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Current ISO Student News


May 14, 2021


Table of Contents

  1. Final ISO News of the 2020-2021 Academic Year (more)
  2. US Travel Restrictions & National Interest Exception (NIE) (more)
  3. Summer Break Reminders (more)
  4. OPT Reporting and Extensions (more)
  5. Congratulations Graduates!! (more)

Final ISO News of the 2020-2021 Academic Year

As the 2020-2021 academic year draws to a close, ISO News will be taking a break as well. This will be the final issue of ISO News until the fall semester! However, ISO will still be keeping in touch through other means. As policy developments and office updates become available, we will let you know through email blasts and virtual town halls as needed. We will maintain our website landing page, and our upcoming events with up-to-date information throughout the summer.

In addition to these resources, ISO is available year-round during our regular business hours. If questions or concerns arise over the summer, please contact us!


US Travel Restrictions & National Interest Exception (NIE)

In light of recent government announcements, ISO has recently updated our summary of Restrictions on Travel & US Consular Operations due to COVID-19. Specifically, the current Presidential proclamations that limit entry from certain geographic regions have expanded. Impacted travelers now include anyone who has been physically present in any of the following geographic regions during the 14-day period prior to arriving to the US: China, Iran, European Schengen Area, UK & Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India. In our experience, students arriving from other countries, regardless of citizenship, have been able to enter the US, provided they have a valid visa and I-20 or DS-2019 documenting their eligibility to study.

The US Department of State recently announced a series of automatic National Interest Exceptions (NIE) that will apply to some travelers from impacted areas, including students and certain academic visa categories. For students traveling from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, or India, the NIE will only apply for study that will begin or resume on August 1 or later, although students may enter the US up to 30 days before their study begins for Fall term. The summary linked above includes more details about the NIE, although some implications remain vague or uncertain based on the scope of government guidance.

The summary provides links to visa processing at US Consulates around the world, ongoing limitations on travel between the US and Canada and Mexico, and guidance from New York State on testing and quarantine requirements. Since these topics are subject to change, we recommend that you access updated information directly from relevant government agencies.


Summer Break Reminders

A lot of summer break plans that used to be fairly routine, such as on-campus jobs, summer internships, travel, and visa renewals, continue to be more complicated this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. There are many restrictions currently in place at international, federal, state, local, and institutional levels. Most of these restrictions have an uncertain duration, with tentative end dates and possibilities for extension. The fluid nature of the current situation makes it difficult to plan long-term, even just within the next few months.

As always, ISO recommends that you reach out for individual advising if you have questions about your personal situation. However, below we are providing some general considerations for students as they are making decisions about their different options. Please keep in mind that this advice is subject to change as new policies emerge over the summer months.

Staying in the US?

Many students may be planning to stay in the US this summer. Students may be staying to avoid international travel; others may have specific job, internship, or academic opportunities they are planning to pursue.

Whether you are just moving to another address in Rochester or relocating for a summer internship, all students who are remaining in the US over summer break should be sure to report any changes of residential address within 10 days throughout the entire summer.

For any students who have a need to travel outside of Rochester (but still within the United States) during the summer, ISO recommends that you carry your original immigration documents during your trip. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are often present at travel hubs such as airports and train/bus stations, and may approach you even if you are not traveling internationally. Recommended documents for domestic travel include:

  • Passport – valid at least 6 months into the future
  • I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature on page 2 – travel signatures are valid for 1 year
  • Printed copy of your most recent I-94 record

If you experience any immigration-related/visa-related issues at a US port of entry or elsewhere, please contact ISO during business hours or Public Safety at +1 585-275-3333 after hours.

If you are a graduating student, please note that you have a limited grace period after your program completion date. Please see our previous newsletter article regarding next steps if you are completing your degree requirements soon.

Traveling Internationally? 

Many students may also be hoping to travel internationally this summer. The safety and possibility of international travel will depend on both the country of departure and the country of destination, and will likely fluctuate over the summer as various countries extend, remove, and update their individual travel restriction policies. For students currently outside of the US or planning to leave, this fluidity may also impact your ability to return to the US and continue your program in Fall 2021. ISO’s COVID-19 FAQ and the University’s COVID-19 website will be updated with developments as they arise, but changes may happen rapidly and unpredictably.

For any students who have a need to travel internationally during the summer, or students who are currently abroad and will be planning to return later in the summer, please ensure you will have appropriate and valid travel documents at the time you are re-entering the United States following your travel. For currently enrolled students, these documents include:

  • Passport – valid at least 6 months into the future
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa sticker in your passport – unless you are traveling only within North America and are eligible for automatic revalidation
  • I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature on page 2 – travel signatures are valid for 1 year while in your program and for 6 months while on OPT or the STEM Extension.
  • Financial documentation for your program of study
  • Receipt for I-901 Fee Payment

You may also want to carry additional documentation in case you are questioned, such as your student ID card and evidence of full-time enrollment.

If your F-1 or J-1 visa is currently expired and you would need to renew your visa while abroad, we advise that you contact ISO about your plans as soon as possible. There may be delays with visa applications/renewals this summer due to the continued closure of some US consulates/embassies and the phased resumption of services at others. Unexpected visa processing delays can impact your ability to return to Rochester and resume your program. 

Please contact ISO with questions about international travel BEFORE your trip. If you need a new travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, you can request one through URcompass.

If you experience any immigration-related/visa-related issues at a US port of entry or elsewhere, please contact ISO during business hours or Public Safety at +1 585-275-3333 after hours.


OPT Reporting and Extensions

If you are currently approved for F-1 Optional Practical Training, you are required to report your employment and address information to the ISO throughout the authorization period. Please use the applicable OPT reporting form or report your employment through the SEVP portal. Any changes must be reported within 10 days. You may report activities as employment for OPT purposes when they are directly related to your field of study, meet a minimum total of at least 20 hours per week, and meet applicable US labor law considerations. You may work with multiple employers with your OPT permission.

Some students may be eligible for an extension of their OPT work authorization. If you have been sponsored for the H-1B Temporary Worker category, please provide this information in the H-1B Application Reporting Form. This application may qualify you for an automatic OPT Cap Gap Extension. You will not receive an updated EAD card with your extended employment dates, but the ISO is able to issue a new I-20 documenting your authorization. Additional information on the Cap Gap Extension is online. If you are eligible and would like to apply for the STEM Extension to your OPT, please review the information online and contact the ISO to schedule an appointment.


Congratulations Graduates!! 

Congratulations to our many upcoming University of Rochester graduates this year!! Although the current circumstances are not what any in our UR community would have anticipated, the accomplishment of completing your academic program is notable and worthy of congratulations. Whether you will remain in the US to pursue other opportunities or are drawn home or abroad, you’ll take your UR experiences and learning with you. ISO remains available and committed to helping our international students to navigate those transitions as best we can, especially during uncertain times. We wish you well in your next steps and future adventures!



Prepared by: ISO Student Services