COVID-19 Related International Student FAQs

This page contains answers to frequently asked questions and useful resources to help international students at Rutgers. Please be aware that federal and state COVID-19 health guidance, immigration and travel regulations, and Rutgers policies continue to evolve, and we will update this page and share additional information as it becomes available. We encourage students to stay informed and regularly track the news, government websites, and Rutgers websites, including this one.

University and Government Announcements and Resources

For questions about the COVID vaccine mandate contact covidvax411@rbhs.rutgers.edu.

International Student FAQs

Rutgers University Operating Policy and Vaccination Updates for International Students

When is International Student Orientation? +

All new international first-year and transfer students are required to attend our International Student Orientation (ISO). This mandatory program will be offered in a virtual format for all incoming students for the Spring 2022 semester. More information about the ISO is available on the ISO webpage https://go.rutgers.edu/springiso.

New International graduate students are advised to contact their academic program for information on school-specific orientation activities for international graduate students.

When will the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) with UnitedHealthcare Student Resources (UHCSR) become effective? +

The effective/termination dates and waiver/enrollment steps differ according to Student type: 

1) TAs/GAs, Post Doctorate, Graduate Fellows and RBHS should visit https://riskmanagement.rutgers.edu/student-information/rutgers-university-student-health-insurance for specific details.

2) The Fall 2022 policy for ALL OTHER Graduate and Undergraduate students begins 8/15/2022, even if you register for classes after the effective date.

Students are required to waive or enroll in the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) each semester before the deadline. Visit www.universityhealthplans.com

If you arrive in the United States and need medical care prior to the effective policies dates with the SHIP, please consider purchasing temporary and alternate coverage. 

For more information about health insurance plans, the waiver process, and additional details, please visit the Rutgers Global Health Insurance webpage.

How do the university's Spring 2022 plans impact international students? +

Rutgers is still planning to welcome all students to campus for the Fall 2022 semester. For international students who are unable to attend classes in-person because of visa, travel or health-related circumstances, Rutgers is committed to helping our international students continue their studies and attain their academic goals. Please discuss your academic schedule and plan with your program/school. Please be assured that Rutgers will continue to support you in your educational journey, on-campus as well as online when possible. Please note that university guidelines may change given the rapidly evolving COVID situation, and all members of the University community are encouraged to visit the Campus Operating Status webpage for the most up-to-date information.

In advance of arriving in New Jersey, please review the latest travel guidelines and resources and factor in time to receive the COVID vaccine (if you are not already vaccinated) and quarantine (if needed in your case).

Please note that as public health guidelines continue to evolve, additional information will be provided on changes/updates to this policy. 

When should I arrive in order to start my semester on time? +

Based on current guidance, international students with an F-1 or J-1 visa may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the program start date indicated on their I-20 or DS-2019 forms. 

Rutgers Global ISSS would like to offer the following recommendations:

  • For continuing students who are outside the U.S. and who plan to come to the U.S. for the fall semester, plan to enter the U.S. before September 6 in order to attend in-person classes beginning September 6.
     
  • Students who cannot enter before September 6 should consider remote instruction, take a leave of absence, or defer their admission to a future semester, if possible. Please discuss these options with your academic program/school.
     
  • Students with initial SEVIS records should plan to arrive in time for attending International Student Orientation, which starts on Monday, August 29. Students with initial SEVIS records are also required to complete check-in upon entry to the U.S. We are required to report each student in SEVIS no later than 30 days after the initial session start date (September 6, 2022) which means that students must be inside the U.S. and complete all necessary processes in order to be in compliance with federal regulations no later than October 6, 2022. While this is the deadline for SEVIS reporting, students are expected to be on-campus for in-person classes starting September 6, 2022, unless approved by their academic unit for remote instruction, participating in an official Rutgers program abroad, or specifically approved for delayed arrival.

New International graduate students are advised to contact their academic program for information on school-specific orientation activities for international graduate students.

What is the Impact of Rutgers COVID vaccine compliance on registration and access to university systems? +

Students who enrolled from outside the U.S. for the Spring 2022 semester were granted a COVID vaccine waiver for the semester. This waiver will expire on September 6, 2022. If you are planning to come to the U.S. for the Fall 2022 semester, please make sure you submit your vaccination report through the Rutgers Immunization Portal as soon as possible. Students who are not compliant with the vaccine requirement will be blocked from accessing campus systems including registration. 

If you are enrolling from outside the U.S. for the Fall 2022 semester, please inform ISSS through the Fall 2022 International Student Plans survey that you will receive in your Rutgers email account over the summer

Which COVID-19 vaccines will fulfill the Rutgers proof-of-COVID vaccination requirement? +

Each student will be required to be vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For students outside of the U.S. who cannot receive a USFDA-authorized vaccine, Rutgers will accept proof of vaccination by a World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccine. The list of currently approved vaccines includes:

  • Pfizer–BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • Johnson & Johnson/Jansenn
  • Oxford–AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria, Covishield)
  • Sinopharm–BIBP
  • Sinovac
  • Covaxin

The university is now requiring that all vaccinated students obtain a booster vaccination as soon as eligible. Eligibility for a booster is defined as six months after the last mRNA vaccine or two months after a J&J vaccine. All newly admitted students for Fall 2022 must submit all required immunization documentation (including COVID-19 vaccination and booster) to the Rutgers Student Immunization Portal, by June 1, 2022. More information on scheduling a booster at the university can be found here. Students with approved medical or religious exemptions are excused from the booster requirement.  

