Immigration rules can change overnight.
UNT is dedicated to staying up to date with any changes. This page was last updated on January 21, 2021 at 8 a.m.
It is important for you to know where you can go to get the facts.
Updated Guidance as of July 24th Regarding Spring 2021 F-1 International Student Enrollment
The Department of Homeland Security issued a broadcast message regarding Fall 2020 enrollment on July 24th. We have received communication that the same guidance will apply to Spring 2021
Continuing students defined as F-1 students who were in active SEVIS status in Spring 2020 (including U.S. transfer students and UNT students changing their degree level in Fall):
Are allowed to enroll in 100% online/remote coursework
Must continue to be enrolled full time (9 credit hours for graduate students/12 credit hours for undergraduate students)
Can re-enter the U.S. for Spring 2021 and pursue 100% online coursework if they departed in Spring or Summer 2020, have a valid F1 visa stamp, and are re-entering the U.S. with the same SEVIS ID number
Newly Admitted Students Outside the U.S. defined as F-1 students who were not in active SEVIS status in Spring 2020 and Students who entered the U.S. to begin their F-1 status in Fall 2020:
Spring 2021 enrollment must include at least one course that is delivered face-to-face, partially online, or partially remote with an on-campus meeting f
Must continue to be enrolled full time (9 credit hours for graduate students/12 credit hours for undergraduate students)
If coursework is only offered 100% online, newly admitted students outside the U.S. in Spring 2020 need to either enroll remotely in their home country or defer their admission to a later term. More information HERE.
If UNT returns to 100% remote learning during Spring 2021 in response to COVID-19, all active F-1 students can remain in valid immigration status and stay in the U.S.
Please continue to monitor your UNT email address for updates. We will post additional Frequently Asked Questions online HERE. We are thankful to have such a wonderful international student community!
2020 USCIS Fee Increase
USCIS published a final fee rule on August 3, 2020 that was to become effective on October 2, 2020. On September 29, 2020, a nationwide injunction and stay on the final USCIS fee rule was issued. New fees and form versions associated with the rule are now on hold. Any filings will require the fees and forms that were published prior to October 2nd, 2020. This situation is rapidly changing. Please continue to check this page for up-to-date information. Additional information can be found here.
Proposed Rule: Elimination of Duration of Status
On Friday, September 25th, the Department of Homeland Security publised a proposed rule to eliminate "duration of status." This rule is not final and has not gone into effect and we do not recommend making decisions based solely on this proposed rule. Below is a brief discussion of the rule making process and a high level overview of the proposed rule:
Rule Making Process:
1) A proposed rule is published in the Federal Register and the public is allowed to comment (this is where we currently are). This period will end on October 26, 2020 for this particular rule.
2) DHS is required to review public comments and prepare a response to all substantive comments.
3) DHS sends either the same rule or the rule with changes to the OMB for review.
4) The OMB completes their review of the rule.
5) The final rule is published with an effective date.
Brief Overview of Proposed Rule
The new rule proposes to eliminate "duration of status" for individuals in F and J status. Currently, individuals in F and J statuses are admitted for "duration of status" which means they are allowed to remain in the United States as long as they are complying with their F or J regulations. There is not a fixed end date by which individuals in F or J status must depart the United States. The proposed rule eliminates "duration of status" and replaces it with a fixed end date of F or J status. Individuals in F or J status would then need to file a formal extension of status request with USCIS in order to remain in the United States beyond their fixed end date.
Again, this is in the "Proposed Rule" stage. the public commentary period is open until October 26, 2020. The final rule could have substantial changes or never take effect. This information is not law and is subject to change.
International H1B, TN, and O-1 faculty and staff, J-1 Scholars
Please note that your immigration status is not in jeopardy with the recent announcement to migrate to virtual learning. The regulations governing the H-1B, O-1, and TN statues gives us a large amount of flexibility, including telecommuting, or approved leave if necessary. If anything changes, ISSS will update you on how to maintain your status. We have received guidance from the Department of State that J-1 scholars should maintain program activities as much as possible but will be provided with flexibilty during these exceptional circumstances. Please see notice below about the June 22nd, 2020 Proclamation that suspends the entry of some H-1B workers to the U.S.
Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak
On June 22nd, 2020, the White House released a new proclamation that suspends the entry of H-1B workers, certain J-1 categories, and L-1 workers along with their accompanying dependents to the U.S. This proclamation will go into effect at 12:01 am EDT on June 24th, 2020. There are some exceptions for individuals currently outside the U.S. who are deemed critical to national security, the U.S. economy, and healthcare. You can read this proclamation in its entirety online here. On December 21, 2020 this proclamation was extended to March 31, 2021.
