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Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks USCIS Fee Increases

A federal district court has temporarily blocked the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing its rule to increase fees and impose new forms as of October 2, 2020.  DHS is expected to appeal the ruling. Until there are further court decisions, applicants will not be subject to the higher fees or new forms. USCIS has issued an update regarding the impact of the court decision on the updated forms that were to become mandatory on October 2, along with the fee rule. DISSA is monitoring the situation and will provide updates accordingly.

 If you have not yet filed an application for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) OPT extension, it is important that both the I-765 form version you use and the fee you pay match the DHS requirements in effect at the time of your filing. As of October 2, 2020, the most recent version of the I-765 that is in use is dated 8/25/2020 and the current filing fee is $410.

DHS Issues Proposed Rule to Eliminate Duration of Status (D/S) (9/25/2020)

DISSA is aware of proposed changes published on Friday, September 25, 2020, to change the period of admission and extension of stay rules regarding F-1 students and J-1 students and scholars as well as dependents.  DISSA plans to submit comments to the Department of Homeland Security advocating against these changes which will be burdensome to students and scholars.  Penn State is working with several higher education organizations in advocacy efforts.

International Students and Remote Learning in Fall 2020: What You Need To Know

Updated July 21, 2020

This page specifically addresses the July 6 Immigration announcement & the July 14 rescindment.

For the most current details about immigration, returning to campus, and remote learning visit

July 14, 2020 - Harvard/MIT hearing ended resolution: the United States government has agreed to rescind the July 6 2020 directive, FAQ, agreed to rescind any implementation of the directive, and return to status quo as established by 3/2020 policies- applies nationwide.


July 6, 2020 - SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester.

In partnership with:

Penn State Law - Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic logo


USCIS Announces Additional Changes to I-539 and I-539A Forms, Previously Added Biometrics Fee and New Procedures

Due to regulatory changes based on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) final rule on the public charge ground of inadmissibility (section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act), effective October 15, 2019, USCIS has revised and published Forms I-539 and I-539A.

Forms I-539 and I-539A with an edition date of October 15, 2019 are now available and should be filed on or after October 15, 2019. Applications submitted using previous editions will be rejected.

USCIS previously revised and published on March 11, 2019, a new version of Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. USCIS replaced Supplement A with a new form, Form I-539A.

Effective March 11, 2019 through October 14, 2019, USCIS will only accept Form I-539 with an edition date of February 4, 2019. 

In addition, effective March 11, 2019, USCIS requires an $85 biometrics fee for the applicant and for each accompanying dependent. All applicants and their co-applicants must travel to a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) for fingerprinting.

For more information, read “USCIS to Publish Revised Form I-539 and New Form I-539A” and "I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status."

Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants

Effective Aug. 9, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) changed how the agency will calculate unlawful presence for students and exchange visitors in F, J, and M nonimmigrant status, including F-2, J-2, or M-2 dependents, who fail to maintain their status in the United States. This change was issued through a policy memorandum, “Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants,” 

As summarized in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) bulletin dated Aug. 10, 2018, individuals in F, J, and M status who failed to maintain their status before Aug. 9, 2018, will start accruing unlawful presence on that date based on that failure, unless they already started accruing unlawful presence on the earliest of any of the following:

  • The day after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied the request for an immigration benefit, if DHS made a formal finding that the individual violated their nonimmigrant status while adjudicating a request for another immigration benefit;
  • The day after their Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record,” expired; or
  • The day after an immigration judge ordered them excluded, deported or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).

Individuals in F, J, or M status who fail to maintain their status on or after Aug. 9, 2018, will start accruing unlawful presence on the earliest of any of the following:

  • The day after they no longer pursue the course of study or the authorized activity, or the day after they engage in an unauthorized activity;
  • The day after completing the course of study or program, including any authorized practical training, plus any authorized grace period;
  • The day after the Form I-94 expires; or
  • The day after an immigration judge orders them excluded, deported or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).

