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Tuesday, March 7, 2017
New Executive Order on travel and visa restrictions issued

To our International Students:

On Monday, March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a new Executive Order, addressing travel and visa restrictions impacting certain foreign nationals.  The previous Executive Order, dated January 27, 2017, will be revoked and this new Order will be effective as of March 16, 2017. 

The following is a brief summary of the Order’s key components:

* The Order suspends the issuance of any new immigrant or nonimmigrant visas to a citizen or national of 6 countries – Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen – for 90 days.  Iraq is no longer included in the list of countries impacted by the Order. 

* The Order does NOT apply to individuals of these 6 countries with valid visas.  While the previous Order of January 27 provisionally revoked valid visas, this new Order confirms that the valid visas are no longer considered revoked and are valid for entry to the U.S. for the period of the visa.

* The suspension of entry for nationals of the 6 countries does NOT apply to U.S. Citizens or U.S. Permanent Residents (individuals who hold Green Cards, but not those with pending applications for U.S. Permanent Residency with USCIS).  The Order also does NOT apply to an individual granted asylum or an individual already admitted to the U.S. as a refugee. 

* Dual nationals (individuals who hold a valid passport in one of the 6 designated countries and a passport issued by another country that is not one of the 6 designated countries) are NOT subject to the entry restrictions of the Order if they are traveling to the U.S. on their passport issued by the non-designated country.

* Waivers on the suspension of entry (or obtaining a new visa) to the U.S. may be considered on a case-by-case basis.  We look forward to receiving more guidance on the process to request such Waivers and if it will be applicable to our international students.

* The Order also suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program, therefore requiring all applicants for nonimmigrant visas to have an in-person visa interview at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad to obtain a new visa for entry to the U.S.

To view a copy of the full Executive Order issued on March 6, 2017, click here.

To view a copy of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Q&A regarding the new Executive Order, click here.   

Students who hold citizenship from one of the 6 designated countries should consider holding off on any non-essential travel outside of the U.S. until additional details concerning the implementation of this Executive Order by the various government agencies are available. 

If you are a citizen of any of the 6 designated countries or Iraq, and have any questions concerning travel under the Executive Order, please feel free to contact me at the ISO.

If any student has questions concerning the Executive Order, or other matters impacting your stay at MIT, please do not hesitate to contact your ISO Advisor.

MIT continues to work closely to support our students, and all members of the MIT Community, impacted by the Executive Order.  Any additional updates received on Presidential or government agency actions will be posted to the ISO “Major Immigration Updates” webpage.  

Most sincerely,

David C. Elwell
Associate Dean and Director
MIT International Students Office

Friday, February 17, 2017
New Executive Orders Expected Next Week

Dear International Students:

In remarks by President Trump during his press conference yesterday (Thursday, February 16), it was indicated that a new Executive Order (or multiple Executive Orders) will be issued next week to more specifically address visa issuance procedures and travel restrictions that have been part of court actions following the January 27 Executive Order. These actions are likely to be issued by mid-week.

All international students are cautioned about travel outside the U.S. until more information is available. For those currently outside the U.S., planning for re-entry to the U.S. from abroad should also be considered given these developments. The ISO will be sure to update the community via the ISO Major Immigration Updates webpage and by email once we have more official information.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the ISO.

Sincerely.
David C. Elwell
Associate Dean and Director
MIT International Students Office

 

Monday, February 6, 2017
Update on Executive Order regarding entry ban to U.S. for individuals from certain countries

To our International Students:

There have been a number of developments over the past few days in response to the Presidential Executive Order. While there continues to be uncertainty and pending legal challenges to the Executive Order, the ISO is providing this update on both the current state of the provisions of the Executive Order and a link to a new “Major Immigration Updates” page on the ISO website that will serve as a central location for information related to Executive Orders and any other significant immigration or visa issues impacting international students at MIT.

UPDATES ON EXECUTIVE ORDER COMPONENTS (as of February 5, 2017)

As you probably have read, the federal court in Massachusetts did not extend the Temporary Restraining Order issued on January28 and now expired. However, a federal District Court in the State of Washington entered an order last Friday that suspended the terms of Executive Order. This order is being applied nationwide to allow travel for those from the 7 countries identified in the Executive Order, if travel was allowed otherwise. This order is being appealed and could be overturn as early as this evening.

With the current state of affairs, we are advising that any individual from one of the 7 designated countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen – NOT travel outside the U.S. for the foreseeable future given the ever-changing legal situation.

