News & Updates

Important Immigration News and Information

October 27th, 2021

U.S. Details New International Travel Entry Requirements

Negative COVID-19 test results are now required for all travelers entering the United States, including vaccinated travelers.
Starting November 8, 2021, all travelers, including U.S. citizens, must adhere to new COVID-19 entry Requirements. READ MORE
As a reminder, GW and GW MFA travelers must be aware of recommended and required travel guidance when returning to the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. READ MORE


June 3rd, 2021

Fraud Alert: Phone Scammers Targeting International Students

A recent broadcast from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has warned that scammers are using SEVP and HSI phone numbers to target international students. The GW International Services Office would like to remind all international students and scholars to remain skeptical of all phone calls and emails from anyone claiming to be representing a U.S. government agency. If you receive a phone call from a U.S. government agency, please do not give out any of your personal information or provide the caller with any payment before checking with the International Services Office. We can help you check if the caller is actually representing a U.S. government agency.

Please see the text from the original broadcast below:

General Information

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has been made aware of a spoofing scam involving individuals using an SEVP Response Center (SRC) phone number (703-603-3400) or a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office phone number (757-441-6533) to target nonimmigrant students. Fraudulent callers are claiming to be SEVP representatives and asking students to provide their immigration information, such as their Alien Registration Number or Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record,” information, or face deportation.

SEVP encourages designated school officials to reach out to their students to make them aware of this scam. If you or one of your students encounter, or are a victim of this spoof call, you are encouraged to report the incident to the HSI tip line. If you are unsure about the validity of a call from an SEVP official, you can also reach out to your designated SEVP field representative or contact the SRC.  

Tips and items to remember:

  • NEVER divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.
  • SEVP officials will NEVER ask stakeholders to provide credit/debit card/gift card numbers, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers, or to make bitcoin deposits for any purpose.
  • Report all suspicious calls to the HSI tip line and if you are unsure about the validity of a call from SEVP officials reach out to your designated SEVP field representative.




USCIS Receipt Notice Delays

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is experiencing significant delays with receipting OPT/STEM OPT applications nationwide. The processing delays are affecting all OPT and OPT STEM applications. Delays of up to 8-9 weeks are now common.  If you have filed your application on time, you may legally stay in the U.S. until your application has been adjudicated.

We recommend all applicants who have not received a receipt notice within 60 days of filing to follow the steps below:

  1. Retain all evidence that you filed your application in a timely manner as well as proof of delivery.  You should also keep a copy of any communications you have sent to USCIS.
  2. Check with your bank/financial institution to see if funding has been processed by USCIS.
  3. Contact USCIS. Check to see your application status and if they can provide you a receipt number.  There are times when the application has been receipted but the notice has not yet been sent out.
  4. E-mail the USCIS “lockbox” at [email protected]
  5. If USCIS does not respond to your inquiry within 30 days, you may submit a request for case assistance to the CIS Ombudsman.

*The ISO does not recommend refiling a new application if there are no errors with your original application.  Doing so may cause further delays and result in students being possibly charged twice for the filing fee. *

If it has been more than 6-weeks since your application arrived at USCIS and your case still has not been receipted, you can e-mail the USCIS “lockbox” (they process the incoming applications) at [email protected].

Please reach out to the ISO at [email protected] for any additional inquiries/concerns you may have. 




USCIS Fee Increase on Hold

On Sept. 29, 2020, a federal district court preliminarily prohibited DHS from implementing or enforcing any part of the previously announced "USCIS Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements" rule. While the rule is preliminarily prohibited, USCIS will continue to accept the current I-765 form edition and fee ($410). Please visit the USCIS website for more information. 




Important Updates for OPT & STEM Applications 

USCIS has announced a final rule that adjusts the fees required for most immigration applications and petitions. F-1 Students applying for Post-Completion OPT or OPT STEM should be aware of the following information:

Form I-765

  • Always ensure you are using the most updated I-765 form by downloading it directly from the USCIS website.  Never use a copy of the I-765 form obtained from another individual or previously saved on your computer.
  • Always check the edition date of theI-765 form listed at the bottom left hand corner of the form.

Fee Increase

  • On October 02, 2020, the I-765 filling fee for Post-Completion OPT and OPT STEM will increase from $410 to $550 USD.

Special note: Applications must be postmarked before October 02, 2020 if you want to take advantage of the lower $410 fee.