What if I cannot get a vaccination where I live (in the US or abroad), will I be able to get the COVID-19 vaccination when I get to the US? +

All nonimmigrant international travelers arriving to the U.S. by air must establish that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Please review the latest travel requirements as you plan travel. Unless you qualify for an exception to this policy, you will need to be fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved COVID vaccine prior to entering the U.S. 

If you do qualify for an exception to this policy, you may get vaccinated upon arrival in the U.S. Rutgers has received approval from the State of New Jersey to administer authorized COVID-19 vaccines at our three campus locations. If you need a COVID vaccine upon arrival, please make an appointment as soon as possible (at a vaccination site near you, or a  local vaccination location if in NJ, or at a Rutgers site) and get your dose as soon as possible after you arrive. Please note that you will be considered vaccine compliant only after you have uploaded documentation of your complete vaccination series to the Rutgers Student Immunization Portal and the documentation has been verified.

Appointments are offered at https://rtr.ipo.rutgers.edu/vaccines/

Where/how can I upload my proof of vaccination? +

Students who have received one of the approved vaccines either abroad or in the U.S. should submit proof of vaccination through the Rutgers Student Immunization portal by following the instructions for submitting proof of immunizations on the Health Services website. Students who have received a WHO-approved vaccine will not need to be revaccinated. They will not need to quarantine upon arrival. Students who received a vaccine not approved by the FDA may receive a booster with an FDA-approved vaccine at Rutgers 4 weeks after their last dose.

Review detailed instructions and information including FAQs, on the Rutgers University COVID Vaccine information page, with links to the CDC and Department of Health.

I will receive my vaccine (first dose) when I get to the US. What steps do I need to follow? +

Please confirm if you are able to travel to the U.S. based on the latest travel requirements and guidelines. All nonimmigrant international travelers arriving to the U.S. by air must establish that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Unless you qualify for an exception to this policy, you will need to be fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved COVID vaccine prior to entering the U.S. 

If you are able to travel to the U.S. and get vaccinated after arrival, international students who are unvaccinated or vaccinated with a non-WHO or non-FDA authorized vaccine, may choose the J&J vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. While the other vaccines are available, they require 2 doses. You may also choose to get vaccinated with the J&J vaccine upon arrival and receive a booster 2 months later with Pfizer or Moderna. Contact covidvax411@rbhs.rutgers.edu for guidance on when you may enter campus if you'll receive Pfizer or Moderna. Make an appointment as soon as possible (at a vaccination site near you, or a  local vaccination location if in NJ, or at a Rutgers site) and get your vaccine as soon as possible after you arrive.

Please consider the timing of your arrival if you are getting vaccinated upon arrival. The fall semester will begin on September 6. You should be vaccine compliant to have full access to campus systems. Also note, if you are arriving early to get your vaccination, you will need to make your own arrangements for accommodations in the U.S.

What if I can only get one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine that requires 2 doses before I arrive in the US? +

We strongly encourage all eligible students to immediately seek out and receive COVID-19 vaccines that are nationally approved. Rutgers encourages students and all members of the Rutgers community to prioritize their health. 

If you receive an incomplete series of an FDA or WHO-approved vaccine prior to arrival, a second dose will be provided to you upon arrival. 

If you receive one dose of a non-FDA or non-WHO approved vaccine prior to arrival, you will need to be vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine once you arrive. 

If you have been partially vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, you may receive any one of the 3 vaccines available in the U.S. 28 days after your last WHO-approved dose. 

If you have been fully vaccinated with a WHO or FDA-approved vaccine, you may receive a booster vaccination upon arrival. 

I have uploaded my COVID vaccination information on the Rutgers immunization portal, but I can only get the booster shot upon arrival. Can I still move-in to my on-campus housing assignment when I arrive? +

Rutgers University requires that all vaccinated students obtain a booster vaccination as soon as eligible. Eligibility for a booster is defined as six months after the last mRNA vaccine or two months after a J&J vaccine. We understand that many international students may not be able to get a booster until their arrival in the U.S. You should plan on getting your booster at the earliest possible upon arrival. If you fail to comply with this requirement, you will not be allowed to remain in on-campus residence halls.

More information on scheduling a booster at the university can be found here.

Are there quarantine requirements for students who cannot get the booster pre-arrival? +

No, there are no quarantine requirements. However, you must be fully vaccinated (other than the booster) and verified through the immunization portal to be allowed to reside on-campus. You must get the booster at the earliest possible upon arrival to be allowed to remain in on-campus housing.

Will I have to pay to be vaccinated in the US? +

No. The US federal government is providing the COVID-19 vaccination free of charge, regardless of immigration or health insurance status.

