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Immigration Updates

Updates 06/26/2018

U.S. Supreme Court upholds travel ban

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2018 upheld the current version of the travel ban. For more information about the specifics of the ban, please refer to the OVIS webpage on White House Executive Orders. 

Updates 06/05/2018

USCIS no longer accepting status inquiry requests on F-1 OPT applications pending more than 75 days

USCIS has confirmed that it will no longer accept status inquiries on I-765 applications seeking F-1 Optional Practical Training that have been pending more than 75 days. The agency had previously accepted status inquiries submitted by F-1 students' sponsoring schools. There is no required turnaround time for I-765 processing. In January 2017, new regulations were implemented that eliminated the 90-day adjudication requirement that had been in place for OPT applications. For information on current processing times, students can check the USCIS processing times webpage. Select I-765 as the form type, and the Service Center where your application is pending. Most applications are filed with the Potomac Service Center.

Updates 05/25/2018

Government proposes new policy for determining "unlawful presence" of F and J nonimmigrants

On May 11, 2018 USCIS issued a memorandum  proposing a fundamental change to its current policy for counting days of "unlawful presence" for F and J nonimmigrants. According to the USCIS news release, the policy aligns with the White House's "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States" Executive Order. The new policy is set to go into effect on August 9, 2018. Under current policy that has been in place since 1997, unlawful presence only begins after a formal finding of a status violation by a DHS officer or by an immigration judge. Under the new policy, unlawful presence would begin the day after a status violation. OVIS will continue to monitor this development and provide updates on our website.

Updates 05/14/2018

USCIS changes unlawful presence policy for F and J nonimmigrants

On May 11, 2018 USCIS announced a major shift in its policy for calculating the accrual of unlawful presence in the U.S. for F, J and M nonimmigrants. Under the new policy, which is scheduled to take effect on August 9, 2018, F and J visa holders who are admitted to the U.S. for the duration of status (D/S) will start accruing unlawful presence when they fall out of status, regardless of whether there is a formal determination to that effect. Under the current policy, unlawful presence did not accrue unless there was a formal determination by the U.S. government or an immigration judge of a violation of status. OVIS will continue to monitor this new policy change and provide updates.

Updates 04/13/2018

H-1B Cap Reached for FY2019, and USCIS lottery completed

On April 6, 2018 USCIS announced it reached the H-1B cap for Fiscal Year 2019. USCIS received 190,098 petitions during the filing period, reaching the statutory cap of 65,000 and the advanced degree (master's) cap of 20,000. On April 11, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process to select a sufficient number of the petitions filed, and will be rejecting and returning the unselected petitions.

Updates 01/15/2018

USCIS Resumes Processing DACA Renewals following Federal Court Order

On January 13, 2018 USCIS posted instructions for filing DACA renewals following a January 9, 2018 federal court order. According to the USCIS website, the agency will accept renewal applications for DACA recipients whose DACA expired on or after September 5, 2016. For individuals who previously received DACA, but whose DACA expired before September 5, 2016, DACA requests can be filed as a new request instead of a renewal. USCIS is not accepting new DACA applications from individuals who have never had DACA before. The National Immigration Law Center and United We Dream have prepared a set of FAQs on DACA Renewal Applications.

Updates 10/18/2017

Federal Court in Hawaii blocks large portion of new travel ban

On October 17, 2017 the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii issued a Temporary Restraining Order blocking enforcement of the bans on Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. The bans on North Korea and Venezuela were not included in the Order and remain in effect. The ban on Venezuelan citizens is limited to certain diplomats and their family members.

Updates 10/11/2017

U.S. Consular Posts in Turkey temporarily suspend nonimmigrant visa services for travel to the U.S.

On October 8, 2017 the State Department announced the temporary suspension of nonimmigrant visa services at its consular posts in Turkey. Following the announcement, the Turkish government announced its immediate suspension of visa services to U.S. citizens.

White House Issues Summary of Immigration Priorities

On Sunday, October 8, 2017 the White House issued a summary of immigration policy priorities which it wants Congress to include in legislation to continue the DACA program

Updates 10/04/2017

USCIS resumes premium processing for all H-1B petitions

On October 3, 2017, USCIS announced the agency was resuming premium processing of all H-1B petitions. Premium processing (expedited processing) of H-1B petitions was temporarily suspended beginning April 3, 2017. Since that date the agency has resumed processing of certain types of petitions, and now is making the service available to all H-1B petitions. Premium processing requires an additional filing fee of $1225.

Updates 09/25/2017

White House issues Presidential Proclamation following March 6, 2017 Executive Order banning travel from designated countries

More information found at the OVIS webpage - Information on White House Immigration-Related Executive Orders

Updates 08/29/2017

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Conducts Random Immigration Inspections at Bus Terminals and Highway Checkpoints

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has reinstituted its practice of transportation checks at public bus terminals, including the terminals in Burlington and White River Junction, VT. During these checks, CBP Officers board the bus and ask each passenger to present their documents evidencing lawful status in the U.S.

