Category: Capstone International Services

Honoring Ifeanyi Anyoku

Honoring Ifeanyi Anyoku


On August 10, The University of Alabama community came together to honor international student Ifeanyi Chidubem Prince Anyoku, who tragically passed away on August 5, 2023.


Ifeanyi came to UA from Nigeria in Fall 2022 to pursue his Bachelor’s degree in Biology.


In his time here, Ifeanyi made a tremendous impact on the University, having been named to the academic honors President’s List twice in his first year of study, as an active member of the Blount Scholars Program, the African Students Association, Al’s Pals, Circle K International, the First Baptist Church, and UA Housing and Residential Communities.


These communities came together to share their thoughts and memories of a young man who left too soon.


Many of the attendees left their thoughts and memories, which can be viewed here (View Tributes).


U.S. Visa Fee Increases Take Effect June 17, 2023


On June 17, 2023, the nonimmigrant visa (NIV) application processing fee for visitor visas for business or tourism (B1/B2s and BCCs), and other non-petition based NIVs such as student and exchange visitor visas (F, M, and J visas), will increase from $160 to $185. The fee for certain petition-based NIVs for temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories) will increase from $190 to $205. The fee for a treaty trader, treaty investor, and treaty applicants in a specialty occupation (nonimmigrant E category) visa will increase from $205 to $315. NIV fees paid prior to June 17, 2023, will remain valid through the expiration date of the fee receipt.

NIV fees are set based on the actual cost of providing NIV services and are determined after conducting a study of the cost of these services. The Department uses an Activity-Based Costing (ABC) methodology to calculate, annually, the cost of providing consular services, including visa services. The fees for most non-petition based NIVs were last updated in 2012, and certain other visa fees were last updated in 2014.

This rule does not change any other fees, including the fee to apply for a waiver of the two-year residency requirement for certain exchange visitors, which remains at $120.

Fee information can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website,, and on the websites of U.S. embassies and consulates.

DS-2019s Can Be Sent Electronically



U.S. Department of State Announces Updated Options for Form DS-2019

On March 28, 2023, the Department of State published an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register that permits designated sponsors for the Exchange Visitor Program to digitally sign and electronically transmit Forms DS-2019 to an enumerated list of parties. The new regulation will reduce costs, improve efficiencies for exchange program sponsors, and streamline Department of State exchange visitor visa processing. While the rule goes into effect on April 27, 2023, the Department of State will accept public comments on the rule until May 30, 2023.

The Form DS-2019 is the controlled document used by the Department of State to administer the Exchange Visitor Program. Exchange visitors and their accompanying spouses or dependents, if any, must present paper Forms DS-2019 to apply for nonimmigrant J visas at U.S. embassies or consulates. Exchange visitors must obtain J-1 visas and accompanying spouses or dependents, if any, must obtain J-2 visas to enter the United States. They must carry their Forms DS-2019 to the U.S. port of entry and present their passports, visas, and Forms DS-2019 to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to seek entry into the United States.

Prior to April 27, 2023, sponsors had to sign paper Forms DS-2019 in blue ink and mail them to prospective exchange visitors. With the publication of the Interim Final Rule, sponsors may continue to mail paper copies of Forms DS-2019, but no longer must sign them in blue ink. In addition, the Interim Final Rule offers two new options:

  • Sponsors may print and physically sign paper forms in ink (blue ink not required), scan and save them (e.g., as portable document format (PDF) files), and electronically transmit them (e.g., via email).
  • Sponsors may use digital signature software to sign Forms DS-2019 and then electronically transmit them (e.g., via email) or mail them.

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.

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 – 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,

Indefinite Entry Bars Rescinded

On Wednesday, January 20, 2021, President Biden issued a Proclamation Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States.

This action rescinds prior executive orders 9983 issued on Friday, January 31, 2020 and 9645 issued on September 24, 2017 which impacted citizens of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.

For a breakdown of how the now-revoked Executive Orders’ impacted travel for all 13 countries please look here:


Changes to H-1B and Prevailing Wages – UPDATED DECEMBER 1


Effective October 19, 2020 the premium processing fee will be $2,500 for premium processing requests on H-1B Petitions, I-140 cases and other types of employment petitions, as authorized by the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act signed into law on October 1, 2020.

For more information, see USCIS’s October 16, 2020 announcement. Prior to October 19, 2020, the premium processing fee had been set at $1,440 since December 2, 2019 by 84 FR 58303.

UA International Student & Scholar Services has updated its H-1B Packet and pages with the updated Premium Processing fee.  Please use the most recent H-1B Packet when processing filing fee requests for H-1Bs going forward.


On December 1, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgement, and set aside both the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security interim final rules. This blocks both rules from being enforced or implementedRead the court’s order and judgement, which found that the agencies did not have just cause to promulgate the rules without notice and comment. The case is Chamber of Commerce et al. v. DHS et al., Case No. 4:20-CV-7331 (N.D. Ca., October 19, 2020).

On October 8, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) published an interim final rule (IFR) titled Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States.

The rule changes how DOL computes Level I through Level IV wage rates when it uses Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage data to make a National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC) prevailing wage determination or to certify an LCA that relies on OES wage data.

The interim final rule went into effect on the date of publication, October 8, 2020.

In short, the rule meant that official prevailing wages which we use for H-1B petitions and which are required for labor-based Permanent Residency/Green Card filings was higher for many positions.

With the court decision on December 1 striking the rule down, it means that going forward, UA can rely on previous prevailing wages that were in effect prior to October 8, and can rest assured knowing that H-1B regulations won’t prohibit our sponsorship of staff or faculty positions.


On December 1, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgement, and set aside both the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security interim final rules. This blocks both rules from being enforced or implementedRead the court’s order and judgement, which found that the agencies did not have just cause to promulgate the rules without notice and comment. The case is Chamber of Commerce et al. v. DHS et al., Case No. 4:20-CV-7331 (N.D. Ca., October 19, 2020).

On October 8, 2020, DHS published an interim final rule (IFR) titled Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program.

The new rule would have gone into effect on December 7, 2020.

Changes include revised definitions of and standards for a “specialty occupation” that make use of the H-1B category for staff positions more challenging.

This rule amends the definition of a “specialty occupation” at 8 CFR 214.2(h)(4)(ii) to clarify that there must be a direct relationship between the required degree field(s) and the duties of the position.

Additionally, the rule changes the qualification as a “specialty occupation” to require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for all positions.

The changes would have impacted future filings, extensions, and amendments of H-1Bs.  The primary impact would have been to our ability to sponsor non-teaching staff positions in the future.

With the court decision on December 1 striking the rule down, it means that going forward, UA can rely on previous prevailing wages that were in effect prior to October 8, and can rest assured knowing that H-1B regulations won’t prohibit our sponsorship of staff or faculty positions.