*** All applications postmarked on or after October 02, 2020 will be subject to the $550 application fee. USCIS will deny applications with incorrect filing fees. ***

Important points regarding the I-765 Editions:

  • 8/25/20 Edition – use for applications postmarked between August 25, 2020 to October 02, 2020
  1. This I-765 edition will only be accepted if postmarked on or after August 25, 2020 AND before October 02, 2020
  2. This I-765 edition will NOT be accepted after October 02, 2020
  • 10/02/20 Edition – use for applications postmarked on or after October 02, 2020
  1. This I-765 edition is not yet available but will be on or after October 02, 2020.
  2. This I-765 edition will NOT be accepted if your application is postmarked before October 02, 2020
  3. This is the ONLY I-765 edition accepted for applications postmarked on or after October 02, 2020.

*** USCIS will deny applications filed with the incorrect i765 edition. ***

Please remember that while the ISO is here to help and assist, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to ensure that your OPT/STEM application is completed without errors.  Kindly direct any inquiries you have to the ISO inbox at [email protected]


Q: I received my I-20 with OPT recommendation before October 02, 2020 but did not mail my application until after October 02, 2020, which I-765 edition do I use?

A: You must use the 10/02/20 edition and pay the $550 fee.

Q: I received my I-20 with OPT recommendation and will mail my application before October 02, 2020 which I-765 edition do I use?

A: You must use the 08/25/20 edition and pay the $410 fee.

Q: I received my I-20 with OPT recommendation after October 02, 2020 and will mail my application until after October 02, 2020, which I-765 edition do I use?

A: You must use the 10/02/20 edition and pay the $550 fee.




Update: Rescinded DHS July 6 Policy Directive 

We are very happy to confirm that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has rescinded the July 6 policy directive.

International students are no longer required to take at least some in-person college coursework in order to remain in the U.S., or to have an updated I-20 issued on their behalf at this time.

As noted by President LeBlanc, “This is great news for our international students and all of those who have advocated for and supported our international students through this situation. This is the right decision and it will help international students continue their education in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.”

We stand in solidarity with our international students, and we look forward to starting the fall semester with you. If you are an F-1 student who has requested a new I-20 from the ISO as part of the July 6 announcement, it is no longer required and has not been issued on your behalf. If you have questions about your immigration status, please contact your GW International Services Office at [email protected]. We look forward to working with you in the year to come.

Undergraduate Students
Incoming international undergraduate students should work with the academic advising team in their school to select courses that meet their needs, whether that is on campus or online for the fall 2020 semester.

Graduate Students
For your fall 2020 semester, flexible starting options exist for graduate students to accommodate starting from abroad, please see below for specific information from your school:

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Elliott School of International Affairs

School of Business

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

GW Law School

Graduate School of Education and Human Development

Please continue to monitor your email and our website for updates from the International Services Office.



New Regulations Regarding Fall 2020 Online Courses 

A broadcast message was sent out from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 7/6/2020 regarding COVID-19 and Fall 2020 planning. Students attending schools adopting a hybrid model—that is, a mixture of online and in person classes—will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online. However, only the minimum number of online courses required to make progress towards degree completion is permitted.

For all F-1 students attending schools in the United States this fall 2020, Designated School Officials (DSOs) must issue new Forms I-20 to each student certifying that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the Fall 2020 semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. DSOs must indicate this information in the Form I-20 Remarks field in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Continuing F and M students may remain in Active SEVIS status while studying online outside the United States. The International Services Office will contact new and continuing students via email about steps to obtain an updated I-20. 



White House Proclamation

The White House has issued another Proclamation “Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak” effective June 24, 2020 and remains in effect through December 31, 2020. The Proclamation has far less of an impact than was rumored in advance of the Proclamation. Although early fears were that this Proclamation would have a wide impact on H-1B visa holders in the United States, this is not what happened.

The Proclamation only applies to those outside of the US on June 24, 2020, and restricts those individuals seeking to enter the United States in the following categories on new visa stamps issued after June 24, 2020:  

  1. H1B;
  2. H-4 dependents;
  3. L-1; 
  4. L-2 dependents;
  5. J-1 (but only J-1s who work as interns, trainees, teachers, camp counselors, au pairs, or summer work travel programs); and
  6. J-2 dependents

It does not impact at all those already in the United States in any one of these categories and does not revoke existing visas of individuals who are inside the US in any of these categories. They are all free to remain in the US and continue to work.