CBP has also begun conducting transportation checks on major highways, including I-91 and I-89. It has been several years since CBP has engaged in these traffic stops. From August 25-27, 2017, CBP conducted checks on I-93 in the Lincoln, NH area. OVIS will continue to monitor these activities and update our website and Facebook pages.

CBP claims authority to operate these checks within 100 miles of the U.S. Canadian border. Non-U.S. citizens who travel within the 100-mile border zone should carry appropriate documents verifying lawful status in the U.S. Nonimmigrants (F-1, J-1, H-1B, etc.) and Lawful Permanent Residents should carry passports and evidence of valid entry to the U.S. at all times (I-94 record for nonimmigrants, and green card for permanent residents).

If you have questions about CBP inspections, please contact your OVIS advisor.

Updates 08/21/2017

U.S. Dept. of State suspends visa operations in Russia

On August 21, 2017 the State Department announced that all nonimmigrant visa operations in Russia will be suspended on August 23, 2017. Currently scheduled appointments will be cancelled and applicants will be instructed on how to reschedule. The agency posted a Fact Sheet with additional information.

Updates 06/26/2017

U.S. Supreme Court reinstates portion of Executive Order banning travel of certain foreign nationals

On June 26, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court heard the government's appeal of the lower court decisions blocking the administration's executive order banning travel from six countries for 90 days and suspending the U.S. refugee program for 120 days.  In its decision, the Court upheld portions of the lower court injunctions, but allowed the government to stop entry of foreign nationals "who lack any bona fide relationship" with U.S. persons or entities.  The Supreme Court's order can be found at:

It is too early to know how the State Department and other federal immigration agencies will implement the Supreme Court's order.  The government will need to determine whether a foreign national has a bona fide relationship that will allow him or her entry to the U.S.  Based on the language in the Order, students who have been admitted to a U.S. college or university should be eligible for a visa and admission, and individuals who have been offered an appointment or employment at a U.S. college or university should also be eligible for a visa and admission, but ultimately it will be up to the discretion of State Department consular officers at U.S. consulates or embassies abroad, and to U.S. Customs & Border Protection at the ports-of-entry as to whether a foreign national will be able to come to the U.S.

Updates 06/16/2017

DHS announces preservation of DACA program

On June 15, 2017 the Department of Homeland Security announced that DACA program, Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals, will remain in effect. This means that the DACA recipients will continue to be eligible for initial and renewed employment authorization documents (EADS) valid for two-year periods. Department of Homeland Security also announced that it has issued a memorandum rescinding DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. This program was proposed by the Obama administration but was never implemented because of ongoing litigation.

The DHS announcement and corresponding FAQs can be found on the DHS website:

Updates 06/13/2017

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Hawaii Court's injunction blocking travel ban

On June 12, 2017 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion upholding the portion of the Hawaii District Court's injunction that blocked the 90-day ban on entry to the U.S. It did not block the section of the Executive Order that creates a framework for a future indefinite entry bar that could be applied to any country that is unwilling to provide the U.S. with the information it requires in order to issue a visa for admission.

Updates 05/26/2017

Fourth Circuit Upholds Injunction Against Presidential Executive Order Banning Travel

On May 25, 2017 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision upholding the lower court's preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order.

Updates 05/18/2017

USCIS Warns Against Immigration Phone Scams

USCIS recently sent a message warning of a phone scam where the call appears to come from the Canadian government's Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Call Centre. If you receive this call, or any other call demanding personal information or payment, hang up immediately. You should report any scams to the Federal Trade Commission at and to Dartmouth Safety and Security at

For more information on phone scams, visit the USCIS website at

Updates 04/28/2017

DLA Webinar on Immigration Strategies

The Dartmouth Lawyers Association is presenting a webinar on immigration strategies for international students and recent graduates on May 10, 2017 from 3:30pm to 4:30pm.

Updates 04/20/2017

On April 19, 2017 the federal district court in Washington DC dismissed a lawsuit filed on June 17, 2016 by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech) against the 12-month F-1 OPT rule and the 24-month STEM OPT rule. The lawsuit was filed after the publication of the 24-month STEM OPT rule on May 10, 2016.

Updates 04/07/2017

H-1B cap for FY 2018 reached

Today USCIS announced that it has reached the H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018. This means the agency has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 "master's cap," and the 65,000 regular H-1B cap. USCIS will update its H-1B FY 2018 Cap Season webpage with information about the H-1B lottery.

Updates 03/21/2017

Department of Homeland Security bans laptops and other electronic devices in carry-on bags from 10 overseas airports

DHS has issued a Fact Sheet and Q&A related to its announcement to immediately ban laptops and other electronic devices in carry-ons for flights from 10 specific airports overseas. The ban applies to all passengers flying from the designated airports.

