New Reporting Policies for F1 Student Visa Holders

Students coming into the US with a F1, M or J visa are increasingly feeling the pressure of changing norms instituted by its administration. While it is being done with an intention to stem potential immigration fraud and strengthen national security, the effects are directly reflected in the low numbers of student visa applicants each consecutive academic quarter.

Below are some of the changes recently announced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

  • Forms for F1 students – Going forward, all students will have to submit Form DS-5535 that will outline details of past travels, employment, and addresses in addition to access to all social media handles for at least five years.
  • Big increase in fees for F1 students – The SEVIS fee charged to each F1 student applicant could now go up to $350 from its original $200.
  • Fee hike among higher education institutions – all colleges and universities will have to pay $3000 for the initial certification to the US government to enrol international students. This increase in cost is bound to be ultimately transferred to the student.
  • Most STEM students are eligible for optional practical training or OPT that allows them to be gainfully employed after their coursework is completed. The eligibility requirements for roles employers can give international students have gone through strict transformations. One may apply for an additional 24-month STEM OPT extension based on his master’s degree, even though he was eligible for an OPT extension based on a valid undergraduate degree.
  • If unforeseen circumstances render you unemployed before your OPT expires, report your unemployment to the SEVP portal that updates your record to the USCIS.
If You Received…You may be unemployed for…For a total of…
(during the OPT period)
Initial post-completion OPT only
Contour Upto 90 daysKey Lime 90 days
24-month extensionAn additional 60 days150 days
  • All international students should be prepared to adapt to the fast changing landscape. USCIS has recently emphasised that it is the students’ responsibility to report any kind of situational changes to their Designated School Office within 10 days. All updates should accompany –
    • Your legal name
    • Your residential or mailing address
    • Your email address
    • Your employer’s name
    • Your employer’s address

Stay tuned to be apprised of anything new that happens to your visa right here.