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Posts Tagged ‘guidance’

Advocacy Toolkit for Proposed Rule Eliminating Duration of Status

Posted on: October 15th, 2020 by blair

On September 25, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed regulation that would establish fixed end dates on student and exchange visitor visas, and many other changes.  Currently, international students and scholars may stay in the United States for the duration of their program, with some PhD programs having a standard length of 7 years.  At UM, 72% of Doctoral students take longer than 4 years to complete a degree.  Under this proposal, individuals applying to either F or J status would be limited to a 4 year stay.

Additionally, some international students and scholars would be limited to 2 years based on certain factors, including birth or citizenship in specific countries.  Students and scholars of the targeted countries are almost exclusively persons of color and are disproportionately nationals of African countries.

If individuals were to need additional time to complete their program, including requests for legal work authorization after graduation, or would like to start a new degree or academic program, they would have to pay a fee and apply for an extension of stay to the USCIS and the application could be accepted or rejected.  This proposed rule creates an unwelcoming and uncertain environment for international students and scholars.

This proposed rule is open for public comments until October 26, 2020.  After the DHS considers the comments, it would draft a final rule and submit that to the Office of Management and Budget for review.  Only after that could a final rule be published.  Litigation could temporarily or permanently stop the final rule from taking effect.



Any member of the UM community can submit a public comment by Monday, October 26. 


  • International students and scholars can say how the implementation of this rule will impact them and would have impacted them if it were in place when they were making decisions about choosing a university to study, teach or do research.
  • Non international students and scholars can state how they view this rule and how their university experience would change if it were implemented.  For example, US citizen students would have fewer diverse perspectives in the classroom, be it fellow classmates or instructors.  Research projects that rely on diverse and innovative teams of graduate students and/or international scholars would be impacted.
  • UM community members who may have originally come to the US as an F or J student or scholar may wish to write a personal comment based on their story and how this rule would have changed the course of their life, perhaps away from the US completely.
  • See UM’s Public Comment on


Registered voters can speak out publicly against the proposed rule by contacting their representatives.


Additional Resources:



Comments on the proposed rule must be identified by DHS Docket No. ICEB-2019-0006, and submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Comment Now! button appears at the upper right corner of the proposed rule on, at: Follow the website instructions to submit comments.  Comments must be received by October 26, 2020. (If that link takes you to an error page on the site, go to

The Federal Register notice states:

“Comments submitted in a manner other than the one listed above, including emails or letters sent to DHS or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, will not be considered comments on the proposed rule and may not receive a response from DHS.”


“I. Public Participation

DHS encourages all interested parties to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written data, views, comments and arguments on all aspects of this proposed rule. DHS also invites comments that relate to the economic, environmental, or federalism effects that might result from this proposed rule. Under the guidelines of the Office of the Federal Register, all properly submitted comments will be posted to as part of the public record and will include any personal information you have provided. See the ADDRESSES section for information on how to submit comments. A. Submitting Comments

You must submit your comments in English or provide an English translation. The most helpful comments will reference a specific portion of the proposed rule, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include data, information, or authority supporting the recommended change. If you submit comments, please include the docket number for this rulemaking (ICEB-2019-0006), indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and materials online. Due to COVID-19-related restrictions, ICE has temporarily suspended its ability to receive public comments by mail.

Instructions: To submit your comments online, go to, and insert “ICEB-2019-0006” in the “Search” box. Click on the “Comment Now!” box and input your comment in the text box provided. Click the “Continue” box, and, if you are satisfied with your comment, follow the prompts to submit it.

DHS will post them to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at and will include any personal information you provide. Therefore, submitting this information makes it public. You may wish to consider limiting the amount of personal information that you provide in any voluntary public comment submission you make to DHS. DHS may withhold information provided in comments from public viewing that it determines is offensive. For additional information, please read the “Privacy and Security Notice,” via the link in the footer of

DHS will consider all properly submitted comments and materials received during the comment period and may change this rule based on your comments.

B. Viewing Comments and Documents

Docket: To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to and insert “ICEB-2019-0006” in the “Search” box. Click on the “Open Docket Folder,” and you can click on “View Comment” or “View All” under the “Comments” section of the page. Individuals without internet access can make alternate arrangements for viewing comments and documents related to this rulemaking by contacting ICE through the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above. You may also sign up for email alerts on the online docket to be notified when comments are posted or a final rule is published.”

