COVID-19 Related International Faculty and Scholar FAQs

This page contains answers to frequently asked questions as well as useful resources and information about Rutgers Global International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) to help international faculty and scholars navigate these uncertain times.

We encourage international faculty and scholars to continue to monitor the Rutgers Global website for new updates and carefully review travel restrictions/requirements on the appropriate consular webpage before making any travel plans.  

International Faculty & Scholar FAQs

Travel and Visa Information

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

There are several Presidential Proclamations that remain in effect restricting travel to the U.S. and the issuance of visas, including:

Proclamation 10052 of June 22, 2020 - Suspending Entry of Certain H, J, and L Nonimmigrants (which was extended until March 31, 2021)

Please refer to our FAQs for more information about the travel restrictions impacting H, J, and L Nonimmigrants.  Additional information is also available on NAFSA’s webpage.

Geographic COVID-19 Proclamations Affecting Entry from Certain Countries – Suspending Entry of Those Present in South Africa, China, Iran, European Schengen Area, Ireland, United Kingdom, and Brazil for 14-Days Prior to Entry
 
Proclamation 10143 of January 25, 2021 (Restrictions on Travel from Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil and South Africa)
Proclamation 9984 of January 31, 2020 (China Travel Proclamation - Extended by Proclamation 10143)
Proclamation 9992 of February 29, 2020 (Iran Travel Proclamation - Extended by Proclamation 10143)
 
Please refer to NAFSA’s webpage for more information about the geographic COVID-19 travel restrictions and the available exceptions. 
 
Consular services worldwide also remain very limited (even for those not impacted by any of these Proclamations).  For that reason, we strongly discourage any international travel that is not absolutely necessary until further notice.  If you do need to travel internationally, be sure to review the travel restrictions on the website of the appropriate consular post before planning your trip. 

What local and state guidelines should I be aware of if I travel to NJ/Rutgers? +

New Jersey’s travel guidelines recommend that travelers and residents returning from any U.S. state or territory beyond the immediate region (New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) take the following precautions:
- If travel is unavoidable, travelers should consider getting tested with a viral test (not an antibody test) 1-3 days before the trip and again 3-5 days after the trip.
- If travelers test positive, they should self-isolate for at least 10 days and should postpone travel during that time.
- If travelers test negative, they should quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
- If testing is not available (or if the results are delayed), travelers should quarantine for 10 days after travel.

Please also review the updated Rutgers Quarantine and Travel Guidance.
 

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

According to a new CDC policy, effective January 26, 2021, all international travelers coming into the U.S. will be required to get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. For more information on this testing requirement, see the CDC Frequently Asked Questions.

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

I have a valid H/J/O visa. Will I be able to travel and return to the U.S.? +

No visas were revoked by Proclamation 10052 of June 22, 2020 (Suspending Entry of Certain H, J, and L Nonimmigrants).  However, you may still be restricted from returning to the U.S. based on a Geographic COVID-19 Proclamation.  

Please refer to our FAQs for more information about the travel restrictions impacting H, J, and L Nonimmigrants and NAFSA’s webpage for more information about the geographic COVID-19 travel restrictions and the available exceptions.
 

Can I apply for a National Interest Exception (NIE) to travel to the U.S. from the Schengen Area, UK, Ireland, Brazil, China, Iran, or South Africa? +

It may be possible for someone impacted by one of the geographic COVID-19 travel restrictions to receive a national interest exception (NIE) to travel to the United States. The NIE application process varies by consular post.  Accordingly, it is important to check the consular webpage for requirements.  

Please also refer to NAFSA’s webpage for more information about NIEs and other exceptions.  

Can I apply for an H visa right now? +

Proclamation 10052 of June 22, 2020 has suspended the issuance of H-1B visas until March 31, 2021.  For more information on exceptions, please refer to our FAQs and NAFSA’s webpage.

Even if you qualify for an exception to Proclamation 10052, you may still be restricted from returning to the U.S. based on a Geographic COVID-19 Proclamation.  Please refer to NAFSA’s webpage for more information about the geographic COVID-19 travel restrictions and the available exceptions.
 

Can I apply for an O visa right now? +

O visa issuance is not impacted by Proclamation 10052 of June 22, 2020. 

However, you may still be restricted from returning to the U.S. based on a Geographic COVID-19 Proclamation.  Please refer to NAFSA’s webpage for more information about the geographic COVID-19 travel restrictions and the available exceptions.
 

