Immigration Updates, and FAQs

 

 

Immigration Updates and FAQs

 

 

As changes to immigration policy, visa processing, and travel restrictions continue to develop, UO acknowledges how particularly stressful the current environment of uncertainty must feel for our highly-valued international students, scholars, faculty, and staff. We know that the current state of immigration policy and ever-changing procedures related to COVID-19 are causing confusion, concern, and questions. Please know that we want you here as part of our community, and the Division of Global Engagement is here to do everything possible to help you overcome every obstacle to your academic success and have full membership in our community.

The most current updates are as follows:

  • Proof of COVID-19 Vaccine Required Soon for Travelers from 33 Countries: It was announced on September 20, 2021 that the United States will ease restrictions on air travelers from 33 countries beginning in November. International travelers will be required to provide proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three days of departure, before boarding a U.S.-bound aircraft. This new policy will replace a patchwork of pandemic travel restrictions first instituted by President Donald Trump last year and tightened by Biden earlier this year that restrict travel by non-citizens who have been in the United Kingdom, European Union, China, India, Iran, Republic of Ireland, Brazil and South Africa. When these travel restrictions are lifted in November, the U.S. will admit fully vaccinated air travelers from these countries. 

    It is not immediately clear which vaccines would be acceptable under the new US system and whether those unapproved in the US could be used. The new policy also does not apply to ground travel from Canada and Mexico.
     
  • DOS Allowing Waiver of F, M, J Visa Interviews. Effective immediately and to the end of 2021, the Department of State (DOS) will allow consular officers to waive the visa interview requirement for certain F, M, and academic J (students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists) visa applicants. Applicants whose visas may be waived are:
    • Applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and who have never been refused a visa (unless such refusal was overcome or waived), and who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility; or
    • First-time F, M, and academic J visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), provided they have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.

Note that the U.S. Secretary of State previously found F, M, and academic J visa applicants eligible for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs). New F or M visa applicants who are found to be qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel. J visa students and academics must contact their nearest embassy or consulate for an NIE ahead of traveling to the U.S.

  • USCIS No Longer Requiring Bridge Applications for F-1 Change of Status Applications. USCIS announced that it will no longer require persons applying to adjust status to that of F-1 to continuously apply for and maintain nonimmigrant status for up to 30 days before the program start listed on the Form I-20. USCIS will now only require that an applicant's nonimmigrant status be valid and expired at the time they submit their initial Form I-539 for change of status. For approvable change of status applications, USCIS will grant F-1 status to be effective on the date of approval. If such time is more than 30 days before the program start date listed on the Form I-20, the student must not engage in activities that may be considered a violation of F-1 status, such as engaging in unauthorized employment or attending classes.
  • U.S. State Department Announces Exemption to Pandemic-Related Travel Restrictions for International Students: On April 26, 2021, the Department of State updated its National Interest Exception (NIE) page to expand certain NIE eligibilities to all countries subject to a geographic COVID-19 entry ban. Students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs, who are subject to pandemic-related travel restrictions due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and India, might now qualify for an NIE. Students and academics may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later.

    • F-1 Students
      • Students with valid F-1 visa intending to begin or continue an academic program, including OPT, starting August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic program. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 visa should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.
    • J-1 Students
      • Students and visiting scholars with a valid J-1 visa should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling, if they believe they may qualify for a National Interest Exception. If a National Interest Exception is approved, they may travel on a valid J-1 visa. 
         
  • Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test Required for Entry to U.S.: The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just announced that beginning January 26, all air passengers arriving to the United States must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding. This order applies to both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. This order only applies to air travel to the U.S. and does not apply to land border crossings from Canada or Mexico. The airline will enforce a COVID-19 negative test result of documentation of recovery for all passengers before boarding. For more information including frequently asked questions, please refer to the CDC website: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States | CDC . Locations and availability of COVID-19 testing by country can be found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html
     
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Required Fall 2021: The UO will require students to be fully vaccinated prior to the start of fall term. Students may be eligible to request an exemption. We strongly recommend you a) get vaccinated for COVID-19 in your home country prior to arrival to the U.S., and b) receive your last vaccine dose at least two weeks prior to your arrival to the U.S.

    Review all FAQs on the UO website at https://coronavirus.uoregon.edu/vaccine including those below!

    • What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated”? You are considered fully vaccinated after two weeks have passed since you received all recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (the number of does varies by manufacturer).
       
    • Will the UO accept vaccines other than those approved for use in the US? The UO will accept any COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). In keeping with the CDC’s clinical considerations guidance, those who’ve received a vaccine that has not been approved by the WHO will be offered a U.S. approved vaccine.
       
    • If international students got a vaccine out of the US, how should they show proof? UO will allow international students to upload to the myUOHealth portal evidence of any COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). This is the same portal international students already use to upload other immunization records. Please note that these immunization records must be submitted in English. 
       
    • If international students received the first dose of a WHO-approved, two-dose vaccine outside the US, what should they do upon arrival in the US? Students who have received one dose of a WHO-approved, two-dose vaccine will need to wait 28 days after arrival to the U.S. and then begin the two-dose sequence of a US-approved vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or the single dose of a US-approved one-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). This option is NOT recommended because your student visa only allows you to arrive up to 30 days prior to the start of the term. We strongly recommend you a) get vaccinated for COVID-19 in your home country prior to arrival to the U.S., and b) receive your last vaccine dose at least two weeks prior to your arrival to the U.S.
       
