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COVID-19 Information


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 11, 2021

DOS Expands Visa Interview Waiver Policy to 48 Months, Through December 31, 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 expansion of this authority lasts until December 31, 2021.

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


USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765 for OPT

Due to extensive delays at USCIS lockbox locations, USCIS has announced flexibilities for certain foreign students affected by delayed receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. These flexibilities apply only to applications received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021.  This is wonderful news for any student who has been patiently waiting for post-OPT or STEM OPT adjudication. Read the announcement.

CDC Expands Negative COVID-19 Test Requirement to All Air Passengers Entering the United States

Effective January 26, 2021 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding the requirement for a negative COVID19 test to all air passengers entering the United States.  

Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19. Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger. We recommend that you check with your airlines before your flight to ensure that you will have the necessary documentation. Yeshiva University Spring 2021 Updates

New Fees Scheduled to take effect on October 2, 2020 are on hold! This means that the OPT fee will not increase on 10/2/2020.

On September 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and stay on implementation of the 2020 final USCIS fee rule in its entirety. New fees and form versions associated with that rule that were to be required on October 2, 2020, as well as all other aspects of the rule, are now on hold. 

DHS and TSA Terminate Designated COVID-19 Airport Restrictions Effective September 14. (September 11, 2020)

CBP and TSA published in the Federal Register this week that the health screening and airport restrictions were lifted effective September 14th. This means the international travel to the U.S. is no longer limited to specific airport.  This is not a termination of the country-specific coronavirus Presidential Proclamation bans. Those Presidential Proclamations remain in effect.

USCIS Allows Limited, Temporary Use of I-797 Approval Notices Due to COVID-19 EAD Production Delays.
(August 19, 2020) USCIS posted a notice on its I-9 Central site, authorizing the temporary use of an I-797 EAD approval notice (not a receipt notice) as a List C # 7 document that establishes employment authorization (but not identity) for I-9 purposes. To qualify, the I-797 approval notice must have "a Notice date on or after December 1, 2019 through and including August 20, 2020." I-797 approval notices with Notice dates outside this range will not qualify. Employers who use this flexibility will have to reverify the employee on Form I-9 with the actual EAD (or suitable other combination of documents) by December 1, 2020.

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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