In the meantime, the following are updates from various government agencies that implement the provisions of the Executive Order – including the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (which includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). The following are clarifications that have been provided in recent days regarding, specifically, the visa restrictions and travel/entry ban (and are subject to change):

*U.S. Citizens and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders)
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) confirmed on the USDHS website that U.S. Citizens and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (those with valid I-551 / Green Card) are NOT subject to the terms of the Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, even if they may hold citizenship, nationality, or were born in one of the 7 designated countries. These individuals are not subject to the travel/entry ban.

*Dual Nationals
For those individuals who have status (citizen/national/born) from a country listed in the Executive Order and from a non-listed country – are advised caution when traveling. USCBP does, however, confirm on their website that “Travelers are being treated according to the travel document they present.” It is recommended that individuals who hold citizenship from one of the listed countries and another country should consult an experienced immigration attorney prior to any travel outside of the U.S.

*Individuals Not Named in the Executive Order
If you are a citizen/national/born in any other country not named in the Executive Order, the visa restrictions and travel ban do not apply at this time as reported on the USCBP website. The terms of the Executive Order do provide the ability to add countries to the ban list in the future. On February 2, 2017, the U.S. Department of State informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that there are no current documents in process to expand the countries subject to visa revocations or travel ban other than the 7 countries listed in the Executive Order. Please note that additional security procedures or extended processing times can apply to any individual, therefore any individual should plan accordingly prior to travel abroad, especially if that involves applying for a new entry visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad in order to return to the U.S. Please expect longer processing times both at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate as well as at port-of-entry with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

*Visa Interview Waiver Program Eliminated
One component of the Executive Order included the elimination of the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which in the past would allow an individual to mail-in an application for renewal of visas at U.S. Embassies/Consulates if the visa were in in certain status, rather than having to schedule an in-person interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. The elimination of this program will likely lead to longer processing times for visa applications given that all applicants will require an interview. Please plan accordingly.

*Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System
The Executive Order requires the “expedited completion” of a Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System, which was already in development. Once in place, the system will apply to anyone – from all countries in all visa statuses – entering the U.S. This tracking system will continue development regardless of any court restriction on the Executive Order.

*US State Department Lifts Provisional Revocation of Visas
On February 4, 2017, the U.S. Department of State has confirmed that the provisional revocation of visas has been lifted for citizens/nationals/born of the 7 countries designated by the Executive order; applications at U.S. Embassy/Consulate posts abroad will be accepted and processing continues.

*USCIS Resumes Processing of Applications Filed at USCIS Service Centers With the court order, USCIS has confirmed [PDF] it has resumed processing applications received at USCIS Service Centers (including change of status applications, H-1B petitions, and F-1 OPT applications).

NEW ISO WEBPAGE ON EXECUTIVE ORDER RESOURCES http://web.mit.edu/iso/immigration/imm_updates.shtml This new page will be the central location for any information, resources, and ISO communication on major immigration issues that affect our international students at MIT. Currently, this will be the depository on information related to new Executive Orders, but this will be used for other major immigration announcements in the future.

I need to repeat that this is a very fluid situation and the status of the current Executive Order on visa processing at U.S. Embassies/Consulates abroad, entry to the U.S., and benefit processing at USCIS, can change at any time in response to court actions or further action by the President, the federal agencies or Congress.. The ISO will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates. We will continue to update the new ISO webpage so that you will have a central resource to access; we will also email the community as appropriate.

If you have any questions regarding your specific situation, whether it be travel concerns, visa applications, or applications for employment benefits (F-1 OPT), we advise that you contact your ISO Advisor.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding during what we know is an anxious time. We are heartened by the support of the entire MIT Community to all of our international students and scholars as we are all experiencing the uncertainty together.

Wtih best regards,

David C. Elwell
Associate Dean and Director
MIT International Students Office

Saturday, January 28, 2017
Update on Executive Order regarding entry ban to U.S. for individuals from certain countries

To our International Students:

We have received confirmed reports that the President’s Executive Order, which includes a ban on entry to the US for individuals who are citizens, nationals, or were born in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, has been signed and is currently in effect.

While the official Executive Order has not yet appeared on the White House website, reports of individuals not being granted entry to the US have been confirmed.

Given these reports, if you are a citizen, national, or were born in any of these countries, and you are currently OUTSIDE of the US, please contact me at the ISO right away to confirm this so we can address any questions and speak about next steps.

