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February 17, 2017

Tax Information Sessions for International Scholars

Sessions for "Non-Residents" for Tax Purposes
February 28, 2017 and March 7, 2017
Download flyer

Session for "Residents" for Federal Tax Purposes
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Download flyer

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February 17, 2017

Information and Resources for Scholars Affected by the January 27, 2017 Executive Order

NAFSA: Association of International Eductors

Executive Order Travel Ban: NAFSA Resources - Resources are being added as the situation develops and currently include:

  • FAQ on Immigration Benefits and the Executive Order
  • Travel Advisory for Nationals of Certain Countries Pursuant to Executive Order

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

The ACLU has a web page with tips about what your rights are if you are stopped by the police or questioned about your immigration status.

MIT MyLife Services

A free and confidential counseling and work-life resource benefit available to provide support, guidance, and resources to all faculty, staff, postdocs and family members. MyLife Services can help you and your family members with:

  • Phone and in-person counseling for stress and emotional concerns
  • A 30-minute legal consultation with an attorney, by phone, who is familiar with immigration law
  • Massachusetts and national immigration resources

MyLife Services is available 24/7. To reach MIT MyLife Services, call 844-405-LIFE (5433) any time or email info@MITMyLifeServices.com.

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ISchO communications about the January 27, 2017 Executive Order

February 17, 2017

Message from the International Scholars Office about potential Executive Orders on visa issues

Dear International Scholars,

As you may have heard, it is likely that new Executive Orders will be released impacting foreign nationals, although we do not know how they will affect individuals from the originally mentioned seven countries and/or whether they will include other countries. It is possible that such Orders could be released soon, perhaps as early as next week. Unfortunately, we cannot predict this with any certainty. Please rest assured we will update you as soon as more information becomes available. You may also monitor our web page at http://web.mit.edu/scholars/news/index.html.

The International Scholars Office (ISchO) shares your concerns about the implementation of new Executive Orders. As always, we encourage you to contact the ISchO if you plan to travel, have concerns about renewing your visa, have questions about your future work or visa plans, or other issues. Our walk-in hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, or you may e-mail ischo@mit.edu or call 617-253-2851 to schedule an appointment with an advisor or to ask questions.

 

February 10, 2017

Update for International Scholars on Nonimmigrant Visas (J-1, H-1, F-1 OPT, F-1 STEM OPT, O-1, B-1, etc.)

On Thursday, February 9, 2017 a federal appeals court declined to reinstate parts of President Trump’s Executive Order from January 27, which imposed a ban on travel and visa issuance for nationals of seven countries. A Temporary Restraining Order remains in place pending further review by the courts.

What does this mean if you are from one of the seven countries affected by the original Executive Order (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen)? It means that for the moment:

  • Citizens of the 7 countries listed above, with valid documents and US entry visas, should continue to be admitted to the US.
  • US Consulates should continue to schedule appointments and accept visa applications from these 7 countries.

However, this could change at any time.

If you are from one of these 7 countries, the International Scholars Office advises you to think very carefully about your need to travel outside the United States. If you must travel for urgent reasons, you should consult a qualified immigration attorney before traveling. At this time, it is advised not to travel if a new US entry visa would be needed in order to return.

All visa applicants must be interviewed by US consular officials. As always, when applying for visas at US consulates abroad, citizens of these seven countries will still be subject to mandatory security clearances, which can take several months or longer.

Dual Nationals

An individual holding a passport from another country (not on the list of 7 countries), who presents that passport with a valid US visa stamp, is still eligible for admission to the US (regardless of the country of birth).

“Travelers are being treated according to the travel document they present.” https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states 

Update for US Permanent Residents 

White House counsel has issued guidance stating that an individual holding a passport from one of the 7 countries listed above who has been granted US Permanent Residence (green card) is still eligible for admission to the US.

“Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States traveling on a valid I-551 will be allowed to board U.S. bound aircraft and will be assessed for exceptions at arrival ports of entry, as appropriate. The entry of these individuals, subject to national security checks, is in the national interest. Therefore, we expect swift entry for these individuals.” https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/01/29/protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states

 

February 7, 2017

Update for International Scholars

I. Court Hearing Today
II. Travel and Visas
III. USCIS Processing of Applications

I. COURT HEARING TODAY

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments today (Tuesday, February 7) at 6pm Eastern time (3pm Pacific time) to decide if a temporary restraining order blocking parts of President Trump’s Executive Order will be extended. Under the Executive Order, admission of nationals from seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) to the United States was suspended.

The hearing will be live-streamed, and made available on the Ninth Circuit''s website at https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov. Access the stream at the bottom of the page under the subheading "Live Streaming Oral Arguments," or from the "Cases of Interest Page" nearer the top through the following link: www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/.... Because the hearing will be conducted telephonically, the stream is audio only (no video).

II. TRAVEL AND VISAS

If the court decides that certain parts of the Executive Order should continue to be blocked:

  • Citizens of the 7 countries listed above, with valid documents and US entry visas, should continue to be admitted to the US
  • US Consulates should continue to schedule appointments and accept visa applications from these individuals. (Note: Department of State has not confirmed that applications will be processed, only that they will be accepted.)

If the court declines to continue blocking these parts of the President’s Executive Order, travel and visa applications will once again be halted.

If you are from one of these 7 countries, the International Scholars Office advises you to think very carefully about your need to travel outside the United States. If you must travel for urgent reasons, you should consult a qualified immigration attorney before traveling.

US Permanent Residents
If you hold a passport from one of the 7 countries listed above and you have US Permanent Residence (green card), you are still eligible for admission to the US.

“Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States traveling on a valid I-551 will be allowed to board U.S. bound aircraft and will be assessed for exceptions at arrival ports of entry, as appropriate. The entry of these individuals, subject to national security checks, is in the national interest. Therefore, we expect swift entry for these individuals.” https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/01/29/protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states 

Dual Nationals
If you hold a passport from another country (not on the list of 7 countries), and you present that passport with a valid US visa stamp, you are still be eligible for admission to the US (regardless of your country of birth).

“Travelers are being treated according to the travel document they present.” https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states

III. USCIS APPLICATION PROCESSING

As of this moment, US Citizenship and Immigration Services has confirmed it will continue to accept and process applications/petitions including:

  • F-1 OPT applications
  • F-1 OPT STEM extension applications
  • H-1B petitions
  • J-2 applications for work permission (EAD)
  • Changes of status
  • Extensions of status

As of the writing of this alert, USCIS has indicated that despite the Executive Order signed by the President on January 27, 2017, it will continue processing applications and petitions regardless of the country of origin of the beneficiary. https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-implementation-jan-27-executive-order

Note: Forms DS-2019 for J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 family members are processed by the J-1 program sponsor, not by USCIS.

 

February 3, 2017

On this date, MIT joined seven other Massachusetts universities and filed an amicus brief with the federal court in Boston. The brief supported a lawsuit asking the court to order the US government to stop enforcing the President’s January 27 Executive Order.

“In the submission, MIT and the other universities sought to educate the court about the vital role that international faculty, scholars, and students play in our communities, as well as the importance of their contributions to the nation and the world.” From MIT News. See the full article at http://news.mit.edu/2017/two-mit-undergraduates-return-us-middle-east-0203.

 

February 2, 2017

Suspension/Cancellation of Visa Appointments, Revocation of Visas, and Suspension of Adjudications

Dear International Scholars,

This is to confirm that the US Department of State has issued guidance to consulates worldwide directing them to cancel visa appointments and suspend visa issuance to nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen until further notice.

This means new scholars who were born in or who are citizens of these seven countries will be unable to get their initial visas to enter the US and current scholars traveling home or to conferences will not be able to renew their US entry visa stamps until further notice. Department of State is also cancelling green card interviews and suspending the issuance of immigrant visas at consular posts.