My vaccination report is not in English. Will Rutgers accept a translation? +

We understand that some students may have vaccination records/reports in a different language than English. If your vaccination report is not in English, please upload a physician’s translation or official translation of the report, along with a copy of the original version. The health services staff will evaluate these reports and work with students should there be any difficulties in securing appropriate translations.

What is the deadline to submit the proof of vaccination? +

The university is now requiring that all vaccinated students obtain a booster vaccination as soon as eligible. Eligibility for a booster is defined as six months after the last mRNA vaccine or two months after a J&J vaccine.

All newly admitted students for Fall 2022 must submit all required immunization documentation (including COVID-19 vaccination and booster) to the Rutgers Student Immunization Portal, by June 1, 2022. A valid NetID and password are required. Medical or religious exemption requests may be submitted by enrolled students via a form on the Rutgers Student Immunization Portal. Exemption requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis; they are NOT automatically granted. More information on scheduling a booster at the university can be found here. Students with approved medical or religious exemptions are excused from the booster requirement.  

Please complete all other immunization requirements and submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination once you have received the vaccine. If you have received or when you receive even one dose of the COVID vaccine, please upload that information at the earliest - UPLOAD WHAT YOU HAVE, FINISH THE REST LATER!

Students who do not upload their vaccination information will be blocked from registration or their registration may be dropped. Please contact us at ISSS-students@global.rutgers.edu inform us if you are enrolling from overseas for the Fall 2022 term. We will use this information to request a temporary vaccination waiver for you.

I will be enrolling from outside the US for the Fall 2022 semester. Do I still need to upload proof of vaccination? +

If you have a fully online schedule for the Fall 2022 semester, and will remain abroad for the full semester, you will be granted a temporary waiver from uploading your immunization information (including the COVID vaccine information). Please notify us at ISSS-students@global.rutgers.edu of where you will be enrolling from abroad and this information will be used to process your temporary waiver.

Are there any exemptions to the vaccine requirement at Rutgers? +

Students may request an exemption from showing proof of vaccination for medical or religious reasons. More information on exemptions can be found on the Rutgers Immunization Portal

When is International Student Orientation? +

All new international first-year and transfer students are required to attend our International Student Orientation (ISO). This mandatory program will be offered in-person for all incoming students for the Fall 2022 semester. More information about the ISO will be available on the ISO webpage this summer.

New International graduate students are advised to contact their academic program for information on school-specific orientation activities for international graduate students.

Immigration Status: Current/Continuing Students

How does the current government policy and Rutgers mode of instruction affect my immigration status? +

SEVP confirmed on April 18, 2022 that guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the COVID-19 emergency is extended for the 2022-2023 academic year. Based on current guidance, continuing students who are in active SEVIS status, whether inside the U.S. or abroad, can continue to maintain their legal status and enroll in 100% online coursework or any combination of in-person and online study to maintain legal status.

New international students and students who started their programs from overseas are eligible to apply for a visa and enter the U.S. to attend in-person classes. However, new students may not enroll in 100% online courses if they will be in the U.S. 

Can I take all online classes in Fall 2022 or do I need any hybrid/in-person classes? +

SEVP confirmed on April 18, 2022 that guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the COVID-19 emergency is extended for the 2022-2023 academic year. 

Continuing students who were in active F or J status on March 9, 2020 when modifications for COVID-19 became effective are able to maintain their immigration status while studying entirely online in the US or abroad, provided they continue to be enrolled full-time and are making normal progress toward their degree. Note that if you are in your final semester you are permitted to be less than full-time and maintain status if you do not require a full-time course load to complete degree requirements. 

New students who arrive in the US after March 9, 2020 with an initial I-20/DS-2019 are not covered by this guidance. They continue to enroll in at least one hybrid/in-person course to maintain your visa status in the US. Note that your F-1 status is not activated until you enter the US. The F-1 regulations do not apply to new students who have not yet arrived in the US. Additionally, students who were NOT in active status prior to March 9th 2020, are not able to take all online courses in their final semester.

Will I be able to maintain my SEVIS status if I have been outside the US for more than 5 months? +

Yes, students who leave the country, but remain enrolled full-time making normal progress towards their degree by participating in modified modes of instruction (as offered by the university) will be considered to be in "active" SEVIS status. In this case, SEVIS records for students who are outside the U.S. but maintaining their legal status will remain active. This is a temporary measure put in place by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) due to COVID and is subject to change.

Please note that if a student withdraws from his/her program, the usual five-month rule would apply to their SEVIS status.

I would like to take a gap semester/year, what should I do? +

F-1 regulations refer to a gap semester or year as a Leave of Absence (LOA). If you are considering an LOA, contact the ISSS office for case-specific advice as this decision can have a significant impact on your F-1 student status. To initiate the process you will need to contact your program/school. Please review our website information on Leave of Absence or Withdrawal and returning to Rutgers.

I am an F-1/J-1 student inside the US and in my final semester of study at Rutgers. What are my options at this time? +

Graduating students have the following options: 

* Optional Practical Training (OPT)/ Academic Training

* Transfer to a New Institution/Program

* Change of Status

* Leave the Country within the Grace Period

F-1 and J-1 students have a grace period, following the end of their programs which enables them to remain in the U.S. legally during this time. 

