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,

  • 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,   You may also want to check these websites and  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, 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,


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

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.

USCIS Provides Background Information on Issuance of Return for Evidence (RFE) And on Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)

On Sept. 6, 2018, the CIS Ombudsman (CISOMB)1 held a stakeholder teleconference to discuss the USCIS “Issuance of Certain RFEs and NOIDs” policy memorandum (PM) that was issued on July 13, 2018. USCIS representatives provided an overview of the memorandum and addressed many questions submitted in advance by the CISOMB. The updated policy went into effect on September 11, 2018. . . click on the following link for full article

F-1 “Cap-gap” Status and Work Authorization Extension Only Valid Through Sept. 30, 2018

F-1 students who have an H-1B petition that remains pending on Oct. 1, 2018, risk accruing unlawful presence if they continue to work on or after Oct. 1 (unless otherwise authorized to continue employment), as their “cap-gap” work authorization is only valid through Sept. 30. Due to increased demand for immigration benefits . . . click on the following link for full memo

USCIS Policy Memo on Accrual of Unlawful Presence, Effective 8/9/18 

All non-immigrants must have a valid status at all times while in the U.S. or else they may start to accrue “unlawful presence.”  Accumulation of 180 days of unlawful presence could result in a three-year, re-entry bar to the U.S.  Accumulation of 365+ days of unlawful presence could result in a ten-year, re-entry bar to the U.S. Students in F/J/M non-immigrant status never accrued unlawful presence but as of 8/9/18 USCIS will be subject to the same rules as other non-immigrant categories.  Do not remain in the U.S. after completion of academic degree, practical training or academic training or beyond any authorized grace period without a new authorized non-immigrant status.  Be sure to comply with any parolee instructions and timelines, when applicable.  Anyone on an UMass Lowell sponsored status (i.e., F-1, J-1, H-1B, O-1, TN, OPT or STEM) may contact our office with any question specific to their UMass Lowell non-immigrant status,,  all other questions,

Practical Training (OPT & STEM OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is  being scrutinized carefully by USCIS – Check out ISSO’s Employment section and familiarize yourself with the law,

USCIS Updates its Policy on Filing Bridge Applications for Change of Status, effective 9/16/17

Deciding whether to change your status while remaining in the U.S. through a USCIS Service Center or by applying for a visa from outside of the U.S. at a U.S. Consulate recently got much more difficult.  Non-immigrants applying to change to a different non-immigrant status must be holding a valid non-immigrant status at the time that the USCIS Adjudicator reviews their Change of Status petition.  Petitions may take 7-12+ months and maintaining status during that time can be difficult.   ISSO advises that all Change of Status cases be carefully discussed with an immigration attorney, who can help assess the risks between a Change of Status through a USCIS Service Center or through travel,  Please also refer to the following guidance on changing to a nonimmigrant F or M student status.  


USCIS Adjudicators will have the ability to outright deny a petition, Effective 9/11/18 without issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) 7/13/18 Policy Memo.  Also check the NAFSA RFE and NOID policy.  Be certain all applications are complete, signed, and checks written properly to avoid an outright denial which could lead to unlawful presence.


USCIS plans to expand Policy on Initiating Removal Proceedings

Policy Memorandum

Non-immigrants not in valid status the day a petition/application is denied could now find themselves in removal (deportation) proceedings once this new policy goes into effect.  Also review the NAFSA article on USCIS Expands Policy on Initiating Removal Proceedings. 

Travel Ban Advisory Update

NAFSA Indefinite Entry Bar Under Executive Order

Check the ISSO travel section if you are on an UMass Lowell sponsored F-1, J-1, H-1B, O-1, or TN status,