- Who we are
- Get involved
- Get support
- UW Guidelines for Incoming International ASEs Abroad
- Updates for International Scholars for Spring 2021
- Information on the Department of Homeland Security’s Propose Rule to Replace Duration of Status
- What we do
- FAQ for international ASEs/Postdocs
We are UAW Local 4121 members concerned with matters affecting international student/scholar members of our union. Our union is comprised of more than 1,000 international students/scholars from virtually every country in the world. We draw from the rich experiences and deep expertise of these international students/scholars and from researchers working on global issues to accomplish the following objectives:
- Understand the challenges faced by international ASEs/Postdocs at the UW, and address them in the context of our collective bargaining agreement.
- Advocate for the equal right of international ASEs/Postdocs to access resources needed to fulfill their academic and professional goals.
- Develop strategies to connect with and support larger global movements social justice movements.
- Read more about our working group in our member stories.
If you would like to get more involved in the workgroup or just want to get regular updates, please write to intl-workgroup(at)uaw4121(dot)org with a non-UW email address to be added to the listserv. During Summer 2020, workgroup meetings are held weekly on Mondays at 11am via Zoom. Upcoming meeting dates will posted on the UAW 4121 calendar. New members are most welcome!
If you are an international ASE/Postdoc at the UW and have any questions or concerns, please send an email to intl-workgroup(at)uaw4121(dot)org.
A list of resources for immigrant and undocumented folks can be found here.
On Sept. 11, 2020, after consistent organizing led by our International Solidarity Workgroup, the university sent out formal guidance to departments about non-US citizen ASEs conducting work from their home countries (without a visa). This formal guidance confirms that non-US citizen ASEs can conduct work and receive payment while abroad. This information should be shared with non-US citizen ASEs by their departments. In order to ensure this information is received by ASEs as soon as possible, links to the guidance can also be found below:
If you get conflicting information from other sources (e.g., your advisor), please document as many details as possible about the information you receive and contact the International Solidarity Workgroup for support at intl-workgroup(at)uaw4121(dot)org.
Watch our recorded info session with Stacey Gartland from Van Der Hout LLP here
Read more about UAW 4121’s efforts here: “UAW 4121 stands up against new Trump ruling that limits the visas of international students and scholars” (The Daily, November 24, 2020)
The proposed rule by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is currently not in effect. When the government publishes a proposed rule they provide a period of time for affected bodies to comment on the rule. You can leave a comment on the proposed rule here. Comments are due by October 26, 2020.
The proposed rule would impact F, J, and I visa holders and how their I-94s would be implemented. F and J visa holders are currently admitted to the United States for the Duration of Status, allowing them to stay in the country as long as they are continuing to pursue their program. Under the proposed rule, a I-94 would have a fixed expiration date, determining how long they can stay in the United States. If their program end date is after the expiration date or they transfer to a different school or program, they will have to apply for extension of stay inside the United States or leave and enter the country.
When an international student/scholar enters the United States, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer issues a I-94, an electronic document that can be viewed on the CBP website. CBP officers will have some discretion on the expiration date. The proposed rules are maximum dates.
Durations proposed in the rule include:
- Program end date on your I-20 or DS 2019, or a 4 year period whichever one is earlier.
- 2 years for inviduals who were born in or are citizens of countries on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List. Currently: North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and Syria.
- 2 years for individuals from countries with greater than 10% overstay rate. Citizens of countries with a student and exchange visitor total overstay rate of greater than 10% according to the most recent DHS Entry/Exit Overstay report (See Table 4, Column 6). Remember this may change as it gets updated.
- 2 years if an individual is enrolled in courses that are of national interest, such as nuclear science.
- 2 years if an individual’s school is not participating in E-Verify.
Individuals inside of the United States when the rule becomes final will automatically have their Duration of Status converted to 4 years from the date the rule goes into effect or their program end date, whichever is earlier. If anything changes afterwards, the individual will have to apply for an extension.