* F-1 students - 60 days after degree completion date

* J-1 students - 30 days after degree completion date

Detailed information about these post-graduation options can be found on the ISSS website under Graduating Students.

I am an international student in my final semester, currently abroad and I cannot return to the US due to travel restrictions. Can I return after the situation stabilizes? +

International students who were expecting Spring 2022 to be their final semester of study and are not able to complete their programs should apply for an extension of their SEVIS program, if eligible.

International students who are unable to return to the U.S. and in their final semester of study (completing their programs while overseas) are faced with the possibility of losing their ability to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 students or Academic Training for J-1 students. There is currently no regulatory relief for students caught in this situation.

Please note that even if you have an I-20/DS-2019 valid until a later date, if you have completed all your program requirements, your status will only be valid while you are actively pursuing a program of study (degree). Students intending to continue their study in the U.S. may return with a new I-20 for that program. If you would like to return for any other purposes, you would need to do so with another visa classification (such as the B-2 visitor visa).

I am an international student in F-1/J-1 status and have submitted an application to ISSS for processing. When and how will I receive my new I-20/DS-2019? +

As of November 1, 2021, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has made permanent its policy allowing DSOs to electronically sign and send the Form I-20. This new guidance is no longer a temporary accommodation in response to the COVID pandemic. Under the new guidance, DSOs may electronically sign all signature fields on the Form I-20 using software programs or applications, or by using electronically reproduced copies of a personal signature. Additionally, school officials may scan and email or electronically transmit the Form I-20 via a secure platform, such as a school portal or other secure site, to F-1 students and their dependents. The full guidance can be found here.

Please note that although ISSS Advisers are now allowed to electronically sign and transmit the Form I-20, upon receipt of your I-20, you are still required to print it and sign with ink to present at any required visa interview and upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry. Please make sure to always carry a printed copy of your I-20 as showing the document in electronic version to a government official is still not acceptable.

Moreover, please be advised that SEVP implemented this permanent policy in coordination with its government partners within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of State and US Social Security Administration. If a student encounters an issue with a government partner accepting an electronically signed Form I-20 or has questions about this guidance, please contact an ISSS advisor, and also contact the SEVP Response Center (SRC) via email at SEVP@ice.dhs.gov or via phone at 703-603-3400 or 800-892-4829. The SRC is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, except federal holidays. 

This new guidance does not apply to J-1 students, as SEVP still requires that the form DS-2019 be printed and signed with an original signature by the ARO (Alternate Responsible Officer). If you require a physical I-20/DS-2019 for a specific reason, please notify the ISSS advisor processing your application and our office will work on these requests on a case by case basis.

What are the implications of the Biden presidency on government policies impacting international students? +

We are closely monitoring 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.

Review a summary of updates on the Rutgers Global Alerts page.

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

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

Immigration Status: New Students (Including students who started their programs outside the U.S. in Fall 2020)

I enrolled in Spring 2022 remotely and expect to be on campus in Fall 2022. When do I apply for my visa? +

You should apply for a visa when a visa appointment is available at the embassy or consulate close to you. However, you will need an updated I-20/DS-2019 document from Rutgers to show a deferred start date. Updated or new I-20s for Spring 2022 have been issued to students who needed them; please check your Rutgers email for updates in this regard. You should have received an email notifying you that your I-20/DS-2019 is ready.

How does the current government policy and Rutgers’ method of instruction affect my immigration status and my ability to come to the US for Spring 2022? +

SEVP confirmed on April 18, 2022 that guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the COVID-19 emergency is extended for the 2022-2023 academic year. Based on current guidance, continuing students who are in active SEVIS status, whether inside the U.S. or abroad, can continue to maintain their legal status and enroll in 100% online coursework or any combination of in-person and online study to maintain legal status.

New international students and students who started their programs from overseas are eligible to apply for a visa and enter the U.S. to attend in-person classes. However, new students may not enroll in 100% online courses if they will be in the U.S. for the spring semester. 

All Rutgers students including international students are expected to attend in-person. However, in case students are unable to make it to campus for Fall 2022 due to COVID related challenges, they may enroll in online classes offered by Rutgers or participate in some of the other available options if their program permits (such as the ROSE program or a Rutgers Study Abroad at home program for undergraduate students).

Do I need an I-20/DS-2019 If I am starting my program from overseas? +

You do not need an I-20 or a DS-2019 if you are starting your program from overseas. However, if you have received an I-20/DS-2019 and are unable to come to campus for the Fall 2022 semester, you will be issued a new document with an updated start date. You can enter the U.S. in the following semester with the updated I-20 and a valid unexpired F-1 visa.

I have received my new I-20/DS-2019. Can I apply for a visa with it and choose to arrive later? +

Yes, you may use the I-20/DS-2019 you have to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa. Your visa will remain valid until its expiration date, even if your I-20/DS-2019 dates change. Please remember that you will need a current I-20/DS-2019 to apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Check the start date on your I-20/DS-2019 to make sure it is current - the start date should be for a future semester (that you plan  to attend in-person).