Updates 03/16/2017

Federal Court issues TRO stopping enforcement of March 6 Executive Order on Immigration

On March 6, 2017 the White House issued a new Executive Order on immigration. PDF versions of the Executive Order and accompanying Fact Sheet are available. The Order was set to go into effect on March 16, 2017, but on March 15 the U.S. District Court in the State of Hawaii issued a Temporary Restraining Order preventing the federal government from enforcing the Executive Order nationwide. On March 16, 2017 the U.S. District Court in Maryland issued a preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of the March 6 Order nationwide. OVIS has created a webpage with information about the immigration-related Executive Orders issued by the new administration.

Updates 03/06/2017

Administration issues new Executive Order on immigration

On March 6, 2017 the White House issued a new Executive Order on immigration. PDF versions of the Executive Order and accompanying Fact Sheet are available. OVIS is reviewing the new order and updating our webpage.

Updates 02/10/2017

Federal Court temporarily prohibits enforcement of White House Executive Order

On Thursday, February 9, 2017 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government's request for an emergency stay on the District Court's temporary restraining order. The TRO prevents the enforcement of certain sections of the January 27 Executive Order, including the provision that prevented individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S., and the provision suspending the admission of refugees. The government could seek a new review by the Circuit Court, or could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Because the situation is fluid, it is still advisable for individuals from the seven countries to not travel outside the U.S. OVIS has posted FAQs discussing the Executive Order on our website.

Updates 01/31/2017

White House issues Executive Order on immigration

On January 27, 2017 the White House issued an Executive Order that, among other things, suspended admission to the U.S. for individuals from certain countries for a period of 90 days. OVIS has posted FAQs to help understand the Order and its impact.

Updates 01/03/2017

USCIS publishes new versions of Forms, including Form I-765 and Form I-539 – prior versions only accepted until February 21, 2017. 

Department of Homeland Security website link is here.

On December 23, 2016 USCIS published a rule in the Federal Register removing the NSEERS program. 

NSEERS – the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.  The Department of Homeland Security stopped using the program, which required immigrants from 25 Muslim-majority, Arab and South Asian countries to register their arrival to and departure from the U.S., in 2011. More information found here

Updates 11/02/2016 Outage on November 16, 2016

SEVP announced that its FMJ fee website for payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee will be temporarily unavailable on November 16, 2016 for an upgrade. FMJ fee website is here.

Customs & Border Protection launches Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) for citizens of China traveling to U.S. on 10-year B-1/B-2 visa.

The U.S. Customs & Border Protection Agency (CBP) launched the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) for individuals with a Chinese passport containing a 10-year B-1/B-2 vis stamp.  Chinese citizens seeking to travel to the U.S. using the 10-year visitor visa must enroll in EVUS beginning November 29, 2016. CBP website link is here.

Updates 10/24/2016

USCIS filing fees to increase, effective December 23, 2016

Today USCIS published a final rule in the Federal Register increasing a number of filing fees, including the fees for I-765 applications for Employment Authorization Documents.  Applications or petitions received by USCIS on or after December 23, 2016 must include the new fees.  The final rule can be found at this link, USCIS website link is here.

Updates 10/18/2016

Dept. of State announces policy of no eyeglasses in visa photos

Effective November 1, 2016, Department of State will no longer accept visa photos with applicants wearing eyeglasses. U.S. Department of State link is here.

Updates 09/19/2016

U.S. Department of State provides information for the 2018 Diversity Lottery program.

U.S. Department of State website link is here

Updates 08/25/2016

U.S. Immigration Service warns against immigration scams

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency’s Public Engagement Office issued a reminder to avoid being a target of immigration scams.  More information and tools to help you avoid scams can be found on the USCIS website.

Updates 07/19/2016

Long wait times for appointments at U.S. Consulates in India

U.S. Consular Posts in India are currently experiencing long wait times for nonimmigrant visa interview appointments.  F-1 and J-1 visa appointments are treated as priorities, but all other visa categories are subject to these long waits.  You can check visa appointment wait times at the U.S. Department of State website. Link is here.

Updates 07/11/2016

USCIS announced it has returned all fiscal year 2017 cap-subject H-1B petitions that were not selected in the lottery process.

USCIS website link is here.

Updates 04/13/2016

USCIS Completes the H-1B Cap Random Selection Process for FY 2017  

USCIS website link is here.

Updates 04/08/2016

H-1B Cap for Fiscal Year 2017 Reached

USCIS announced that it has reached the H-1B cap for Fiscal Year 2017. The agency has not confirmed the date it will conduct the H-1B lottery. The USCIS announcement is found here.

