Upcoming Workshop: Understanding Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

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Understanding Temporary Protected Status

Presented by: Attorney Dan Berger | Curran, Berger & Kludt Immigration Law

Wednesday, April 7, 4pm ET

Registration required

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas recently announced Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Venezuela and Burma (Myanmar), as well as re-designation of TPS for Syria.

For international students in F-1 status and exchange visitors in J-1 status, it may be advantageous to maintain continued F-1 or J-1 status in addition to filing for TPS.

The session will include:

·         Overview of Temporary Protected Status

·         How and when to register for TPS

·         Considerations about retaining dual status

Students and DSOs from area schools are welcome to attend.

USCIS Posts a Memo Extending Flexibility to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765

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On February 26, 2021 USCIS announced flexibilities to certain applicants filing Form I-765 for applicants filing between October 1, 2020 through May 1, 2021. Highlights of the memo include:

  • Ability to re-apply following USCIS denial: Students may be eligible to re-file the Form I-765 if the original petition was filed between October 1, 2020 through May 1, 2021 and USCIS subsequently rejected it. Please contact ISSO immediately for more information on eligibility and process.
  • 14-Month OPT period flexibilities: Students may be eligible to file for an EAD Correction if they were not granted the full 12-months of OPT validity due to USCIS processing times and the requirement that the OPT end date may not be more than 14 months from the program completion date. If you think you may be eligible for this, please contact ISSO immediately for more information.
  • Missing signatures: USCIS will send a Request for Evidence (RFE) rather than rejecting the application.

To read the full memo, please refer to the USCIS Extends Flexibilities for I-765 page: https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-extends-flexibilities-to-certain-applicants-filing-form-i-765-for-opt

A Message Regarding USCIS Announcement on e-Filing Form I-765

  • USCIS has announced on 4/12/2021 that F-1 students choosing to apply  for Optional Practical Training (OPT) are now eligible to file form I-765 online. This new provision refers specifically  and ONLY to  the following OPT categories:
    • 24-Month STEM OPT under I-765 eligibility code (c)(3)(C)
    • Post-Completion OPT under under I-765 eligibility code (c)(3)(B)
    • Pre-completion OPT under I-765 eligibility code ( c)(3)(A)

However, until additional information is available, the ISSO advises eligible applicants to continue to submit paper applications via mail to USCIS following existing instructions on our website. Paper filings continue to be accepted by USCIS. The ISSO will monitor announcements and clarifications issued by USCIS and will continue to keep you informed of any new developments concerning the filing of OPT.

SCAM ALERT: SCAMMERS FRAUDENTLY CLAIMING TO BE SEVP CONTACTING INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

ISSO has been informed via a SEVP Broadcast Message on December 9, 2020, that there is a “spoofing scam involving individuals using the SEVP Response Center (SRC) phone numbers (703-603-3400 and 800-892-4829) and claiming to be SRC representatives. The fraudulent callers are inquiring about Form I-94 documents and asking students to provide information regarding monetary transactions.”

If you receive a call from an individual claiming to be calling on behalf of the SEVP Response Center, or any other government agency, proceed cautiously. An agent from the US Government will NEVER contact you by phone to:
• Disclose your confidential information (passport #, date of birth, etc.) – disclosing this information to you is a tactic used by scammers to get you to believe they are “true” agents/officials
• Ask for money or confidential information including: debit/credit/GIFT CARD numbers, passport number, Social Security Number (SSN), I-94 number, bank account numbers, etc. – this is a sign of a typical scam!
• Require you to purchase a gift card, withdraw funds from your bank account, etc.
• Threaten to deport you or arrest you unless you do exactly as they say
• Instruct you that you do not have the right to hang up the phone

If you receive a scam call, keep calm, do not provide ANY information, hang up the phone and contact ISSO.

Source: Broadcast Message: Fraud Advisory – Scammers Using SEVP Phone Numbers to Target International Students. Student & Exchange Visitor Program. Department of Homeland Security.

Proposed Rule Published by USDHS to Eliminate D/S

On September 25, 2020, the US Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) published the  Proposed Rule 85 FR 60526 to eliminate duration of status (D/S) for F-1 students and their F-2 dependents, and J-1 exchange visitors (EV) (including students, researchers/professors, and short-term scholars) and their J-2 dependents. One of the items of this proposed rule requires that individuals in nonimmigrant F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 status, seeking admission to the U.S., would be assigned a fixed expiration date of their status and stay in the U.S.  instead of D/S (the duration of the academic or research program).  This new proposed rule  would require nonimmigrant  F-1 students  and J-1 EV   to submit a form, application fee and supporting documents to USCIS in order  to request  extensions of stay  if they need additional time to complete their  academic or research program, begin a new program or to apply for post-completion employment authorization like OPT or STEM OPT. For more details on the proposed rule and procedures to comment on it, please refer to this  NAFSA Summary.  

Please note that this is a proposed rule, it does not take effect immediately and nothing has changed yet. The public has a 30-day period until October 26, 2020 to comment on this proposal, after which a final rule may be published.   UMass Lowell, the UMass University system, our peer institutions and professional associations representing the field of higher and international education and international exchange are now carefully evaluating the Proposed Rule and will soon submit comments to USDHS. We will continue share updated information as soon as it becomes available. 