 

If I start the fall semester online, can I come to campus mid-semester? +

If you start your semester fully online, you may not be able to come to campus mid-semester unless your program requires you to attend in-person. Please consult with an ISSS advisor to discuss your options.

Transfer, Readmission, or Change of Status Students

I am a newly admitted student, inside the US, transferring my SEVIS record from another institution and planning to attend the spring term. What issues should I be aware of? +

Per the current guidance, you are able to stay in the US and take classes in any format from anywhere in the US to maintain your F-1 status. After receiving your transfer I-20, please review the transfer instructions on our website and make sure you complete the check-in process with ISSS so we can activate your transfer record.

I am a newly admitted student, outside the US, transferring my SEVIS record from another institution and planning to attend the spring term. Can I study remotely? +

Rutgers is expecting to operate in a primarily in-person mode for the Fall 2022 semester. You may enroll remotely if you are approved to do so by your school of enrollment or if you are participating in one of our special overseas programs (like ROSE or Study Abroad). 

As a transfer student, we are not permitted to make your F-1 SEVIS record ACTIVE while you are outside of the U.S. We will contact SEVP to maintain your SEVIS record and issue you an I-20 with an updated start date based on when you are expected to arrive in the U.S. For transfer students enrolling in the Fall 2022 semester, the earliest that we can contact SEVP for your new I-20 will be July. We will contact you if we are not able to retain your current SEVIS record based on any change in government guidance and would then issue you a new I-20 in that case.

I have received my Transfer I-20 and I am outside the US I am planning to return to the US for the spring semester. What issues should I be aware of? +

As a transfer student and under current SEVP guidance, you may return to the U.S. and take classes in any format from anywhere in the U.S. to maintain your F-1 status. However, given the current uncertainties regarding travel restrictions, be sure to check the Universitywide COVID-19 Information and all relevant travel advisories.

I have been re-admitted to Rutgers for Fall 2022. How does the current crisis impact my situation? +

Students who are inside the U.S. in active SEVIS status (possibly at another institution, e.g. a community college) can transfer their SEVIS records to Rutgers and enroll at Rutgers in any format from anywhere in the U.S. to maintain their F-1 status. 

Please review the information on the Returning to Rutgers section of our website for more details.

Students who are outside the U.S. will need a new I-20 when they are able to return. Per current guidance, students with I-20s marked “initial attendance” will not be able to enter the U.S. if their academic schedule is 100% online. Students who have been readmitted to resume their studies at Rutgers for the fall are expected to return to campus for in-person classes. If the current crisis prevents you from entering the U.S. as planned for the fall, please contact your academic program and an ISSS advisor for further guidance. 

What if I am currently in another immigration status and wish to apply for a change of status to F-1 or J-1 within the US? +

We highly advise consulting an immigration attorney to review this option. Please review information on our website for more information.

Enrollment Deferral and Cancellation

What is the process for deferring my enrollment at Rutgers? +

We understand that some students may choose to defer their enrollment at Rutgers to a later semester. 

Undergraduate Students – please follow the instructions here.

Graduate Students – please discuss your enrollment options with your graduate program and the graduate admissions office.

RBHS Students- Please contact the RBHS Admissions office of the school you have been accepted into.

I have decided that I will not be attending Rutgers University. What do I need to do? +

If you withdraw or cancel your admission to Rutgers, we will need to cancel your I-20/DS-2019. Please contact the appropriate admissions office to inform them of your decision so your SEVIS record can be properly closed.

Undergraduate Students: ruinternational@admissions.rutgers.edu
Graduate Students: grad_help@gradadm.rutgers.edu
RBHS Students: isss-rbhs@global.rutgers.edu

Travel and Visa Information

What are the current travel restrictions and guidelines I should be mindful of? +

As of June 12, 2022, the CDC is no longer requiring air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight.  Before making any travel plans, check the CDC’s website for current updates.

Additional Resources

General Travel/Visa Support Letter for Spring 2022 Arrival   +

An updated travel support letter explains the current campus operating status and conveys our support of international students on F-1 or J-1 status who may arrive to the U.S. after 01/18/2022. Please click here to download the travel support letter.

You may present this letter with your I-20 or DS-2019 when applying for a visa and/or when you are traveling to the US and are being screened by a Customs and Border Patrol Officer either at the point of departure or entry into the US. 

Please note that this letter is not required and does not guarantee visa approval or entry into the US. Students are advised to follow SEVP/ICE guidance and monitor travel and visa restrictions to make informed decisions about travel to the US. 

Can I travel within the United States? +

Even within the U.S., different regions are experiencing travel impacts and restrictions. The CDC: COVID-19 Cases in the US website  has updated numbers per state, but the data may change quickly. If you choose to travel domestically, please be sure to consider your own health and safety. We encourage you to follow the CDC and local recommendations for travel. States may have their own travel restrictions/advisories, shelter in place orders, and disruption in infrastructure that you should take into consideration as well.

What if I am unable to get a visa to start my Rutgers education in New Jersey? +

Should travel to the U.S. not be possible due to visa issues, please contact your school and program of enrollment about remote enrollment options, if available. The university will continue to process I-20 and DS-2019 documents as students request them to ensure that you are able to schedule a visa appointment should one become available for you.