If you are a citizen, national, or were born in any of these countries, and you are INSIDE the US, it is advisable to NOT travel outside the US until further details on the Executive Order and any additional guidance from appropriate government agencies, is received. Please note that these Executive Orders do not indicate any sanctions on individuals currently present inside the US, which is why it is advisable to not travel outside of the US.

We are deeply disturbed by these recent actions and the impact they have on members of our MIT community. MIT will work closely to support our students and all those at MIT affected. We care deeply about our entire community and the diversity that embodies MIT, and we will continue to reflect these values.

If any questions arise, please do not hesitate to contact me at the ISO by email over this weekend, or by email or phone during ISO office hours.

Most sincerely,

David C. Elwell
Associate Dean and Director
MIT International Students Office

Friday, January 27, 2017
Travel Alert regarding prospective Executive Order

To our International Students,

Given media reports about possible Executive Orders under consideration pertaining to potential visa application and travel restrictions for individuals from certain countries, the ISO feels it is important to reach out to the community. (Please note that, as of this writing, the White House has taken NO official action on these matters.)

In light of continued review of current and prospective actions that could be taken by Presidential action, individuals with citizenship, nationality, or birth in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen currently in the United States (U.S.) should consider postponing any travel outside of the U.S. until official Executive Orders and further government agency guidance on potential visa/immigration changes has been issued. Individuals from these countries who are currently outside of the U.S. should evaluate timing for re-entry to the U.S. at the earliest possible time in consideration of potential bars to entry that could be implemented by Executive Order at any time.

While we do not know if official action will be taken and, if so, what that action will entail, we feel it is important to consider all appropriate precautions.

Again, please note that there has been NO official release of any Executive Order or Presidential Action on these areas yet. The ISO and MIT’s Washington, D.C. Office are actively monitoring the White House’s release of information and will provide any updates as soon as we receive them.

We know that this period of uncertainty can be challenging. We encourage you to reach out for support to ISO Staff, or contact other MIT staff any time (see resources.mit.edu/support for a full list).

Remember that your heads of house, and counselors and deans in MIT Medical (617-253-4481), Graduate Personal Support (617-253-9464) or Student Support Services (S3) (617-253-4861), are all standing by and ready to help you.


Sincerely,

David C. Elwell
Associate Dean and Director
MIT International Students Office

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Awaiting announcements of Executive Orders on immigration/visa issues

Dear Students,
I know many of us awoke this morning to a number of reports in the media providing predictions on prospective visa limitations that may be enacted by Executive Order this week by President Trump. We understand from official White House reports that announcements about actions within Homeland Security will be likely announced within the next couple of days.

Please note, however, that there has been NO official release of any Executive Order or Presidential Action on this issue yet today.

The ISO continues to actively research all communications, analyze potential visa and immigration changes, and advocate on these issues as they affect our community. While I know that answers to what will happen next are urgently desired, commenting or taking action before we have official notification would be potentially harmful.

The ISO will continue to send out notifications to students once we have official updates issued by the White House or appropriate government agency. It may take some time following an official announcement before we (and the government agencies charged in implementation) have a clear understanding of what the implications will be regarding visa policy changes.

We understand the heightened level of anxiety that we are all feeling on this issue. We ask for your patience as we all navigate this new political environment together.

If any member of the MIT Community has questions or concerns, we want to remind you that the ISO is available to support you. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly by email or by phone (617-253-3795) if I can be of any assistance.

Sincerely,

David C. Elwell
Associate Dean and Director
MIT International Students Office

January 10, 2017
Followup Guidance regarding IRS Form 1098-T and U.S. Social Security Number

We are reaching out to all international students who received an email from MIT Student Financial Services on December 28, 2016 regarding the reporting of Form 1098-T Tuition Statement and need for the U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). A copy of the MIT SFS email is provided below (not everyone received this email).

To help eliminate some confusion that MIT students may have, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is aware that international students in F or J visa status are only eligible for an SSN if they are authorized for, and currently pursuing, eligible employment in the U.S. For that reason, many students will have a Form 1098-T issued by MIT to report tuition received for that student to MIT who will not have an SSN at the time that MIT submits the Form 1098-T statements to the IRS.

For those students who received the MIT SFS email, and you have already received your SSN, please login to WebSIS (student.mit.edu) and follow the links: For Students/Personal Records/Biographic and Emergency Records to update your SSN to your student record.

