appointments cancelled at last minute, changes in openings/closures and visa processing
  4. On August 28, 2020 SEVP sent DSOs a broadcast message informing them of its plan to mail notices to OPT students "who have not reported employer information and have exceeded 90 days of unemployment." The notice gives students 15 days from the date of the notice to update their SEVIS record with employer information. It was unclear if the same notice would be sent to OPT STEM students who have 150 days of unemployment in their record. Concerns on the listserve about the 15 day requirement to report (due to mailing lag times, etc.)
  5. DHS proposed the elimination of Duration of Status, the comment period on the proposed rule ends October 26, 2020.
  6. On September 29, 2020, a U.S. District Court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction temporarily halting implementation of the 2020 final USCIS fee rule in its entirety. New fees and form versions associated with that rule that were to be required on October 2, 2020, as well as all other aspects of the rule, are now on hold. See NAFSA's page.

We would like to collect more examples. If you have experienced a similar issue or concern and have not yet reported it, or have a new issue to report, please do so at nafsa.org/issuenet, Report an ISS Issue.

Strength in Reporting

Here is an update of recent actions taken (and some success stories):

  1. Fall SEVP Guidance released...and immediately followed by lawsuitsSEVP Fall 2020 Status Quo Guidance was released after the July 6 guidance was rescinded which reverts processes back to March 2020 guidance.
  2. Blanket national interest waivers of the Schengen Area, UK, and Ireland COVID-19 travel bans, for F/M students.
  3. USCIS expands 60-day grace period to respond to RFEs, NOIDs, or to file I-129B
  4. Visa processing resumption on a post-by-post basis
  5. Public charge rules allowed to go into full effect. See NAFSA's page.
  6. National interest waivers for certain H, J, and L visa holders to remove restrictions on entry restrictions.
  7. Renewal visa interview waivers have been expanded so if a visa expired less than 24 months ago, a renewal can be done by mail
  8. I-9s can temporarily use I-797 Approval Notices in lieu of EAD cards due to production delays--additionally electronic I-9s can still be submitted

KCISSS Resource Section

  1. IssueNet
  2. NAFSA Coronavirus Critical Resources
  3. NAFSA Adviser's Manual 360 News Feed
  4. International Scholar Advising Network
  5. International Student Advising Network