Category: Capstone International Services

Turkey Earthquake Relief

In the aftermath of the Turkey-Syria earthquake, the UA Turkish Student Association and several departments on campus, have put together an event to raise awareness and support for the victims. The event will look at the current conditions in Turkey as well as discuss how we can support community members who have been affected. The students have also compiled a list of organizations taking donations in order to provide relief directly to Turkey.

Invited speakers include Dr. Mesut Yavuz, Associate Professor of Operations Management, Dr. Ibrahim Cemen, Professor of Geology, M. Zeki Gungordu, Turkish Language Trainer, Critical Languages Center, and Dr. Noor Chazal Aswad, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies. Dr. Waleed Hazbun, Political Science, and Dr. Cheryl Toman, Modern Languages and Classics, will be moderating.

The event HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TO Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at 6:00 pm in the Yellowhammer Room of Gorgas Library.

Organized by: The Chambers Professorship in Middle Eastern Studies; The Departments of Political Science, Modern Languages & Classics, Geological Sciences, and Communication Studies; Office of Global and Community Engagement; The Turkish Student Association; Capstone International Center; The Aronov Chair for Judaic Studies; Department of Political Science.

Click here to see the official event page.

The Turkish Students Association supports the Bridge To Türkiye “Türkiye Earthquake Relief Fund.” You can donate at:

For additional recommendations for sending aid to Turkey and Syria, see:

Unable to attend the event? Scan the QR code or click the image below for links to donate.

COVID Test No Longer Required to Enter U.S. – June 12, 2022


Rescission: Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test Result or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 for all Airline or Other Aircraft Passengers Arriving into the United States from Any Foreign Country

On June 10, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rescinded the Order titled “Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test Result or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 for All Airline or Other Aircraft Passengers Arriving in the United States from any Foreign Country.”

This rescission takes effect for flights departing to the United States from a foreign country at or after 12:01am ET (4:01am GMT) on June 12, 2022, and will be published in the Federal Register.

To view the Rescission, click here [PDF – 4 pages].

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the proof of vaccination requirement for noncitizen nonimmigrants still in effect?

CDC’s Amended Order: Implementing Presidential Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic requiring proof of COVID-19 for noncitizens who are nonimmigrants is still in effect. For information about this Amended Order and the associated attestation see the webpage.

Frequently Asked Questions:

International Student Receives National Aerospace Fellowship


Simran Dhoju, Winner of Brooke Owens Fellowship
Simran Dhoju, Winner of Brooke Owens Fellowship

A University of Alabama junior majoring in aerospace engineering was one of 51 students in the nation to earn a Brooke Owens Fellowship, a nationally acclaimed program that awards exceptional undergraduate women and gender minorities studying the field of aerospace.

Simran Dhoju, of Kathmandu, Nepal, will take part in the program that pairs each fellow with a summer internship at one of the leading aerospace companies, an executive-level mentor who are senior leaders in the aerospace industry and a peer-level mentor from the Brooke Owens Fellowship alumnae network. According to the organization, Dhoju will be part of the most diverse and competitive class to date.

“For me, receiving the Brooke Owens Fellowship has been the greatest honor of my life,” said Dhoju. “In a highly male-dominated aerospace industry, it is difficult to see representation. The Brooke Owens Fellowship will provide a lifelong network of women and gender minorities who are taking the industry by storm.”

Dhoju will work at Planet Labs as a systems engineering intern in the space systems division. Operating more than 200 earth observation satellites, Planet is the leading earth-imaging satellite company that uses satellite data for various humanitarian efforts in disaster management and response; tracking illegal activities; developing agricultural maps; and monitoring climate change.

“The mission at Planet is quite literally the reason why I pursued aerospace,” said Dhoju. “During the 2015 Nepal earthquake of 7.8 magnitude, I realized how the lack of Nepal’s own satellite caused delays in receiving satellite images to locate the victims. I always wondered how many more lives could have been saved if we had our own earth-imaging satellite.

“This experience introduced me to the aerospace industry, and I have not looked back ever since. One of my ultimate goals in life is to establish an earth-imaging satellite company in Nepal to help with disaster response and management. I think my time at Planet will be the steppingstone of my career.”

During her time at UA, Dhoju has been named an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Diversity Scholar and is currently a project manager with the Alabama Rocketry Association. As the leader of one of the group’s solid rocket teams, her team was selected to compete this summer in the Spaceport America Cup 2022, the largest intercollegiate rocketry competition in the world.

