SEVIS Introduces New Student-Facing Portal for F-1 Students on OPT

On March 23, 2018, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) launched the SEVP Portal. The portal is a tool that F-1 students on OPT/STEM OPT can use to report changes to their home/mailing address, telephone number and employer information.  The portal is accessible from both mobile devices and computers. Use of the portal is voluntary but highly encouraged by SEVP and OIS.

When and How Do OPT Students Gain Access to the Portal?

The SEVP Portal is only be accessible to students whose OPT has been approved and is active.  If a student’s OPT is already approved and active (meaning the student has been issued an employment authorization document (EAD) card and the start date of the EAD has passed), the student should have received an email from SEVP with instructions on creating a portal account. This email came from do-not-reply.sevp@ice.dhs.gov to the student’s email address associated with the student’s SEVIS record (which will be the email address they have checked as “preferred” in their MyPack account). If students are unsure which email address is associated with their SEVIS account, students should monitor all email accounts they have registered in MyPack. Students should check their spam or junk mail folder also to ensure they didn’t miss the email. If a student’s OPT is approved and active, but the student hasn’t received an email from SEVP, the student can contact OIS to request a resend of the email. If a student’s OPT status in SEVIS is still “requested” or pending”, the student will not receive an email until the OPT status has been changed to “approved” which happens when the EAD is issued.

How Do Students Use the Portal?

The SEVP Portal allows students to:

  • View details about their post-completion OPT or STEM OPT;
  • Report changes to their residential address, telephone number and employer information;
  • View and update data on all of their employers in one place.

The SEVP Portal and Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) regularly share data. Data entered into the Portal is sent immediately to SEVIS to update the student’s record. Information comes from SEVIS to the Portal only once a day. Therefore, any updates of a student’s information in SEVIS appear in the Portal the next day. The SEVP Portal User Guide provides detailed instructions for using the portal.

  • For Students on Post-Completion OPT: Students on OPT are able to add, edit, and delete employer information. OIS highly recommends that students on OPT start create a Portal account as soon as they receive an email from SEVP and begin reporting employment information using the SEVP Portal instead of the OIS OPT Validation form. Students should take care to avoid duplicate submissions: once a student has updated their OPT information in the SEVP Portal, the student should not submit the same information through the OPT Validation form (unless otherwise instructed by OIS).
  • For Students on STEM OPT: Students on STEM OPT cannot add or delete any employers in the SEVP Portal. To add an employer, the student must submit a completed Form I-983 and a New Employer Form to OIS using the STEM OPT Upload Center. To delete an employer from the student’s SEVIS record, the student must contact OIS. Students on STEM OPT can edit some of their employer’s information in the SEVP Portal, but if the student needs to edit any of the read-only fields, the student must contact OIS. IMPORTANT: STEM OPT Students must continue using OIS’s online OPT Validation form to submit their 6-month validation reports. STEM OPT Students should review all STEM OPT reporting requirements listed on our STEM OPT web page.

What Should Students on OPT/STEM OPT Do Now?

Students should familiarize themselves with the information available about the Portal. Please review the following resources provided by SEVP:

At this time, OIS does not possess any additional information about the Portal other than the information and links provided in this email. Students should not contact OIS to confirm that they created a portal account. If students have any questions about the portal or need assistance, they can call the SEVP Response Center at 703-603-3400.

UPDATE: “Travel Ban” (Executive Order 13780, issued March 6, 2017) – Implementation of Presidential Proclamation

On December 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of State began fully implementing Presidential Proclamation 9645. The Presidential Proclamation, issued by the Trump Administration on September 24, 2017, announced new travel restrictions on certain nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela. Sudanese nationals are no longer subject to travel restrictions.  These new restrictions replace a central portion of its earlier travel ban, Executive Order 13780, and vary by country.

How this Presidential Proclamation Impacts NC State:

There is no change on travel guidance to our international campus community. Due to the continuing uncertainty regarding the travel ban we still recommend that impacted individuals refrain from travel if at all possible.

If you decide to travel, please make an appointment with an advisor at OIS so that we can advise you on what documentation to travel with and what to do should you encounter difficulty in getting a visa in time to return for classes or if you encounter difficulty at the Port of Entry.

Please also note:

  • The Department of State has issued guidance and an FAQ regarding implementation.
  • The Department of Homeland Security, or “DHS” (which governs Customs and Border Protection) has also issued an FAQ regarding implementation.
  • All international travelers should continue to expect delays during visa appointments and at ports of entry. Consular officers abroad and CBP at all ports of entry will now have to make additional decisions regarding who to admit into the U.S., which will undoubtedly cause additional delays.   
  • As always, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will continue to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether the individual is admissible to the U.S.  It is possible that CBP will decide to re-review the grounds on which an individual qualified for an exception or waiver, even if the person already met this burden and obtained an entry visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy overseas. If travel is necessary, we strongly recommend that individuals from any of the eight countries carry extensive documentation showing their eligibility for the relevant waiver or exception.  Please work closely with OIS if you must travel to prepare this documentation.
  • The Presidential Proclamation also authorizes the DHS and DOS to grant discretionary waivers of the entry ban where the denial of entry would cause hardship or the foreign national’s entry is in the national interest and entry would not pose a threat to national security. However, the stringent criteria and lack of a clear application process suggest that waivers may be difficult to obtain.