We realize there are concerns with getting a visa and arriving on-campus in time for the fall term. Students should check with the embassies and consulates near them as they prepare their visa applications. We also recommend checking the U.S. Department of State website for the status of operations at the embassy or consulate where you intend to apply for a visa.  Please be assured that Rutgers, along with other U.S.-based universities, are strongly lobbying the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and we are urging them to take immediate action and allow international students to enter the U.S. in time for the fall semester. 

Will I be required to get a visa if all my classes are online? +

The existing guidance states that new/initial students may only apply for a visa and enter the U.S. to enroll in a U.S. school only for a full course of study that is not 100% online. Please contact Rutgers Global International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) for regulatory guidance, resources and information for international students. We will continue to update our websites as more information becomes available and notify you as changes occur.

Do I need to get tested for COVID-19 infection if I am traveling internationally? +

New CDC Guidelines for International Travelers

Please review the current CDC travel and testing requirements for entry to the U.S. 

According to CDC guidance, travelers who are fully vaccinated should get tested with a PCR or antigen test 3-5 days after travel and self-monitor for symptoms. Travelers who are not fully vaccinated should get tested with a PCR or antigen test 3-5 days after travel and self-quarantine for a full 7 days upon returning even with a negative test result, unless able to provide documentation of COVID-19 recovery within the last 90 days.

Review the CDC website for more information. Also check COVID-19 related rules and regulations at the country to which you are traveling.

Are there requirements or recommendations I should be aware of if I am traveling to NJ/Rutgers? +

All travelers are encouraged to follow domestic travel recommendations from the CDC, as well as updated Rutgers Quarantine and Travel Guidance

Can I apply for a US visa right now? Are consulates and embassies open for applications? +

Visa services have resumed at most Consular posts, though appointment visa wait times vary depending on the U.S. embassy and consulate location. Students should check with the embassies or consulates near them as they prepare for their visa applications. We would also recommend checking the Department of State website for the status of operations at the embassy where you intend to apply for a visa.

Please also be aware that global travel conditions remain highly impacted and could change rapidly with visa applicants facing serious delays. Students should continue to monitor the news, airline travel information, along with the Rutgers Global website for additional changes or updates. Please review the travel and visa application information on our website as well.

The visa stamp in my passport has expired/is expiring soon. Can I travel home or to a third country to apply for a new visa? +

International students should consider the following when they plan to travel out of the country to apply for a new visa:

* Students can remain in the US with an expired visa as long as they have legal status in the US The F-1/J-1 visa only needs to be valid at the time of entry into the US If your visa expires while you are in the US, you can still continue to stay here as long as you are maintaining your status. If your visa expires and you travel out of the US, you will need to apply for a new visa. 
* If students must travel out of the country, they should keep in mind the status of visa application operations at the embassy or consulate where they intend to apply, as well as travel and other restrictions in the destination countries visited while out of the US The following links should be closely monitored for the latest information on the status of embassies and consulates around the world:
      * The Department of State website for the status of operations at the embassy where students intend to apply for a visa
      * Visa wait times at various embassies
* Students should also be mindful of US government-imposed travel restrictions that may lead to problems with re-entry into the US 
* Students should also consider the implications of their travel on immigration benefits such as OPT.

If I get an F1/J-1 visa, but cannot travel to the US because of travel restrictions, is the visa still valid? +

If you have an F-1/J-1 visa, it will remain valid until the expiration date on the visa stamp. You can use it to attend Rutgers for a later semester, even if you receive an updated/new I-20 from the university.

I am a student currently enrolled at another institution in the US. Do I need a new visa to begin study at Rutgers in the spring? +

You do not need a new visa to begin the new program at Rutgers if you remain in the US while between schools. If you choose to travel internationally, you will need to check with your embassy or consulate to determine if you need to apply for a new visa. If you have a valid visa (valid at the time of expected entry to the US), chances are you won’t need to apply for a new one.

Please review the information for transfer students on our website. 

I need to leave the US but have not received my I-20/DS-2019 with a travel signature. Can I travel out of the US without the new I-20/DS-2019? +

Please know that you do not need a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 document to either remain in OR to depart the US. You DO need a valid travel signature to return to the US in F-1 or J-1 status. A valid travel signature must be no more than 12 months old on the date that you return to the US. For F-1 students on post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or STEM OPT Extension, travel endorsements are only valid for 6 months. You will only need a valid signature to apply for a new visa if the F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport is expired and/or for your reentry into the US Review the Travel and Visa Information section of our website for more information.

Employment and Taxes

Can I work on-campus remotely and get paid by the University in my home country? +

Continuing fully supported PhD students who have active SEVIS records may receive tuition remission, stipends/pay, and Fellowship funds while overseas as long as they have been issued a Social Security Number (SSN), have a US bank account, and are able to be onboarded in the Rutgers HR/Payroll systems. The graduate program will ultimately determine if the student can carry out the duties associated with the academic appointment while overseas. There may be other factors influencing this decision which will be considered by the specific graduate program.