“I identify myself as a triple-minority: a woman in aerospace, an international student in aerospace and one of the few people from my country pursuing aerospace,” said Dhoju. “Receiving this fellowship means inspiring others who look like me to keep fighting and persevering for their dreams.

“It means being a role model that I wished I had growing up. This fellowship helps me celebrate my intersectionality and help others do the same.”

UPDATE – COVID Entry Ban from certain southern African countries – REVOKED 12/31/2021


On November 26, 2021, the U.S. President announced a ban on entry from certain southern Africa countries, citing the appearance of the COVID Omicron variant.  On December 28, 2021, the U.S. President revoked this travel ban under Proclamation 10329.

At present, there are no geographic (i.e. country-specific) COVID Entry Bans to the U.S.


Negative Viral COVID Test Required for All Travelers

Before boarding a flight to the United States, all travelers, regardless of vaccination status or citizenship status (including U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, and international travelers), are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result (i.e., a nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT] or a viral antigen test) taken no more than 1 day before travel.

Children under 2 years old do not need to test. There are also accommodations for people who have documented recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days. Learn more about these requirements.

For more information about CDC COVID Testing Requirement.

To find COVID testing and vaccination resources abroad, please check your country’s Ministry of Health page or this Department of State Country Specific COVID-19 Resource Page.

Vaccinations Required to Enter U.S. Starting November 8


On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-⁠19 Pandemic, which lifts the geographic travel ban restrictions and replaces them with a global requirement that “noncitizens who are nonimmigrants” traveling to the United States by air from any part of the world establish that they are fully vaccinated, with some limited exceptions.

A separate CDC order will also continue to require all air travelers to show results of a negative coronavirus test taken three days (if fully vaccinated) or one day (if not fully vaccinated and entering under an exception) preceding their flight’s departure from a foreign country traveling to the United States.

“Noncitizens who are nonimmigrants” who are traveling by air will have to show both the negative COVID viral test and documentation that they are either fully vaccinated or are eligible for an exception to the vaccination requirement.

Acceptable Vaccines

The CDC webpage Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers lists the approved vaccines as acceptable for this purpose.

Vaccination with a vaccine not on the FDA or WHO Approved lists would not satisfy Presidential Proclamation of October 25, 2021 requirements until the FDA or WHO adds the vaccine to their lists.

Meaning of “Fully Vaccinated”

According to CDC webpage Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers, you are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series COVID-19 vaccine; or
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an “active” (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart*

If you don’t meet these requirements, you are NOT considered fully vaccinated.

Proof of Vaccination

CDC Technical Instructions: Types of Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination state that “Airlines or aircraft operators must confirm that every Covered Individual, unless excepted, has presented Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States from any foreign country. Airlines or aircraft operators must review each passenger’s paper or digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination to confirm:

  • the personal identifiers (at a minimum, full name and date of birth) on the proof of vaccination match the personal identifiers on the passenger’s passport or other travel identification document; AND
  • the passenger meets CDC’s definition of Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19.

CDC Technical Instructions: Types of Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination and Table 1. Acceptable Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination describe acceptable proof and provide examples.


U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. lawful permanent residents (green card holders) are exempt from the vaccination requirement to enter the U.S.

Exceptions – NOTE: Entry to the U.S. under an exception will generally require Vaccination within 60 Days of Arrival.

There are limited exceptions for the vaccination requirement to enter the U.S.  To be able to enter under an exception, a person claiming an Exception must present a completed Excepted Covered Individual Attestation.

Proclamation Section 3(b) also contains a number of important exceptions for certain covered “noncitizens who are nonimmigrants.” Nonimmigrants who are not fully vaccinated but who are traveling by air to the United States under one of the Section 3(b) exceptions are referred to Excepted Covered Individuals in the CDC Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic. In general see CDC Technical Instructions: Procedures for Confirming Documentation of Excepted Covered Individuals Who Do Not Present Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated.

  1. Exceptions for Citizens of a foreign country with valid non-immigrant visas (except B-1/B-2 visas) where the availability of COVID-19 vaccination is limited (defined by the CDC’s List of Foreign Countries with Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Availability)
  2. Exceptions for Noncitizens who are children under 18 years of age, or noncitizens for whom a COVID-19 vaccination is contraindicated or inappropriate.
  3. Exceptions for any noncitizen or group of noncitizens whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees (NOTE: This has not been defined, but it likely will not be the same as the National Interest Exception allowed for students and academics under the prior COVID Travel Bans).
  4. Exceptions for Diplomats, employees of international organizations, and similar.
  5. Other exceptions are possible for participants in COVID Vaccine clinical trials, members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses or children, and C-1 and D crew members.

