The Catholic University of America

Summary of Federal Laws

Compliance Partners

Director of International Student and Scholar Services

Related Policies

Categories of Employment

International Student Employment


Miscellaneous Laws

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (as amended)

8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq.; 8 U.S.C. §1372 ; 8 CFR § 214

For immigration matters related to employment, see the Immigration and Nationality Act (as amended) in the section of this summary on Employment and Equal Employment Opportunity.

81 Fed. Reg. 13040, Final Rule, March 11, 2016  Improving and Expanding Training

Opportunities for F–1 Nonimmigrant Students With STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F–1 Students

The final rule allows F-1 Stem students to extend their OPT period to 24 months. Oversight by employers is required, including formal training programs, and allowing extensions only for degrees from accredited schools. 

The rule also includes "Cap-Gap" relief for any F-1 student who has filed a timely H-1B petition and request for change of status. The final rule will go into effect on May 10, 2016. For more on CAP-GAP see USCIS web page. See also NAFSA page on the new final rule. The current 17-month STEM OPT rule remains effective through May 9, 2016, and will continue to govern the STEM OPT extensions that were approved prior to May 10, 2016 and for which a 7-month extension has not been requested.

80 Fed. Reg. 63376, Proposed Rule, October 19, 2015, Improving and Expanding Training
Opportunities for F–1 Nonimmigrant Students With STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F–1 Students

The proposed rule would allow F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of OPT in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months. This 24-month extension would replace the 17-month STEM OPT extension currently available to certain STEM students.See NAFSA Focus on STEM OPT.

Adjustments to Limitations on Designated School Official Assignment and Study by F-2 and M-2 Nonimmigrants,
80 Fed. Reg. 23680, April 29, 2015. This rule eliminates DSO limits and allows part time F-2 and M-2 Study effective May 29, 2015. See NAFSA write up comparing the old and new rules.

U.S. Dept. of State Nov. 10, 2014 Announcement between US and China Extending Visas for Short Term Business Travelers, Tourists and Students.

Chinese applicants who qualify for a B-category nonimmigrant visa (NIV) may now be issued multiple-entry visas for up to 10 years for business and tourist travel. Qualified Chinese students and exchange visitors and their dependents who qualify for F, M, or J-category visas are now eligible for multiple-entry visas valid for up to five years or the length of their program. U.S. citizens eligible for Chinese short term business and tourist visas should also receive multiple-entry visas valid for up to 10 years, while qualified U.S. students may receive student residency permits valid up to five years, depending on the length of their educational program.

July 11, 2104 Draft Policy Guidance on SEVP: Conditional Admission

This draft policy guidance clarifies schools may only issue Form I-120 to a prospective F-1 or M-1 student if the student's qualifications meet all standards for admission, including English language proficiency. The guidance references 8 CFR 214.3 (k) (2)-(4).

(k) Issuance of Certificate of Eligibility. A DSO of an SEVP-certified school must sign any completed Form I-20 issued for either a prospective or continuing student or a dependent. A Form I-20 issued by a certified school system must state which school within the system the student will attend. Only a DSO of an SEVP-certified school may issue a Form I-20 to a prospective student and his or her dependents, and only after the following conditions are met:

(1) The prospective student has made a written application to the school.

(2) The written application, the student's transcripts or other records of courses taken, proof of financial responsibility for the student, and other supporting documents have been received, reviewed, and evaluated at the school's location in the United States.

(3) The appropriate school authority has determined that the prospective student's qualifications meet all standards for admission.

(4) The official responsible for admission at the school has accepted the prospective student for enrollment in a full course of study.

SEVP Draft Policy Guidance on Bridge Programs and
Conditional Admittance:
Issued May 2013.

Institutions may no longer issue Form I-20s certifying a student’s admission to a regular degree program if the student is first required to participate in an ESL or combination of ESL and preparatory academic coursework prior to being fully admitted to a regular degree program. 

IRS Clarifies Temporary ITIN application for Foreign Students
Effective October 2, 2012, the IRS will allow individuals studying in the United States under the Student Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP) to get ITINs under a streamlined procedure. SEVP participants already provide documentation to the Department of Homeland Security under the requirements of that program, and will need a letter from their educational institution verifying their status.


Iran Nuclear Threat Reducation Bill and Syrian Human Rights Act of 2012 (HR 1905)

Section 501 (a).—The Secretary of State shall deny a visa to, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall exclude from the United States, any alien who is a citizen of Iran that the Secretary of State determines seeks to enter the United States to participate in coursework at an institution of higher education (as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001(a))) to prepare the alien for a career in the energy sector of Iran or in nuclear science or nuclear engineering or a related field in Iran.