In addition, the US Department of State issued an order revoking all currently valid non-immigrant and immigrant visas issued to nationals of these countries.

You may read the announcements on the Department of State website at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/news.html and at http://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000159-f6bd-d173-a959-ffff671a0001.

Links to articles describing the situation in more detail can be found at http://www.wbur.org/news/2017/02/01/visas-revoked-state-department and https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-01-29/these-are-new-instructions-state-department-rushed-embassies-worldwide.

If you are currently in the US and are from one of the countries listed above, we continue to recommend that you DO NOT travel outside the country at this time. If you absolutely must travel, please be aware that you risk not being able to return as planned.

If you are outside of the US and have not yet contacted the ISchO, please e-mail us as soon as possible (ischo@mit.edu).

You may also be aware that in addition to visa issuance and entry into the US, the recent Executive Order refers in places to the “adjudication of other immigration benefits.” It is our understanding that in addition to suspending visa processing and entry into the US for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, USCIS may also halt adjudication of applications/petitions (including F-1 OPT, other applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status, and permanent residence applications) for citizens of these countries. However, at this time, it appears that USCIS is still accepting applications/petitions – just not making a final decision.

We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

Sincerely,

Penny Rosser
Director
International Scholars Office

 

January 30, 2017

Follow-up message about Executive Order Affecting Visas and Travel

Dear International Scholars;

This is a follow-up to the message that our office sent yesterday regarding the Executive Order that President Trump signed on Friday, January 27, which includes a 90-day ban on entry to the U.S. for individuals from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

As you may already be aware, several lawsuits have been filed challenging the Executive Order, including one in federal district court in Massachusetts. Early Sunday morning the Massachusetts court issued a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting the detention or removal of individuals from these seven countries who, absent the Executive Order, would be legally authorized to enter the U.S. For now the order will remain in effect for seven days from issuance. A copy of the court’s Order is attached (http://web.mit.edu/scholars/pdfs/CourtOrder1.29.17.pdf).

Although the court’s Order directs Customs and Border Protection to notify airlines of the Order and the fact that individuals on flights to Logan Airport will not be detained or returned based solely on the Executive Order, it is unclear how immigration officials will apply the Order in practice. As a result, the ISchO continues to advise scholars NOT to travel outside the U.S. unless it is absolutely necessary.

If you must travel, please be sure to return to the U.S. via Logan Airport within the next 6 days. If you or a family member are currently outside the U.S., we also recommend that you make your travel arrangements as soon as possible to enter the U.S. via Logan Airport within the next 6 days and notify the International Scholars Office Director, Penny Rosser, if you have not already done so (ischo@mit.edu).

We will continue to provide updates on any developments as soon as possible. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at 617-253-2851, ischo@mit.edu, or visit us at: 50 Ames Street, Room E18-209.

Sincerely,

International Scholars Office

 

January 28, 2017

URGENT - Follow-up about Executive Order Affecting Visas and Travel

Dear International Scholars:

We are following up on the recent e-mails we sent to you on Wednesday and Friday about the Executive Orders affecting visas and travel. As you may already know, the President’s Executive Order, which includes a 90-day ban on entry to the US for individuals who are citizens, nationals, or were born in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, was signed yesterday and went into effect immediately.

The official Executive Order has not yet appeared on the White House website. When it does, you will be able to view it at https://www.whitehouse.gov/. We will provide you with other resources as they become available.

Given the information currently available about the impact of the Executive Order, 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 official guidance on the interpretation of the Executive Order is received from US government agencies.

if you or any of your immediate family members are citizens, nationals, or born in any of these countries and are currently OUTSIDE of the US, please contact Penny Rosser, Director of the International Scholars Office (pennysun@mit.edu), and Vivian Ruiz, Assistant Director (ruizvn@mit.edu), right away to confirm this, and so we can address your questions and concerns.

