Response to the Department of Homeland Security Proposed Changes to the Duration of Status of International Students and Scholars

Dear Faculty, Students and Staff,

The University of Illinois at Chicago is committed a globally connected campus community that supports all faculty, staff, and students. Our international students and scholars are an integral part of the UIC community, and their contributions are essential to our research, scholarship and teaching missions.

On September 25th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed changes to the duration of status of international students and scholars, creating a fixed, four-year maximum period of study or research. The proposed rule change would restrict visas to a maximum of two years for students coming from a country that the Department of Homeland Security deems a security risk or contributing to high rates of overstay. Student and scholars needing to extend their stay beyond the fixed date on their immigration documents would be required to request an extension and pay a significant fee. The request would also be adjudicated by the Department of Homeland Security rather than by the University’s immigration staff.

This proposed rule is a significant change to the current duration of status framework for nonimmigrant academic students and exchange visitors, which provides flexibility to students and scholars as they pursue their degree programs and conduct research. The current rules allow the University’s immigration experts to extend a student or scholar’s status as long as the student or scholar is making “normal progress” based on the advice of their academic department.

We oppose this new rule because we believe that a fixed, four-year maximum period of study or research would do harm to current students, discourage future students, and impose burdensome and costly obligations upon students and the University. In the interests of our international students’ progress, well-being and academic success, we are taking measures to advocate against this change.

UIC is working on its own and with the system office of the University of Illinois to add our voices to those opposing this rule change. We have taken the following steps:

  • The Office of International Services (OIS) communicated with all students directly on the day that the proposal was released (September 25) regarding the duration of status proposal, including how they could contribute to the public comments if they wish. (
  • On September 29, OIS updated all UIC staff and faculty directly responsible for supporting and advising international students and scholars.
  • During October 6-8, OIS conducted 3 town halls for students and administrators covering the key elements of the proposed rule change and information about how people could make public comments.
    The Office of Global Engagement circulated a DDDH message on October 9 regarding the duration of status proposals, including ways in which people could make public comments.
  • The University is working with our sister campuses in the University of Illinois System to advocate on behalf of our international students and scholars through lobbying efforts as well as the submission of comments opposing the rule change.

UIC is dedicated to supporting our international students in every possible way. OGE and OIS will continue to provide additional information to our international students and scholars as it becomes available.

Individuals who wish to participate in the rulemaking process may submit written comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal or alternative methods outlined in the proposed rule. Comments must be submitted by October 26, 2020 and must refer to DHS Docket No. ICEB-2019-0006. Comments will be part of the public record, including any personal or biographical information included therein.

In addition, anyone with questions or concerns about the proposed rule change should contact OIS at or +1 (312) 996-3121.


Susan Poser
Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Neal McCrillis
Vice Provost for Global Engagement

Jim Hammerschmidt
Associate Vice Provost for Global Engagement
Executive Director, Office of International Services

For more information, please contact:
Kelcie O’Shea

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