Can I apply for a J visa right now? +

J-1 Exchange Visitors in the following categories are not impacted by Proclamation 10052 of June 22, 2020: (1) Research Scholar, (2) Professor, (3) Short-Term Scholar, and (4) Student (degree & non-degree seeking). 

However, you may still be restricted from returning to the U.S. based on a Geographic COVID-19 Proclamation.  Please refer to NAFSA’s webpage for more information about the geographic COVID-19 travel restrictions and the available exceptions.

Can I apply for a visa in a third country? +

Visa applicants are discouraged from applying in a country other than their country of origin or residence.  Issues associated with administrative processing delays, entry visa requirements, and limited period of authorized stay may complicate the application process.
 

I am a J-1 exchange visitor. Do I need a travel signature on my DS-2019 to return to the U.S.? +

If you are a J-1 exchange visitor and must travel internationally, it is necessary to obtain a travel signature on your Form DS-2019 before departure. Contact your advisor or send an email to isss-facultyscholars@global.rutgers.edu (Rutgers Legacy) or isss-rbhs@global.rutgers.edu (RBHS) to schedule an appointment for travel authorization.  

Can I travel within the U.S.? +

Even within the United States, different states have implemented their own travel restrictions. Please be sure to check local travel restrictions before you go and follow CDC guidance.

Please also review the updated Rutgers Quarantine and Travel Guidance.
 

I would like to leave the U.S. but I am unable to at this time. What should I do? +

We are aware that many international flights are being/have been canceled or rescheduled, and travel may be a challenge at this time.  If you are unable to depart the U.S., contact your advisor or send an email to isss-facultyscholars@global.rutgers.edu (Rutgers Legacy) or isss-rbhs@global.rutgers.edu (RBHS) to keep us advised of your travel situation.

We recommend that you contact your home country’s local consulate or embassy in the US for support and information regarding travel home.
 

Maintaining Immigration Status: Current Faculty & Scholars

How can I schedule an appointment with an International Faculty & Scholar Advisor? +

If you are a current Rutgers faculty member or scholar and would like to schedule an appointment with an International Faculty & Scholar Advisor, please visit our ISSS Faculty & Scholar Contact Information & Advising Services webpage.

You can also contact your advisor directly by email or send an email to isss-facultyscholars@global.rutgers.edu (Rutgers Legacy) or isss-rbhs@global.rutgers.edu (RBHS) with your question.     
 

How have new executive orders and other measures implemented by President Biden impacted U.S. immigration? +

President Biden’s Administration has announced several recent changes to immigration policy.  Please refer to the Rutgers Global Alerts webpage for more information.  As more changes are expected, Rutgers Global will continue to post new updates on this page. 

Can I extend my H-1B status within the U.S. while the issuance of H-1B visas is suspended? +

Visa holders already legally in the U.S. do not need to renew their visa to remain in the U.S.  Your H-1B status can generally be extended within the U.S. without needing to travel or apply for a new visa.  

I am currently working or participating in an exchange visitor program at another institution in the U.S. Do I need a new visa to transfer to Rutgers? +

Visa holders already legally in the U.S. do not need to renew their visa to remain in the U.S.  In many cases (with some exceptions), you will be able to transfer to Rutgers’ sponsorship without needing to travel or apply for a visa. You must, however, verify that you have sufficient time remaining in your current immigration status to allow for transferring to and continuing your program/employment at Rutgers.

I plan to work or perform my research remotely from home. What do I need to do? +

If you anticipate any changes to your H-1B worksite location or J-1 location of activity, please  contact your advisor or send an email to isss-facultyscholars@global.rutgers.edu (Rutgers Legacy) or isss-rbhs@global.rutgers.edu (RBHS).  

Taxes

How does the CARES Act affect me? +

Economic Stimulus payments are being issued to eligible U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals that are considered “residents for tax purposes”. These payments are the result of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CARES).
 
Foreign Nationals who do not meet the IRS definition of "resident alien" are not eligible to receive these funds. According to the IRS, eligibility requires that a person must (1) be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien for U.S. tax purposes in 2020, must (2) have a social security number valid for employment purposes that was issued on or before October 15, 2020 and (3) was not claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer's 2019 tax return. 
 