Likewise, if you or your immediate family members are in need of urgent assistance for any reason, please contact Director Penny Rosser at pennysun@mit.edu, so that she can reply with her cell phone number and speak with you directly.

We want to reassure you that we are deeply concerned by these recent developments and their impact on members of our MIT community. The International Scholars Office will work closely with the MIT administration to support our international scholars and all those affected in the MIT community. We care deeply about our entire community and the diversity that embodies MIT, and we will continue to reflect these values. We will continue communicate with you further as additional information becomes available.

Again, please do not hesitate to contact us. You are always welcome to come to our office in E18-209. Our office hours are 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Monday – Friday.

Yours sincerely,

Penny Rosser
Director
MIT International Scholars Office

Vivian Ruiz
Assistant Director
MIT International Scholars Office

 

January 27, 2017

IMPORTANT Announcement about Possible Executive Orders Affecting Visas and Travel

To our International Scholars,

Given media reports about possible Executive Orders under consideration pertaining to potential visa application and travel restrictions for individuals from certain countries, the International Scholars Office (ISchO) and International Students Office (ISO) feel 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 ISchO, 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 ISchO and ISO staff any time. A list of services offered to MIT students and other members of the MIT community can be found at https://resources.mit.edu/resources/personal-support-and-wellness/all. Postdoctoral Associates and other MIT employees may also contact MyLife Services (http://hrweb.mit.edu/worklife/mitmylifeservices).

Sincerely,

Penny Rosser
Director
MIT International Scholars Office

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

 

January 25, 2017

Message from the International Scholars Office about potential Executive Orders on visa issues

Dear International Scholars,

As you may know, there have been a number of media reports in recent days regarding prospective visa restrictions that may be enacted by Executive Order this week by President Trump. It is expected that these actions will be announced within the next few days.

The International Scholars Office (ISchO) shares the concern and anxiety you may be feeling about how visa procedures and policies in the US may change under the new Presidential administration, and will notify you promptly if/when such changes are announced.

In the meantime, we would like to remind you that we continue to monitor potential visa and immigration changes, and advocate on these issues as they affect the international scholar community. The international higher education community, immigration attorneys, the national academies, MIT and peer universities, and other stakeholders have the interests of international students and scholars in mind as well as our own. High-profile stakeholders will continue to engage in advocacy to ensure the most highly trained, highly educated students and scholars from around the world are able to continue enriching our campuses, pursuing their academic goals, contributing significantly to the US economy, and training the next generation of US students.

As always, we encourage you to contact the ISchO if you plan to travel, have concerns about renewing your visa, have questions about your future work or visa plans, or other issues. Our walk-in hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, or you may e-mail ischo@mit.edu or call 617-253-2851 to schedule an appointment with an advisor.

Sincerely,

Penny Rosser
Director, International Scholars Office

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January 20, 2017

Newcomer's Almanac: A Newsletter for Newcomers to the United States

The Newcomer's Almanac is a publication of the Interchange Institute and is brought to you each month compliments of the International Scholars Office. You must have an MIT certificate to access the newsletter.

February edition - topics include Background to Today's News; Valentine's Day; and Translating the US Kitchen.

January edition - topics include Living in a New News Era; New Year's Eve and New Year's Day; and Martin Luther King, Jr.

December edition - topics include Vocabulary for Today's News; the upcoming Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa holidays; Gift-Giving at the End of the Year; and Medical Care in the U.S.

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November 18, 2016

The International Scholars Office has Moved!

The International Scholars Office (ISchO) has moved to a new location in E18-209 (50 Ames Street).

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August 5, 2016

International Faculty Orientation

Monday, August 29, 2016
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Emma Rogers Conference Room (10-340)

Agenda (pdf)

Please RSVP to Vivian Ruiz

 

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April 29, 2016

Self-Sponsored Permanent Residence Options for Post-MIT Employment
April 26, 2016

Presentation Announcement

Slides*

*An MIT computer certificate is needed to access these files.