Who is not impacted? In the context of the University of North Texas, the suspension and limiations on certain H1B and J1 categores does not apply to:
- any current H-1B employee or H-4 dependents currently in the United States;
- any current H-1B employee or H-4 dependents who hold valid visa stamps;
- any employee of the University of North Texas currently inside the United States for whom UNT is sponsoring H-1B for a change of status, extension of status, or change of employer;
- any dependent of an H-1B employee seeking a change-of-status to or extension of H-4 status;
- any current or future UNT J-1 Professors, J-1 Research Scholars, J-1 Short Term Scholars, or J-1 Students;
- any visa exempt individual such as Canadian citizens;
- as well as a list of other exmpted categories found in Section 3(b) of the proclamation.
Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People's Republic of China
On May 29th, 2020, the White House released the Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People's Republic of China. This proclamation will go into effect at 11 am central daylight time on June 1, 2020. It suspends the entry of nationals of the People's Republic of China who plan to enter the U.S. in F or J status who receive funding, is employed by, or who conducts research for any entity in the PRC that implements or supports the People's Republic of China's "military-civil fusion strategy." There are important exceptions to this rule including but not limited to:
- People pursuing undergraduate study in the U.S.
- Individuals whose research or study would not contribute to the military-civil fusion strategy of the People's Republic of China as determined by the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. lawful permanent residents
- Spouses of US Citizens and permanent residents
NOTE: This proclamation is not an entry ban on all nationals of the People's Republic of China. It is meant to be applied only to those with direct ties to the People's Republic of China's "miliatry-civil fusion strategy." There is not a current proclamation that revokes F or J visas for thsoe already in the U.S. At this time, while we believe the scope of impact from this proclamation will be relatively low at UNT, there are still many unknowns regarding how this policy will be implemented. Until we are advised otherwise by the U.S. government, we will continue to process immigration documents for all F-1 and J-1 students. You can read this proclamation in its entirety online at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-nonimmigrants-certain-students-researchers-peoples-republic-china/
Civil Aviation Administration of China COVID-19 Test Requirement
We recently received news that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test result in order to board flights to China. If you are planning to depart the United States and enter China, please research this requirement more in depth. You will likely need to schedule an appointment with a Primary Care Physician inside the U.S. to receive permission to take the nucleic acid COVID-19 test. Scheduling an appointment with a U.S. doctor and then scheduling the COVID-19 test may take several weeks so it is best to plan in advance of your departure.
If you have plans to depart the United States, we recommend reaching out to the Chinese Embassy in the United States for additional details to ensure you have a smooth trip to China.
Suspension of Passenger Flights by Chinese Airlines to and from the United States
A June 3, 2020 Department of Transportation order set to automatically go into effect on June 16, 2020 (unless President Trump approves the order earlier), will "suspend scheduled passenger operations of all Chinese carriers to and from the United States." The order will affect flights by the following Chinese airlines:
- Air China Limited (doing business as Air China)
- Beijing Capital Airlines Co., Ltd.
- China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited
- Hainan Airlines Holding Co. Ltd.
- Sichuan Airlines Co., Ltd.
- China Southern Airlines Company Limited
- Xiamen Airlines
The Department of Transportation's order applies to scheduled passenger flights coming into and going out of the United States, but does not impact cargo operations.
The order summary attributes the U.S. order to "the failure of the Government of the People’s Republic of China (China) to permit U.S. carriers to exercise the full extent of their bilateral right to conduct scheduled passenger air services to and from China."
The order also states that, "Our overriding goal is not the perpetuation of this situation, but rather an improved environment wherein the carriers of both parties will be able to exercise fully their bilateral rights. Should the CAAC [NAFSA note: Civil Aviation Authority of China] adjust its policies to bring about the necessary improved situation for U.S. carriers, the Department is fully prepared to revisit the action it has announced in this order."
Coronavirus Travel Bans by Presidential Proclamation --- Updated July 16th
There have been four travel bans issued in response to the on-going COVID-19 situation that limit travel to the United States.
On Friday, January 31, 2020, President Trump signed Proclamation 9984 which suspends entry into the United States of all foreign nationals (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the People's Republic of China (excluding Macau and Hong Kong) during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. There are some exclusions to this suspended entry. This ban is effective February 2nd at 4:00 pm central standard time.
On February 29, 2020, an additional Presidential Proclamation was issued. This proclamation suspends entry of all foreign nationals (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within Iran during the 14 day period prior to their entry or attempted entry to the United States. There are some exclusions to this suspended entry. This ban is effective March 2nd at 4:00 pm central standard time.
