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The UC San Diego International Students (ISPO) & Programs Office and International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO) recognize that recent changes in immigration policy may raise questions and concerns in our international community. Our commitment to supporting our international student and scholar population on campus remains strong and steadfast. This page provides information and support resources for the UC San Diego community.





09/22/2021: CBP Extends Canada-Mexico Land Border Restrictions to October 21

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection has extended the temporary COVID-19 travel restrictions that limit land-border entry into the U.S. for individuals from Canada and Mexico through October 21, 2021. 
  • Travel will be limited to "essential travel" only, but students are still considered "essential travelers".
  • See CBP announcement here .

09/20/2021: Biden Administration to Lift Travel Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated International Travelers

  • The Biden administration announced on September 20 that it will lift travel bans for fully vaccinated international travelers to the United States beginning in November. 
  • These travel bans, which have been in place for the previous 18 months, impacted individuals from 33 countries, including Brazil, China, India, Iran, South Africa, and members of the EU.
  • International travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight to the United States as well as a negative coronavirus test within 3 days of coming to the U.S.
  • These changes only apply to air travel and do not affect restrictions along the land border.


Fall 2021 Updates:

09/14/2021: Expansion of In-Person Visa Interview Waiver for F, M, and Academic J Visa Applicants

  • On September 14, the Department of State announced that through the end of 2021, consular officers a U.S. embassies and consulates may now adjudicate F, M, and "academic J visa applicants" (students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists) without an in-person interview, with certain exceptions.
  • For more information, including eligibility requirements, see the State Department's announcement.

07/01/2021: DHS Withdraws Proposal to Eliminate Duration of Status Restrictions

  • On July 1, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security withdrew its September 20, 2020 proposed rule to eliminate the current "duration of status" (D/S) policy for international students in F-1 and J-1 status. The September 2020 proposal sought to both limit the period of authorized stay in the U.S. for F or J status students as well as reduce the F-1 grace period from 60 to 30 days.
  • The withdrawal of this proposed rule is welcome news for our international student community. It means that the current D/S policy remains intact, giving students the flexibility to remain in the U.S. for the duration of their studies, so long as they abide by the regulations authorizing their F-1 or J-1 status ("maintain status").
  • ISPO is grateful for the many advocacy efforts put forth to challenge this proposal. We will continue to update you on any other policy changes and/or advocacy efforts as they occur.

06/24/2021: State Department Clarifies National Interest Exception Policy

On June 24, 2021, the State Department  updated its National Interest Exception (NIE) page from its original announcement on April 26, 2021 to clarify certain NIE eligibilities to all countries subject to a geographic COVID-19 ban.

The notice clarifies that:  

  • New or returning F-1 students present in China, Brazil, Iran, South Africa or India are automatically considered for the National Interest Exception (NIE) at the Port of Entry into the U.S. and do not require advance approval of a NIE from an embassy or consulate prior to travel;  
  • New or returning F-1 students present in China, Brazil, Iran, South Africa or India may arrive no earlier than 30 days before the start of an academic program beginning August 1, 2021 or after, including optional practical training (OPT); and 
  • New or returning F-1  students who were present only in the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, or Ireland are not subject to the August 1 condition; however, they could still be subject to a "no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies" condition (for example, if students plan to begin or resume their studies for the Fall 2021 quarter at UC San Diego, which begins on 9/20/21, they may only enter the U.S. as early as 8/21/21).

If you are unsure about whether you must apply for a NIE, ISPO strongly encourages you to contact your local U.S. consulate or embassy for guidance and instructions.


Spring 2021 Updates:

05/03/2021: Nonimmigrant Visa Processing Ceasing in Russia

  • Effective May 12, 2021, the U.S. Mission in Russia will reduce consular services offered in Russia, including ceasing all nonimmigrant visa processing.
  • Learn more here.