No exception for religious reasons or other moral convictions – According to CDC FAQs, “there are no exceptions under the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order for religious reasons or other moral convictions.” Likewise, the CDC Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic states: “Objections to vaccination based on religious or moral convictions do not qualify under this or any other exception listed in the Proclamation or this Order.”

60-Day Vaccination Requirement for Excepted Covered Individuals Admitted to the United States Under a 3(b) Exception

Nonimmigrants who enter the U.S. under an exception and are not fully vaccinated (referred to Excepted Covered Individuals in CDC guidance), are required to “…become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arriving in the United States, within some other timeframe as determined by the Director of the CDC, or as soon as medically appropriate as determined by the Director of the CDC, and must provide proof of having arranged to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after arriving in the United States.

Updated COVID-19 Test Requirements – Additional to Vaccine Requirements

On October 25, 2021 CDC amended its original January 25, 2021 Order, titled, “Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States.” The amendment updates COVID-19 testing requirements for air passengers 2 years or older boarding a flight to the United States, depending on COVID-19 vaccination status.

  • Fully vaccinated individuals: A viral COVID test (i.e., a nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT] or a viral antigen test) must be conducted no more than 3 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country.
  • Not fully vaccinated: A viral COVID test (i.e., a nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT] or a viral antigen test)  must be conducted on a sample taken no more than 1 day before the flight’s departure from a foreign country if the traveler does not show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This also includes nonimmigrants who are not fully vaccinated, but who are requesting admission to the United States under an exception to the vaccination requirement of Proclamation of October 25, 2021.

UPDATE – Duration-of-Status Proposed Rule Withdrawn


On July 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published their official withdrawal of the proposed rule to change F and J duration of status periods.

Below is a history of the now withdrawn proposal, and for more detailed information and resources, please see the NAFSA Page on this topic.


On September 25, 2020 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule to change the admission period of F and J nonimmigrants from the current “duration of status” (D/S) period (which is linked to the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019) to a date-certain I-94 Form (which provides an entry date and authorized period of stay).  The proposed rule was highly technical, and received a lot of feedback.  The following is a brief summary of how the withdrawn proposal would have impacted international students’ and scholars’ periods of admission.

