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.

FAQs on Geographic COVID-19 Proclamations Affecting Entry from Certain Countries, 6/10/2021 +

There are several geographic-based COVID-19 Presidential Proclamations in effect that restrict nonimmigrant visa issuance and travel to the U.S.  We have updated these FAQs based on the travel restrictions that are effective as of 6/10/2021.

FAQs on Geographic COVID-19 Presidential Proclamations--Updated 6/10/21 (PDF)

Vaccination Policy Update for International Students, 5/28/21 +

Rutgers has updated its vaccination policy as of May 28, 2021.
 
COVID-19 incidence rates in New Jersey have markedly decreased and are likely to continue to decrease in the coming weeks.  Therefore, for international students outside of the US who cannot receive a US FDA EUA-authorized vaccine (currently Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Janssen-J&J), and who have been vaccinated in their home country, Rutgers will now accept proof of vaccination by a World Health Organization (WHO) authorized vaccine (e.g., AstraZeneca, SinoPharm BIBP). The relevant vaccination records must be uploaded to the Rutgers Immunization Portal at rutgers.medicatconnect.com.  
  
Rutgers will also continue to offer US FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines to international students upon arrival at no cost, as previously noted, for those that have not yet been vaccinated with an US FDA-authorized vaccine. International students (in F-1 and J-1 visa status) may enter the country no more than 30 days prior to the start of the fall term. To ensure that students who need to be vaccinated upon arrival are able to do so and to allow for necessary vaccination wait times and quarantine, the university is in the process of developing interim housing space in August. 
  
Rutgers continues to closely monitor both the science of COVID-19 vaccination (including the effectiveness of WHO-authorized vaccines and the safety/effectiveness of boosting with an FDA-authorized vaccine), as well as COVID-19 rates regionally and globally. This information may inform future changes or updates of the Rutgers vaccination or re-vaccination policies. 
  
The health and safety of our students and all members of the Rutgers community is the driving force behind the Rutgers vaccine policies. We encourage all eligible international students abroad to seek out and receive COVID-19 vaccines that are internationally approved, if at all possible. 
  
Additional information and details will be provided in the coming weeks.

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

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.