For those students who received the MIT SFS email, and you do NOT have an SSN or ITIN, please do not worry as SFS can report the required tuition information without the SSN or ITIN.

All individuals in the U.S., including international students, will file an individual income tax return each year (these are completed in March/April, and the ISO will be providing more information on filing an income tax return soon). For international students who will not have an SSN at the time of filing the income tax return, there will be guidance provided to those students to apply for the U.S. Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which will be submitted with the income tax return.

We provide this information to help put students at ease that they will likely not face any penalty from the IRS given the limitations of when an international student will be able to obtain an SSN or ITIN.

We hope this information is helpful. If any questions arise, please feel free to contact MIT Student Financial Services (sfs@mit.edu).

Best regards,
David C. Elwell, Associate Dean and Director, MIT International Students Office (ISO)
Michelle Pezzulli, Associate Director of Customer Service, MIT Student Financial Services (SFS)

December 28, 2016

Dear Student,
Currently you have not provided the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a United States Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An SSN or ITIN is used when MIT reports the Form 1098-T Tuition Statement information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for educational tax credits as outlined in federal regulation §1.6050S-1. Additional information on education tax credits is available in IRS Pub. 970, Tax Benefits for Higher Education.

The IRS requires MIT to report 1098-T data with or without SSN/ITIN information. If you fail to furnish your SSN or ITIN to MIT the IRS may impose a penalty of $50 unless your failure is due to reasonable cause and not to willful neglect.

If MIT discloses or uses your SSN in violation of Federal Law, MIT may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

To update your information, student access WebSIS (student.mit.edu) and follow the links: For Students/Personal Records/ Biographic and Emergency Records.

Please note: · All updates must be made online through WebSIS; do not email this information to anyone! · You or your parent may be claiming these educational tax credits or deductions on your income tax return and will want this information provided to the IRS.

If you have any question regarding this request, please contact us sfs@mit.edu.

~MIT Student Financial Services

December 2016
USCIS Announces Increase in Application Fees

For applications received on or after December 23, 2016, F-1 Optional Practical Training, F-1 STEM OPT, and J-2 work permission application fees will increase. See USCIS Announcement for more details.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015
STEM OPT Lawsuit

Dear International Student:

Dear MIT Alumni on post-completion OPT,

The ISO has received inquiries regarding the news on August 12, 2015 that the United States District Court for the District of Columbia had ruled that the STEM OPT extension being vacated (eliminated), effective as of February 12, 2016.  

It is important to note the following information available to date concerning this decision:
  • As of today, DHS has not provided any detailed response regarding the ruling;
  • We do understand that the ruling, in providing a “stay” (delay) of the effective date of the elimination of the STEM OPT Extension, may be providing DHS with time to submit and post an updated version of the rule that will meet the requirements set forth by the court.  In short, the court may be providing with this delay time for DHS to comply with the issues that were challenged in court in order to continue the STEM OPT Extension process;  
  • The Obama Administration, and others in Congress, have voiced support for the STEM OPT Extension, so we hope that indeed DHS will be communicating shortly of their intended actions to continue the STEM OPT Extension.   
We cannot predict exactly what will happen, but we will be watching for developments concerning the STEM OPT Extension, including any announcements from DHS.  In the meantime, you can continue to file, if eligible, for the STEM OPT Extension. We also recommend that you be in contact with your employer to talk about other visa/employment options in the event the STEM OPT Extension will indeed be eliminated in February 2016.  

We hope that this information is helpful and we will be sure to provide any updates on the STEM OPT Extension as they develop.  Please feel free to contact the ISO to speak with an advisor if you have any questions.

Best regards,
The ISO staff

Monday, August 31, 2015
ISO Welcomes David C. Elwell

David C. Elwell has been named Associate Dean and Director of the ISO. [Read more]

Friday, July 10, 2015
Newly Redesigned I-20 Form

Dear International Student:

Beginning June 26, 2015, any new Form I-­20 that is produced will be in new redesigned format. All F-­1 students and F-­2 dependents will be required to have a new version of the form by July 1, 2016. Some notable changes you will find on the redesigned Form I­-20 include:

  • A more visible SEVIS ID number, school and program of study for the student
  • A better separation of the student’s information from the dependent(s) information
  • General design improvements that include moving the instructions to the third page of the Form I-­20, as well as the removal of the barcode, and the blocks for visa and port of entry information

For more information, please see the DHS Study in the States website anouncement and the DHS Redesigned Form I-20 SEVIS Fact Sheet.

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