  • Would have limited period of status (or authorized stay) to 4 years.  Individuals seeking to enter in F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2 visa status would be admitted into the United States for the length of time indicated on the I-20 or DS-2019, for a period not to exceed four years plus their grace period. This proposed rule also changes the F-1/F-2 grace period from 60 days to 30 days.  J-1/J-2 will continue to have a 30 day grace period. Extensions of stay may be applied for; see additional information below.
  • Certain groups would be limited to 2-year periods of admission instead of 4-year periods of admission. Students limited to this initial 2-year period would have to apply for an extension to stay and complete programs. Those categories include:
    • Individuals from countries on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List (currently North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and Syria).
    • Individuals from countries with greater than 10 percent overstay rate (see table C-4). This list is subject to change and can be updated separately from this rule.
    • Based on U.S. National Interest, for example “students who are enrolled in specific courses of study, such as nuclear science”.
    • Unaccredited schools (F-1 only): The University of Alabama and its Intensive English Program are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools so this part of the rule will not impact UA students.
    • Schools or exchange programs not participating in E-Verify: The University of Alabama is an E-Verify employer so this part of the rule will not impact UA Students.
  • Would have limited English as a Second Language study: F-1 students in language training would be restricted to a lifetime total limit of 24 months of language study, including breaks and annual vacations.
  • Would have limited pursuing F-1 programs at the same educational level: DHS proposes to limit the number of times someone can get a degree at the same educational level (i.e. multiple masters programs) to three for the lifetime of the student
  • Would have limited ‘reverse matriculation” for F-1s: While there are still no limits to how many times a student can change level to a higher degree level (for example, language study > Associates > Bachelors > Masters > PhD) students can only go down a degree level (for example from a PhD to a Master’s) once in F-1 status for the lifetime of the student.
  • Would have required program extensions approved by USCIS instead of ISSS: With a date-certain I-94 record, program extensions would no longer be approved by ISSS and processed with an update to your F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019, but instead would require an application (with fee) to USCIS after a “recommendation” by ISSS.
    • Changes the standard of review for approval of extension:  The new rule would eliminate references to “normal progress” as a grounds for seeking an extension and incorporates a new standard for acceptable reasons for requesting extensions  “1) compelling academic reasons; 2) a documented illness or medical condition; and 3) exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the alien.”  Again, granting extensions would be the sole authority of USCIS under this proposed rule.
    • Implements biometrics requirement for program extensions, meaning that after an application for an extension, F-1 and J-1 students would have to visit a USCIS facility for fingerprints and photographs.
  • Would have created a series of “auto extensions” to account for processing times.  Processing times for Extensions of Stay are historically very long, with current posted processing times of 5 – 7 months.  To, account for long processing times, the proposal has automatic extensions of some authorizations:
    • On-campus employment: F-1 students able to continue to be authorized for on-campus employment while Extension of Stay (EOS) application is pending not to exceed 180 days.
    • Off-Campus Employment (such as Economic Hardship or Special Student Relief): automatic extension for up to 180 days.
    • No International Organization Internships, CPT or Pre-Completion OPT can be recommended or approved after the I-20 expiration date until the EOS has first been approved by USCIS
    • F-1 students applying for Post-Completion OPT must also submit an EOS request, and cannot begin OPT employment until both the OPT and EOS are approved.
    • F-1 students applying for STEM OPT also require an EOS application, but they are able to continue employment for 180 days while both the STEM OPT and EOS are being adjudicated.
    • J-1s would be able to continue working incident to their status while the EOS is pending for up to 240 days.
  • Would have impacted those currently in the U.S.  F and J nonimmigrants who are properly maintaining their status would be authorized to remain in the United States in F and J status until the end date on their Form I-20 or DS-2019, not to exceed a period of 4 years from the final rule’s effective date, plus a grace period of 60 days for F nonimmigrants and 30 days for J nonimmigrants. If they need additional time to complete their current course of study or exchange visitor program, including requests for post completion optional practical training (OPT) or STEM OPT, or would like to start a new course of study, they would have to apply for an extension of stay.



Doctoral Student Brings Bangladeshi Cuisine to UA Community

In celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month, The University of Alabama’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is hosting a cooking demonstration that discusses the history, cultural and familial connection of food to the Bangladeshi people.

Khadiza Tul Jannat, communications doctoral student

Khadiza Tul Jannat, a native of Bangladesh who attends the University as a doctoral student and a graduate research and teaching assistant in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, will cook one of her favorite Bengali dishes on May 17 at 6 p.m.

To receive a link to the free cooking demonstration, registration is required.

This is Jannat’s first time celebrating Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month. She came to the U.S. in 2016 to continue her education and hadn’t heard of the heritage month, but she said she’s excited to celebrate it so she can share her culture with others through food and her passion, dance.

“I definitely want to represent my culture and help us to learn more about each other,” she said. “I think that’s how we become comfortable with each other by celebrating each other’s culture.

“Where I’m from, we all cook. We don’t eat frozen food. My mom cooked and I observed her. I like cooking for sure, but I do other stuff. I love dancing, that’s the main thing. When I dance, I feel like a bird. But cooking is a part of my life.”

Jannat said Bangladesh is known as the land of rivers, and people eat a lot of fresh fish and rice. So, she’s going to make one of the most popular dishes in her country, fish curry.

“It’s hard to find the same fish types here that are in my country, but I’ll be using one of the most popular fish I can find here, which is tilapia. I’ll be using my own recipe cooked in my traditional way. It’s going to be extra spicy, but I’ll be showing everyone how to make it with less or more chilis based on their tolerance for spice.

“When your tummy is happy, everything is happy. So sharing food means sharing happiness. In Asian cultures, we are very much hospitable, and food is one of the best ways to show care. When we care, we show it by doing things more than telling.”

Contact: Jamon Smith, strategic communications,

Updated National Interest Exceptions for China, Iran, European Schengen Zone, UK, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India

On Monday, April 26, 2021, The State Department announced updated National Interest Exceptions for certain travelers from ChinaIranEuropean Schengen ZoneUK and IrelandBrazil, and South Africa.

On Friday, April 30, 2021, The State Department announced that India would also be added to the National Interest Exceptions as they apply to China, Iran, Brazil, and South Africa, meaning that students and academics will only qualify for an NIE if their academic program begins or resumes August 1, 2021 or later.

Please see our Entry Ban section for guidance regarding current COVID-19 Entry Bans.