Remember that this is a proposed rule, which means that it is not law yet and does not have an effective date. It will proceed through normal APA public notice and comment procedures before any final rule is published. After the comment deadline, the agency must review all comments received, which may impact the eventual wording of the final rule. After comments have been analyzed and the proposed rule amended (if at all), the agency will send a final rule back to OMB for another review. After OMB reviews the final rule, it is sent back to the agency, which will then publish it in the Federal Register as a rule as a final rule with an effective date. If a final rule is eventually published, the final rule notice will contain an effective date. It is not until the effective date included in a future final rule notice in the Federal Register that any changes become effective. The proposed rule indicates that since this is a major rule as defined by the Congressional Review Act, “this rule, if enacted as a final rule, would be effective at least 60 days after the date on which Congress receives a report submitted by DHS under the Congressional Review Act, or 60 days after the final rule’s publication, whichever is later.”


Information on SEVP Broadcast Guidance of July 6, 2020

Posted on: July 14th, 2020 by blair

Please note that SEVP rescinded the widely criticized July 6 guidance discussed below.  Unfortunately the rescission has left us with questions that need answers quickly so that UM can continue to plan course delivery for the fall and properly advise international students.  Advice will be made available to the UM community as soon as SEVP clarifies the applicable fall 2020 semester regulations.


Monday, July 6, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published a broadcast message titled, “COVID-19 and Fall 2020.”  We understand the confusion and frustration that this new guidance has caused students.  We are here to help support you during this time and put your worries at ease.

The message affects students in F-1 status and gives instructions to schools and students based on the fall instructional plan of their institution. By the definitions in the SEVP broadcast message, the published operational plan of the University of Mississippi falls into the hybrid model which is a mixture of in-person and online classes. 

 Under the hybrid model, students will have a temporary exemption for the fall semester that allows for more than one 3 credit online or remote course, unless you are in a pathway program or language training program. Check your I-20 to see the “Educational Level” listed in the” Program of Study” box to see your classification.  If you are in a pathway program or language training program, you must take all in-person or in some cases, hybrid courses.  

The SEVP guidance does not set a minimum number of classes, so the recommendation is that students cannot be in all remote or online courses, and if there is a choice in format, in-person or hybrid is preferred by SEVP.

It is important to ensure that you have a schedule that meets these requirements. In the university’s coding in, section (in-person) and hybrid classifications mean the class has an in-person component.  You should have at least one in-person or hybrid course in your course schedule.

Thesis and dissertation hours count as in-person hours, so any graduate student with thesis or dissertation hours is compliant with the regulation. 

Many of you have asked and worried about the consequences if the university must move online at any point during the fall semester due to high COVID-19 infection rates.  The University of Mississippi is considered to be operating under a hybrid model according to SEVP’s guidance, and our plan is to remain a hybrid model for the fall semester, as long as we are able to mitigate virus spread with our protocols and the status of our state, system, and community allow it.  Our goal would be to make changes to the delivery format of courses on an individual basis, and we have worked to create a course or course schedule for international students that will enable international students to be certified as having a hybrid schedule for the fall semester.  If you are not enrolled in thesis or dissertation hours, then we will be in contact with you about the course.  You, your status, and your ability to remain here to complete your degrees are critically important to us.  If you have questions about your schedule once you have reviewed it in, please email

Students in J-1 status also have flexibility with their schedules, and we recommend enrolling in in-person or hybrid if that is offered by your program. Information from the Exchange Visitor Program related to COVID-19 can be found at:

FAQ for University Departments – Planning for Fall 2020

Posted on: June 22nd, 2020 by blair

Many departments have questions about welcoming international students in fall 2020.  While there are a lot of unknowns for the fall semester, we appreciate that departments are making arrangements expecting international student enrollment.  Currently many U.S. Embassies abroad remain closed, affecting the ability to get visa appointments prior to the fall start date.  Additionally, entry bans further complicate incoming student plans.

Below please find some frequently asked questions from departments.  This is a working document to be edited as questions are answered and added to as questions come in; however, we hope that this assists you in planning and advising international students.

Are international students allowed to take classes online from their home countries if they cannot physically attend in the fall?

  • Please note that there exist location-specific requirements for compliance, based on the location where a student, regardless of nationality, accesses a course.  Issues that must be reviewed include tax liability for UM, export controls, whether the course constitutes a physical presence in another country, etc.  While we appreciate that many courses are being offered online this fall, it does not automatically mean that students can take online classes from outside the United States.  Please know that this question has been sent to the appropriate office and country-specific information will be shared when available.

If an international graduate student can complete their assistantship remotely during the fall semester, can they be paid a stipend and receive a tuition scholarship?