Employment Authorization for Libyan F-1 Non-Immigrant Students, Notice of Suspension of Applicability of Certain Requirements; 76 Fed. Reg. 33970 (June 10, 2011).
The Notice suspends the requirement that limits on- and off-campus employment of such students to 20 hours per week; and also suspends the requirements that students seeking authorization of off-campus employment must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year and demonstrate that the employment will not interfere with the student’s ability to carry a full course of study. Undergraduate students granted employment authorization under the terms of the Notice will be deemed to be engaged in a full course of study for the duration of their employment if they remain registered for a minimum of six semester/quarter hours of instruction per academic term; graduate students must remain registered for a minimum of three semester/quarter hours. The Notice is effective June 10 and will remain in effect until December 31st. 

Extending Periods of Optional Practical Training by 17 months (from 12 months to 29 months) for F-1 Nonimmigrants: Dept. of Homeland Security: Interim Final Rule issued 4/2/08

This rule applies to F-1 students who have completed a science, technology, engineering or math degree and accept employment with employers enrolled in the E-Verify employment verification program.

Final Rule: Documents Required for Travelers Departing From or Arriving in the United States at Sea and Land Ports of-Entry From Within the Western Hemisphere; 73 Fed. Reg. 18384, April 3, 2008.

Effective June 1, 2009, this rule finalizes the second phase of a joint Department of Homeland Security and Department of State plan, known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, to implement new documentation requirements for U.S. citizens and certain nonimmigrant aliens enteringthe United States. This final rule details the documents U.S. citizens1 and nonimmigrant citizens of Canada,Bermuda, and Mexico will be required to present when entering the United States from within the Western Hemisphere. See the Dept. of State Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative page for a short summary of current and future necessary documentation. For current rules on travel for international students see the Travel Page of International Student and Scholar Services.

Cases of Interest

In the Matter of Batdorj Dagvadorj v. Lois DeFleur, SUNY Binghamton, et al., Feb. 25, 2010, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, State of New York

Plaintiff, a student here on an F-1 visa, who ignored his student advisor and went to work at a different branch campus, was unsuccessful in arguing that work at a branch campus counted as *on campus* employment for purpose of the regulations. See quote below.

A nonimmigrant student participating in this program can seek employment "on-campus" without prior approval of the school's DSO (see 8 CFR 214.2 [f] [9] [i]), but that employment must be performed on the school's campus or at an off-campus location that is "educationally affiliated with the school" (8 CFR 214.2 [f] [9] [i]). Apart from an exception not relevant here (see 8 CFR 214.2 [f] [9] [ii] [C]), a student who seeks employment that is not considered "on-campus" employment, may only do so if the position involves "[c]urricular practical training" that is "an integral part of an established curriculum" and has been authorized by the school's DSO (8 CFR 214.2 [f] [10] [i]).

Equal Access Education v. Merten, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia,

Feb. 24, 2004 order and opinion. This case was a challenge brought to the Sept. 5, 2002 Attorney General Memorandum stating that illegal and undocumented aliens should not be admitted into Virginia Public Colleges and Universities. The memo urged reporting to the federal government the presence of illegal aliens on campus. Plaintiffs claimed that various of Virginia's post-secondary educational institutions violate the Constitution's Supremacy, Commerce, and Due Process clauses by denying admission to illegal aliens or to persons they believe to have an "illegal," "unlawful," or "undocumented" immigration status. The Court found no violation as long as the defendants use federal immigration standards to identify which applicants are illegal aliens.


Resource Guide: Supporting Undocumented Youth, U.S. Dept. of Education, October 20, 2015

Provides information to assist educational institutions in supporting undocumented students at the secondary and postsecondary education levels.

10-20-15 update letter on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals-Reiterating that federal law does not prohibit admission of undocumented students-although they remain ineligible for federal financial aid. Includes a Fact Sheet from Financial Aid Office with questions about FAFSA.

Publication 515

Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens Foreign Entities

See pages 20-25 for relevant information on students and taxes.

CUA International Student and Scholar Services resource page on the Real ID Act of 2005 and Drivers Licenses: Includes the law, proposed rule, and presentations on the law.

Text of letter issued by ICE on May 9th, 2008: Affirms that DHS does not require school to determine student status, or report to DHS if they know student is out of status.

Social Security Numbers and Foreign Nationals: A resource page from The Catholic University of America International Student and Scholar Services Office

Social Security Numbers have become a key element many aspects of life in the U.S. Recent developments restrict the availability of Social Security Numbers for foreign nationals. This page provides resource documents for understanding the role of SSNs in various parts of U.S. business/society.

GAO (General Accounting Office) Report on Performance of Foreign Student Exchange and Visitor Information System(SEVIS)

NAFSA Regulatory Information Page


CCR updated CFR links 6/18/15


updated 3-17-16 mlo