The Office of International Services, International Employment, and the Office of General Counsel are closely monitoring the government’s implementation of the Executive Order, Presidential Proclamation and related court decision(s), and will provide further information as developments occur. 

______________________________________________________________________

Additional details:

No visas will be revoked as a result of the Presidential Proclamation. Individuals from any of the eight countries who are currently outside the U.S. and need a visa to enter may qualify for an exception or waiver, however, the exception for a bona fide relationship is no longer available. Nationals from any of the eight countries will not be subject to any travel restrictions listed in the Presidential Proclamation if they fall into one of the following categories:

    • U.S. lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
    • Dual national traveling on a passport from a non-restricted country; 
    • Was granted asylum in the United States; or admitted as a refugee;
    • Applicant for adjustment of status with valid advance parole;
    • Was admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the applicable effective date of the P.P for that national;
    • Was in the United States on the applicable effective date of the P.P. for that national;
    • Had a valid visa on the applicable effective date of the P.P. for that national; or
    • Had a visa which was revoked or marked canceled as a result of Executive Order 13769 who qualifies for a visa.

“Travel Ban” (Executive Order 13780, issued March 6, 2017) Update

Students and Scholars –

On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court (the Court) issued an opinion which allowed part of Executive Order 13780 (the revised “travel ban”) to go into effect on Thursday, June 29.  

The Court’s decision limited the impact of the ban, which attempts to bar visa issuance and entry to the United States for foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  In its decision, anyone who has a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” is exempted.  As long as an individual from those six countries can prove a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity that is “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course” [rather than a relationship being formed specifically for the purpose of qualifying for this exemption], the ban will not apply to them.  

In its ruling, the Court specifically stated that students from the designated countries who have been admitted to a University are considered to have this ‘bona fide relationship’ with an American entity. So too would a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company (for those of you on J-1 Research Scholar status, Post-Completion OPT, or who are pending a change of status to H-1B).

Remember that even prior to this court decision, a national of one of the six restricted countries was already exempt from the travel ban (per the express terms of the March 6 Executive Order) if he/she falls into one of the following categories: 

  • U.S. lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
  • Dual national traveling on a passport from a non-restricted country; (Canadian permanent residents are not exempt); 
  • Possesses a valid, multiple-entry U.S. visa and is otherwise admissible to the United States;
  • Applicant for adjustment of status with valid advance parole;
  • Granted asylum in the United States; or
  • Admitted as a refugee or is a refugee whose travel was already formally scheduled by the U.S. State Department.

How this Supreme Court Opinion Impacts NC State:

  • There is no change on travel guidance to our international campus community. Due to the continuing uncertainty regarding the travel ban and how these ‘bona fide relationships’ will be reviewed (The Court will hear oral arguments on the full Executive Order in October 2017) we still recommend that impacted individuals refrain from travel if at all possible.
  • Individuals from any of the six countries who are currently outside the U.S. and need a visa to enter should still be granted a visa and admitted, with clear evidence of a bona fide relationship. According to the Court, examples of a bona fide relationship include:
  • Close familial relationships (DHS and DOS have issued FAQs on the definition of a close familial relationship.  The state of Hawaii already challenged this definition in District Court, so this may change);
  • Students at U.S. universities or individuals who have already been admitted or are attending a U.S. university;
  • Employees of U.S. entities or individuals that have already accepted employment or are working with a U.S. entity; or
  • Foreign nationals invited to lecture to an American audience
  • The Department of State has issued an FAQ regarding implementation of the Executive Order.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (which governs Customs and Border Protection) has also issued an FAQ regarding implementation.
  • All international travelers should continue to expect delays during visa appointments and at ports of entry. Consular officers abroad and CBP at all ports of entry will now have to accommodate the Court’s ruling and agency protocol and make additional decisions regarding who to admit into the U.S., which will undoubtedly cause additional delays.   
  • As always, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will continue to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether the individual is admissible to the U.S.  It’s possible CBP will decide to re-review the bona fide relationship to the U.S., even if the person already met this burden and obtained an entry visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy overseas. If travel is necessary, we strongly recommend that individuals from any of the six countries carry extensive documentation showing their bona fide ties to the United States.  Please work closely with OIS if you must travel to prepare this documentation.
  • The executive order also authorizes the DHS and DOS to grant discretionary waivers of the entry ban where the denial of entry would cause hardship or the foreign national’s entry is in the national interest and entry would not pose a threat to national security. However, the stringent criteria and lack of a clear application process suggest that waivers may be difficult to obtain.

If you decide to travel, please make an appointment with an advisor at OIS so that we can advise you on what documentation to travel with and what to do should you encounter difficulty in getting a visa in time to return for classes or if you encounter difficulty at the Port of Entry.