04/30/2021: Uniform Global National Interest Exception to Covid Geographic Travel Restrictions

  • On April 30th, The U.S. Department of State issued a  press release  regarding "Uniform Global National Interest Exceptions to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions."
  • The same potential exceptions applied to travelers from other COVID restricted geographic areas may also apply to persons present in India; these include automatic exceptions for F-1 students whose programs begin on or after August 1, and potential exceptions for J-1 Exchange Visitors, who must contact their local consulate to apply for the exception.

04/30/2021: Presidential Proclamation Adds India to COVID Geographic Travel Restrictions

  • On April 30, 2021, President Biden issued a Proclamation suspending entry of nonimmigrant persons to the U.S. who were physically present in India within the fourteen-day period immediately prior to applying for admission to the U.S., effective Tuesday, May 4th. 
  • National Interest Exceptions to this proclamation exist similar to those for the other COVID geographic travel restriction proclamations; however, due to COVID conditions in-country, U.S. consulate services have been sharply curtailed, and those persons needing to apply for a visa stamp may encounter significant delays.

04/26/2021: Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Updates Guidance for 2021-2022 Academic Year

04/26/2021: State Department Expands National Interest Exception Policy

  • On April 26, 2021, the State Department updated its National Interest Exception (NIE) page to expand certain NIE eligibilities to all countries subject to a geographic COVID-19 ban.
  • This includes Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the Schengen Area of Europe.
  • Currently, many U.S. embassies and consulates are still closed or experiencing long visa processing delays. For updated information, visit the State Department's Visa Appointment Wait Time website.


Winter 2021 Updates:

03/12/2021: Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Designation for Myanmar/Burma

  • On March 12, 2021, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas designated Myanmar/Burma for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. This designation allows Myanmar/Burmese nationals (and those without nationality who last regularly resided in Myanmar/Burma) currently residing in the United States to file applications for TPS, so long as all eligibility requirements are met.
  • See the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website for additional details.
  • Visit United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more information about TPS.
  • ISPO recommends consulting with an experienced immigration attorney when applying for TPS.

03/11/2021: Expansion of Renewal Visa Interview Waiver Eligibility

  • On March 11, 2021, the Department of State extended until December 31, 2021 the temporary expansion of statutory and regulatory provisions that allow consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying to renew a visa in the same nonimmigrant visa classification and category if not more 48 months have passed since the prior visa expired (previously 24 months).
  • See the DOS website for additional details

02/02/2021: CBP Announces Compliance with Presidential Executive Order Requiring Face Masks at Ports of Entry

Effective February 2, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is enforcing the requirement that travelers wear face masks at all air, land and sea ports of entry in the United States in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order Regarding the Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks While on Public Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs.

01/28/2021: USCIS Extends COVID-19 RFE Response Flexibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) extended until March 31, 2021 the COVID-19 flexibilities it established for responses to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and other similar response-based notices and requests, and filing date requirements for filing Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

1/29/2021: Extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Designation for Syria

01/25/21: Presidential Proclamations on Novel Coronavirus

01/21/21: Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel

The Biden administration issued an Executive Order Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel requiring that masks be worn in airports or on commercial aircraft, trains, maritime vessels, intercity bus services and other forms of public transportation within the U.S., strictly adhering with CDC guidelines In addition, international travelers should be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to traveling to the U.S. and to comply with applicable CDC guidelines pertaining to self-quarantine after entry to the U.S to satisfy the CDC order of January 12, 2021.

The U.S. will also pursue outreach to Canada and Mexico in order to establish health protocols for land ports of entry within 14 days and similar measures will be taken with respect to public health measures for arrivals at sea ports. Finally, the order directs the Secretaries of State, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to assess the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccinations to International Certificates of Vaccination Prophylaxis (ICVP) and producing electronic versions of same. Read the full executive order here.

01/21/2021: CBP Extends Canada-Mexico Land Entry Restrictions but Student Still Considered Essential Travelers

U.S. Customs and Border Protection extended through February 21, 2021 the COVID-19 restrictions that allow entry to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders for "essential travel" only. Essential travel still includes "individuals traveling to attend educational institutions". Learn more here.