To renew their I-94, an individual can leave the country or apply for extension of status with the USCIS. When an individual leaves the United States, their I-94 will be void, and when they return, they will be given a new I-94 with a new expiration date.
An individual can apply for an extension of status (Form I-539) with the USCIS up to 6 months and at least one day before the expiration date. As long as they have applied before their I-94 expiration date, they are allowed to stay in the United Status and continue their program while their application is being processed. Individuals are encouraged to apply as early as possible to avoid a lapse in work authorization. While F-1 visa holders will be given a 180 day extension of work authorization—240 days for J visa holders—the current processing time is 6 to 10 months.
Individuals will have to explain and provide documentation as part of their extension of status application. Reasons can include a compelling academic reason, serious medical condition or illness, or circumstances beyond a student’s control (i.e.: natural disaster or school closure).
The extension of status application will require filing a form with a filing fee, sent by mail to USCIS. The current fees are $370 plus a $85 biometric fee. The fees were set to be increased on October 2 but there has been an injunction to the increase due to an online lawsuit challenging the fee increase.
This proposed rule will shift the Optional Practical Training (OPT) application period earlier by 30 days. Currently individuals can apply up to 90 days before their program end date and up to 60 days after. The proposed rule would change the application period to 120 days before their program end date and up to 30 days after. The current grace period will change from 60 days to the proposed 30 days.
An individual’s I-94 will expire on their program end date. An I-94’s expiration date will include the 30-day grace period. Individuals will have to apply for an extension of stay and follow a three-step process for their OPT: go to their designated school official (DSO) for recommendation, update their I-20, and file Form I-765 for employment authorization.
When an individual is switching from OPT to STEM OPT the three-step process would be: go to their DSO to get an updated I-20 for STEM OPT extension, apply for an extension of stay, and then apply for employment authorization. Work authorization extends for 120 days during the application.
Past and current activities of the International Solidarity workgroup:
- Fighting the Arbitrary “Duration of Status” Rule Proposal from the Trump Department of Homeland Security, designed to discourage international students from studying and working in the U.S.
- Working to ensure that all UW Postdocs have access to health care, including paid directs, who are overwhelmingly non-citizens:
- Read about our efforts here and here: UW postdoc health insurance policy denies coverage to dozens of postdocs (Daily UW, Oct. 26, 2020)
- Taking on ICE & Winning: Defeating the directive to deport workers on M1 and F1 visas during remote instruction (July 2020):
- Defending the Rights of Visa Holders and Non-Citizens to Share in State and Federal Recovery Efforts (June 2020)
- We have reached out to Governor Jay Inslee in support of the creation of a Washington Workers Fund for non-citizen populations who are facing financial hardship and are prevented from receiving state or federal assistance due to their visa or immigration status. We have also reached out to Seattle City Council urging them to pass a tax on big business to support working people, including direct aid to non-citizens whose immigration status prevents them from being eligible for federal or state support
- Resisting Trump’s potential limitations on non-immigrant visas (June 2020):
- Actions being contemplated by the Trump Admin have the potential to jeopardize the careers of of Academic Student Employees working on F1 visas, and Postdocs working on F1-OPT extensions or H1B visas. As a Local Union, we sent a letter strongly opposing these measures to the U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Labor, as well as to our Washington State Congressional delegation. Our Working Group has additionally urged UW President Ana Mari Cauce to join these critical efforts by sending similar letters as a University administration. All ASEs and Postdocs are encouraged to send a message to Washington state Senators using this short form.
- Resisting Trump’s Travel Ban Executive Orders (January 2017):
- Upon issuance of the Executive Orders banning travel for immigrants from 7 (now 6) named countries, UAW members and the International Solidarity Work Group have taken swift action and acted as part of a broad coalition who was successful at halting Trump’s administration. Go to our Taking Action for Immigration and Undocumented Rights page for a listing of actions taken.
Click here to read more about past and current activities.
Please send an email to intl-workgroup(at)uaw4121(dot)org if you have any questions that weren’t covered above!