The basic info:

  • Students and academics subject to COVID-19 Entry Ban proclamations due to their presence in European Schengen Zone, UK or Ireland, may qualify for an NIE now under the previous NIEs put in place in 2020.
  • Students and academics subject to COVID-19 Entry Ban proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, or India may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins or resumes August 1, 2021 or later.  Specifically, the NIE means that the earliest date of arrival or return to UA for Fall 2021 would be July 19, 2021 if coming from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa or India, as it is not possible to qualify for the NIE until 30 days before UA’s Fall 2021 start date on August 18, 2021.
  • F-1 students with valid F-1 visas in their passports do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual National Interest Exception to travel. F-1s receive NIEs automatically based on the valid visa in their passport.
  • J-1 students and scholars, F-1 students applying for new or renewal visas, and H-1B and other academics seeking a National Interest Exception exemption to the Entry Ban, should contact the U.S. Embassy in your country.  Contact information for embassies and consulates worldwide is available at
  • At this time, the National Interest Exceptions do not apply to dependents on F-2, J-2, or H-4 or other dependent visa status.  The NIE only mentions M-2 dependents as being eligible for entry to the U.S. under a National Interest Exception.
  • NOTE: Even with National Interest Exceptions in place for students and academics, visa appointments may not be available.
  • As proof of UA’s plan to offer on-campus instruction, please print this confirmation letter to submit to the Embassy and/or to carry with you to present to Customs and Border Protection at the Port of Entry.
  • Please also make sure to print the Department of State page to take with you in your carry-on bag to board your flight as well as to the Port of Entry.

USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants Filing for OPT

USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765 for OPT


February 26, 2021

USCIS today announced flexibilities for certain foreign students affected by delayed receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. These flexibilities apply only to applications received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, inclusive.

USCIS has experienced delays at certain lockboxes in issuing receipt notices for Form I-765 for optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 students. These delays are a result of COVID-19 restrictions, a dramatic increase in filings of certain benefit requests, postal service volume and delays, and other external factors. While we have made progress in addressing the problem, we are extending the following flexibilities to assist certain applicants for OPT impacted by the delays.

14-month OPT Period Flexibilities

F-1 students may participate in up to 12 months of post-completion OPT, which must be completed within 14 months from the end of their program. Due to the delays at the lockbox, some applicants may only be eligible for a shortened period of OPT within that 14-month period. To allow F-1 students to complete the full period of requested OPT (up to 12 months), USCIS will allow the 14-month period to commence from the date of approval of the Form I-765 for applications for post-completion OPT.

Beginning today, USCIS will approve applications for post-completion OPT with validity dates reflecting the same amount of time originally recommended by the designated school official (DSO) from their school on the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.

F-1 students requesting post-completion OPT who receive an approval of Form I-765 for less than the full amount of OPT time requested (not to exceed 12 months) due to the requirement that the OPT be completed within 14 months of the program end date may request a correction of the EAD due to USCIS error. USCIS will issue a corrected EAD with a new end date, as requested, to cover the full amount of OPT time recommended in the original application.

Refiling Following Rejection

Applicants for OPT must file the Form I-765 during certain timeframes. However, we recognize that due to the lockbox delays, some applicants who timely filed Form I-765 for OPT and whose applications were later rejected are unable to timely refile within the required application timeframes.

USCIS will accept a refiled Form I-765 for OPT and STEM OPT as filed on the original filing date if:

  • The original, timely filed application was received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, inclusive; and
  • USCIS subsequently rejected it.

Refiled applications must be received by May 31, 2021, for USCIS to treat the application as though filed on the original received date.

Applicants refiling a Form I-765 for OPT or STEM OPT do not need to obtain a new Form I-20 with an updated OPT recommendation from the DSO, as long as they originally submitted an application for post-completion OPT within 30 days of the DSO’s recommendation or an application for STEM OPT within 60 days of the DSO’s recommendation as required by the regulations.

Applicants refiling an application should include a copy of the rejection notice to facilitate review of the case.

Missing or Deficient Signatures

Applications with missing or deficient signatures are generally rejected at the lockbox. This policy remains unchanged. However, if the lockbox accepts a Form I-765 application for OPT or STEM OPT with a missing or deficient signature, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence rather than deny the application, to give the applicant the opportunity to respond and provide the necessary signature or correct the deficiency. We encourage applicants filing Form I-765 to review the form instructions on our website to ensure their application is complete before filing it.