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 coronavirus, including travel advisories, immigration policies, and other regulatory updates that impact international students and scholars, as well as domestic students and faculty traveling abroad.

Visit the Rutgers Global Travel Resources page (https://global.rutgers.edu/travel-resources) for additional information.

Rutgers Return to Work Policy 9/11/2020 +

Research is foundational to Rutgers University’s mission, reputation and future. We are all eager to welcome you to Rutgers, whether you are new or returning. In preparation, Rutgers has carefully worked on detailed guidelines which will enable you to begin or to safely return to research as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides in New Jersey. The guidelines have been designed to protect each researcher individually as well as the health and safety of the larger university and community.


Please look at returning to Rutgers document, which details the institutional plan for restart. Information specific to returning to research, found on pages 150-182, will help you understand overall protocols and guidelines. In collaboration with their department chairs and deans, faculty have developed strategies specific to their research that ensure the highest possible compliance with the requirements of these guidelines. To this end, your Principal Investigator (PI) has implemented individual plans in their area for you. New and/or returning researchers who have successfully completed their COVID-19 tests are also required to take the mandatory REHS COVID-19 safety training for returning to research: https://myrehs.rutgers.edu/online_training/covid19/

 
The following are some conditions for Return of Research to Campus:


• Wear face coverings whenever inside a university building or other research facility, except when alone in a private office.
• Maintain 6-foot physical separation between all individuals. In the rare cases in which this is not possible, those situations should be kept to the shortest time possible.
• Use appropriate protective equipment as required by the specific nature of the research activity.
• Clean research equipment and “high-touch” surfaces in shared spaces. Shared equipment should be cleaned by each user, using appropriate disinfectants provided by the university, both before use begins and after it is completed. Similarly, researchers and staff should frequently clean “high-touch” surfaces (e.g., door handles, drawer handles, faucets, etc.) in shared spaces. The university will increase regular cleaning of common areas, but not scientific or other specialized equipment.
• Maintain good personal hygiene. This includes washing hands for at least 20 seconds with antibacterial soap upon entering and before exiting all buildings regularly throughout the day and, using hand sanitizer when hand-washing facilities are unavailable, and covering coughs and sneezes.
• Ensure symptomatic colleagues stay or return home as soon as symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, difficulty breathing) develop.
• Comply with the daily symptom check protocol as described in Returning to Rutgers.
• Comply with the university’s policies and applicable law on testing for COVID-19, tracing people who may have been exposed to it, and quarantining people who test positive for COVID-19 or who are likely to have been exposed to it.
• Participate in a “buddy” safety system so that any researcher working alone in a research facility in which dangerous chemicals, equipment, or other materials are used has an identified “buddy” working elsewhere nearby in the building or who is in contact electronically and is aware of the researcher’s presence in the facility.
• For field work and other research conducted in facilities under the control of an entity other than Rutgers, researchers must comply with the policies of that third party and with applicable law in that jurisdiction, in addition to the Returning to Rutgers guidelines.
• Should COVID-19 infection rates increase at the University or within New Jersey, Rutgers may re-activate measures that lower the presence of students, faculty and staff on campus.

International Faculty and Scholars traveling from international locations, as well as those from the NJ restricted travel states are strongly advised to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in NJ. Please visit the NJ State’s COVID-19 Information HUB for detailed information. Additional testing information can be found at: http://health.rutgers.edu/general-resources/covid-19-testing/

COVID Testing and Quarantine Requirements for International Students, 8/19/2020 +

Please read this important alert for international students.

COVID Testing and Quarantine Requirements for International Students, 8/19/2020

FAQs for International Scholars on 6/22/20 US Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Nonimmigrants Holding Certain Work Visas, 8/18/20 +

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 8/17/20

Presidential Proclamation Temporarily Suspends Entry of H-1B and Certain J Nonimmigrants to the U.S., Updated 8/18/20 +

On August 12, the Department of Sate posted guidance on national interest waivers of Proclamation 10052 for H-1B visa applicants. For more information on national interest waivers under Proclamation 10052, see National Interest Exceptions to Presidential Proclamations 10014 & 10052. Note that the proclamation does not limit national interest waivers to these bases, so DOS and DHS retain full discretion to determine what constitutes "national interest" in individual cases.

We have therefore updated this posting in order to incorporate the Department of State’s new guidance regarding the National Interest Exceptions. You will find the updates in #8 below.

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 December 31, 2020. 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 suspended entry of certain new immigrants who do not already have an approved immigrant visa. It was originally valid for 60 days, until June 22, 2020. The new proclamation extends the period for an additional six (6) months, until December 31, 2020. 