    • How can international students get a vaccine after arrival in Eugene? Students will be able to receive a vaccination upon arrival in Eugene via Lane County Public Health, private clinics, or pharmacies. However, starting your COVID vaccination in the U.S. may require you to arrive 4-5 weeks before the start of fall term. This option is NOT recommended because you are limited to arriving only 30 days prior to the start of the term. We strongly recommend you a) get vaccinated for COVID-19 in your home country prior to arrival to the U.S., and b) receive your last vaccine dose at least two weeks prior to your arrival to the U.S.
       
    • What are UO’s expectations/requirements with regard to quarantine on arrival as students await local vaccination? The UO recommends that travelers entering the US follow US Centers for Disease Control Guidelines for self-isolation depending on vaccination status.  Plan to arrive in the US early enough to follow these guidelines. 
       
    • Can international students move into UO residence halls if they have not been vaccinated? Yes. The vaccination requirement for living in the residence halls is the same for UO students on campus: The UO will require students to be fully vaccinated prior to the start of fall term and students may be eligible to request an exemption
       
    • What if I cannot get a COVID vaccine prior to arrival to the U.S.? Students who cannot obtain a WHO-approved vaccine before arrival in the US may qualify for a temporary vaccine exemption. Those students must complete an exemption request, should indicate their intent to become vaccinated as soon as possible after arrival, and should comply with isolation/quarantine, timelines, and other requirements identified by the CDC and state and local authorities. The vaccine exemption process will be made available soon, and will be shared very broadly with all students, including incoming/returning international students. 
       
  • Visa Services: U.S. embassies and consulates are beginning the phased resumption of routine visa services. The dates for each embassy or consulate will depend on local conditions. We are unable to provide details for each location. Please monitor the embassy or consulate website for updates. For more information, go to the Dept. of State's web site (travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html) including this FAQ on "phased resumption of routine visa services": travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/...
     
  • Visa Appointments: Check out this Google spreadsheet with the wait times for student visa appointments at all U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. This spreadsheet gets updated every Sunday.
     
  • RUSSIA UPDATE: The U.S. Embassy in Russia will end virtually all consular services started May 12. This includes non-immigrant (F-1, J-1, H1B) visa processing. This is another step in the long pattern of diplomatic escalation between the U.S. and Russia. Students and visiting scholars will now need to go to a third country outside Russia to apply for a non-immigrant visa.
     
  • President Biden Ends Trump’s Discriminatory Travel Ban: Executive Order signed on January 21 revokes the travel ban on foreign nationals from more than a dozen countries seeking legal immigration to the U.S. including Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Eritrea, Yemen, Venezuela, Nigeria, Sudan. 42,000 people were unable to enter the US since 2017 due to these bans.
     
  • DHS Proposed Rule Change: February 2021 - there is a freeze on any pending rule change to review and remedy under the Biden Administration. Background - on October 26, the University of Oregon and the Oregon State University jointly submitted a letter to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau (ICEB) forcefully opposing the proposed restriction on time an international student can remain in the US on a student visa. UO and OSU are steadfast in our commitment to the importance of global engagement, to recruiting top talent from around the world, to global scale research, and to the significant contribution international students make to campus diversity. Read the full letter here.
     
  • We are here for you. At the Division of Global Engagement and International Student and Scholar Servies, we reiterate our stance in solidarity with our international students and stand against all forms of xenophobia and racism. We denounce any acts of discrimination and violence targeted against Asian and Asian American communities locally and nationally. Please take a moment to read our messages to students on March 2 and March 17 or the message from President Schill and Provost Phillips.
     
  • DGE Response to Executive Order on New Chinese Graduate Students and Researchers. Here is what we now know and where we stand.
     
  • Restricted Travel to Canada and Mexico (U.S. Department of Homeland Security): In order to limit the further spread of coronavirus, the U.S. has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Speak with an Advisor

Phone: 541-346-3206

Call and provide your phone number to our front desk staff. An ISSS advisor will call you back.

Students: intl@uoregon.edu

Scholars, Faculty or Staff: ischolar@uoregon.edu

Send questions, and we will respond to your email as quickly as possible.

Microsoft Teams Chat

Visit teams.microsoft.com and login with your DuckID to begin a remote session. All UO students have a Microsoft Teams account associated with their DuckID.

Additional Resources

ISSS Newsletters:

Biweekly newsletters to UO students
https://isss.uoregon.edu/frequently-asked-questions-faqs-students#newsl…

Websites for Up-to-Date Information about U.S. Visas and Travel:

International Student Fall 2020 Considerations
TheBestSchools: https://thebestschools.org/magazine/international-students-covid19-ques…

U.S. Department of State
COVID-19 Country Specific Information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Co…

White House 
Presidential Actions: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/

Centers for Disease Control 
Travel/COVID-19 Page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
News Alerts: https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts

NAFSA: Association of International Educators Pages
Coronavirus Critical Resources: https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/coronavirus-critical-resou…
Tracking COVID-19 Restrictions on US Visas and Entry: https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/covid-19-restrictions-us-v…

Immigration Resources
U.S. Consulates Worldwide: http://www.usembassy.gov/
Getting to the United States: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/getting-to-the-united-states

Counseling Assistance for the UO Campus Community:

UO Counseling Center Services for Students: Call the Counseling Center at 541-346-3227 to discuss your options for mental health support. They will have the next available counselor return your call to discuss your options and to answer your questions.

UO Employee Assistance Program: Cascade Centers, Inc. provides comprehensive employee assistance at no cost for eligible employees, their dependents, and eligible household members. Call Cascade directly at 1-800-433-2320 to schedule an appointment.