  • This is a complicated issue related to HR, tax liability for UM, tax liability for individual students, etc. and is also country-specific.  These situations are being discussed with the appropriate office in an effort to find a solution.  As this issue is related to the above question about online instruction, we will provide assistance on a country-by-country basis.
  • Additional questions that are related to this topic and online course access include:
    • Can international students be charged tuition if accessing their courses from abroad?
    • Can international students be paid if they have a US bank account?  If they do not have a US bank account?

How does CDC guidance affect incoming international students?

  • At this time, non-citizens, excluding permanent residents and with certain limited exceptions, who have been present in certain countries 14 days prior to entry into the US are prohibited from entry into the US.  This prohibition may still exist in the fall and affect incoming international students and scholars.  Non-citizens who have been in these countries will be prohibited from entry.  If they depart the country and stay for 14 days in a country that is not on the entry ban list, they should be able to enter the U.S.

Will there be quarantine procedures for incoming international travelers per CDC guidance

  • A committee is working on quarantine procedures not only for new and returning students traveling from overseas but also quarantine procedures for students throughout the fall semester.

Questions about the various Presidential Proclamations issued during the COVID-19 crisis?

Please refer to OGE’s immigration post.

Statement of Support during the COVID-19 Crisis

Posted on: April 30th, 2020 by blair

The fear and uncertainty that accompanies widespread illness can lead to many reactions. Members of the university community may have friends and family overseas who are affected and may be anxious or sad about the situation. They may also be overwhelmed by the volume of media coverage, both through news channels and social media.

As a university community known for caring about each other, we all need to be understanding and compassionate toward people who may be affected by the news. We should also be aware of and avoid broad generalizations and assumptions about China and people from Asian countries. Classifying Asian people as dangerous or sick, or making assumptions about a person’s nationality based on their physical appearance, reinforces long-standing histories of xenophobia and racism (whether intentional or not). Please treat all members of our community with respect and empathy as our university and the entire world deals with this challenging and evolving situation.

During this time of heightened anxiety and swift transition for our community, we must reject online behavior that vilifies, demeans, or disrespects others. COVID-19 is not specific to any ethnicity, race, or community. It is important that all members of our community feel included and supported. Students, faculty, and staff who experience bias related to race, national origin, or other protected identity are encouraged to complete a Bias Incident Report Form.

We ask that all members of the UM community be especially vigilant in supporting one another – whether on campus or remote, sick or well, majority or underrepresented – and that they condemn any discriminatory acts or hate speech targeting any identity group or community.

The Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement (CICCE) and Office of Global Engagement (OGE) staffs are available to discuss concerns about COVID-19 bias.

Resources are available and updated at the following link:

Support within the UM community

Additional resources are outlined below:

Center for Inclusion & Cross Cultural Engagement



Office of Global Engagement



Division of Diversity & Community Engagement






Office of Conflict Resolution & Student Conduct



University Counseling Center



University Police Department



Staying Successful during COVID-19:

Coping during COVID-19:

COVID-19 and the International Community

Posted on: March 8th, 2020 by blair

International Students, Faculty, and Scholars and COVID-19

The below FAQ resource is for international (non U.S. citizen) students, faculty, and staff who are part of the UM community.  Please feel free to contact OGE at should you have additional questions.

  1. How does COVID-19 affect personal travel plans for the summer? Entry of foreign nationals who were physically present in China and Iran during a 14-day period prior to entry into the U.S. has been suspended by the due to COVID-19.  This means that non-citizens who leave the U.S. for the summer break and travel to China (People’s Republic of China excluding Hong Kong and Macau) and Iran will not be able to re-enter the U.S. at this time if attempting to enter within 14 days of being present in either China or Iran.  Please contact the Office of Global Engagement at to learn more about how we can support affected students during the summer break.  (Source.)
  2. Does the outbreak of COVID-19 affect visa status? If students are unable to re-enter the U.S. due to being physically present in China or Iran within 14 days of attempted entry into the U.S., they may not be able to enroll for the fall semester.  A leave of absence in enrollment may cause students to lose their F-1 or J-1 status.  Students who lose their status due to a leave of absence may need to reapply for a visa for the next available term of enrollment.  As this is a rapidly evolving situation, we do not know when CDC travel restrictions will be lifted, so we discourage all personal travel to China or Iran until further notice.
  3. If students travel to a country with a CDC alert, regardless of citizenship, during the summer break, what might they expect upon return to the U.S. for the fall semester? The University of Mississippi maintains a web page with guidance on the procedures for any UM community member.