Updates 03/22/2016


On March 11, 2016 the Department of Homeland Security published the new STEM OPT rule, set to go into effect May 10, 2016.  Among the changes to the current STEM OPT rule, F-1 students with a qualifying STEM degree will be eligible for a 24-month extension of OPT.  The rule requires students and their STEM OPT employers to complete and sign a formal training program in order to obtain authorization from the F-1 sponsor for the STEM extension.  The new rule also imposes new STEM OPT reporting requirements on the student and the STEM OPT employer.  Details about the STEM OPT rule can be found here.

Updates 03/21/2016

OPT applications being processed at Potomac Service Center

USCIS announced that on March 1, 2016 Service Centers began transferring certain I-765 applications, including OPT applications, to the Potomac Service Center in an effort to balance workloads and reduce processing backlogs.  USCIS will issue a transfer notice if an application is being transferred to Potomac. This does not change the filing location for OPT applications.  The USCIS announcement can be found here. If you used the OVIS address for your OPT application, we will notify you if we receive a transfer notice for your application.

Updates 03/15/2016

New STEM OPT Rule published March 11, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security published a new STEM OPT rule on March 11, 2016. The rule will become effective on May 10, 2016.  Among other provisions, the rule will allow students with degrees in approved STEM fields to apply for 24-month extensions of OPT (an increase from the current 17-month extension).  Before a student can apply for the STEM OPT extension, the student must provide the F-1 program sponsor with a formal training plan for the STEM OPT employment, completed on new Form I-983 and signed by the student and the STEM OPT employer.  The rule also increases reporting requirements for both the student and the employer during the STEM OPT period. The link to the publication in the Federal Register can be found here. OVIS will be providing guidance to students on the new STEM OPT rule in the coming weeks.

Updates 01/25/2016

Deadline for Dept. of Homeland Security’s STEM OPT rule extended to May 10, 2016

On January 23, 2016 the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the Department of Homeland Security’s request to extend the stay of vacatur of the STEM OPT program for 90 days, from February 12, 2016 to May 10, 2016.  This means that the Homeland Security now has until May 10, 2016 to issue a new STEM OPT rule.

Updates 01/05/2016

DHS requests extension of time for new STEM OPT rule

In August 2015 a federal court ordered that the STEM OPT program be vacated on February 12, 2016 unless the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) corrected procedural deficiencies in its rulemaking process.  In October 2015 DHS issued a new, proposed STEM OPT rule and invited public comment.  Now DHS is asking the federal court to delay its stay of vacatur of the STEM OPT rule for 90 days – to May 10, 2016 – in part to give the agency more time to respond to the more than 50,000 public comments it received in response to the proposed rule. 

Updates 08/25/2015

USCIS discontinues e-Filing system

USCIS announced yesterday that it is discontinuing its e-Filing system for certain form types, including the I-765 application for employment authorization.  The announcement can be found at the USCIS link here.  Note that this does not affect the process OVIS follows with students using the Form I-765 to file F-1 OPT applications.  OVIS advises filing using the paper form, rather than the e-Filing system.

Updates 08/14/2015

Federal court vacates the STEM OPT Extension Program but the decision is not effective until February 2016 to allow Dept. of Homeland Security time to respond.

The federal court found that DHS did not follow proper notice and comment procedures when it implemented the STEM OPT extension rule.  DHS is now being given until February 2016 to put a new rule in place through proper procedures.  In the interim, F-1 students with approved STEM extensions of OPT remain eligible to work for their STEM employers, and USCIS will continue to accept applications for STEM extensions. 

Updates 06/23/2015

Dept. of State update on visa systems problems 

Updates 06/18/2015

Visa delays at U.S. Consulates worldwide

The U.S. Department of State has announced technical problems with its internal systems, causing delays in the processing of U.S. visa applications at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide.  OVIS posted information about the system problem on our website and Facebook page last week, and we are now following up with an email communication to ensure everyone is aware of the continuing situation, particularly when considering international travel to apply for a U.S. visa stamp.  Below are links to the U.S. Department of State website and the U.S. Embassy in London website – a high volume consular post – with more detailed information.  Note that each consular post around the world is handling the problem differently in terms of scheduling new appointments and processing pending visa applications, so please be sure to check the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply for visa stamps.  OVIS will continue to update our website and Facebook page with new information, but the best resource is always the government agency itself so we encourage you to monitor the State Department’s website newsroom for any developments.

Updates 06/14/2015

Dept. of State confirms technical systems problem causing delays in U.S. visa processing at U.S. Consulates abroad

Applicants for U.S. visas are currently experiencing delays in visa processing due to a system problem that began on June 9, 2015, and that prevents U.S. Consulates from completing required security checks and issuing visa stamps.  Information can be found on the Dept. of State’s website at

Updates 06/03/2015 

SEVIS system to undergo major upgrade that could temporarily impact international travel and other government services 

The Department of Homeland Security’s SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is undergoing a major upgrade beginning the evening of Friday, June 26, 2015 and extending through Sunday, June 28, 2015.  During that time, the SEVIS system will be down and cannot be accessed.  The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has advised that although the upgrade is scheduled to end on Sunday evening, it is possible the outage will continue to Monday, June 29, 2015.  Other government agencies will not have access to SEVIS during the outage -so verification of SEVIS information related to F and J visa status will not be possible during that time. 

