These are unprecedented times; we hope you are doing well and staying safe and healthy. Here is some information that may be of interest to you.
ISSO Advising Services Available
Contact an advisor
Advisors are working remotely and can answer your immigration questions in a scheduled appointment or through the Ask an Advisor eForm in iComet(http://utd.edu/t/6085. Scheduled appointments are conducted through Microsoft Teams. All students and alumni on OPT have access to Microsoft Teams using your NetID and password (https://www.utdallas.edu/oit/o365/). If you have technical problems with the Ask an Advisor eForm, please take a screenshot of the error and email it to ISSOCurrent@utdallas.edu.
ISSO Office Phone Lines
ISSO staff will continue to work mostly remotely and off-campus. However, our welcome desk staff will begin to answer phone calls to our main office line 972-882-4189 on September 10th.
The mandatory CPT and OPT workshops are available online through iComet. In-person workshops are cancelled until until further notice
ISSO Group Chats
The ISSO hosts small group sessions on a variety of hot topics and answer your questions. Advisors will meet with small groups of students via Microsoft Teams. Upcoming topics will include CPT and OPT. See the schedule and sign up online: utdallas.edu/ic/issoadvising/.
ISSO Live - To Be Announced
The ISSO will continue hosting live events monthly. You can watch past event recordings on our YouTube page: youtube.com/utdallasinternational. Check the Comet Calendar for future events.
Fall Enrollment Requirements
If you are a transfer or continuing student who was maintaining F-1 status on March 9, 2020, you will be able to continue to maintain F-1 status by enrolling full-time for the fall semester. You may enroll in either a fully online program of study or a hybrid course of study. You may attend synchronously, or asynchronously within the U.S. or abroad. You should enroll full time unless you are eligible for a reduced course load authorization from the ISSO (for example, due to graduation, CPT, medical or academic reasons). If UT Dallas later transitions to fully online study, you will be able to maintain your immigration status in the U.S, and do not need to depart the U.S.
If you are a transfer student studying outside the U.S. for fall 2020, your record will remain in "Transfer Pending" status until you return to the U.S. When you plan to return, you must contact the ISSO to update your record.New F-1 Students
If you are a new student who will be entering the U.S. to begin your studies, you must take at least one class with a face-to-face component. This includes classes in the traditional lecture, hybrid, and HyFlex modalities. You must be prepared to participate in the in-person components. All other classes may be taken online and/or asynchronously. If UT Dallas later transitions to fully online study, you will be able to maintain your immigration status in the U.S, and do not need to depart the U.S.New F-V
If you are a new student who will be beginning your studies remotely outside of the U.S., you may take all of your courses asynchronously online. Keep in mind that "F-V" is not an immigration status - it is a category that UT Dallas is using to help keep track of our students who are beginning their studies abroad. Your F-1 status begins when you enter the U.S. with your F-1 visa and I-20. Until then, you are not limited by F-1 regulations. For more information about Virtual Start, please see our webpage: utdallas.edu/ic/isso/F1virtualstart/.New Students Can Come for Second 8-week Session
New students who are able to obtain a visa may enter the U.S. to begin classes in the second 8-week session, with an updated I-20. In order to come for the second 8-weeks, you must be able to enroll in at least one course with face-to-face components, such as hybrid, HyFlex, or traditional lecture modalities, and you must be prepared to participate in the in-person components. All other classes may be taken online and/or asynchronously.
In order to enter the U.S. for the second 8-week session, you must have an I-20 with a program start date of October 12, 2020. To request an I-20 for the second 8-week session, ask your academic program to complete the 2nd 8-Week I-20 Request Form, which certifies you can meet the F-1 enrollment requirements during the 8-week term. Then, upload the completed, signed form in the Visa Update eForm in iComet to request your mid-semester I-20.
Spring 2021 Enrollment Requirements
We are still waiting for more guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) on enrollment requirement for spring 2021. SEVP granted temporary regulations to allow F-1 students more flexibility with enrollment requirements for fall 2020. However, they have not yet announced whether these temporary regulations will also apply to the spring 2021 semester. As soon as more information becomes available, the ISSO will share it.
ISSO COVID-19 FAQ Page
We know you have many questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic may affect your immigration status or future. We've compiled answers to some common questions on our webpage. This page will be updated as more information becomes available - utdallas.edu/isso/covid19-faq/.
Time Sensitive Reminders for F-1 Students
Change of Level
Students who have completed an academic program or end OPT in summer 2020 and who will continue or begin another degree program in the fall 2020 semester, must obtain a Change of Level I-20 to maintain their F-1 status. You must request for your Change of Level I-20 in a timely fashion in order to maintain your F-1 status. See the ISSO Change of Level webpage for more details.
