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Proposed Change to Duration of Status Admission for International Students and Scholars

We are aware of the proposed changes that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made regarding F and J STUDENT visa holders and their duration of status.

As part of this process DHS was required to give 30 days for individuals and institutions to leave public commentary. We wanted to let you know that BYU officially commented on this proposal to express opposition to it as a way to support our F-1 and J-1 visa holders. While this does not guarantee how DHS will proceed, we hope that you know that BYU administration and the ISSS office exercised their right to advocate against this proposal and we wanted to share with you the letter that was submitted. Regardless of how this develops, we want you to know that we will continue to support you the best we can. We appreciate you and are glad that you are part of our BYU community.

We have been working to understand better what it all means if it is approved and wanted to communicate with you at this time what we know. This is current as of today and is subject to change depending on how the process unfolds and what decisions are made. It is important to remember that the process is still just in the proposal stage and is not final yet. Further, there is currently no stated date that this policy will go into effect if it is approved.

The very brief summary of what has been proposed includes:
  • This would change the “Duration of Status” that currently allows for schools to extend end dates on the Form I-20 (for F students and dependents) or Form DS-2019 (for J students and dependents) based on needs of academic programs to a specific date that could not exceed 4 years. Our understanding so far is that you would be able to petition to the government through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have that extended, but ultimately the decision would be up to them and not the school anymore. This process would likely take a significant amount of time and would also cost $370 for the Form I-539 application fee plus an $85 biometrics fee.

    • Those who come from certain countries under one of the following groups would be limited to only 2 years before needing to apply to USCIS for an extension. For BYU that would include the following three groups:
    • State Sponsor of Terrorism List (North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and Syria)
    • Countries with greater than 10 percent overstay rate: Afghanistan, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen and Zambia.
    • Those under U.S. National Interest as determined by DHS
  • This would change the grace period that allows an F student to stay in the U.S. after graduation or after completing OPT to only 30 days instead of 60, which would also adjust when the OPT must start since you have to choose a date during your grace period for that to begin.

  • For those approved for an H-1B while on OPT, this would extend eligibility to work beyond the October 1st deadline if an H-1B approval process has not been completed by that date.

We understand that this is not a lot of information, and we will update you as we hear more. There is also a proposed transition period for those currently on an I-20 or DS-2019 which states that once this rule goes into effect (if it does) then an individual is “authorized to remain in the United States in F or J nonimmigrant status until the later date of either the expiration date on an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766, or successor form), or the program end date noted on their Form I-20 or Form DS-2019, as applicable, not to exceed a period of 4 years from” the date the new rule is approved.

This proposed rule is currently in the “public commentary period” before it is decided upon. The ISSS office has worked with the Office of General Counsel to prepare comments to help advocate in favor of continuing with the current laws instead of these new rules; however, we won’t know what this really means until a decision is made by DHS.

We understand this is a challenging time and there is a lot of unknown with this. We are sorry for the anxiety that this causes; please know we are here to help if you want to discuss it or ask any questions. We continue to wish you the very best with your semester wherever you are and in whatever format you are taking classes. Thank you for all you do to help enrich our campus!