Impact on International Travel

The outage means that Customs & Border Protection officials at the ports of entry will not be able to verify F or J status if there is an issue with an international student or scholar’s travel documentation.  For this reason we and SEVP recommend, if possible, that students and scholars in F and J status avoid international travel during this period.  If you must travel during the SEVIS outage, please be sure you have all of your immigration documents with you, and that they are up to date (valid unexpired passport, valid unexpired visa stamp, valid Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 with updated travel signature, and EAD work card if on F-1 Optional Practical Training).

Other government services

During the outage, other government agencies will not be able to access SEVIS to verify F and J immigration status in order to process requests for benefits.  For this reason, we recommend that you make requests either before or after the planned outage to avoid delays in processing.  These include:

  • Department of State at U.S. Consulates – processing of visa applications
  • Social Security Administration – processing of Social Security Number applications
  • Department of Motor Vehicles – processing of driver’s license applications
  • E-Verify – processing of new hire paperwork by employers enrolled in E-Verify program, including Dartmouth 

OVIS will continue to provide information regarding the SEVIS upgrade in future communications.

Updates 05/13/2015

F-2 dependents may engage in part-time study

Effective May 29, 2015, a new rule allows F-2 dependents to enroll in a part-time course of study at an SEVP-certified school.  This is a change from the current rule, which only permitted F-2 dependents (other than children in grades K-12) to engage in study that was recreational or avocational in nature.  Under the new rule, F-2 dependents may engage in part-time study in courses offered by an SEVP-certified school, even where the course of study leads to a degree or certificate. The F-2 dependents will not be eligible for employment.  If an F-2 dependent wishes to enroll in a full-time course of study, the dependent must obtain F-1 status.

Updates 04/13/2015

USCIS completes H-1B cap lottery

USCIS announced that it received nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions for the FY2016 H-1B petition filing period.  The agency completed the random selection process (lottery) on April 13, 2015 to select enough petitions to meet the cap.  Unselected petitions will be returned with filing fees.

USCIS link is here.

Updates 04/8/2015

USCIS announces FY16 H-1B cap reached

USCIS link is here.

Updates 02/25/2015

Dept. of Homeland Security announces eligibility for work authorization for certain H-4 dependent spouses

Effective May 26, 2015, DHS will extend eligibility for work authorization to certain dependent H-4 spouses of H-1B beneficiaries who are in the employment-based permanent residence process. Eligibility is limited to spouses of H-1B principal visa holders who have an approved I-140 immigrant visa petition or who have been granted a post sixth-year extension of H-1B status under Section 106(a) of AC21. Link: USCIS website.

Updates 02/18/2015

The Dept. of Homeland Security temporarily suspends DACA Expansion

The Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting applications submitted under the new DACA expansion today as originally planned.  The change is in response to a federal court order.  This does not affect the existing DACA program.  Eligible applicants can continue to request an initial grant of DACA or DACA renewal. Link: USCIS website.

Updates 02/03/2015

Expansion of DACA Begins February 18, 2015

USCIS will begin accepting applications under the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on February 18, 2015.  The program expansion is one of a number of Executive Actions on immigration announced by President Obama in November 2014. 

Links: USCIS webpage on DACA, USCIS page on Executive Actions

Updates 12/17/2014

CBP Introduces Border Wait Time App

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is launching a Border Wait Time App that provides estimated wait times and open lane status at land ports-of-entry to help travelers plan their trips. Link to the announcement is here.

Updates 11/21/2014

White House Announces Executive Action on Immigration

On November 20, 2014 President Obama announced several Executive Actions on immigration.  Details on the new initiatives will become available over the next several months.  For more information about
the Executive Actions please refer to the USCIS website.

Updates 11/10/2014

New China – U.S. Visa Reciprocity Agreement

The U.S. Department of State has announced that visas for Chinese citizen tourists and students will be issued by U.S. Consulates for longer validity periods beginning November 12, 2014.  The Department issued an FAQ providing details about the new agreement. Link to the FAQ.

Updates 11/04/2014

Homeland Security announces security enhancements to Visa Waiver Program

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that Visa Waiver travelers will now be required to provide additional information in their travel applications as part of the agency's effort to enhance the security of the program. The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of certain designated countries to travel to the U.S. as visitors for business or pleasure for up to 90 days without a visa stamp. Department of Homeland Security website link is here.

