International Student Support and Resources

U.S. immigration practices and policies can change and we know that this can cause concerns for our students. ISSS wants to reassure our community that we are staying on top of these developments and how it may impact our students. We will update information here when it is available.

OPT and CPT Updates

- OPT and STEM OPT Changes: There have not been any changes made to Optional Practical Training (OPT) or the STEM OPT extension that have impacted students eligibility for these benefits. However, there have been changes to the application and employment reporting process. Students need to follow ISSS OPT application instructions carefully so that their OPT application is not denied. Students on OPT or STEM OPT need to make sure they are properly reporting their employment and address information to maintain their status.

- CPT Changes: There have not been any changes made to Curricular Practical Training. Student who wish to engage in CPT should follow ISSS instructions and read ISSS emails for any updates to this process.

- Read more about OPT, STEM OPT and CPT.

Immigration Updates

- Unlawful Presence: In August 2018 USCIS enacted a new policy on unlawful presence. The new policy stated that an F-1 or J-1 visitor would begin days of unlawful presence the day they violate their status instead of having a period of time where they could address the status violation before accruing unlawful presence. This new change makes the consequences of status violation, even a minimal one, very severe. In May 2019 a court put a hold on this policy and it is currently not in effect. This is good news for now, however this could be overturned in another court. ISSS recommends that students remain cautious and advises students to prevent accruing any days in the US beyond the end of their status or a status violation. More information about this policy can be found on the NAFSA: Association of International Educators website.

- Visa Processing: USF students have been very successful in applying for and renewing their visas, however, since they have been more visa denials, ISSS recommends that students prepare carefully for their application and interviews. The visa interview is very short and it is important to convey your purpose for studying at USF clearly. Visit the ISSS Pre-Arrival page for more information about applying for a new visa or a visa renewal.

- Traveling to the U.S.: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has added additional screening procedures. Be aware that CBP is legally allowed to search any item you are bringing into the U.S. This includes turning on and asking you to log in to your email, social media, and other items on your laptops and personal devices. You can read more about these search procedures on this CBP information sheet. Keep in mind that these searches can be unpleasant but it is always best to be polite and tell the truth when questioned. If you feel that your search was excessive and the officers mistreated you, please report these details to ISSS as soon as you enter.

H1-B and Work Visa Updates

There have been some government proposals to review work authorization for foreigners in the U.S. and particularly the H-1B visa. So far there has been a notable tightening on the H1-B procedures and how the existing policies are enforced. The changes to H-1B processing are listed here:

- H-1B Denials and Delays: For both the 2017 and 2018 H-1B application cycles, there has been an increase in denials and delays. For the FY 2019 H1B cycle the cap was met with in the first  In April 2017 USCIS announced that certain entry level computer programming positions are not eligible for H-1B because they are not specialty occupations. More denials for entry level computer programmers, accountants and other fields have been confirmed for this 2018 application year.

- An Executive Order was signed in April 2017 calling for changes to the H1-B visa and other temporary employment categories to protect American workers. This order does not make any specific changes to the H1-B visa or other work categories, but it asks the relevant government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security to review their practices.

- Employer Requirements: USCIS has also taken heightened H1-B compliance measures: the federal government agencies have announced that they will work closely together to prevent fraud and enforce the existing H1-B policies. In December 2018, USCIS proposed a policy to vet employers who submit petitions for H-1B. This is only a proposal and has not been implemented yet but will be effective for the next filing period if approved.

Travel Ban Executive Order Information

On June 26, 2018 the Supreme Court upheld the travel ban that imposes travel restrictions on nationals of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. The ban does not prohibit international student visas, except for individuals from North Korea or Syria. However, we know that visa delays and denials are still possible for students from the other five countries. Please consult your ISSS advisor before any travel.

The court decision allows the following travel restrictions to be in place indefinitely:

  • Iran: No non-immigrant visas except F/M student visas and J exchange visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
  • Libya: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
  • North Korea: No nonimmigrant, immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
  • Somalia: Nonimmigrant visa applicants subject to heightened scrutiny; no immigrant or diversity visas.
  • Syria: No nonimmigrant, immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
  • Venezuela: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas for officials of designated Venezuelan government agencies. Other visa holders are subject to verification of traveler information. No restrictions on immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
  • Yemen: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.

USF Memorandum: This Memorandum from the USF’s President and Provost outlines USF’s commitment to supporting all of our students. USF is also working with other Jesuit colleges to express the value that international students bring to our campus communities.

ISSS is available to answer any questions or concerns regarding changing immigration policy in the U.S. We have compiled a list of resources and materials that will help explain the current policies and developing information. We also highlighted campus resources and events that are available to all students, including international and undocumented, that can be used to ease stress and confusion. 

Additional Resources

Immigration Resources

Immigration Law Help

Travel Resources

USF Resources for Support and Community

If you want to get more involved and have your voice heard, there are many things you can do. ISSS has created an advocacy handout that has information on how to get express concerns and have your voice be heard.