Any University of Mississippi community member who has been in a country under a

  • CDC Alert Level 2 (Practice Enhanced Precautions), or
  • CDC Warning Level 3 (Avoid Nonessential Travel), or
  • S. Department of State Travel Advisory Level 3 (Avoid Nonessential Travel), or
  • S. Department of State Travel Advisory Level 4 (Do Not Travel)

due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the past 14 days, or who has otherwise come in contact with someone with COVID-19, should notify the Student Health Center or Employee Health in order to receive healthcare monitoring and support.

If you have traveled to one of these areas or have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, you will face some limitations on your movement and activity. This measure is in place to assist you and protect the health and safety of our community.

Students – please call Student Health (662-915-7274) for additional evaluation and information.

Faculty and Staff – please call Employee Health (662-915-6550) for additional evaluation and information.

Community members – please call your doctor for additional evaluation and information.

COVID-19 and Study Abroad

Posted on: March 8th, 2020 by blair

Study Abroad FAQ and COVID-19

The below FAQ resource is for students who are currently studying abroad in spring 2020 or plan to study abroad in summer 2020.  Communication to participants and applicants about specific programs will continue to be made via email directly to students.  Please feel free to contact the Study Abroad Office at should you have additional questions.

  1. How does the University of Mississippi make decisions about its study abroad programs? In order to evaluate the status of a specific program, UM will weigh criteria that include the following:
    • Department of State travel advisory level
    • Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 advisory level
    • Potential of quarantine policy in the host country to disrupt program activities/impact students (Is there significant potential for U.S. participants to be quarantined?  What is the quality of care provided in quarantine?)
    • U.S. university policies for students in program’s host country (Are U.S. universities with similar in-country partners/presence requiring that their students return from host site or nearby sites? Are they prohibiting travel to the host country or canceling other programs in the host country?)
    • Local university policies and status (Are classes suspended or canceled? Are campuses closed?)
    • Overall quality of medical services available in host country
    • Potential for disruptions in local economy, infrastructure, medical service, markets
    • Potential for travel complications that could prevent departure from host country
  1. What is the current status of study abroad programs for spring and summer 2020? Spring and summer 2020 study abroad programs have been canceled effective March 12, 2020. Students in programs affected by the restriction have been contacted directly.
  2. What happens if a UM study abroad program is suspended or canceled? UM works closely with our academic partners who provide study abroad programs with the goal of mitigating potential impacts on students’ academic progress. For information on a specific program, please email the Study Abroad Office at or email your study abroad advisor.  Many programs have already moved to online coursework that can be completed in the United States.
  3. Are refunds available to students whose programs are canceled? We understand that the cancellation of a program is not only disappointing to students but may cause unexpected expenses.  A committee will review refund requests on a case-by-case basis.  You should make arrangements to depart as cost-effectively as possible.  Please keep all receipts for airfare change fees and/or other unexpected costs associated with your early departure so that a refund committee can review them after return to your home country.  Program fee refunds will also depend on the program provider’s refund policy due to COVID-19.  If you wish to seek any reimbursement from the committee, please submit your receipts to
  4. Does the University of Mississippi have any recommendations for students traveling independently while on study abroad? The university strongly recommends that everyone reconsider even personal travel to any country with any of the following advisories due to COVID-19:
    • CDC Alert Level 2 (Practice Enhanced Precautions), or
    • CDC Warning Level 3 (Avoid Non-Essential Travel), or
    • U.S. State Department Travel Advisory Level 3 (Reconsider Travel), or
    • U.S. State Department Travel Advisory Level 4 (Do Not Travel).

Students who are traveling should, in addition to taking recommended measures to prevent illness, take basic precautions to prepare for potential travel disruptions:

  • Students should register independent travel with their on-site program staff. The program staff’s ability to help in case of difficulty is increased by knowing students’ plans in advance.
  • Students should keep cell phones fully charged and operational, and check their email at least daily.
  • Students should travel with all key documents, including their passport and insurance documents.
  • Students should travel with a full supply of any regular medications, regardless of how long they plan to be away. Prescription medications should be packaged in their original containers.
  1. What changes has the University of Mississippi made to its study abroad programs in light of the COVID-19 outbreak? UM has canceled all University study abroad programs in spring and summer 2020, as have many US higher education institutions. Decisions about fall semester programs and travel will be made as the situation is monitored throughout the spring. We encourage you to visit UM’s dedicated webpage for the latest information:
  2. Who will UM contact with updates? UM will directly contact students abroad with updates and changes to their programs, if any. Students may be requested to return to their home countries if the CDC advisory levels trigger a cancellation or suspension.  UM reaches out to students’ designated emergency contacts only in very specific situations, such as when a student has been incapacitated or when we cannot reach the student. All members of the UM community can find updates at
  3. I’m on financial aid.  What impact will the spring cancellation have on my aid this semester?  Every student’s financial aid package is different.  We have been in touch with the Financial Aid Office and will evaluate the best course of action for your particular aid package once we know the academic contingency plan for your program.  What we can confirm is that if you do not earn any credit for the semester, any scholarships you have this semester will be available in future semesters.
  4. What is required upon my return to the United States?  As you make preparations to return the U.S. we ask that you do the following:
    • Contact your family and make them aware of your updated travel plans.  Please communicate with your parents!
    • Contact your program (host university, program provider, etc.) and follow any instructions that they give to you.
    • Complete the return information form here:
    • Complete the UM Travel Self-Reporting Form.