Updates 10/06/2014

2016 Diversity Lottery Open for Registration

The FY16 Diversity Lottery opened on October 1, 2014 and will remain open for registration until Monday, November 3, 2014. The U.S. Department of State official diversity lottery instructions link here. Registrants who are selected in the lottery will be informed beginning May 5, 2015.

Updates 08/07/2014

Consular Consolidated Database: Updates on Operational Status - Department of State website link is here.

Updates 07/29/2014

Delays in visa processing at U.S. Consulates

The Department of State announced it has resumed operations following a system outage last week that affected the agency's ability to print and issue visa stamps in passports at U.S. Consulates abroad. Some consulates may temporarily limit or reschedule nonimmigrant visa interview appointments, and applicants who have already had their appointments may experience delays in visa issuance.

Updates 07/15/2014

IRS announces that ITINs will expire if not used for 5 consecutive years

The Internal Revenue Service announced that Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) will expire if they are not used on a federal income tax return for five consecutive years.  ITINs will not begin being deactivated until 2016.  IRS's previously policy ITINs would automatically expire after five years, even if they were used on tax returns.

Updates 07/01/2014

Dept. of Homeland Security introduces enhanced Study in the States website

The Department of Homeland Security launched an enhanced website with new features for schools and international students, including an interactive glossary and an "Ask a Question" section. The website link is here

Updates 06/05/2014

U.S. Consulates in Canada Temporarily Suspend Visa Processing for Third Country Nationals

U.S. Consulates in Canada are temporarily suspending TCN (third country national) visa processing during the peak demand period of June, July and August 2014.  Already scheduled appointments for this time period will not be affected. 

Updates 05/22/2014

Message from U.S. Embassy in Thailand

The U.S. Embassy in Thailand has posted a message that the Royal Thai Army has announced it has seized control of the administration of the country. U.S. Embassy in Thailand website link is here.

Updates 04/28/2014

New Website for Electronic I-94

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has launched a new website and FAQs for retrieval of the electronic I-94 arrival record. OVIS recommends that international students, scholars and staff access, print out and retain the electronic I-94 record upon each entry to the U.S. to ensure the arrival information is accurate.  CBP website link is here.

Updates 04/08/2014

USCIS Announces FY 2015 Cap is Reached

On April 7, 2014 USCIS announced that the H-1B cap for Fiscal Year 2015 has been reached, and will conduct a random lottery selection process. USCIS website link is here.

Updates 03/04/2014

Chile Added to Visa Waiver Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the designation of Chile into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).  Beginning May 1, 2014, eligible Chilean passport holders will be able to visit the U.S. without a nonimmigrant visa. Find more information at these links: DHS announcement, VWP link.

Updates 01/22/2014

Dept. of State announces Permanent NIV Interview Waiver Program

In January 2012 the U.S. Department of State launched a pilot interview waiver program, which is now permanent.  Under the program, U.S. Consulates abroad can waive the visa interview for applicants seeking renewal of a nonimmigrant visa within 12 months of the expiration of the initial visa in the same visa classification.  Interview waivers are also available for renewals for up to 48 months after expiration of the initial visa in the same classification for certain visa types, including F and J visas. The State Dept's Foreign Affairs Manual link is here.

Updates 11/14/2013

USCIS launches new online change of address tool

USCIS recently launched a new online change of address tool to enable non-U.S. citizens to report a change of address.  The tool uses a single form and users receive email confirmation of the notification.  Information about the change of address notification requirement can be found at

*NOTE that OVIS must continue to report all changes of address for F-1 and J-1 visa holders in SEVIS within 10 days of a residential move. All students in F-1 and J-1 status must still report changes of address in BannerStudent and all J-1 scholars must still notify OVIS of any address change.

The link to the change of address tool:

Updates 10/01/2013

Federal Government Shutdown Impacts Immigration Services

USCIS – USCIS will continue operations during the shutdown.  Individuals should report to interviews and appointments as scheduled.  The agency will continue to process applications and petitions for immigration benefits, although there is the risk of delays in processing times.

U.S. Dept. of State – DOS will continue operations so long as funding from applications  is available.  U.S. Consulates plan to remain open and process visa applications.

U.S. Dept. of Labor – DOL is not accepting Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification (PERM Labor Certifications) during the shutdown.

Customs & Border Protection – CBP operations are considered essential and will continue during the shutdown.   The agency has not yet announced, however, whether it will suspend adjudication of certain border applications (TN and L-1) during the shutdown.

E-Verify – The E-Verify system will be unavailable during the shutdown.

Social Security – Social Security will remain open during the shutdown, but will not accept or process applications for new or replacement Social Security Numbers.

Updates 09/17/2013

Registration for 2015 DV Lottery Begins October 1, 2013

Online registration for the 2015 Diversity Visa Lottery begins on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 and ends on Saturday, November 2, 2013.  Information about the program and registration instructions can be found on the U.S. Department of State website.