Exchange Visitors (J-1) for example,  are required to have resided in the United States for at least two-years before they are considered “residents for tax purposes”. Exchange Visitors who are, or who have been in the US for shorter periods of time would not be considered resident aliens and should not receive a rebate.  
 
General Eligibility:  Although payments are being made on information the IRS has from 2019 tax filings, a person must be a resident alien for 2020 to be eligible for the payment(s).  The IRS has no way of knowing someone's tax status for 2020 because those tax returns have not been filed yet.  If someone receives either or both payments, and is not a resident for US tax purposes in 2020, the payment(s) should be returned.  Being a resident for 2019, but not 2020, does not give eligibility for the payment(s). 
 
If you are not certain of your tax status, please verify with the IRS or with a tax professional. Do not contact ISSS for this information as we are not tax experts. If you received a rebate by mistake, make sure you return the funds immediately, at this link. Interest may accrue on erroneously received funds and you could owe the government more than what was sent. Non repayment of mistakenly received government funds could have serious negative implications for your current or future immigration status. 

Social Security

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

The New Brunswick SSA center, as well as all other SSA offices, are offering limited SSN application services at present.  After you have assembled your completed SSN application and supporting documents, call the SSA office at 877-253-4718 to schedule an appointment.
 

I need my original Form I-797 H-1B Approval Notice to renew my driver’s license. Who should I contact? +

If you need to borrow your original Form I-797 H-1B Approval Notice, send an email to isss-facultyscholars@global.rutgers.edu (Rutgers Legacy) or isss-rbhs@global.rutgers.edu (RBHS) to arrange a time to pick up your approval.  

I am an H-1B employee. How do I apply to renew my driver’s license? +

H-1B employees may request a NJ Driver’s License by visiting an MVC (NJ Motor Vehicles Commission) office and applying in person. The following documents are required when applying for a NJ Driver’s License:

- “Six points” of identification*
- Valid Passport
- Original Form I-797
- Most recent I-94 entry document (sometimes attached to Form I-797)
- Social Security Number 

* More information on acceptable documents for the “six points” of identification may be found at this link. Usually, a passport (4 points) and Rutgers photo ID card (2 points) are sufficient. It is also advisable to bring proof of your US address, such as mail addressed to you at your NJ residence.

The driver’s license validity corresponds with the validity of your Form I-797 Approval Notice.  For example, if your H-1B approval will expire on 12/31/2021, your license will only be valid during that period.  An expired license may not be used to operate a motor vehicle.

If your driver’s license is about to expire and your H-1B extension is still pending, some MVC offices will renew a driver’s license during the 240 automatic extension period.  You will need the original receipt notice and a 240-Day Extension Certificate.  Please note that not all MVC officers are familiar with this provision and sometimes decline to renew a driver’s license on this basis.  

Prior to issuing any document, the Motor Vehicle Commission will use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system to verify the immigration status of all non-citizens who apply for or renew a driver’s license or non-driver ID at an agency.  It can sometimes take a few days for the system to verify your information. 

I am a J-1 Exchange Visitor. How do I apply for, or renew my driver’s license? +

Exchange Visitors may request a NJ Driver’s License by visiting an MVC (NJ Motor Vehicles Commission) office and applying in person. The following documents are required when applying for a NJ Driver’s License:

- “Six points” of identification*
- Valid Passport and Visa
- Valid form DS-2019
- Most recent I-94 entry document
- Social Security Number (or denial letter)

* More information on acceptable documents for the “six points” of identification may be found at this link. Usually, a passport (4 points) and Rutgers photo ID card (2 points) are sufficient. It is also advisable to bring proof of your US address, such as mail addressed to you at your NJ residence.

If you are not eligible to receive a Social Security Number and your application was denied, you may use the “denial letter” issued by the Social Security Administration in place of the SSN to apply for the license.

The driver’s license validity corresponds with the program dates on form DS-2019. For example, if your J-1 program dates are 1/1/21 to 12/31/21, your license will only be valid during that period. An extension must be applied for before the expiration date on the license and you will need an updated DS-2019 with the program date extension. An expired license may not be used to operate a motor vehicle during the “grace period” as it is no longer valid. If you must drive during the grace period, you may use your International driver’s license.

Prior to issuing any document, the Motor Vehicle Commission will use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system to verify the immigration status of all non-citizens who apply for or renew a driver’s license or non-driver ID at an agency.  It can sometimes take a few days for the system to verify your information. 

Additional Resources

University and Government Announcements and Resources +