U.S. Immigration Updates

International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA) will use this page to share updates with students and scholars in F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 status whose I-20 or DS-2019 were issued by Notre Dame. When appropriate, we will also publish notifications from General Counsel for Notre Dame-sponsored H-1B visa holders. Though drafts of future executive orders and policy updates may circulate, we will not address their content here until a finalized document is available. Please note that ISSA is not authorized to provide counsel beyond the information on this page, and the information and resources on this page should not be understood& as legal advice. If you have questions, please consider speaking with an experienced immigration attorney.

Special Student Relief for F-1 Students

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) periodically announces Special Student Relief (SSR) for specific groups of F-1 students from parts of the world that are currently experiencing emergent circumstances. The SSR is a collection of benefits that may include the suspension or alteration of rules regarding duration of status, full time enrollment, and employment eligibility if the student is facing severe economic hardship based on the circumstances in their country of citizenship.

The list of current countries eligible for Special Student Relief Programs and the country specific requirements are available here:

  • Afghanistan (effective May 20, 2022 through May 20, 2025)
  • Burma/Myanmar (effective May 25, 2021 through November 25, 2025)
  • Cameroon (effective June 7, 2022 through June 7, 2025)
  • Ethiopia (effective December 22, 2022 through December 12, 2025)
  • Haiti (effective August 3, 2021 through August 3, 2024)
  • Hong Kong (effective November 26, 2021 through February 5, 2025)
  • Somalia (effective September 18, 2021 through September 17, 2024)
  • Sudan (effective April 19, 2022 through April 19, 2025)
  • South Sudan (effective March 3, 2022 through May 3, 2025)
  • Syria (effective April 22, 2021 through September 30, 2025)
  • Palestine (effective February 14, 2024 through August 13, 2025)
  • Ukraine (effective April 19, 2022 through April 19, 2025)
  • Venezuela (effective April 22, 2021 through September 10, 2025)
  • Yemen (effective September 4, 2021 through September 3, 2024)

Additional information about this SSR and when eligible students may apply is available on the F-1 Special Student Relief Fact Sheet at ICE.gov/SEVP and the What is Special Student Relief infographic in the Study in the States Resource Library. Stakeholders with case-specific questions can contact the SEVP Response Center (SRC) via phone at 703-603-3400 or 1-800-892-4829 or via email at SEVP@ice.dhs.gov.

Citizens of one of these countries who were present in the U.S. on the effective date and are interested in applying can email issa@nd.edu for more information.

If a student or scholar is eligible for and interested in applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), they will need to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. A full list can be found here, but countries designated for TPS in November 2023 included Afghanistan, Cameroon, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela. A list of immigration attorneys can be found here.

(SSR info updated April 2024)

DHS Announced Updated STEM Designated Degree Program List

On July 12, 2023, DHS announced the addition of eight new CIP codes to the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List. None of these eight codes reflect programs at the University of Notre Dame. The list of STEM designated programs at Notre Dame can be found here.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Remote Policies

In June 2023, the Department of State clarified guidance on remote work policies for J-1 Exchange Visitors, establishing that exchange visitors should not participate remotely more than 40% of the time (e.g. two days out of five) if their host institutions have instituted partial remote policies. J-1 Exchange Visitors cannot be fully remote during their program, so all travel (international and domestic) that takes them away from Notre Dame for an extended period should be discussed with ISSA prior to the exchange visitor's departure. This guidance is effective July 1, 2023.

Updated Visa Issuance Guidance

In February 2023, the Department of State provided updated guidance that consular officers can now issue an F student visa up to 365 days in advance of an international student's program start date. This new guidance does not impact SEVP requirements governing the Form I-20, including paying the SEVIS I-901 fee or seeking admission into the U.S. no more than 30 days before the program start date listed on the I-20. 

DS-2019's and Electronic Transmission

On March 28, 2023, the Department of State published an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register that permits designated sponsors for the Exchange Visitor Program to digitally sign and electronically transmit Forms DS-2019 to an enumerated list of parties.  