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

See text of the presidential proclamation 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 have an impact on 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. 

Guidance for International Students on July 24 ICE/SEVP Updates, 7/30/20 +

On July 24, 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued Clarifying Questions for Fall 2020. On July 15, ICE also updated its FAQs about COVID-19.

This document represents our interpretation of the latest ICE guidance and regulations.
 

FAQs for International Students on F-1 and J-1 Visas - 7/30/2020 +

U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Update (No Major Impact on TN Nonimmigrant Category for Canadian and Mexican Professionals), 7/14/20 +

On July 1, 2020, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) went into effect, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  NAFTA contained immigration provisions that authorized the temporary entry of certain professionals who are citizens of Canada or Mexico (otherwise known as the “TN nonimmigrant classification”).  

The USMCA replicates the same immigration provisions as NAFTA.  No new occupational categories were added, and the qualifications for each occupational category were not changed.  

The U.S. immigration agencies responsible for administering the TN program have not yet issued any new guidance or regulations relating to the USMCA, as such, and we will continue to follow the current TN requirements. We will issue an alert if there are any changes.  

For more information on the current TN requirements, please refer to: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/employment/visas-canadian-mexican-nafta-professional-workers.html and https://www.cbp.gov/travel/canadian-and-mexican-citizens.    
 

Rutgers Global Interpretation of SEVP/ICE Broadcast Message for Faculty & Staff, 7/8/20 +

Please note: On July 14, the federal government rescinded the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance barring international students in F-1 status from pursuing a fully online course load while staying in the US and maintaining their legal status, reverting to the March 9, 2020 and March 13, 2020 guidance. 

ICE Guidance Overturned - July 14, 2020
 
On July 6, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published a “Broadcast
Message” on remote instruction at U.S. universities during the fall 2020 semester, particularly as
it relates to the legal status of international students in F-1 status and their eligibility to enter or
stay in the United States. This new guidance modifies the previous flexibility announced in
March that permitted international students to take all courses online during the spring and
summer terms (more than the traditional limit of one course/three credit hours online) while in
the U.S. or overseas. Please see this message for further information.

Rutgers Global Interpretation of SEVP/ICE Broadcast Message

Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China, 5/29/20 +

We understand that President Trump’s May 29th Proclamation has raised concerns for many within our international Rutgers community. Rutgers greatly values and stands in support of our international students and scholars. While we do not yet have many answers as to how this Proclamation will affect Rutgers people, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and share information as it becomes available. 

Please see the highlights of this Proclamation below:

Effective at 12:00 p.m. EDT on June 1, 2020, and will stay in effect until terminated by the President. 

Suspends entry into the United States certain Chinese nationals with F or J visas to study or conduct research in the U.S. The suspension applies to individuals who are affiliated with an entity in China that implements or supports the PRC’s “military fusion” strategy through funding, employment, studies, or research. 

Definition of “military-civil fusion” strategy: "actions by or at the behest of the PRC to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance the PRC's military capabilities." The “entities” that implement or support this strategy are not defined in the proclamation. 

The proclamation does not apply to the following:

Section 1 of the proclamation exempts undergraduate students 

Section 2 provides the following additional exceptions to the order: 

  • Lawful permanent residents of the U.S. 
  • The spouse of a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Individuals currently in the U.S. studying or conducting research that are not affiliated with the PRC’s military‑civil fusion strategy (as determined by the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies)
  • Members of the United States Armed Forces and their spouse and children
  • Individuals "whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement or who would otherwise be allowed entry into the United States pursuant to United States obligations under applicable international agreements"
  • Individuals "whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee"
  • Individuals "whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees."

The Secretary of State has the discretion to determine whether Chinese nationals on F and J visas currently in the U.S. who meet the criteria outlined in the order should face visa revocation.

There is no guidance to institutions yet on the implementation of this Proclamation. The Secretary of State will identify individuals covered by this proclamation as well as those that may be excluded based on criteria outlined in the proclamation. The policies and guidelines for implementation will be determined by the Secretary of State for visas and the Secretary of Homeland Security for the purposes of entry into the United States. 

At this time, this order does not apply to immigrant visas, or other classifications of non-immigrant visas. However, the proclamation directs the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, within 60 days, to review non-immigrant and immigrant programs and recommend to the President any other measures that "would mitigate the risk posed by the PRC's acquisition of sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property."

Useful resource for a detailed summary of the Presidential Proclamation:
Association of International Educators (NAFSA)’s summary of the Proclamation