01/20/2021: Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States

  • Among many presidential actions announced within the first day of the new administration, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. released a Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States. Within the proclamation, President Biden declared:
    • Revocation of Executive Order 13780 of March 6, 2017 (Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States)
    • Revocation of Proclamation 9645 of September 24, 2017 (Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats)
    • Revocation of Proclamation 9723 of April 10, 2018 (Maintaining Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats)
    • Revocation of Proclamation 9983 of January 31, 2020 (Improving Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats)
  • Within the proclamation, President Biden also announced resumption of visa processing and reopening of denied visa applications for those negatively impacted or facing delays imposed by Proclamation 9645 or 9983. While the travel ban has been rescinded, U.S. embassies and consulates around the world are gradually resuming visa services that were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full proclamation here.
  • For more information regarding visa services and estimated processing times please visit to find the website of the nearest embassy or consulate near you.

01/15/2021: Department of Labor Publishes Final Rule Strengthening Wage Protections

  • On January 15th, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published the "Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States" in the Federal Register. This final rule becomes effective March 15th, 2021, and adopts with changes the interim final rule from fall of 2020 that amended regulations governing the prevailing wages for certain employment-based immigrant visas and for H-1B/H-1B1 and E-3 nonimmigrant visas.
  • These regulations update the method of computation for prevailing wage levels under the existing four-tier structure to better reflect actual wages earned by U.S. workers.
    • Level 1 wage rates will be determined as the 35th percentile of the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage distribution.
    • Level IV wage rates will be computed as the 90th percentile of the OES wage distribution, and the intervening wage levels determined mathematically from the outer levels.
  • Modifications of the computational method will be applied during specific time periods throughout a transition period.
  • Note that wages determined by collective bargaining agreements will be considered prevailing wage rates without the need to compute wage rates from OES data. 

01/14/2021: DOL Publishes Final Rule on H-1B and Labor Certification Prevailing Wage Rates

  • Late last week the U.S. Dept of Labor (DOL) published a final rule in the Federal Register entitled "Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States". This rule amends the previous Interim Final Rule published Oct. 8th, 2020, which ultimately had been blocked by federal courts.
  • The new rule's effective date is March 15th, 2021. As with the interim rule, the final rule will dramatically change the computation of prevailing wage levels in the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage survey database, for example, raising the wage rate from the 17th percentile to the 35th percentile of the OES wage distribution for a Level I (entry level) wage for H-1B employees. While these rates represent a modest reduction from those under the October interim final rule, they still will result in a significant increase for all employers across the country. There will be a phase in period over the first 1.5 years as rates are increased to final levels under the new rule.
  • Hiring of represented positions will not be impacted, as collective bargaining agreement salary scales are prevailing wage rates. But barring court injunction or Biden administration roll-back, all non-represented hires of H-1B employees will be impacted by this rule. Biden's transition team has indicated a memo will be issued tomorrow to halt or delay "midnight regulations" taken by the Trump administration and which have not yet gone into effect; it is not clear yet what additional actions the Biden administration might undertake, such as using the Congressional Review Act, or publishing a new set of regulations, or some other delaying tactic. Additionally, court cases may be brought against the rule and result in an injunction, thus freeing up the Biden administration to pursue other legislative and regulatory agendas.

01/13/2021: Centers for Disease Control Requiring Negative COVID Test for International Air Travel Arrivals

On January 13th, 2021 the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) announced that all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country must get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than three days before their flight departs and to provide proof of negative result or documentation of recovery to the airline prior to boarding.

01/08/2021: DHS Publishes Final Rule that Changes H-1B Selection Process

  • On January 08, 2021 the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) published the final rule "Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions" that changes the process by which cap-subject H-1B petitions are selected from a completely random one to one based on salary levels - selecting first those petitions with the highest wage levels (level IV) and then moving progressively lower (level I - entry level positions). Each year DHS accepts a total of 85,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions for processing.
  • DHS analysis of this modified process applied to the past two years' submissions indicates that no level I petitions would have been selected for processing.
  • The new rule goes into effect in 60 days, and therefore will not affect this current year's H-1B lottery.
  • Academic institutions are not subject to the H-1B cap and thus are not impacted by this rule; private industry employers will be impacted, particularly those without the means to sponsor H-1B employees at higher wage levels.




Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can I travel outside of the United States? Can I get a visa renewed? Am I allowed to travel if I am a citizen of ____?

The International Students & Programs Office continues to recommend minimizing international travel due to the changing nature of the current administration’s policies on visa and entry into the United States. If you have any questions or concerns about immediate or essential international travel or visa renewal, please meet with an ISPO advisor.

Also, refer to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Executive Order Resources and Travel Advisory web pages.

2. If I am stopped, will immigration officers (CBP or ICE) accept my student ID and/or driver’s license as appropriate documentation?

The US Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 requires foreign nationals to carry appropriate immigration-related documentation at all times. Appropriate documentation includes a valid passport, I-94 Non-immigrant Arrival/Departure Record, and for those persons in F or J status, the I-20 or DS-2019 form. Be prepared to present these original documents especially when going through airports, train stations, checkpoints, border crossings, and other transportation hubs.

3. Will my country of citizenship be a factor in my admission to UC San Diego?

UC San Diego welcomes applicants from the around the world. Applicants are evaluated based on their academic preparation and qualifications. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate student application process, visit:

4. What things could jeopardize my status? Should I participate in protests or demonstrations? What are my rights?

At any time, it is important to avoid any violations of your F-1 or J-1 status. In addition to enrollment requirements, address reporting, or employment restrictions, individuals in non-immigrant status are expected to refrain from breaking any U.S. state or federal laws.

What Rights Do I Have While in the U.S.?

U.S. constitutional law is complex however regardless of your immigration status, noncitizens generally have equal First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution*: 

  • Freedom of speech, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and freedom of religion 
  • Freedom from illegal search and seizure (a law enforcement official must have a subpoena or warrant), unless a crime has been committed where the search would take place 
  • Permission to remain silent (and not say anything that could be used against you)
  • Guarantee of “due process” and “equal protection under the law”, which means that you have the right to an attorney, and a right to have a hearing before a judge in most cases
  • Right to contact your country’s Consulate

*Learn Liberty: The Constitutional Rights of Noncitizens and 2003: Cole, David: Georgetown Law, "Are Foreign Nationals Entitled to the Same Consitutional Rights as Citizens?"

Participating in Protests:

ISPO understands that choosing to protest is a very personal decision. Think carefully before engaging in protest activities as the potential to encounter or be approached by law enforcement is higher. If you choose to engage in protest activities, review the Amnesty International "Safety During Protest" information, the ACLU "Protesters' Rights" -  and print and carry the "Know Your Rights" card. 

What if I am Approached by U.S. Law Enforcement?

Review the following resources from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Immigration Lawyer's Association (AILA). 

Arrests and Convictions:

Finally, understand that arrests can seriously impact immigration status or future visa applications

Arrests or convictions that involve violence, drugs or alcohol can have serious or long-lasting impact on current or future immigration status. Be aware that while marijuana use is legal in many U.S. states, it remains illegal at the federal level and use constitutes a violation of federal law. Use of marijuana, or alcohol/drug-related DUI arrests or convictions can lead to severe immigration consequences ranging from fines, visa cancellation to deportation.

If you are arrested or have any legal concerns, please contact ISPO immediately. In such cases, we urge you to retain immigration legal counsel and criminal legal counsel to advise you as to next steps and possible consequences.

5. Can I extend my program of study?

If you need additional time to complete your program of study at UC San Diego, you will need to identify an academic or medical reason for the extension.

  • Undergraduate Students: Please meet with your College advisor regarding questions about general requirements. Meet with your department advisor regarding questions about major/minor requirements.
  • Graduate Students: Please meet with your Faculty Advisor and Graduate Coordinator regarding questions about time limits, available funding, and reasons impacting your expected completion date.