Exchange visitors and their accompanying spouses or dependents, if any, must present paper Forms DS-2019 to apply for nonimmigrant J visas at U.S. embassies or consulates.In addition to no longer requiring blue ink on the DS-2019, the Interim Final Rule offers two new options for distributing DS-2019's:

  • Sponsors may print and physically sign paper forms in ink (blue ink not required), scan and save them (e.g., as portable document format (PDF) files), and electronically transmit them (e.g., via email).
  • Sponsors may use digital signature software to sign Forms DS-2019 and then electronically transmit them (e.g., via email) or mail them.

The ISSA office will begin to electronically transmit DS-2019's using the first option, of printing, signing, and scanning the DS-2019 before emailing it. Once the J-1 Exchange Visitor and their dependents receive the DS-2019 via email, they should print off, sign and carry the DS-2019(s) to the visa appointment and at the U.S. port of entry.

Visa Processing Impacted

The availability of visa processing services remains unpredictable and varied across U.S. Department of State Embassies and Consulates. Please monitor the site associated with your embassy or consulate to ensure you have the most up to date information for scheduling a visa appointment. Ultimately, it is the federal government's decision as to when visas will be processed at the various embassies and consulates.

Please check the Department of State's websites for updates and monitor the visa services available in your home country. ISSA is closely monitoring and will provide updates here as they are made available.

Covid-19 Guidance for F-1 and J-1 Students

In May 2022, ICE clarified the continuation of March 2020 guidance for the 2022-23 Academic Year. More information can be found here (under Non-Immigrant Students & SEVP-Certified Schools). This guidance does not impact currently enrolled or admitted Notre Dame students or Notre Dame alumni.

Student Athlete Name, Image and Likeness Rules and Nonimmigrant Status

On July 1, 2021, numerous state laws took effect regarding college athletes being compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness. In June 2021, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) indicated they were "aware of and monitoring federal and state legislation pertaining to the use of name, image and likeness for student athletes, including F nonimmigrant students." However, no further guidance has been provided to Universities and international offices. As of August 2023, we continue to advise that international student athletes in F-1 status are not eligible to take advantage of NIL activities as they may violate their current immigration status and impact future applications and entries to the U.S.  

Executive Orders and Impact

As of June 12, 2022, the CDC and U.S. government no longer require COVID-19 testing prior to entering the U.S. 

On December 2, 2021, the CDC updated their testing requirements and now require travelers planning to enter the U.S. to present a negative COVID test within 24 hours of their intended departure. 

On November 26, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation suspending the entry of certain travelers who were physically present within eight countries, including the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. There is currently no indication that F-1 or J-1 students are eligible for a National Interest Exception to this Proclamation, so if students and scholars must travel through any of these countries, they should plan to quarantine in a non-restricted country for at least 14 days before attempting to reenter the U.S.

On October 25, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation revoking the previous geographic travel ban restrictions with a global requirement that noncitizens who are nonimmigrants traveling by air to the U.S. from any country must be fully vaccinated, with some limited exceptions. A separate CDC order also continues to require all air travelers (regardless of citizenship) to present results of a negative COVID test taken within three days (if fully vaccinated) before departing for the U.S.

On January 25, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation continuing the suspension of entry of certain travelers from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, China, and Iran, and expanding restrictions to include travelers from South Africa. The Department of State has confirmed that the National Interest Exceptions to this Proclamation still apply for F-1 visa holding students. J-1 visa holding students will need to apply to the U.S. Embassy for a national interest waiver in order to reenter the U.S.

On January 21, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order requiring all air travelers to comply with the recently announced CDC measures. According to the order, "to the extent feasible, travelers seeking to enter the United States from a foreign country shall be: (i) required to produce proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test prior to entry; and (ii) required to comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States."

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order, Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States, ending travel restrictions imposed by executive orders signed by the previous administration.

Executive Orders, 2017 - 2020