One week into her senior year, Natasha Reifenberg headed to an academic health conference in El Salvador, presenting a policy brief based in research she had been involved in for the last two years. An opportunity usually reserved for distinguished academics, the trip was just one of many highlights in an outstanding undergraduate career that includes internships at the Global Fund for Women and United Nations Development Program and independent research opportunities centered around women’s issues and rights. Reifenberg attributes her accomplishments to her education in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters — particularly her philosophy major.
Study & Research Abroad
F and J Students and Study Abroad
International students in F and J status who will engage in research or study outside the U.S. during the fall or spring terms must complete the Study/Research Abroad Request e-form at ISSAlink. This includes graduate students who will be conducting research or working on their dissertation anywhere outside of the U.S. The information collected in this e-form allows ISSA to handle your immigration record properly. Failure to complete this notification process may result in problems or denials at a U.S. port of entry upon the return from a research or study abroad experience.
Please also note: to re-enter the U.S., students need 1) a passport valid for at least 6 months in the future, 2) an unexpired visa, and 3) an I-20 or DS-2019 which has a travel signature which was issued sometime in the past year.
DACA Students and Study Abroad
While there is some evidence of students in DACA status (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) who have left the U.S. on a study abroad program and successfully re-entered the U.S. after the conclusion of the program, study abroad for DACA students is discouraged by the University at this time.
Should a student decide to go ahead with study abroad or an international experience, Notre Dame strongly encourages students to seek the counsel of an immigration attorney before considering this as an option. Please be aware that there are always individuals and attorneys who claim to know about immigration, yet provide incorrect information. Consult an attorney from the American Association of Immigration Lawyers listing and get more than one opinion.
Please note: until we have a clear sense of the incoming U.S. administration's priorities for immigration reform, we highly discourage study abroad or travel abroad for DACA and undocumented students at this time. Please see the below information especially the Potential Risks section.
Students who have received DACA and who wish to study abroad will need to apply to USCIS for “Advance Parole.”
- The application Form I-131 for Advance Parole costs $575 and must be granted prior to departure from the United States.
- Advance parole is only valid until its expiration and students must plan accordingly.
- Upon returning to the United States, a potential parolee would be considered an "applicant for admission" and could still be subject to removal proceedings based upon grounds of inadmissibility, notwithstanding the prior grant of parole.
To go abroad, not only must DACA students obtain Advance Parole, but they must obtain a national passport and the correct visa for entering the study abroad country. Therefore, it is necessary to have the correct paperwork for entering the study abroad country AND the correct paperwork for returning to the United States after the completion of the program.
Potential Risks for DACA Students
It is not possible to enumerate all of the potential risks for DACA students. While this list is not exhaustive, here are some of the more likely risks:
- Students who fail to return prior to the expiration of their advance parole risk not being able to return.
- Students fail to request advance parole early enough before leaving the U.S.
- Immigration reform might take place while students are abroad that requires students to be physically present in the U.S. on a specific date or a specific window or amount of time.
- Advance parole is not a guarantee of reentry into the U.S. and, while unlikely, an immigration official may deny entry at his or her own discretion.
- Difficulty of obtaining your national passport and a visa for the study abroad country, and then not having additional visa or paperwork to travel to other/adjacent countries as a part of the study abroad program or in transit to your study abroad site
- Any issues related to the following: deportation or removal orders, immigration-related fraud, criminal convictions, unauthorized departures from and reentries into the U.S.
PLEASE NOTE: ISSA cannot guarantee re-entry to the United States, even for students participating in an approved University of Notre Dame study abroad program. We will continue to monitor developments in the legislation and practice.
Important: Undocumented students who do not qualify for DACA are advised strongly against studying abroad, due to the risks associated with leaving and re-entering the country. Non-DACA students may not have sufficient immigration documents to apply for entry to a study abroad site or for re-entry to the United States and run the high risk of not being able to return to their academic program of study at the University of Notre Dame.
When Francesco Tassi arrived at Notre Dame, he was sure he would major in finance. But a lecture on refugees set him on a different path — one that led him to travel through Italy for three months to study refugee integration firsthand. Tassi, who was born in Italy and moved to the United States in third grade, traveled widely in high school and spent time living with host families in several countries. Those experiences sparked a passion for learning about and understanding cultures.