Carnegie Mellon University
October 12, 2020

Recent Immigration Updates for Students & Scholars

We hope you are well and staying safe. A number of immigration-related updates have recently been announced and details are outlined below. The following updates may not pertain to all students or scholars, and may not represent immediate impacts. There have been many immigration changes this year, both proposed and actual, and OIE staff recognize the stressful nature of these changes even if they are not immediately impactful. That said, OIE remains committed to interpreting and communicating both immediate and possible future changes that may impact Carnegie Mellon's international student and scholar community.   

In the closing weeks and months of 2020, additional updates may be announced as the White House seeks to implement their policies. Carnegie Mellon closely monitors policy changes impacting our international community and will continue to advocate on behalf of our students and scholars. Realizing the potential impact of the updates provided in this email and any that may be forthcoming, the OIE staff are committed to supporting you by answering your questions, providing timely and accurate information, and helping students and scholars to understand any potential immigration impacts.

Who does this impact? 

While not yet in effect, this proposed rule would impact all students and scholars in F-1/J-1 status. 

Summary of the Update

proposed rule to eliminate Duration of Status (D/S) was published Sept. 25, 2020. Historically, F-1 and J-1 students and scholars are admitted to the U.S. for a period of D/S - which allows for some flexibility as program durations changes to be shorter or longer than initially expected. This new U.S. government proposal is concerning as it would limit how long F-1/J-1 students and scholars may stay in the U.S., (i.e., for a period of 2 or 4 years). Students and scholars then would be required to apply to the U.S. government for permission to extend their stay beyond the 2- or 4-year period in order to complete their program and/or pursue optional practical training or academic training. The university and OIE understand the concern this proposed rule undoubtedly causes. As Provost Jim Garrett stated in a Sept. 25 message to the campus community, the university will advocate on behalf of CMU’s international scholars and will oppose these unnecessary constraints by commenting to the U.S. government that the current long-standing and effective D/S rule should remain in effect for F-1 and J-1 students and scholars. View additional details about this rule, including instructions on how to comment.

Next Steps

Comments must be submitted by Oct. 26. The U.S. government will consider, and often will make changes, in response to substantive comments received, so we encourage students to submit thoughtful comments. View instructions on how to comment.


Now on hold, this would have impacted students and scholars who plan to file a petition or application with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as CMU departments filing petitions on behalf of our international employees. The changes would have impacted applications such as the I-129 application for H-1B status, I-539 application for change of status/reinstatement and the I-765 application for EAD/OPT, among others.


In a surprising but welcome reversal, the USCIS fee increases that were previously scheduled to take effect Oct. 2 have been put on hold due to a court injunction. OIE recommends checking the USCIS fee webpage before filing any application to make sure you are using the correct form and filing fee.

Who does this impact?

These rules (one currently in effect and one proposed) impact H-1B and some permanent resident sponsorship, which is of interest to students and scholars who plan to seek sponsorship for employment in the future, as well as current Carnegie Mellon employees and departments.

Summary of the update

Two interim final rules were published in the federal register Oct. 8 that propose changes to regulations that would impact H-1B sponsorship and some permanent resident sponsorship.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) interim final rule published Oct. 8 is effective immediately. The rule would change the computation of wage levels and significantly increase the prevailing wage rate which is used in the H-1B and PERM sponsorship process. Employers, including CMU, may be required to pay higher wages in order to sponsor people for H-1B or the PERM process. A summary of the rule can be found on the NAFSA website.

The other interim final rule was published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Oct. 8 and is not scheduled to go into effect until Dec. 7. The rule proposes changing the definition of “specialty occupation” and narrowing it to “directly related specific specialty.” While OIE staff work to understand more about the impacts on the CMU community, we again recognize the concern this proposed rule may cause for students and scholars who look to the future of employment in the U.S., as well as for Carnegie Mellon departments seeking to hire or sponsor international employees. For students who have expressed concern, please be assured that “specialty occupations” are not determined by the classification of instruction program (CIP) codes on I-20s/DS-2019s. Once OIE has more details about this rule, more information will be provided. 


Comments may be submitted to the U.S. government via the Federal Register publication for each of these rules during the comment period, which is open until Nov. 9.

Individuals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. are eligible to apply for the Diversity Visa (DV) lottery. The annual application period is open until Nov. 7 and is free.

As a global institution, Carnegie Mellon deeply values international education and aims to provide timely and accurate support to our international community, especially during these challenging times. Please reach out to us by emailing if you have any questions, need clarification about recent updates, or need assistance.

All the best,
OIE Staff