Sent May 6, 2021, updating students on testing availability and NIEs
As we enter the final weeks of the spring semester, ISSA will send messages to prepare you for your summer plans. Today we are writing our international student community about:
- Scheduling testing to meet entry test requirements of non-U.S. countries
- Exceptions to travel restrictions for students from China, Brazil, South Africa, Iran, and India (and EU Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland)
- Accessing ISSA support
While travel is certainly more accessible in the coming months than it has been, we would advise students currently present in the U.S. to carefully consider all international travel plans. Travel restrictions, testing/vaccine requirements, and consular processing continue to be unpredictable, and there is no guarantee that once you exit the U.S. you will be permitted to re-enter in time for the fall semester. Ensure that your plans are flexible and you are monitoring the travel situation throughout the summer.
Exit Testing for International Travel
If you will travel outside the U.S. for the summer and require a COVID test to enter a different country, the University can likely assist you in acquiring the necessary test. BEFORE calling to schedule an appointment, you must:
- Know the entry test requirements for your final destination and any transit countries (this means knowing WHAT test and WHEN you will need the test)
- Have your student ID number and flight information available
Once you have determined WHEN you need to complete the test, based on your destination’s requirements, you have two options:
- Testing Needed Monday to Friday: Call the Student Surveillance Testing Team 574-634-2233 to schedule your test. The team schedules nasal swab tests Monday through Thursday 9am - 7pm or Fridays 9am-5pm. They are not open on the weekend.
- Testing Needed Saturday to Sunday: Call UHS to schedule a test
Please call to schedule your test by Monday, May 17, 2021.
Your airline may have information about entry requirements, but you can also review information at travel.state.gov for your destination or the destination’s embassy here in the U.S. It is your responsibility to review the entry requirements and make arrangements accordingly.
Department of State Expands National Interest Exceptions
We were delighted by last week’s announcement from the Department of State that they were expanding the National Interest Exceptions to include students from China, Brazil, South Africa, and Iran whose programs start after August 1. Students from India are also eligible for a national interest exception, despite recent implementation of travel restrictions from there.
This announcement allows students with a valid F-1 visa to travel directly from China, Brazil, South Africa, and Iran, exempting them from the 14 day travel restrictions currently in effect; previous exceptions made for F-1 students from EU Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland are still in effect.
Two important notes about these exceptions:
- It is unclear how this announcement impacts continuing students travel plans, and we will notify students when we have updated information.
- F-1 students do not need to apply for the exception, if traveling after August 1. It is automatically granted with a valid visa and valid I-20.
This announcement does not address student’s ability to apply for a visa, though more U.S. Embassies and Consulates are resuming routine visa services. Review the current status of your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you need to apply for a new visa.
ISSA Office Reminders
A reminder that while our offices are physically closed, you can:
- email us at email@example.com with your questions,
- review information at issa.nd.edu (including SSN and work authorization),
- request or report information at ISSAlink.nd.edu, or
- schedule a virtual appointment here.
As our office supports nearly 2000 students and scholars, our team is managing a high volume of requests. While we work to respond as quickly as possible, please allow at least five business days before following up.
International Student & Scholar Affairs
Reminders for Winter Break Planning
As we approach the winter break, we are writing to remind F and J visa holding students:
- to review your documents needed for international travel,
- to report your winter break plans to ISSA (if you haven't already!), and
- to review work authorization requirements for your visa status (and confirm your employment options over the long break).
Winter Break Travel
If you will travel out of the U.S. over the break, be sure you have the following documents to reenter the U.S.:
- a valid passport (with six months validity),
- a valid F or J visa for reentry,
- a valid Form I-20 or DS-2019 with program dates or OPT authorization past your date of reentry,
- a valid travel validation signature. Travel signatures are valid for one year while enrolled at Notre Dame.
To obtain an updated travel signature, you can:
- schedule a travel signature appointment on Tuesday, Wednesdays, or Thursdays,or
- complete the "Request New I-20" form in ISSAlink.
If you will travel within the U.S., know that you should carry your passport and I-20/DS-2019 with you, or at the very least, a copy of these documents. Travel is an excellent time to review your Form I-20/DS-2019 and confirm that all the information on it is correct.
Please remember that travel outside the U.S. always carries some risk, and that risk is certainly heightened with the global health crisis and current travel restrictions. Each student must make a decision about travel based upon their own circumstances, which may include considerations about travel restrictions, flight availability, visa expiration dates, cost of travel, and concerns about reentering the U.S. for the spring semester. We particularly caution students who may travel with an expired U.S. visa, as most U.S. embassies have still suspended visa processing. If you plan to exit the U.S. over the break, closely monitor travel advisories and remain as flexible as possible when making travel plans.
Winter Break Plans
We're asking all students to submit the winter break plans form, but it is particularly important to submit if you will need a COVID test result to travel / enter your destination country.
Reminder: Work Authorization is Required
Please remember that ANY off campus employment requires PRIOR work authorization from ISSA or USCIS. Working off campus without authorization is a reason for terminating your F-1 or J-1 status, which would then require you to exit the U.S. and may impact your ability to reenter the U.S. in the future.
- F-1 students may work on campus without authorization, and this includes opportunities like research assistant, teaching assistant, hourly positions (e.g. library or dining hall employee), and any opportunity that is on campus and paid by the University. All employment off campus requires PRIOR authorization. If you have an opportunity to engage an unpaid internship, please verify with ISSA that authorization is not needed.