Updates 08/02/2013

U.S. Dept. of State Closing Certain Embassies Temporarily

There have been several news reports today of U.S. Department of State plans to close several U.S. Embassies on Sunday, August 4, and possibly longer.  NPR, CNN and CBS news have posted reports and a list of the Embassies set to close.

Newes source links: NPR, CNN, CBS

U.S. State Department to begin accepting visa applications for same-sex spouses

The U.S. Department of State has announced it will immediately begin accepting visa applications for same-sex spouses so long as the marriage is valid in the jurisdiction where the marriage took place.

Updates 07/29/2013

SEVP Stops Issuing Paper Receipts for SEVIS Fee Payments

Effective July 29, 2013 the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will no longer issue paper receipts for the I-901 SEVIS fee payment.  Students and scholars in F and J nonimmigrant status can print payment confirmation from the FMJ fee website.


Updates 07/02/2013

USCIS to begin reviewing same-sex immigration petitions immediately 

Department of Homeland Security website link is here.


Updates 07/01/2013

New SEVIS Status Verification at Ports of Entry

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently implemented a system that updates U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) databases with a "lookout" for individuals in F or J status whose SEVIS record have been terminated, cancelled, or completed. F or J nonimmigrants with a lookout in their record will be referred to secondary inspection at the time of entry to the U.S., where a more thorough review will be conducted to confirm admissibility to the U.S.  Individuals who do not have a lookout on their record due should be admitted to the U.S. through the regular CBP process at the primary inspection points, unless there is some other, unrelated reason for secondary inspection.  This new protocol replaces the previous, interim procedure implemented in early May 2013 where all F and J nonimmigrants were referred to secondary inspection for SEVIS status verification.


Updates 05/08/2013

International Students and Scholars Should Expect Delays Entering the U.S.

Effective immediately, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) officers at the air, land and sea ports of entry will be required to verify the SEVIS record of every entering international student and scholar holding F, J or M nonimmigrant visa status.  Because officers do not currently have access to SEVIS at primary inspection points, international students and scholars will be referred to Secondary Inspection, a separate area from the regular line where more complex immigration admissions issues are addressed.

What this means is that international students and scholars entering the U.S. by air, land or sea in F or J status should plan that their U.S. entry process could take extra time (1-3 hours).  This is particularly important for students who are going through Customs in between flight connections.

CBP is working to provide SEVIS access to officers at primary inspection sites, but until that is completed international students and scholars should expect delays.


Updates 04/25/2013


Effective April 30, 2013 U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) will begin implementing an automated Form I-94 arrival and departure record process at air and sea ports-of-entry.  For travelers entering the U.S. through a land border crossing, CBP will continue to issue the paper Form I-94.  The implementation is expected to be completed over a four-week period, with the Boston, New York and Newark airports scheduled for the week of May 7, 2013.  Under the new system, international travelers, including F-1, J-1, H-1B, TN, E and O nonimmigrants arriving to the United States by air and sea will no longer receive a paper Form I-94 as part of the immigration inspection and admission process.  Instead, CBP will create an electronic record of arrival using information from both Department of Homeland Security and Department of State.  CBP will issue an admission stamp in the traveler's passport documenting the date of admission, port-of-entry, class of entry (visa status), and duration of admission.  Following admission, travelers will be able to access and obtain an electronic print-out of the I-94 record of admission on the CBP website at  The print-out will contain the I-94 number, which is required in applications for such benefits as Social Security numbers and state driver's licenses.  The website is expected to go live on April 30, 2013.

For more information about I-94 automation, please see the CBP announcement at here.

I-94 Fact Sheet at

I-94 Quick Reference at


Updates 04/08/2013

USCIS Announces FY14 H-1B Cap Reached

USCIS link is here.


Updates 02/21/2013

Department of State issues LGBT Travel Advisory posting


Updates 01/10/2013

The IRS implements new ITIN application procedures. 

The IRS site link is here.


Updates 01/09/2013

Department of State introduces online "Visa Status Check" to check status of pending immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications.

The Department of State website link is here.


Updates 11/26/2012

Interview Waiver Program Expands in India

U.S. Mission to India expands the Interview Waiver Program for certain nonimmigrant students who are renewing their visas to attend the same school.


Updates 09/19/2012

U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan was closed on 9/15/2012. It will remain closed until further notice.

U.S. Embassy Khartoum, Sudan website -


Updates 09/10/2012

U.S. Embassy in India Announces New Visa Processing System


Updates 08/22/2012

The 2014 Diversity Visa Lottery Program Registration begins October 2, 2012


Updates 08/17/2012

CBP Stops Issuing Admission Stamps on Form I-20

In a memo dated August 10, 2012, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency instructed officers at U.S. ports-of-entry to stop issuing admission stamps on the Form I-20 presented by international students seeking admission to the country.