Note that the change in policy by USCIS means that, beginning Aug. 9, 2018, certain actions by an F, M, or J nonimmigrant may cause them to accrue unlawful presence, where previously such actions did not. Accrual of unlawful presence can, under certain circumstances, render the nonimmigrant ineligible for certain immigration benefits and may make them inadmissible to the United States. (Source: SEVP Broadcast Message No. 1808-02: Accrual of Unlawful Presence by F and M Nonimmigrants, Aug. 10, 2018.)

See also USCIS Policy Memorandum PM-602-1060.1, Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants, issued Aug. 9, 2018.

If you have any questions about your F, J, or M nonimmigrant status, please speak to an international student or scholar adviser to discuss your case.

U.S. Decision to End the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Program

Global Programs does not generally handle issues related to DACA. However, we often receive questions regarding these students. Below is a list for those seeking resources and information about the most recent DACA decision by President Trump and the Department of Justice.

Update (2/23/2018)

To see what Penn State is doing to support DACA recipients on campus, read this article in PSU News: "Penn State reaffirms support as DACA future remains unknown."


The DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which provides an avenue for certain undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States, will end as of early March 2018. At that time, enforcement of immigration laws will return to its pre-DACA status and members of the program will be at risk for deportation.

President Trump is urging Congress to find a legislative solution in the six-month window given between the announcement and the determined end date of the program. Bills such as the DREAM Act provide avenues for making DACA legal, but some lawmakers support different approaches. It is unknown at this time exactly what the outcome will be.

Official Announcements


  • President Eric J. BarronStatement (September 6, 2017)

Organizational Statements

DACA Renewal Fee Scholarship

  • Mission Asset Fund, a lending circle company in San Francisco, CA, is offering scholarships to pay the $495 renewal fee for 2,000 DACA recipients. You can find out how to apply at

Other Resources

On-campus Resources

The following Penn State resources may be helpful to those affected by U.S. Immigration Policy changes.

International Student & Scholars Scam Alert

It is important that you protect your identity and your wallet!

Do not become a victim of a scams, schemes, or theft. You should never share your passwords, Social Security number, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers when people call you. Know what to look for and how to avoid scams.

If something sounds "too good to be true," then it probably is. If you become a victim, there is little that can be done to have your money returned.

If you suspect that you are a victim of a scam, please report it! There is a chance that nothing can be done to help recover property you have lost, but your report is important to help stop theft from happening to another person. Make reports to: Federal Trade Commisson at 1-877-382-4357 or call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: 1-866-375-2423.

Learn more about how to protect yourself at Study in the States and the Federal Trade Commission.

Tips to know if you are contacted by someone asking for money or personal information:

  • Did someone promise you a job if you pay them?

Never pay anyone who promises you a job, a certificate that will get you a job, or secret access to jobs. These are Scams.

  • Did the IRS, Homeland Security, District Attorney's Office, FBI, Immigration, State Police or other "official" agency telephone saying you owe money?

These agencies NEVER call to ask for money. Government agencies do not call to threaten you or ask for money.

  • Are you or have you entered the Diversity Visa Lottery to get a green card?

It is free to apply and the choice is random. No one can increase your chance of winning.

  • Are you looking for legal help with immigration?

Use a lawyer or an accredited representative, never a notary public (notario).

  • Did you get a call or email saying you won something, (except there is a fee)?

Never pay for a prize. That is a scam. You will lose your money.

  • Did a caller offer to help you get back some money you lost?

No government agency or legitimate business will call and demand money to help you get money back.

  • Did you get a check from someone who asked you to give them part of t he money back?

Never give someone money in return for a check. Fake checks can look real and fool the bank. When it is discovered to be fake, you will have to pay back ALL the money.

  • Did you get an email, text, or telephone call asking for your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number?

Never give that information to anyone who asks over email, text or telephone.

  • Did someone call you to tell you they need to fix your computer remotely, but need you to log in?

Don't believe it. Do not give them any personal information or help them log on to your computer.