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March 2021 SEVP Spotlight

Welcome to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Spotlight, a quarterly newsletter for the academic community that includes important program news, seasonal reminders, and updates relevant to the international student life cycle. As of July 2020, SEVP Spotlight consists of an update from the SEVP director.



Sharing COVID-19 Updates from SEVP’s Government Partners

As the 2021 academic school year progresses, we hope you are adjusting well to changes in your school environment, whether it’s online, in-person, or a hybrid model. Given the impacts of COVID-19 on the international student life cycle this year, I’d like to provide an update from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on new flexibilities for some international students applying to participate in optional practical training (OPT) who have been impacted by COVID-related processing delays. Recently, USCIS announced flexibilities for certain international students affected by delayed receipt notices for Forms I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization." These flexibilities include a 14-month OPT period and options for refiling after an application has been rejected. For more information on these new flexibilities for OPT applicants, read the USCIS web alert.

I’d also like to share several new resources recently released from some of our other government partners that are helpful to share and be aware of in this quickly changing academic environment. Firstly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance for school re-openings that provides a phased re-opening approach strategy and helpful tips for students and staff on safely returning to in-person instruction. Secondly, the U.S. Department of State released National Interest Exceptions for certain travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland that apply to certain F and M students.

As you may have also seen shared on Study in the States’ social channels, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also recently announced the designation of Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). We will continue to keep stakeholders informed on updates regarding TPS.

Lastly, on a more administrative note, we wanted to remind designated school officials that we coordinated with DHS to update the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) CIP code designations list. To learn more about the new designations, visit the Now Available: 2020 STEM Designated Degree Program List blog post on Study in the States.

Thank you for your continued support.

Rachel Canty

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