The Office of International Services, International Employment, and the Office of General Counsel are closely monitoring the government’s implementation of the Supreme Court decision and the executive order, and will provide further information as developments occur. 

New Fraud Alert: Department of Homeland Security Hotline

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Hotline Telephone Number has been used in scam to obtain personally identifiable information. The DHS OIG has issued a fraud alert to warn individuals of reports that the DHS OIG Hotline telephone number has been used recently as part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country.The perpetrators of the scam represent themselves as employees with “U.S. Immigration” and can alter caller ID systems to make it appear that the call is coming from the DHS OIG Hotline telephone number (1-800-323-8603). The scammers demand to obtain or verify personally identifiable information from their victims through various tactics, including by telling individuals that they are the victims of identity theft. Many of the scammers reportedly have pronounced accents.

The DHS OIG is taking this matter very seriously and is investigating the situation. As a reminder, DHS OIG never uses its Hotline number to make outgoing calls — the phone line is only used to receive information from the public. Individuals should not answer calls purporting to be from 1-800-323-8603, and should never provide personal information during calls purporting to be from the DHS OIG Hotline. It continues to be perfectly safe to use the DHS OIG Hotline to report fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement within DHS components or programs. Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this telephone spoofing scam is urged to call the Hotline or file a complaint online via the DHS OIG website www.oig.dhs.gov. You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint and/or report identity theft.

For additional information on common scams and tips on what to do if you are contacted by a scammer, please review the Scam Alert information on the OIS website.

2017 Scam Alert

Dear Students and Scholars,

OIS has been informed that international students and scholars continue to be subjected to scams involving calls appearing to be someone from a government agency including the FBI, USCIS, IRS, the Wake County Detention Center, and even 911. The caller may demand personally identifiable information or payment with a specific method such as wire transfer or gift cards to resolve an error with your record. These calls are completely false.

In some cases, the caller claims you did something wrong regarding your immigration status or taxes, and that you are going to be deported. They claim that you are under surveillance, and that you cannot contact any other individual or go to any website to confirm this issue. They state that you must wire money to them to start an investigation, or to pay a fine, etc. and they ask you to provide other sensitive personal and financial information in the process including your Social Security Number, bank account information, and other identity documents. Even if the caller already has a lot of information about you, do not share any additional personal or financial information such as your SSN, bank account, or debit/card information. 

If you receive a similar call, understand the following:

  • No government agency or agent will call you to demand payment over the phone. Even in cases where legitimate money is owed (such as taxes) the government will communicate with you in writing, not over the phone.
  •  911 is not a number that you will receive a call from. The only time that 911 may legitimately show up as a number in your caller ID is in the case of a “Reverse 911” call (which will give safety information advising a threat in your area, and is usually a recorded message. Very similar to the Wolf Alert system).
  • The government will not demand a particular method of payment (such as wire transfer, gift cards, etc.). There will be multiple methods of payment available.
  • The government will not ask for your personal or financial information such as your SSN, bank account information, credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • The government will not threaten arrest or deportation over non-payment.
  • A government agent cannot remain anonymous- they must disclose badge information.

What should you do if you get such a call?

  1. Do NOT transfer any money or share any personal or financial details, even if the caller already has a lot of information about you.
  2. Try to get the name and contact number for whomever is calling, along with a badge number.
  3. HANG UP!!! Do not answer any additional calls from that number.
  4. Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
  5. Call NC State University Police at 919-515-3000 immediately to report it to the university. Then call OIS at 919-515-2961 or email ois@ncsu.edu.

What should I do if I already gave them personal information or transferred money?

  1. Call NCSU Police at 919-515-3000 to file a report. The police will most likely not be able to get you back your money if the money was already picked up after being wired. However the police report can be helpful in making other credit protection reports.
  2. Please also notify OIS so that we can keep abreast of new aspects to any fraud scam to further alert students and scholars.
  3. If you gave someone your Social Security Number, report that to the SSA. Also read this publication for additional information.
  4. Monitor your credit. The Federal Trade Commission has developed an extensive guide to managing identity theft. Some of this you may not need if you are not noticing any fraudulent activity on your credit report, but you must check your credit report to be sure. You are entitled to a free report every year.

How did they figure out I was here on a visa? How did they get my phone number?

OIS and NC State University strictly protects your status as an international student or scholar. Most often, identifying you as someone on a visa is an informed guess based on information that you have made public.

  1. Check your Linkedin and other job search accounts. Remove your phone number and address from any posted resume or summary of your work history. Leave only email.
  2. Check all other social media accounts, particularly if they are public. Remove your phone number for those accounts, and be careful with the personal information you post.
  3. Check your Directory information on the NC State website. You can choose what you want listed on the Directory such as only listing email, and students can also choose to not be listed at all.

Other types of scams to be aware of:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Hotline Scam

Employment Scam Targeting College Students

Email Phishing Scams

Learn more about common scams and frauds at https://www.usa.gov/scams-and-frauds