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COVID-19 Information

Please visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC ) website for the most up to date guidance about testing, vaccinations and international travel.  International Travel Quick Reference


In March 2021, the Department of State (DOS) announced a temporary expansion of statutory and regulatory provisions that allow consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying to renew a visa in the same nonimmigrant visa classification and category if not more than 48 months have passed since the prior visa expired. The initial expansion of this authority lasted until December 31, 2021.

We were also heartened by the State Department’s December 23 announcement extending the in-person interview waiver for visa renewals through the end of 2022.


Suspension of Passenger Flights to and from Morocco Extended through December 31

The Government of Morocco has extended the suspension of all regular passenger flights to and from Morocco through December 31.

There are currently no direct commercial flights to/from the United States. Royal Air Maroc and Air Arabia have announced that special outbound flights from Morocco to France and Spain are available until December 13. U.S. citizens seeking to depart from Morocco at this time should book one of these flights directly with the airlines.


Employment Authorization for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of Emergent Circumstances in Hong Kong 

On Nov. 24, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a Federal Register notice announcing the suspension of certain regulatory requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant students who are Hong Kong residents and are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of emergent circumstances in Hong Kong. This notice will temporarily suspend applicable on-campus and off-campus employment regulations for eligible Hong Kong residents. Students who receive special work authorization will be considered full-time if they register for at least 6 credits each semester. 

The notice applies exclusively to F-1 nonimmigrant students who meet all the following conditions: 

  • Are Hong Kong residents, regardless of country of birth; 
  • Are lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant status on Nov. 26, 2021; 
  • Are enrolled in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school; 
  • Are currently maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status; and 
  • Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the emergent circumstances in Hong Kong. 

Please refer to the Hong Kong Federal Register notice for more information regarding: 

  • The specific Special Student Relief (SSR) action; 
  • Who is covered by this SSR action; 
  • Why DHS took this SSR action; and 
  • How to apply for employment authorization under this SSR action. 

The suspension of these requirements will remain in effect until Feb. 5, 2023, for eligible F-1 nonimmigrant students. 

Students who believe that are eligible for special employment and want to apply should contact  


New SEVP Policy Guidance: Use of Electronic Signatures and Transmission for the Form I-20

On November 1, 2021 SEVP announced a new policy to formally continue to permit designated school officials (DSOs) to electronically sign and transmit the Form I-20 to initial and continuing students and their dependents. Once a student receives an I-20 they should print it out and sign it at the bottom of page one. This policy only applies to I-20s, not other documents such as Form DS-2019.

SEVP coordinated with its government partners within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of State and U.S. Social Security Administration* to ensure continued acceptance of electronically signed Forms I-20. If a student or school official encounters an issue with a government partner accepting an electronically signed Form I-20 or has questions about this guidance, please contact the SEVP Response Center.

*Social Security continues to insist on original documentation and signatures. F-1 students applying for a social security number should always present original documentation with a wet signature, not an electronic signature.

October 27, 2021

Presidential Proclamation Requires COVID Vaccination for International Travelers to the United States, Lifts Prior Geographic Restrictions

On October 25, U.S. President Biden issued a proclamation which, effective November 8, 2021, will lift the four current geographic COVID-19 travel ban restrictions and replace them with a global requirement that "noncitizens who are nonimmigrants" traveling to the United States by air from any part of the world establish that they are fully vaccinated, with some limited exceptions. In addition to providing proof of vaccination, all passengers on international flights to the United States will continue to be required to show results of a recent negative COVID test.

Please see the OISS COVID-19 webpage for more details. 

Registration is now open for the  2023 Diversity Immigration Visa Program (DV-2023), (green card lottery).

DV-2023 Program: The online registration period for the DV-2023 Program begins on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and concludes on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5). Individuals who submit more than one entry during the registration period will be disqualified.

Instructions are available on the US Department of State Website.

Beware of fraud and scams. Some websites and emails attempt to mislead customers, posing as providers of official U.S. government information. Read the Department of State Fraud Warning here

Complete your own application. The online entry application is easy and free

If you would like assistance with the application, we recommend that you contact an immigration attorney. The OISS is unable to assist with this application. 

May 25, 2021

Temporary Protected Status Designated Country: Burma (Myanmar)

May 22, 2021

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Extends and Redesignates Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Until January 22, 2023

April 22, 2021

DHS Federal Register notices establish Special Student Relief for Venezuelan and Syrian F-1 students, effective April 22, 2021.

Regulations allow DHS to suspend or alter rules regarding duration of status, full course of study, and employment eligibility, for specific groups of F-1 students from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances. This collection of benefits is known as "special student relief." The benefits can be understood as a "package" consisting of on- or off-campus work authorization and authorization to reduce one's course load. The reduced course load benefit is only available to students who acquire work authorization through the notice and is not available separately.

Venezuela. Effective April 22, 2021 until September 9, 2022. Federal Register notice at 86 FR 21328 (April 22, 2021).

Syria. Effective April 22, 2021 until September 30, 2022. Federal Register notice at 86 FR 21333 (April 22, 2021)

To be eligible, an F-1 student must:

  • Be a citizen of Venezuela or Syria, regardless of country of birth;
  • Have been lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant status on April 22, 2021;
  • Be currently maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status;
  • Be enrolled in an SEVP-certified academic institution; and
  • Be experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, or
  • Be experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the ongoing civil unrest in Syria since March 2011

If you are citizen of Venezuela or Syria and are struggling financially due to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela or the ongoing civil unrest in Syria, please contact the OISS for help

March 9, 2021

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is designating Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, effective March 9, 2021, through September 9, 2022. Individuals who can demonstrate continuous residence in the United States as of March 8, 2021 are eligible under Venezuela's designationIndividuals desiring TPS must file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the 180-day registration period. (March 9, 2021 – Sept. 5, 2021) They may also apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and for travel authorization. All individuals applying for TPS undergo security and background checks as part of determining eligibility. More details about the eligibility criteria to submit an initial TPS application and apply for an EAD can be found in the Federal Register Notice (FRN) and Temporary Protected Status Designated Country: Venezuela | USCIS

General Suspension of Routine Visa Services

On March 20, 2020, The Department of State suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. The U.S. Department of State is eager to resume visa services, but has not yet determined when this will happen.

Post-completion Work Permission and Internships

  • Extensive information about work authorization is on the OISS website.
  • Summer Internships: Whether your internship is paid or unpaid, the majority of F-1 students will require Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT): Students who will graduate in May 2019 and plan to apply for OPT, will find all the information on the OISS website.  Please familiarize yourself with the basic information. In addition, the OISS will be presenting OPT information sessions staring later this month (February).  OPT authorization is taking at least 3 to 5 months. Plan ahead!
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