- J-1 students: you are required to have work authorization for all employment, whether it is on or off campus, including fellowships, assistantships, and hourly work.
Winter Break Employment
Though immigration regulations limit employment during the semester to 20 hours a week, F-1 and J-1 students are permitted to work more than 20 hours per week during annual vacations, including the 10-week winter break this year. The dates in which students can work on campus more than 20 hours are November 21, 2020 to January 29, 2021. Remember: off campus employment always requires prior authorization from ISSA or USCIS.
If you will be outside the U.S. during winter break and working, you are not subject to F or J visa immigration regulations, no matter where the employer is located; if you are located inside the U.S. you are subject to F or J visa immigration regulations, even if the employer is located outside the U.S. We recommend you contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org before accepting any off campus employment opportunities to confirm that you are not violating your immigration status.
ISSA Office Hours - Winter Break
ISSA will continue to be open virtually through the winter break, except for the Thanksgiving holiday (November 25-29) and Christmas Break ( December 19-January 5). Throughout the break, you can schedule an advising appointment or contact us at email@example.com. We'll also connect students with each other and let you know what opportunities are available in town.
With just a few weeks left of the fall semester, we are writing to check in on your winter break plans and confirm whether your travel will require a pre-departure COVID test. We ask that all F-1 and J-1 visa holding students take two minutes to complete the Winter Break Travel & Testing form by Wednesday, October 28, as this form will assist us in preparing for winter break advising, creating winter break support, and scheduling sufficient appointments for pre-departure testing.
End of Semester COVID Testing
As noted in Student Affairs’ October 7 letter, the University is scheduling end of semester testing appointments and prioritizing access for those students traveling home whose home city or country requires a COVID test prior to re-entry. If you anticipate needing testing prior to returning home over the break, please indicate that need on the Winter Break Travel & Testing form.
Winter Break Travel
Please remember that travel outside the U.S. always carries some risk, and that risk is certainly heightened with the global health crisis and current travel restrictions. Each student needs to make a decision about travel based on their own circumstances, which could include flight availability, travel restrictions, cost of travel, and concerns about reentering the U.S. for spring. If you choose to exit the U.S. over the break, closely monitor travel advisories and remain as flexible as possible when making travel plans.
Resources for Taking Care
This has been a challenging year in so many ways, and we feel it particularly for our international student community members, whether you are on campus or abroad. We encourage you to prioritize your well-being and take advantage of all the resources available on campus to support your well-being, whether that is accessing the International Student Support group, sponsored by University Counseling Services; utilizing restorative practices through McDonald Center for Student Well-Being; or connecting with community. If you are interested in connecting with other international students now or over the break, please let us know. We are organizing small gatherings for students to connect, and we would love to include you. The University will release more information about winter break programming in the coming weeks.
Please let us know what you plan over the winter break through the form, and reach out if you have questions. We hope that wisdom, strength and joy carry you through the final weeks of the semester.
International Student & Scholar Affairs
Sent October 21, 2020, regarding the University filing a comment on proposed DHS rule
The International Student & Scholar Affairs team and Notre Dame International continue to work with campus partners on a number of initiatives in support of international students. We’ll be sending out additional messages in the coming days to confirm winter break plans and where you may need additional support, but today we are writing to let you know that in addition to Father Jenkins’ letter to the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) registering his concerns, the University has filed a comment urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to withdraw the proposed rule that would establish a fixed period of admission and extension of stay procedure for F and J visa holders.
You can find the University’s formal comment here.
As noted in our previous email, a proposed rule does not impact your F or J immigration status. We will notify students and scholars of the impact if and when a final rule is published. If you have any specific comments or concerns related to the proposed rule, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We remain committed to advocating for you and our entire international student and scholar community. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
International Student & Scholar Affairs
Sent September 29, 2020, regarding the proposed DHS rule
We are writing to update you on a proposed rule published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday, September 25, 2020, that, among other proposed changes, would eliminate duration of status (D/S) for F students, J exchange visitors, and their dependents. We assure you that the University is actively working to advocate and respond on behalf of our international student and scholar community in response to this proposal.
As you may remember from orientation, Duration of Status (D/S) allows F and J nonimmigrant visa holders to remain in the U.S. for the length of time indicated on their Form I-20 or DS-2019; the proposed rule, if implemented, would eliminate the current Duration of Status, and instead subject students and scholars to a more limited admission period; if more time is needed to complete a program, students would be required to apply for an extension of stay through USCIS. Other elements of the proposed rule include reducing the F-1 "grace period" from 60 days to 30 days.
It is important to understand that a proposed rule does not impact your F or J immigration status. As a proposed rule, it does not take effect immediately. It will proceed through the standard public notice and comment procedures before a final rule is published.
We are working with our national associations, peer institutions, and university leadership to provide an accurate and detailed assessment of the proposed rule. As part of our commitment to advocacy and support of our international student and scholars, the University will be submitting comments to the proposed rule that address how some of the proposed changes are problematic for our community. We are hopeful that these comments as well as those submitted by our colleagues at peer institutions will be taken into consideration when possible changes to the proposed rule are considered. We will notify students and scholars of the impact if and when a final rule is published.
If you have any specific comments or concerns related to the proposed rule, please contact us at email@example.com.
We thank you in advance for your patience as we work to assess its potential impact on the Notre Dame community. Please be assured that the University stands with international students and scholars and will continue to advocate for and affirm you as essential and valued members of the Notre Dame family.
International Student & Scholar Affairs
Notre Dame International