Rutgers Global Alerts: COVID-19

The information included here is intended to provide guidance and resources to all members of the Rutgers community regarding issues related to the Covid-19, including travel advisories, immigration policies, and other regulatory updates that impact international students and scholars, as well as domestic students and faculty traveling abroad.

See the Rutgers Global Travel Resources page for additional information about international travel.

Visit the Rutgers Universitywide COVID-19 website for the latest updates from the University.

Letter to International Community from the Office of the President, 4/6/21 +


Dear Members of the Rutgers International Community,
 
We are very much looking forward to welcoming all members of the Rutgers community back to our campuses, which we expect will be this fall. We also recognize that for our international students and scholars abroad, the path to return may be more challenging than for those in the U.S. While New Jersey State and federal health guidelines as well as U.S. immigration and travel policy continue to evolve, Rutgers is firmly committed to assisting you in joining us safely on campus.
 
We appreciate that there are many uncertainties for new international students and visiting scholars as well as those rejoining us, but please be assured we will endeavor to find clear solutions to ensure your safety and academic progress. Each academic program and school where you seek to enroll or rejoin will continue to explore appropriate options for you, including offering remote instruction for some courses, should travelling to the U.S. not be possible.  
 
Thank you for your patience as we work to address the many questions and concerns you have. You will be hearing from us or our colleagues as more information becomes available. In the meantime, you can visit our University COVID-19 and Global Alerts webpages to provide you with additional information; these sites are updated whenever there is new information.
 
We would like to thank you, our valued international students and scholars, for being flexible and resilient under such stressful circumstances. We hope you remain safe and healthy, and we look forward to seeing you on-campus soon.
 
With best regards,
 
Jonathan Holloway
President and University Professor
 
Prabhas V. Moghe
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Distinguished Professor

Fall 2021 Updates for International Students, 4/5/2021 +

Please refer to the following FAQs regarding Rutgers University Fall 2021 operating policy and vaccination updates for International Students.

FAQs (PDF)

Updated: COVID Related International Student FAQs, 4/6/2020 +

COVID Related International Students FAQs Webpage (New Brunswick and RBHS)

Students enrolled in the Newark and Camden campuses, please contact the international student services office on your campus:

•    Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS) – Newark  
•    Office of International Students and Global Programs (OIS) – Camden  
 

CARES Act Stimulus Checks, 3/15/21 +

Stimulus Checks

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in April 2020, the US government introduced the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the US government authorized a second round of Covid-related stimulus payments known as the “Economic Impact Payment” (EIP2).

Although ISSS staff are not qualified to provide specific advice on your tax status or your eligibility to receive the stimulus payment, you can find relevant information and resources below.
 
It is our understanding that most international students and scholars, who are considered “nonresident aliens” for tax purposes, are not eligible to receive this stimulus payment, but some might. If you meet the substantial presence test and are thus considered a resident alien for tax purposes (not the same as permanent resident with a green card) and have an SSN, it appears that you might receive it. For more information, including eligibility requirements, please see the IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center.

Sprintax (a company offering non-resident tax preparation services) has a detailed guide for international students and scholars about the second COVID stimulus payment on their website. Review the guide here.

Erroneous Receipt of CARES Act Stimulus Checks

We understand that a small number of F-1 and J-1 students and scholars at Rutgers may have received the stimulus check in error (most likely because they mistakenly filed their U.S. tax forms as a resident for tax purposes in 2018 or 2019). Please review the information below in case you have mistakenly received a payment. More detailed information and guidance is available on the IRS website

As a reminder, students and scholars who do not meet the IRS definition of "resident alien" are not eligible to receive these funds. 

J-1 scholars are required to have resided in the United States for at least two years before they are considered “resident aliens" for tax purposes.

F-1 and J-1 students are normally considered nonresidents for federal tax purposes during the first five calendar years inside the United States (and this includes previous visa statuses inside the United States). Calculations should include any part of a calendar year. After five years, F-1 and J-1 students are presumed to be residents for federal tax purposes by the IRS. 

International students and scholars who have been in the US for shorter periods of time would not be considered resident aliens and should not have received a rebate. 

The Internal Revenue Service has provided updated instructions for returning funds that have been received in error.

If you are using the Rutgers provided GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) software to file your non-resident Federal tax returns, you will find additional information about stimulus payments, what to do if you incorrectly received one, and how to return it, in the FAQ section once you login to your account. GLACIER also provides information on how to file amended tax returns. If you have specific questions, please contact GTP directly at help@glaciertax.com.
 
For information about correctly filing taxes as a nonresident alien, please see Tax Information on the ISSS website.

USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765 for OPT, 3/2/2021 +

In a positive update from USCIS on February 26, 2021, the agency announced flexibilities for some international students in F-1 status who are affected by delayed receipt notices for their OPT or STEM OPT applications. We hope these flexibilities will ease the hardships we know many of our international students have been facing due to these delays. These accommodations apply only to applications received on or after October 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, inclusive. The main points of the announcement include:
•    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.
•    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. 
•    If a student’s OPT or STEM OPT application was rejected by the USCIS and they are past their eligible window of time to reapply for OPT due to the lockbox delays, they will now be able to refile their application as long as it was timely filed. Refiled applications must be received by May 31, 2021, for USCIS to treat the application as though filed on the original received date.
•    Students 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.
•    Although lockboxes will continue to reject OPT applications with a missing or deficient signature, if such an application is accepted by the lockbox and makes its way to a USCIS adjudicator, USCIS will issue an RFE for the proper signature instead of denying the application.
Full text of the February 26, 2021 USCIS News Alert

Reminders
•    If any of these accommodations apply to your OPT or STEM OPT application, please review the information on the USCIS announcement carefully and follow the instructions as appropriate to your situation. If you have any questions, please contact an ISSS advisor
•    If your OPT/STEM OPT application was rejected and you intend to refile your application based on these new flexibilities, we strongly recommend that you contact an ISSS advisor  prior to mailing out your new application, so we can assist you in the process.
•    If you have already applied for OPT/STEM OPT and your application is pending, there is no need to reapply. 
•    Learn more about OPT/STEM OPT on the Rutgers Global - ISSS website.
Background Information
•    Previous Memo from USCIS Regarding Lockbox Delays - January 8, 2021 - USCIS Lockbox Updates
•    Advocacy on behalf of students affected by the delays
o    January 26, ACE (American Council Education) sent a letter to USCIS on behalf of 37 associations of higher education requesting immediate action.
o    February 24, NAFSA sent recommendations to USCIS
o    Article on Lawsuit filed in Ohio seeks "timely" OPT processing in the US
•    Updates from the Association of International Educators (NAFSA)

Study Abroad & Travel Restrictions, 2/5/2021 +

Rutgers University values the study abroad experience, and university staff have been exploring opportunities for resuming study abroad. Students should review the latest updates on resumption of study abroad below:

Spring 2021

Rutgers University has extended the suspension of study abroad through the Spring 2021 semester. This decision applies to travel-based study abroad programming. Note: Virtual Internship opportunities offered through Rutgers Global, as well as select Study Abroad @ Home Programs (for international students studying in their home countries) are operating.

Summer 2021

In anticipation of future international travel and programming, Rutgers Global–Study Abroad is continuing to recruit and accept students for tentative enrollment in study abroad and internship programs in the Summer 2021 term. However, international travel remains subject to University approval.

As the university currently evaluates the resumption of study abroad for Summer 2021, students are encouraged to review all university updates regarding COVID-19 - https://coronavirus.rutgers.edu

The health and safety of our students, faculty leaders, and partners abroad remains our top priority. Alongside of the University, Rutgers Global will continue to monitor public health advisories, travel regulations, and guidance from fellow institutions surrounding COVID-19 and international travel.

Note: Students will be informed of decisions and next steps as appropriate, however, the university retains the ability to suspend participation at any time.

Fall 2021

The university will also evaluate the resumption of a limited number of study abroad programs for the Fall 2021 semester. More information is forthcoming regarding the operation of travel programs.

Immigration Policy Updates, 2/3/2021 +

The information included here is intended to provide guidance and resources to all members of the Rutgers community regarding recent changes to immigration policy as announced by President Biden’s administration. As more changes are expected, Rutgers Global will keep international students and scholars posted of any updates, and we remain steadfast in supporting our international community during this time of transition.

Preserving and Fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), January 20, 2021 
On January 20, 2021, the Biden Administration released a memorandum to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Published in the Federal Register at 86 FR 7053, the memorandum directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to "take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA."

President Biden Withdraws Proposed Rule to Eliminate H-4 EAD Benefit, January 27, 2021
The Trump administration had previously proposed a new rule to terminate the H-4 EAD benefit (that allows certain spouses of H-1B workers to apply for work authorization).  This rule has now been withdrawn.  Certain H-4 spouses will continue to be eligible to apply for work authorization. Please refer to USCIS’ website for more information about eligibility requirements. 

Upcoming and Proposed Changes to H1-B and Permanent Residence Rules
Additional changes relating to the regulations pertaining to the H-1B and Permanent Residence Sponsorship processes may be forthcoming. There is a possibility that Trump-era rules impacting H-1B salary requirements and H-1B visa prioritization may be blocked.

President Biden has also proposed several measures that may change the way that employment-based immigration visas are allocated and how backlogs are managed and potentially makes it easier for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States. These changes to the Permanent Residence application process would still need to be approved by Congress.