United States: New Public Charge Rule, updated 1/23/2020

Proposed effective date October 15, 2019, https://www.uscis.gov/greencard/public-charge.

  • Under a new regulation, applicants for adjustment of status will undergo a closer review of their personal circumstances to determine whether they have used “or” are likely to need certain federal public benefits in the future.
  • Nonimmigrants (i.e., F-1, J-1, H-1B, O-1, TN, etc.) who have used certain federal public benefits after their admission to the United States may be denied an extension of stay or change of status. 
  • At this point, we understand that it may not impact those with pending applications for adjustment of status, change of status or extensions of stay filed before the above-mentioned effective date.  But you should check with an attorney to review the particulars of your  situation to evaluate potential risks.
  • Some of the benefit programs that are impacted are (SSI, TANF, SNAP, and section 8 vouchers and rental assistance, among others).
  • Feel free to consult with an attorney for more detailed guidance, https://www.uml.edu/Immigration-Resources/legal-help.aspx.   You may also want to check these websites https://www.masslegalservices.org/publiccharge and https://www.ilrc.org/sites/default/files/resources/overview_of_public_charge-20181214.pdf.  This type of information changes regulary, so the best course of action is always to check in with an attorney as per above.
  • The ISSO does not provide official advice on Public Charge matters.

SEVP Portal Upgrade Information

International Students currently on F-1, Post OPT/STEM status

The F-1 Program Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Portal now limits how long students can access the SEVP Portal to six months after their Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or STEM authorization ends.

In preparation for account closure, SEVP strongly encourages you to print or save a copy of your portal record for future reference, including your Event History.

Please note that students who are changing their immigration status will immediately lose access upon the effective date of their new status. So, for example, students changing their status to H-1B via a cap-subject change of status H-1B petition will lose access to the SEVP portal on October 1 of the year their H-1B petition was approved. Please plan accordingly, printing or saving a copy of your portal records prior to the loss of access.

For more information on this release and upcoming releases, visit the SEVP Portal Enhancements page on the SEVP Portal Help section of Study in the States. To view a copy of the emails you will receive, read the SEVP Portal Email Notices to Students.

We also recommend that you frequently visit the ISSO Employment section, https://www.uml.edu/ISSO/Employment/ to stay apprised of your regulatory requirements.
STEM status students are reminded that STEM employment can only be reported through ISSO through the submission of Form I-983.

SEVP OPT Policy Guidance: Practical Training-Determining a Direct Relationship Between Employment and a Student’s Major Area of Study – Dated: September 27, 2019

On September 27, 2019, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program issued policy guidance, on the obligations of students and schools to document that there is a direct relationship between the student’s major field of study and the work the student does on Pre- or Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), and STEM OPT. Students are reminded to retain copies of job offer letters, payroll records, job descriptions and completed Form I-983 for STEM students. Post OPT Students registered with the SEVP Student Portal may continue to report their OPT information via the Portal. But they must also request a reprinted I-20 from ISSO, each time they report employer updates. The e-form will generate a new I-20 reflecting new employer information on page 2. When updating your SEVP portal information, always explain how the position is related to the field of study and commensurate to the degree level listed on your Post OPT I-20.

STEM students will report all employment updates through the submission of a Form I-983 to ISSO through the STEM Employment Reporting Tool. STEM students cannot report employment through the portal.

We encourage you to read through the Employment section of the ISSO site, https://www.uml.edu/ISSO/Employment/.

SEVIS TO BEGIN AUTO-TERMINATING OPT/STEM STUDENTS WHO GO OVER THEIR ALLOTTED UNEMPLOYMENT TIME

We are writing to you to inform you of a new SEVIS action. The functionality has been on SEVIS for years, but was never activated.

As you know, F-1 Post-OPT students have a TOTAL of 90 days of unemployment time and 24-Month STEM Extension students receive an additional 60 upon their approval of STEM Extension.

SEVIS will begin terminating the SEVIS record of students who have accrued more than their allotted unemployment time during their OPT period. It is more important now than ever to report your employment as soon as possible.

Post-OPT Reporting Requirements:
Update your SEVIS Portal within 10 days:

  • If there is a change in your US address (also update on SiS)
  • Of your initial employment, change in employment, adding a new employer/ending employment, concurrent employment, etc.

Update the ISSO within 10 days if:

  • There is a change in your immigration status – submit COS E-form
  • If you decide to not use OPT and depart the US – email isso@uml.edu

24-Month STEM Extension Reporting Requirements:

ISSO STEM E-forms:

If you are unsure how many unemployment days you have, go to your SEVP Portal and review your EAD start date, and your employment start/end dates. ISSO cannot provide you with a total of unemployment days you have accrued – you are required to keep track of these. Please also know that the information submitted to the SEVP Portal is not official proof of your employment history. We recommend all students keep documentation from each employer, in case of a USCIS audit. This may be offer letters, resignation letters, paystubs, etc.

Always upload a copy of your latest EAD to the ISSO via EAD E-form. ISSO will review to make sure that SEVIS accurately reflects the same information listed on your card. We have encountered many errors that could potentially cause you future status problems. If you’ve already submitted a card to the ISSO, we have already checked and you need not check again.
If you have any questions, please contact us during our Advising Hours.