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March 26, 2014

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.

April edition - topics include Easter, Passover, Paying U.S. Taxes, and the Rules of Baseball.

March edition - topics includeTipping and the Minimum Wage, What's So Funny?, St. Patrick's Day, and Summer Camps.

February edition - topics include President's Day, Valentine's Day, and Black History Month.


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March 10, 2014

Warning - IRS Scam

Beware of a scam where someone pretending to be an IRS (Internal Revenue Service) officer sends you an e-mail or calls you to ask for your personal information.

Please remember, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

Please see more information on the IRS website:


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June 28, 2013

Same Sex Marriage Immigration Benefits

The United States Supreme Court has declared the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. This is the statute that prevented the Immigration Service from recognizing as valid same sex marriages even where those marriages were legal in the state (or foreign country) where they took place.

In light of this development, it is now possible for foreign nationals who entered into a legal same sex marriage to immediately seek and obtain any benefits accorded to spouses under the immigration laws.  These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Applying for a green card on the basis of marriage to a US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident;
  • Acquiring green card status as the spouse of an applicant seeking a green card in an employment-based category  (or self sponsored category such as EB-1A or NIW);
  • Obtaining derivative status as the spouse of a nonimmigrant in F, J, H, L, or any other category;
  • Seeking various waivers and other exceptions that apply only to spouses of US citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

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May 2, 2013

New arrival procedure at U.S. air and sea ports of entry

Starting in late April/early May 2013, arrival procedures at U.S. air and sea ports of entry will change:

  • In most cases, international travelers will no longer be given a paper Form I-94 upon arrival to the United States. Instead, they will be given an admission stamp in their passports by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and will be instructed to print a copy of their electronic Form I-94 admission record and number from

  • More information is available on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website:
    CBP Fact Sheet on I-94 "Automation"
    CBP Instructional Video - How to access electronic I-94 admission record/number from

  • CBP is widely publicizing the new process and providing guidance to other government agencies. The admission stamp in the passport notated with immigration status will serve of valid proof of entry and visa status for many purposes. However, there may initially be confusion at government agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and other places where the paper I-94 card was previously required.

  • The ISchO is therefore recommending that international scholars and family members print an electronic I-94 admission record every time they return from a trip outside the U.S. and keep it with their passport/immigration documents. The usual documents, including the printout of the electronic I-94 admission record, can then be presented to  government agencies and to MIT payroll, the International Scholars Office, and other campus offices, as needed.

*Important Notes*

  • Scholars and family members with paper I-94 cards currently stapled into passports do not need to do anything at the present time. Paper I-94 cards will continue to serve as valid proof of status. However, the next time the scholar and/or family members travel, the old I-94 cards will be removed upon departure from the U.S., and the new process will be applied to them upon their return.

  • Scholars with I-94s issued as part of a USCIS approval notice(after receiving approval of a petition for change of status to H-1B, O-1, etc.) should staple the I-94 portion of the notice into their passports. These scholars do not need to do anything at the present time. They will be treated as stated above.

  • Arrival procedures at U.S. land ports of entry are not expected to change. International travelers making an initial entry to the U.S. through a land port of entry will continue to be given a paper Form I-94.

  • Under limited circumstances, some scholars may still receive a paper Form I-94 at an air or sea port of entry, which should be kept in the passport until the next trip abroad unless other special instructions are given by the CBP officer at the port of entry.

  • All international scholars planning to travel should continue to read the ISchO's Travel Advisory and contact the ISchO with questions.

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July 23, 2012

Warning - Immigration Scam

Beware of a Scam Where Someone Pretending to be an Immigration Officer Calls You.

The ISchO has received notice about a new scam potentially victimizing foreign nationals and we wanted to alert you to it.  According to one report, the individual will receive a call from someone claiming to be a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer, who will have certain correct information on the individual, including the person’s name and address. The caller will state that there is some discrepancy in the USCIS records, and ask for confirmation of data, such as an I-94 number, an “A” number, or a visa control number. The caller will then tell the individual that there is a penalty for not clearing up the discrepancy, and that the individual is to send a sum of money via Western Union, to an address the caller provides.

Be on alert if you or any one you know receives such calls and report them to appropriate law enforcement authorities, which may include the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, whose Consumer Sentinel database is accessed by criminal and civil law enforcement authorities worldwide.

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