NAFSA signed on with other higher education associations to a March 16, 2020 American Council on Education (ACE) letter sent to the Departments of State and Homeland Security.

Read the ACE Letter to DOS and DHS

The letter asks for clarifications to the following questions:

  • "Can students maintain their F-1 status if an institution of higher education has to completely close for a period of time during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak? Is there any flexibility to extend their immigration status in this situation?

  • If a student in F-1 status is graduating in spring 2020, but their home country is under a Level Two or Level Three Travel Health Notice, is there flexibility to extend their status if the student is unable to return to their home country? Would Optional Practical Training (OPT) be considered?

  • Similarly, if a student in F-1 status is reaching the end of their OPT period, but their home country is under a Level Two or Level Three Travel Health Notice, is there flexibility to extend immigration status and work authorization if the student is unable to return to their home country?

  • We expect many F-1 international students may seek to extend their stay by applying for and completing OPT. Is DHS prepared for an influx of applications for work authorization? Have the issues, which arose in summer 2019 that extended the processing time to over five months in some cases, been resolved?

  • How does State plan to process F-1, M-1, and J-1 visa applications if U.S. consular offices are closed for an extended period in affected countries?"