F-1 Optional Practical Training
If you will graduate in the fall 2020 semester, you may be eligible for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). For more information complete an OPT workshop on iComet or visit the ISSO Optional Practical Training webpage. .
If you plan to graduate in the Fall 2020 semester, the first day to apply for Post-Completion OPT is September 9, 2020. Apply for OPT early, due to the long USCIS processing times for OPT applications. Please keep in mind that prior to requesting your OPT I-20, you must do the following:
- Attend the OPT workshop online through iComet
- Apply for graduation
Graduation Application Deadline for Fall Graduates
Fall 2020 F-1 graduates must apply for graduation by 11:59pm on September 15, 2020 in order to maintain their immigration status. Please note that the immigration deadline is earlier than the university deadline. For more information about how to apply for graduation visit the Registrar Office.
Ensure your Home Address in Galaxy is up to date for Fall 2020 Study
Check your Galaxy account to make sure your current physical address is listed as your home address. If you are a continuing F-1 student who will be studying outside the U.S. for the fall 2020 semester, the ISSO will be sending you a new, electronic I-20 by September 16, 2020. The new I-20 will include a remark stating that you are studying outside the U.S. for this semester. You do not need to submit a request - the ISSO will automatically issue the I-20 for all F-1 students with home addresses in Galaxy that are located outside the U.S.
Original Documents for SSN Applications
If you are starting a new job on-campus or on CPT and need a Social Security Number, you will need your original Form I-20 and an SSN letter from the ISSO in order to apply. When you request an SSN letter, we will send you information on how to receive your new I-20. You will need to follow the instructions in the email and fill out the required form. Once your I-20 has been printed, you will be able to pick it up from the UTD Police Department or request it be shipped to you. To schedule an SSN appointment with the Social Security Administration, please call 866-572-2492.
Report Your OPT Employment
All students on OPT must report changes in employment within 10 days. Exceeding the limits on unemployment can result in DHS terminating your F-1 record. Students on Post-Completion OPT may accrue up to 90 days of unemployment, and students on the 24-month STEM OPT extension can accrue an additional 60 days of unemployment, for a total of 150 days. Although you can update some information in the SEVP Portal, you are still required to report directly to the ISSO by submitting the OPT Reporting Form or OPT STEM Reporting Form to ISSODocuments@utdallas.edu.
New I-765 Version
USCIS recently updated Form I-765 which is commonly used by F-1 students when applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or other work authorizations. USCIS has stated that as of August 25, 2020 they will no longer accept previous versions of Form I-765. Please use the most recent version of Form I-765 when applying for OPT or other employment authorizations.
ISSO Fee Increases Effective September 1, 2020
The ISSO is primarily supported by student fees, which go directly into providing support services for international students. There are several fee increases that will be effective starting in fall 2020. The ISSO fee is applied to nonimmigrant students each semester and will increase from $100 to $150. For a list of fee-exempt immigration categories, please visit our webpage: utdallas.edu/ic/isso/fee/. The fee for Post-Completion OPT will increase from $100 to $150, and the fee for STEM OPT will increase from $100 to $300. There are no changes to the CPT fee.
USCIS Fee Increases Effective October 2, 2020
USCIS announced on July 31, 2020 that it has completed a review of its fee structure and will be increasing fees in order to cover operating costs. The filing fee for the I-765, used for OPT, will increase from $410 to $550. The filing fee for the I-539, used for changing status, will increase from $370 to $390. For a full list of changes and a complete table of final fees, see the final rule. This final rule is effective Oct. 2, 2020. Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must include payment of the new, correct fees established by this final rule.
Student Counseling Center Available Virtually
This is a challenging time. The SCC is available virtually to support your well-being as you work towards your personal and professional goals. See the attached flyers for details about upcoming virtual events and group sessions, including the monthly Global Connection group for international students.
Don't Get Scammed!
Criminals are exploiting fear about COVID-19 by designing scams based on this topic. The ISSO has received reports of scammers calling students, pretending to be government officials and threatening deportation. U.S. government agencies do not call, text, or email. If you have any questions about a potential contact or scam, call the UT Dallas Police at 972-883-2222. You may also report potential scams to email@example.com.
Official communications from UT Dallas about COVID-19 will continue to be provided via UT Dallas email addresses and the UT Dallas website, utdallas.edu/coronavirus/. If you are uncertain about the source of communications you receive, please validate legitimacy. You may also contact the UT Dallas Information Security Office firstname.lastname@example.org.