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March 18, 2016

Department of Homeland Security publishes new rule on F-1 Practical Training

On March 11, 2016, the US Department of Homeland Security published a new rule about F-1 Practical Training in the Federal Register. The rule becomes effective May 10, 2016. A summary taken from the Rule is below.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its F-1 nonimmigrant student visa regulations on optional practical training (OPT) for certain students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from U.S. institutions of higher education. Specifically, the final rule allows such  F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of OPT in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months (STEM OPT extension). This 24-month extension effectively replaces the 17-month STEM OPT extension previously available to certain STEM students. The rule also improves and increases oversight over STEM OPT extensions by, among other things, requiring the implementation of formal training plans by employers, adding wage and other protections for STEM OPT students and U.S. workers, and allowing extensions only to students with degrees from accredited schools. As with the prior 17-month STEM OPT extension, the rule authorizes STEM OPT extensions only for students employed by employers who participate in E-Verify. The rule also includes the “Cap-Gap” relief first introduced in a 2008 DHS regulation for any F-1 student with a timely filed H-1B petition and request for change of status.

Additional information and resources:

The final rule in its entirety and commentary

List of STEM designated degree programs

Comprehensive explanations of the new rule can be found on the following websites: Study in the States and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

What does this mean for you?

If you are a student in F-1 status, your primary source of information about Practical Training should be the International Office at the school that sponsored your F-1 visa. Please consult its websites and blogs.

  • Current F-1 regulations stay in effect until May 9, 2016. This means that if you currently have F-1 status and are in a period of post-completion optional practical training (OPT) you may continue working with your valid EAD.

  • If you are currently in your first, 12-month period of OPT and are eligible for a STEM extension, you may apply for the extension up to 90 days before the end of your current practical training period. You may request up to 24 months of STEM OPT if your application will be received by USCIS on or after May 10, 2016.

  • If you have applied or will apply for a STEM extension before May 10, 2016, your application will be accepted by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Because you will only be able to request 17 months of STEM OPT until the new rule goes into effect, USCIS will issue you a notice requesting further evidence (RFE) to enable you to reply with a new 24-month recommendation and other required documentation from the International Office at your home institution.

  • If you are already in a period of STEM OPT, granted for 17 months, you may apply for an additional 7-month extension (up to 24 months total), on or after May 10, 2016. You must have at least 150 calendar days left on your current STEM OPT EAD in order to apply for the additional OPT.

  • You should be aware that in order to be eligible for STEM OPT, the new rules require that your employer complete a training plan for you, meet certain salary requirements, and make certain attestations about US workers. Your employer must complete evaluations of your progress, and the Department of Homeland Security may make site visits to employers hosting international employees on F-1 OPT.

Please visit the links above for more information and consult your F-1 home institution.

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January 26, 2016

STEM OPT Update

On January 23, 2016, the U.S. District Court granted the Department of Homeland Security's request to extend the stay of the vacatur of the current STEM OPT rule from February 12, 2016 until May 10, 2016.

This extension allows current F-1 regulations to remain in place until May 10, 2016 while the agency completes review of over 50,000 comments received in response to its new proposed regulations. We expect DHS to republish the new STEM OPT regulations before May 10, 2016. The regulations will likely be released as a final or interim final rule.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • If you have an EAD that allows you to work, you may continue do so until May 10, 2016.

  • If you have not yet applied for STEM OPT, you may do so before May 10, 2016. And you may be able to request a further extension in the future if STEM OPT is expanded to 24 months.

  • Please continue to read the web postings, emails and tweets of the international office at the university that originally authorized your OPT/STEM OPT, as it may post important updates, advice and information. The MIT ISchO will also try to keep you informed of the latest developments.

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50 Ames St, Room E18-209, Cambridge, MA 02142 | Telephone: (617) 253-2851 | Fax: (617) 253-6624 | E-mail: ischo@mit.edu