Immigration Updates and Alerts
The following information is provided for you regarding immigration alerts and updates. If you have any questions or need further assistance please contact the International Students & Scholars Office. For additional resources, see the UMass Lowell's immigration resources webpage.
Change in Premium Processing Fees
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Adjusts Premium Processing Fees: starting February 26, 2024, Premium Processing Fees are increasing for H-1bs, O-1s, E-3s, TNs, OPT, STEM OPT, I-539 extension/changes, and more.
Diversity Visa (DV) 2025 Program
DV-2025 Program: The online registration period for the DV-2025 Program begins on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, at Noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4) and concludes on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, at Noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5). Submission of more than one entry for a person during the registration period will disqualify all entries for that person.
Get more information on the LexisNexis DV-2025 Registration Begins Oct. 4, 2023 webpage. View the State Department Diversity Visa Instructions.
DV-2025 Program Instructions
The English version of the DV-2025 Program Instructions (pdf) is the only official version. Unofficial translations in additional languages will be added to this webpage as they become available.
Note: As indicated in the instructions, for the purposes of eligibility some countries include components and dependent areas overseas. If you are a native of a dependency or overseas territory, please select the appropriate country of eligibility. For example, natives of Macau S.A.R should select Portugal, and natives of Martinique should select France.
Diversity Visa Program Information
See the Diversity Visa Program webpage for information about:
USCIS announced that it will expand the use of premium processing for applications for Change of Status to F, M, or J nonimmigrant status filed using the Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
Please note, Premium Processing will not be available for Reinstatement applications.
There will be two phases in the premium process options for certain I-539 applicants.
- Beginning June 13, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed via paper form or online, for applicants seeking a change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, or J-2 status, who have a pending Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
- Beginning June 26, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for applicants seeking a change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, or J-2 status, when filed together with Form I-539.
Premium processing requests received prior to the dates above will be rejected. Also, USCIS provides an important reminder:
- “If you mail a paper Form I-539 to us, you must mail a paper Form I-907.”
- “If you submit Form I-539 online, you must submit Form I-907 online.”
IMPORTANT: Make sure you review and understand the entire official notice and set of instructions provided by USCIS before filing a premium processing application
F-1 Visa Issuance Window Extended by U.S. Department of State
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced that for F-1 students, "visas for new students can be issued up to 365 days in advance of the start date for a course of study. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on your student visa more than 30 days before the start date."
Please note that even if this new visa issuance guidance has been publicly issued by DOS, it does not necessarily mean that each U.S. Embassy and Consulate abroad will be able to issue nonimmigrant student visas that far in advance. The ISSO recommends that new students consult their local U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad if there are questions regarding visa appointment wait times and timelines for obtaining their F-1 visa.
USCIS Announcement - Expansion of Premium Processing for Certain F-1 students seeking OPT and STEM OPT Extensions
USCIS has announced on March 6, 2023 the expansion of premium processing for certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT)or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) OPT Extensions who have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and wish to request a premium processing upgrade. Please note the below phases listed in the USCIS announcement:
Beginning March 6, USCIS will accept Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed either via paper form or online, for certain F-1 students who already have a pending Form I-765, if they are filing under one of the following categories:
- (c)(3)(A) - Pre-Completion OPT;
- (c)(3)(B) - Post-Completion OPT; and
- (c)(3)(C) - 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students
Beginning April 3, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for F-1 students in the above categories when filed together with Form I-765.
Online filing of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, is now available to students in these categories. To file Form I-907 online, an applicant must first create a USCIS online account.
Important: Students are not required to file an OPT or STEM OPT Extension application with Premium Processing; this is just an available option now. Should you decide to file a Premium Processing request, please check the correct amount of Premium Processing Fees on the USCIS website. This is in addition to the standard application fee for the Form I-765 used to apply for F-1 OPT or F-1 STEM OPT Extension (please check current fee amount as it may be subject to change).