New students who were promised financial support as part of their acceptance to Rutgers (TAs/GAs/Fellows) can be provided with tuition waivers and a commitment can be made to them that other fellowships or scholarships they have been promised will be paid when they are able to meet the legal and payroll requirements. Final decisions on providing tuition remission or fellowship/scholarship/stipend funds rest with the department/programs/hiring units.

New students who are outside the country and do not have active SEVIS records, cannot be paid for on-campus work at Rutgers. There is no further formal guidance on other forms of funding/employment for continuing students (PTLs, hourly work, etc.) while they are overseas. There may be international tax and labor laws as well as US labor implications to these decisions. If you have questions about on-campus employment while in F-1 and J-1 status from outside the US, discuss your specific case with your employing unit and ISSS.   

Will I be able to work off-campus in an internship in Summer 2022 or earlier if I take my first/second semester at Rutgers outside the United States? +

Newly admitted students who were not previously enrolled in another academic program in the United States and who enroll in their first semester remotely outside of the United States, must complete two consecutive semesters in F-1 status in the United States to be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Under these circumstances, students would NOT be eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) during the summer following their first academic year, unless their program requires an internship or practicum during that summer. If it is permissible for students to complete their internship or practicum at a later time in their academic program, then CPT would not be possible for students who have not fulfilled their one academic year in F-1 status requirement.

Newly admitted students who previously enrolled in another academic program in the United States and transferred their SEVIS record to Rutgers are eligible to apply for either CPT or OPT during the summer following their first academic year at Rutgers even if they enroll in their first semester at Rutgers from outside of the United States (as long as their current SEVIS record remains active).

Will I be able to work off-campus in an internship in Summer 2023 or earlier if I take my first/second semester at Rutgers outside the U.S.? +

Newly admitted students who were not previously enrolled in another academic program in the U.S. and who enroll in their first semester remotely outside of the U.S., must complete two consecutive semesters in F-1 status in the U.S. to be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Under these circumstances, students would NOT be eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) during the summer following their first academic year, unless their program requires an internship or practicum during that summer. If it is permissible for students to complete their internship or practicum at a later time in their academic program, then CPT would not be possible for students who have not fulfilled their one academic year in F-1 status requirement.

Newly admitted students who previously enrolled in another academic program in the U.S. and transferred their SEVIS record to Rutgers are eligible to apply for either CPT or OPT during the summer following their first academic year at Rutgers even if they enroll in their first semester at Rutgers from outside of the U.S. (as long as their current SEVIS record remains active).

I am currently on OPT/STEM OPT or CPT. How does the current situation impact me and my ability to work? +

OPT/STEM OPT and CPT work authorizations, that have been authorized, remain valid for the dates of authorization. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has provided guidance and accommodation recognizing that changes to workplace requirements may impact students pursuing practical training. Students should consult with their employers and seek alternative ways (e.g. teleworking or other arrangement) to maintain employment as appropriate. Remote work is permitted as part of the temporary accommodations. DHS has indicated that you DO NOT need to update the employer address information in SEVIS nor on the Form I-983 for students working remotely. Students on OPT should be sure that the work continues to meet OPT requirements or STEM requirements for eligible employment.

If there are any substantial changes to OPT employment, living address, or unemployment, make sure you follow OPT reporting guidelines to report the change to ISSS so we can update your SEVIS record.

Students on authorized CPT should check with their employer about the viability of the employment/experience. If there is any change to employment dates, contact ISSS to have the authorization updated on your I-20.

Can I work on CPT from outside the US? +

SEVP has provided guidance that allows students to engage in CPT while abroad, as long as they meet all the standard eligibility criteria for the CPT and, either the employer has an office outside the United States, or the employer can assess student engagement and attainment of learning objectives electronically. You should discuss the possibility of remote work arrangements with your employer.

I’m currently on an OPT/STEM OPT extension and I have been furloughed or laid off. What is the difference and how does this impact my OPT or STEM extension unemployment days? +

Furlough, leave of absence, laid-off, and termination have different meanings. You should confirm in writing with your employer exactly what your employment status is. 

A furlough or paid or unpaid approved leave of absence may still be considered employment for OPT/STEM OPT purposes. F-1 regulations allow for “time off taken consistent with leave-related policies applicable to the employer's similarly situated US workers in the area of employment.” If this is your situation, request documentation from your employer (usually your supervisor or human resources department) confirming your period of furlough or official leave of absence.

A termination or lay-off would be an ending of the employment and would result in the beginning of days of OPT or STEM OPT unemployment. You would need to follow the OPT reporting guidelines to report this change to ISSS so we can update your SEVIS record.

I am a J-1 student on Academic Training and I have been furloughed or laid off. What can I do? +

Please contact ISSS as soon as possible so we can discuss available options with you.

Have there been any changes to the overall OPT application processes? Does the 90-day unemployment rule still apply in light of the current crisis? +

At this time there have been no changes to the application process for OPT. There is also no revised guidance on the unemployment rule while on OPT. Please remember that you can also participate in volunteer/unpaid employment of more than 20 hours/week, directly related to your field of study and appropriate for your level of education. Make sure you follow the OPT reporting guidelines and report your employment in a timely manner. Failure to do so can result in the termination of your record as a result of SEVP action.