Updates 07/20/2012

Fraud Scheme Targets Foreign Nationals

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has reported a fraud scheme targeting foreign nationals in the United States.  Individuals posing as Immigration Officers are reportedly calling foreign nationals and claiming a problem with immigration records, asking the foreign nationals to pay a penalty to resolve the issue.  These individuals may have personal information and in some instances are asking foreign nationals to confirm information such as a visa or Form I-94 Admission number.  If you receive such a call, please contact OVIS.  Do not forward any funds or disclose personal information.


Updates 07/16/2012

IRS changes requirements for issuance of ITINs


Updates 06/15/2012

Obama Administration Announces Temporary Relief for Eligible DREAMers

President Obama announced that his administration will offer temporary relief from deportation to certain young persons without immigration status who came to the United States before the age of 16, have lived here continuously for five years, and meet other eligibility criteria.  The press release issued by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is available here.


Updates 06/13/2012

H-1B Cap Reached for Fiscal Year 2013

The link to the USCIS announcement is here.


Updates 06/11/2012

Visa Processing in London - website update on the U.S. Consulate in London

A limited number of NIV appointment slots for July 1 through August 17 will open up through the Embassy's Operator Assisted Visa NIV Appointment Booking Service during the third week of June.  The number of appointments available per day will be limited to 200, with priority given to Student/Exchange Visitor and Petition-Based visa categories.  There will be limited B-1/B-2 appointment availability during this time and, as a result, applicants who have been refused B-1/B-2 visas in the past six months will only be able to schedule appointments after August 17.


Updates 05/22/2012

USCIS launches new ELIS online immigration system

For more information about ELIS, visit the USCIS website at


updates 04/24/2012

H-1B Cap Filings Increase

As of April 20, USCIS had received a total of 35,900 H-1B cap filings for FY 2013, including 25,000 cases against the standard cap of 65,000 and 10,900 filings against the cap exemption of 20,000 for foreign nationals holding U.S. advanced degrees. Click here for the USCIS announcement.


Annual limit for EB-2 immigrant visas for China and India Reached

The State Department has confirmed that the annual limit in the EB-2 preference category for China-mainland born and India has been reached for the current fiscal year.


Updates 04/04/2012

Department of State announces change in visa processing fees effective April 13, 2012

Department of State press release -


Department of Homeland Security grants Special Student Relief benefits for certain Syrian F-1 students

ICE Fact Sheet -


Updates 02/15/2012

U.S. announces Launch of Interview Waiver Pilot Program in China   

U.S. Embassy Beijing, China website -


Updates 01/23/2012

The H-1B Cap for FY 2012 Has Been Reached


Updates 11/21/2011

Department of State F and J Visa Issuance

The Department of State recently discovered difficulties with its database communicating with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program's SEVIS database.  As a result, on November 18, 2011 the Department of State confirmed it was temporarily halting the issuance of F, M and J visas.  On November 21, 2011 the agency announced that the technical problems have been resolved and that it has instructed embassies and consulates to resume issuing F, M and J visas immediately.


Updates 9/2011


The Department of Homeland Security launches its StudyInTheStates website - 

Fact Sheet - Applying for a Driver's License or State ID Card

Immigration & Customs Enforcement issues new Fact Sheet on Applying for a Driver's License or State ID Card -

2012 Diversity Lottery Results

The State Department has issued revised results for the Fiscal Year 2012 Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery. Foreign nationals who entered the FY 2012 lottery during the filing period from October 5, 2010 to November 2, 2010 may now return to the official lottery website to check their results. In May 2011 the State Department voided the original results due to an internal computer error.

NSEERS Program Ending

The Department of Homeland Security has ended its NSEERS registration program by removing all countries from its designated list. The announcement can be found on the Customs & Border Protection agency's website at:


Updates - 2/18/2011

USCIS to Issue Employment Authorization and Advance Parole Card for Adjustment of Status/Permanent Residence Applicants

Certain applicants for employment and family-based green cards will now be able to apply for a single card that combines the employment authorization document and the advance parole travel document. You can read the announcement from USCIS here:


Updates - 10/15/2010

New USCIS Filing Fees - Effective November 23, 2010

New USCIS filing fees will take effect November 23, 2010. USCIS announced increases in fees for many immigration filings, including I-765 applications for EADs, H-1B petitions and premium processing cases. Filings postmarked on or after November 23 must include the new fees.


Updates - 4/1/2010

Greece designated member of visa waiver countries:

Citizens and eligible nationals of participating Visa Waiver Program countries may apply for admission to the United States at U.S. ports of entry as nonimmigrant aliens for a period of ninety days or less for business or pleasure without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa, provided that they are otherwise eligible for admission under applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. On March 4, 2010, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, designated Greece as a country that is eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program. Accordingly, this rule updates the list of countries authorized to participate in the Visa Waiver Program by adding Greece.

Last Updated: 6/26/18