As a result, there is no impact on the ability to:

  • Apply within the US to change status to H-1B, including H-1B cap cases;
  • Apply within the US to extend H-1B status;
  • Apply within the US to transfer H-1B status to a different employer;
  • Apply within the US for permanent residence. 

Similarly, there is no impact on the ability to:

  • Apply within the US to change status L-1 or J-1;
  • Apply within the US to change status to H-4, L-2 or J-2;
  • Apply within the US to extend L-1 or J-1 status;
  • Apply within the US extend any of the H-4, L-2 or J-2 dependent categories;
  • Apply within the US for permanent residence for L-1, J-1 or any of the dependent categories.

The primary impact will be on limiting international travel for those who do not currently hold a valid visa in any one of these categories.  There will be no impact on international travel for the following individuals:

  • Permanent Resident Green Card Holders;
  • Spouse or children of US citizens; 
  • Those with a valid visa stamp in one of these categories (H-1B, L-1, J-1 or their dependents);
  • Those with valid advance parole travel documents; 
  • J-1s and J-2s seeking to enter as Professors, Scholars or Medical Residents/Fellows; and
  • Canadian citizens, who are exempt from needing visa stamps in any of these categories. 


Novel Coronavirus 


Novel Coronavirus Information Link

The ISO website has a new page containing information about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please click the above link to learn more.


Travel Ban & Travel Restriction Updates


Trump Administration Announces Expansion of Travel Ban


In a January 31, 2020, Presidential Proclamation, the Trump administration expanded its travel ban to place visa and entry restrictions on travelers from six additional countries. 


What You Need to Know:

  • The six countries added to the existing travel ban are: Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.
  • The expanded ban becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. (EST) on February 21, 2020.
  • The ban contains restrictions on immigrants but not on nonimmigrants, so it will not impact acquisition of nonimmigrant visas like F-1 student, J-1 exchange visitor, H-1B worker, etc., or of admission to the United States in those categories.


Responding to the Coronavirus Situation, United States Restricts Travel From China 


What You Need to Know: 

The Washington Post released a video of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Azar announcing a ban on foreign nationals traveling from China and quarantines for U.S. citizens coming from China. The restrictions will go into effect at 5:00 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, February 2.

  • "Foreign nationals, other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled in China within the last 14 days will be denied entry into the United States for this time," per a presidential proclamation under INA 212(f), signed by President Trump on January 31. 
  • Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in Hubei province in the 14 days prior to their entry to the United States will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they have been provided proper medical care and health screening
  • Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been anywhere else in mainland China in the 14 days prior to their entry to the United States will undergo "proactive entry health screening at a select number of ports of entry," and up to 14 days of "monitored self-quarantine" to ensure they have not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk.

Context: On January 30, the World Health Organization declared that the spread of the virus is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Earlier today, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 “do not travel” advisory for China 

Protect Yourself Against Scams


The U.S. Department of State has seen increased housing and rental scams in which international students and exchange visitors transfer money before they start their program to a fraudulent realtor or landlord, scamming the victims out of hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Other reported scams involve phone calls from alleged government representatives demanding personal information and money with threats of deportation from the U.S. If you receive any communications from the government, please use the below resources to help determine if they are legitmate.







To learn more about the types of incidents that are reportable to the Department, please see this video

Message from Thomas LeBlanc
The GW president responds to the Trump Administration's travel ban

06/28/2018; reposted from GW Today

To the George Washington community:

This week, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump Administration’s travel ban. In March, the university joined 30 other universities in filing an amicus brief challenging the executive order on travel and immigration, affirming the importance of international students, faculty and staff at institutions of higher learning.

​The George Washington University welcomes students, faculty, staff, alumni and families from around the world and of all faiths and backgrounds. We believe in fostering an inclusive environment and a free exchange of ideas. We stand ready to assist our community members who are affected by this development. The International Services Office will provide any assistance that it can and will continue to communicate information as it becomes available.

Affected individuals who travel outside of the United States for the foreseeable future may be at risk. The ban could be enforced against citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. F-1 and J-1 students and scholars who have a valid visa should be permitted to enter the United States, but they may face increased scrutiny and it is possible affected individuals will not be re-admitted to the United States. External immigration counsel is available to provide pro bono legal advice.

For questions or concerns, please contact the International Services Office at [email protected].

Thomas J. LeBlanc

In a January 31, 


June 3rd, 2021

Fraud Alert: Phone Scammers Targeting International Students

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ACLU's Know Your Rights

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