On March 11, 2020, President Trump issued an additional Presidential Proclamation that suspends entry of all foreign nationals (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within one or more of 26 European countries during the 14 day period prior to their entry or attempted entry to the Untied States. There are some exclusions (such as immediate family members to US citizens) to this suspended entry. This ban will go into effect on March 13th at 10:59 pm central daylight time. The impacted countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.On July 16th, the Department of State issued a statement allowing for F-1 international students to apply for an F-1 visa if entering from the Schengen Area, UK, or Ireland. We have not yet received confirmation from Customs and Border Protection that they will allow F-1 students as an exception to this Presidential Proclamation so please beware of the increased risk of trying to enter the U.S. from these countries.
On March 13, 2020, President Trump added the United Kingdom and Ireland to the list of suspended entry for foreign nationals. This travel ban will go into effect at 10:59 pm central daylight time on March 16th. On July 16th, the Department of State issued a statement allowing for F-1 international students to apply for an F-1 visa if entering from the Schengen Area, UK, or Ireland. We have not yet received confirmation from Customs and Border Protection that they will allow F-1 students as an exception to this Presidential Proclamation so please beware of the increased risk of trying to enter the U.S. from these countries. On December 29th, the Department of State announced that it will now require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before arriving in the U.S. from the UK. The statement is here.
On March 26, 2020, President Trump added Brazil to the list of suspended entry for foreign nationals. This travel ban will go into effect at 10:59 pm central daylight time on March 26th.
All flights will be routed through 13 airports for additional screening for those who meet exceptions. You can read more: https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/coronavirus-critical-resources
Updated January 20, 2021 - President Biden signed an excuetive order removing previous travel restrictions put in place in 2018 and 2020 for citizens of the following countries:
Temporary Suspension of Immigrant Visas
On April 22, 2020, the U.S. President signed a proclamation introducing a ban on the issuance of Immigrant Visas (U.S. Permanent Residency or "Green Card") at U.S. Embassies and Consulates for a 60-day period beginning on April 24th, 2020 and ending on June 23rd, 2020 (with the possibility of an extension). Specifically, this prolcamation is a suspension for the following, very narrow list of Immigrants:
Applicants for Immigrant Visas (Permanent Residency or Green Cards) who are outside of the United States;
Immigrant applicants who do not already have an approved, valid immigrant visa; and
Immigrant applicants who do not have an official travel document, such as an advance parole document, that is valid during the period of the effective dates of the proclamation.
Remember, Immigrant visas are for those coming to the United States permanently (e.g. Permanent Residents or Green Card Holders). Nonimmigrant visas are issued for temporary purpose such as visits, study, and work. The suspension and limitation on entry DOES NOT APPLY to:
- Non-immigrant visa applicants and visa holders (i.e. F-1 Students, J-1 Students, J-1 Scholars, H-1B Workers, B-1/B-2 Visitors, etc.);
- Any current lawful permanent resident (i.e. Permanent Residents or Green Card Holders) of the United States;
- as well as a list of other exempted categories found Section 2(b) of the proclamation.
Furthermore, while this order suspends the processing of Immigrant visa applications abroad via Consular Processing, it does not prevent pursuit of Permanent Residency via an Adjustment of Status through USCIS within the United States.
Many U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world are reporting limited services. Check consulate specific information online at: https://www.ustraveldocs.com/ or https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/covid-19-restrictions-us-visas-and-entry#consular
On March 13th, U.S. Mission India posts have announced cancellation of nonimmigrant visa appintments after March 16th. If your visa appointment has been cancelled, you will need to reschedule when consular posts resume normal operations. More information is available on the Department of State website for India.
Effective March 20th, the United States and Canada will begin limiting all "non-essential travel" across the US and Canadian border. Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions and to work in the U.S. will be allowed to cross the border. More information is available online at: https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/covid-19-restrictions-us-visas-and-entry#canadamexico
On March 17th, USCIS announced that it will suspend in person services until at least June 4th. We do not anticipate that this announcement will impact applications mailed to USCIS such as OPT or H1B petitions. However, if you had an in person appointment with USCIS that will need to be rescheduled for a later date once your field office reopens. More information: https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-temporarily-closing-offices-public-march-18-april-1
On February 10th, 2020, the U.S. Embassy posted this message: "As of February 10, 2020, regular visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consultes General in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang are suspended. Due to the ongoing situation relating to the novel coronavirus, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates have very limited staffing and may be unable to respond to requests regarding regular visa services."
You can read more online at: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/mission-china-regular-visa-services-temporarily-suspended/
Annoucement from January 27th, 2020
A recent rule has been altered to expand the definition of "public charge." While all F1 students and J1 exchange visitors must show proof of finances before entering the United States, it is important to remember that as a nonimmigrant visa holder, you are not allowed to accept public benefits in the form of cash assistance, food stamps, housing assistance, or Medicaid. Examples of these benefits include but are not limited to SNAP, Section 8 Housing, or free healthcare. Accepting one or more of these benefits could result in future visa denials or applications for permanent residency. More information can be read online at: https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/final-rules-public-charge-determinations