    Also, UM guidelines state that any student, faculty or staff member returning to campus from international travel is required to self-quarantine and self-monitor at their home, complete the online Travel Self-Reporting Form, and follow the CDC recommendations for what to do for a minimum of 14 days.

    • Students who traveled internationally should contact Student Health at 662-915-7274.


Guidance on the “Travel Ban”

Posted on: July 7th, 2017 by blair

SEPTEMBER 25, 2017

The Office of International Programs provided the following information regarding the Presidential Proclamation dated September 24, 2017 pursuant to Section 2(e) of Executive Order 13780.  The situation remains fluid, and we await guidance on the waivers noted in the proclamation.

Yesterday, a presidential proclamation was issued that affects travel to the U.S. for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. As more people read the language of the proclamation and interpret its meaning, information on this matter may change, so it is important to monitor the news on this if any travel is being considered. Please see the initial information from NAFSA Association of International Educators.  You can also read the published proclamation from the link.

This is different from the previous executive orders that were issued, and each country included has specific restrictions that may not be the same as others on the list. There are exemptions such as those holding U.S. permanent resident status and dual citizens who are using a passport from a non-designated country. There are also waivers, and this is one of the parts where more information about how these will be viewed is needed. NAFSA expects that the Department of State will issue field guidance to clarify the waiver process.

This kind of news can be stressful even for those not planning travel. The Counseling Center is available free of charge to enrolled students and is a place for confidential conversations and guidance on any impacts to your study and wellbeing.

As always, please know that we are here to support your success at the university. If you have questions or want to talk about your specific plans, please contact us. We can also provide contact information for immigration attorneys which may be advisable in some situations.

Please feel free to contact the Office of Global Engagement or the Office of International Programs for any questions related to immigration status.


JUNE 28, 2017

The Office of International Programs provided the following information to international students, faculty, scholars, and staff on June 28, 2017 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the executive order also known as the “travel ban.”


U.S. Supreme Court Grants Stay to the Preliminary Injunctions on the 90-day Travel Ban

What this means: This means that the previous court order blocking the March 6th travel ban will be halted. In other words, the travel ban is, generally, in effect, but with some important exceptions for students, researchers, faculty, and family members visiting them.


The court is allowing the ban to go into effect for foreign nationals who lack any “bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States.”

What this means: In practical terms, this means that [the ban] may not be enforced against any foreign national who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.


The Court gives the following examples of individuals who would likely have the required “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. entity, and therefore would remain exempt from the 90-day ban:

  • Students who have been admitted to a U.S. school (e.g., F-1, M-1, or J-1 student)
  • Workers who accept an offer of employment from a U.S. employer (e.g., H-1B, O-1, TN)
  • Lecturers invited to address an American audience

To qualify as a bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity, the Court states that the “relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the executive order].



  1. Remain calm.
  2. If you are from one of the affected countries, consult the Office of International Programs before any travel outside the U.S.
  3. If you must travel outside the U.S., make sure you have all of your documentation.
    1. F-1: Most recent I-20 with Travel Signature; Valid passport; Valid visa; I-94; OPT card (if applicable)
    2. J-1: Most recent DS-2019 with Travel Signature; Valid passport; Valid visa; I-94
    3. H-1B: Original I-797 Approval Notice; Valid visa; I-94 (I-797 serves as I-94 if you have not left the U.S. since the I-797 was issued)
    4. E-3: Original I-797 Approval Notice; Copy of I-129 Petition; Employment letter; Valid passport; Valid visa; I-94 (I-797 serves as I-94 if you have not left the U.S. since the I-797 was issued)
    5. Permanent Resident: Valid Permanent Residency Card; Letter of Introduction (from OIP); Valid passport
  4. Make sure to check your email for any updates.
    1. You can also check the NAFSA travel advisory page here:

Please feel free to contact the Office of Global Engagement or the Office of International Programs for any questions related to immigration status.