6. What should I do if I am approached by a government officer?

Some individuals may be contacted by government officers or representatives to meet in a public location so they can discuss your current immigration status. In general, this does not have a negative impact on your status. ISPO and IFSO are available to hold the meeting in their offices or accompany you during the meeting with government officers or representatives. Please meet with an ISPO or IFSO advisor if you have any questions or concerns about these inquiries.

Additional tips for interacting with US law enforcement and understanding your rights is available with the American Civil Liberties Union:

7. Where can Undocumented Students find support?

The Undocumented Student Services Center provides legal support, resources, and information. On November 29, 2016, the University of California, California State University, and the California Community College System advocated to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and allow California and the nation’s students known as Dreamers to continue to pursue their education in the United States.

8. What is ISPO and IFSO doing to advocate for international students and scholars?

ISPO and IFSO advocates for our international students and scholars on a campus and community level by continuing to provide education, training, and advising for campus partners and stakeholders regarding the complex issues facing our student and scholar population.

ISPO and IFSO also work in partnership with the campus administration and the University of California's Office of Federal Governmental Relations to advocate for regulations and policies supportive of our international community. Additionally, ISPO and IFSO work for advocacy through our membership in NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the world's largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange.

9. Where can I find support if I have immigration concerns or questions? Where can I find support for stress and anxiety?

Please visit ISPO or IFSO with any immigration concerns or questions. Our advisers provide a welcoming, safe environment to discuss concerns you may have related to your visa status, as well as explore options and benefits available for your current or future plans. For complex issues beyond our scope, we can assist you in a referral to an immigration attorney.

Additional Campus Resources

Enrolled UC San Diego students can access resources through Counseling and Psychological Services, including individual confidential counseling appointments, groups, self-help tools, and more. UC San Diego employees and Visiting Scholars or postdocs can find support through the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program which provides free, confidential counseling and referrals.

10. What can I do now to make sure my record and documents are valid?

It is important to review your documents for accuracy and be aware of expiration dates.

  • Make sure the spelling of your first and last name match on your passport, visa, and I-20/DS-2019.
  • Check your passport expiration date. Make sure it is valid during your stay in the U.S. Apply for a new passport with your embassy or consulate when needed.
  • Check your visa expiration date. Make sure that your visa is valid before reentering the U.S. If it is expired, you will need to apply for a new visa. Remember: A visa is an entry permit into the U.S. It does not determine whether you can stay or work.
  • Print your current I-94 from the Customs & Border Protection website.
  • Make sure the major/field of study on your I-20/DS-2019 reflects your current information. If it is different, request a new I-20/DS-2019 as soon as possible.
  • Make sure the program end date on your I-20/DS-2019 has not expired. Request an I-20/DS-2019 extension at least 2-3 weeks before the expiration date.
  • Update/enter your local address, phone number, email address, and emergency contact information.
    • Students: Update your record via TritonLink.
    • Faculty & Researchers: Notify IFSO.
    • Individuals on OPT/STEM OPT/Academic Training should submit their employment verification, local address, phone number, and email address via the Employment Verification Form 
If you have any questions, please contact your ISPO or IFSO advisor.

11. What can I do for a student or scholar who might be affected by an Executive Order?

  • Gather as many facts about the situation as possible, within the scope of your authority as an employee of your institution.
  • Identify what you might be able to do within the scope of your role at your institution, and refer individuals with issues, questions, or concerns that are beyond the scope of your role or ability to appropriate helpers.
  • Consult with an advisor in the International Students & Programs Office regarding international student issues and an advisor in the International Faculty & Scholar Office regarding international faculty and researcher issues.
  • Remember that you cannot dispense legal advice. Know when to encourage someone to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney.
  • Notify stakeholders on your campus about the situation, through your normal supervisory chain

12. How do I contact the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) or International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO)?

  • ISPO Advisors for students: Walk-In Advising on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9am-12pm & 1:00-4:00pm. Contact or 858-534-3730.
  • IFSO Advisors for faculty and researchers: Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm. Contact or 858-822-246-1448 to schedule an appointment.