Update to Proposed Rule to Replace Duration of Status (D/S)
On September 25, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule to eliminate duration of status (D/S) for F students and their dependents, J exchange visitors and their dependents. Visit the NAFSA website for a summary of the proposal and the latest updates. 

On January 21, 2021, the Biden Administration issued its Regulatory Freeze memorandum. Because the Trump administration did not publish the final rule on duration of status in the Federal Register, the Biden administration has withdrawn the rule and is not moving forward with its implementation.

For a complete listing of executive actions by President Biden, go to the Presidential Actions listing on whitehouse.gov

You can also review the Association of International Educators (NAFSA)’s Biden Administration Immigration Portal for the latest updates and information. 

FAQs for International Scholars on 6/22/20 US Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Nonimmigrants Holding Certain Work Visas, 1/6/2021 +

We realize our international scholars and faculty have questions about the impact of the 6/22 proclamation. Please click on the link below for a PDF with more information.

FAQs for International Scholars and Faculty on June 22 US Presidential Proclamation Suspending the Entry of Nonimmigrants Holding Certain Work Visas--Updated 1/6/21

Presidential Proclamation Temporarily Suspends Entry of H-1B and Certain J Nonimmigrants to the U.S., Updated 1/11/21 +

On December 31, 2020, the Trump administration extended the expiration date of Proclamation 10052 (which suspends the entry of certain H, J, and L Nonimmigrants) until March 31, 2021.  The Proclamation was originally scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020.  

Background:
On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation suspending entry to the United States of certain foreign nationals in certain temporary visa categories. This proclamation went into effect on June 24, 2020 and will be valid until March 31, 2021. We wanted to let you know how the proclamation will affect Rutgers University’s ability to sponsor and employ certain foreign nationals.

The proclamation extends the effective dates of Proclamation 10014 of April 22, 2020 titled Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak. This proclamation suspends entry of certain new immigrants who do not already have an approved immigrant visa. 

WHO IS AFFECTED?

1.    H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers (and associated dependents
2.    H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers (and associated dependents)
3.    L-1 Intracompany Transferees (and associated dependents)
4.    J-1 Exchange Visitor categories for academic institutions (including their dependent family members) and J Exchange Visitors (and associated dependents), including: Interns, Trainees, Teachers, Camp Counselors, Au Pairs

Note: Rutgers does not sponsor these J-1 categories.

WHO IS NOT AFFECTED?

1.    Individuals seeking to Change their Status (COS)—for example, from F-1 to H-1B or J-1 or those seeking an extension of H-1B status within the U.S.—since they are not required to have a valid visa foil in their passports.
2.    Key J-1 Exchange Visitor categories for academic institutions (including their dependent family members), including: Research Scholar, Professor, Short-Term Scholar, Student (degree & non-degree seeking students)
3.    Those who are inside of the United States in H-1B or J-1 and all other listed statuses as of June 24, 2020;
4.    Those who are outside of the U.S. but already have a nonimmigrant visa (H-1B, H-4, J-1, etc) that is valid as of June 24, 2020; or
5.    Those who have another type of official travel document other than a visa (i.e., advance parole) that is valid as of June 24, 2020 or issued any date thereafter that permits them to the United States and seek entry or admission.
6.    Green card holders (lawful permanent residents)
7.    The spouse or minor child of a US citizen
8.    Anyone “whose entry would be in the national interest” as determined by the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security, including: 

a.    Public health professionals, healthcare professionals, and researchers traveling to the U.S. to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or to conduct ongoing medical research in an area with a substantial public health benefit (e.g. cancer or communicable disease research)
b.    Applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification. The applicant must be continuing employment in a “previously approved employment without change with the same employer.” 
c.    Technical specialists, senior level managers, and other workers whose travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States

The Proclamation does not affect any students in F-1 or J-1 status.  

See text of the presidential proclamation and the Department of State website for the full list of exceptions (including possible waivers for those who are involved with the provision of COVID-19 medical care and those performing medical research to combat COVID-19).  
While we are grateful that the vast majority of our J-1 visitors will be unaffected, this proclamation will continue to impact our incoming H-1B positions and it is therefore important to note that the J-1 category cannot be used for tenure/tenure track positions and should not be used in place of the H-1B status.
Visa Exempt Canadians Are Not Subject to the Proclamation: 

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Headquarters has confirmed that Canadian citizens entering in H, J, or L status are exempt from the Presidential Proclamation issued on 6/22/2020 and that guidance has been provided to local Port Of Entries (POEs). Please note TN status was not affected by the Proclamation therefore, individuals seeking to enter the U.S. on this status may still do so.