Please continue to check the USCIS website for updates or visit the USCIS COVID-19 response page regarding any changes to USCIS processing of requests.

I cannot return to the US in time to apply for OPT. Can I apply for OPT from outside the US? +

Currently, regulations require you to be physically in the US at the time you submit your OPT application to the USCIS.

I am graduating soon and applying for OPT. Can I travel internationally after mailing my OPT application to USCIS from the US? +

Students are allowed to leave the US while their OPT application is pending at USCIS, but they have to make sure they get the receipt notice for the OPT application prior to traveling out. There is always an element of risk involved with international travel and return to the US (particularly when you have completed the primary purpose of your visa status – that is your degree program), and given these unprecedented times, the risks are further heightened.

If you do choose to travel, please make sure you have your receipt notice with you. If your application is approved while you are overseas, make sure it is delivered and received at a valid US address, and someone checking your mail sends you an electronic copy/image of the EAD card, which you can print and keep with you at the time of re-entry into the US Students are advised to follow the travel tips and OPT guidance on the ISSS website.

Do I need employment authorization to volunteer as part of COVID-19 relief efforts? +

No, international students who work without wages, taxable compensation or other remuneration are considered volunteers and are not required to obtain an employment authorization document. Check with an advisor at ISSS if you are not sure if the opportunity you are considering qualifies as volunteer work. It is important to be careful that the work does not violate any labor laws or your legal status. Visit the ISSS website for more detail.

Do I have to be in the US to file my taxes? Can I file them from abroad? +

You do not have to be physically present in the US to file your taxes. As long as you have the required documents, you may complete your tax return in your home country and mail it to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Please refer to this page for more information about the tax filing process and required documents.

Social Security Applications and Denial Letters

How can I apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) at this time? +

The New Brunswick SSA center, as well as all other SSA offices, has reopened for walk-in appointments, though applicants may choose to schedule appointments ahead of time if they so choose. ISSS has coordinated with the SSA office in New Brunswick and the following procedure is now offered for international students who are eligible to apply for a SSN.

Step 1. Students prepare their SSN application packet

Complete packet must include:

* Hard copy of completed SSN application

* Original valid passport with F-1 visa

* Printed I-94 record

* Original I-20 documents (both current and previous)

* Rutgers Global Social Security Letters, signed by the student’s Designated School Official (DSO) (you will need the SS letter even if you are applying based on OPT or CPT)

* Job offer letter (e.g. TA/GA offer letter, OPT/CPT offer letter) or On-Campus Employment Verification Letter (completed by your on-campus employer) with an original, wet signature from your hiring manager

Step 2. Visit the New Brunswick SSA (Social Security Administration) office. Appointments are optional and may be scheduled by calling 877-803-6313 or 888-221-9983. Be prepared to wear a mask before entering the building.

Social Security Administration
550 Jersey Ave, Suite 200
New Brunswick NJ 08901

Step 3. An SSA staff will review the SSN application packet and, if everything is in order, will provide a receipt notice for the application. The student should receive their SSN card in the mail within 7-14 days. 

Please note:

* It is not possible to apply online.

* Applications for replacement cards are not being accepted at this time.

Can I get an SSN denial letter? +

Yes, please complete the SSN application and mail it to the SSA. There is no need to submit any additional documentation like the I-20 or I-94 if applying for the denial letter.

Social Security Administration
ATTN: Mrs. Diouf
550 Jersey Ave, Suite 200
New Brunswick NJ 08901

You will receive the denial letter in the mail.

Health, Housing, and Other Useful Resources

Related External Resources +

* SEVP COVID-19 FAQs - last updated November 1, 2021 (for students in F Status)

* EVP COVID-19 Information (Exchange Visitor Program, for students in J-1 Status)

* NAFSA: Association of International Educators COVID-19 Guidance Sources

* CDC Flow Chart: Traveling to the United States from a Foreign Country by Air

Am I eligible for Fall 2022 on-campus housing? Where can I find more information? +

Students on the New Brunswick/Piscataway Campuses - visit the Rutgers - Residence life office website for information about on-campus housing: http://ruoncampus.rutgers.edu/  

Please note that you need to comply with the vaccine mandate to be permitted to live on campus. Students with on-campus housing assignments will not receive keys to their residence halls or apartments until they are in compliance with the vaccine mandate. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination requirements and upload your documentation.

RBHS students in the Newark campus, please contact the Housing Office at the Health Sciences Campus - Newark

Do international students get any discounts on tuition and fees? +

The Student Health Insurance Premium will be waived for students who are outside the US, but attending from overseas in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. New students receive this waiver automatically, and continuing students are required to apply for the waiver.

Students eligible for a refund can request it by following the procedure outlined on the student accounting website

For information about university policy on tuition and fees, please review the Universitywide COVID-19 Information.

What are some other resources and support services available for students at Rutgers? +

Students Participating in the ROSE China Program +

Students participating in the ROSE program, please visit the ROSE Initiative webpage for detailed information.