News

Fall 2020 Update for F-1 Visa Students

Dear international students,

 

The Department of Homeland Security has provided updated information today on the Fall 2020 semester and F-1 student visas. Many of you are already asking about this message. The government hopes to publish this information as a temporary rule. We are providing you this information for your planning, but we do not know if this will be the final outcome for Fall.  We recognize that many of these provisions present a significant hardship to students and will be extremely difficult for many to fulfill. We are working with our Office of Government Relations at this time to advocate for changes to this rule, as will other Universities across the United States.  Please note that these rules do not apply to J-1 visa holders; the U.S. Department of State has oversight over the J-1 visa and has not yet issued its Fall 2020 guidance. 

 

Here are the important points to consider from the broadcast message, and our interpretation this could apply to your UConn coursework this Fall: 

 

Continuing/Active Students

 

  • If you will take your Fall 2020 courses entirely online, these courses must be completed outside the U.S. In very limited cases, your SEVIS record might be able to stay active while abroad, if your academic program has decided to offer its courses entirely online and you have no other choice but to study through distance learning. If your program is offering courses both in-person and online, and you take your courses entirely online, your SEVIS record may not remain active. You will need to request a new I-20 and pay a new SEVIS fee to return to the U.S.  If your visa is unexpired, we expect that you may use the same visa to return with your new I-20. We will communicate more details on this process in the future.  

 

  • If you take your courses as a mix of in-person and online courses, you may remain in the U.S. on your student visa. You must enroll full time, but this can be a mixture of online and in-person courses.  It is our current interpretation that at least one course must be in-person, and you should try to take only the minimum online courses needed to make normal progress toward completing your degree. This could be subject to change. If it does, we will let you know. 

 

  • We do not know when students will be required to depart the U.S., if taking their courses entirely online.

 

  • Course registration for continuing students does not re-open until July 27, and you must wait until this date to change your courses. However, you can currently view which courses will be taught in-person or partially in-person, and which courses will be taught entirely online, in Student Admin. The course codes can be found here. This may help you in your planning. If you plan to remain in the U.S., it is important to communicate to your academic advisor that you need to have at least one in-person course.  

 

  • All active/current students must report to ISSS where you will be taking courses by completing the Fall 2020 Check In Form (All Active Students). ISSS needs you to complete this form as soon as you know your plans for fall, and no later than August 1. ISSS will issue an updated I-20 form with comments about your study location. This will be issued electronically. 

 

  • It is our current understanding that active students who study abroad at a UConn partner institution in their home country during Fall semester may keep their SEVIS records active, as they can under normal F-1 visa guidelines. 

 

  • We are awaiting guidance on how the planned rule changes will impact student visas when the University changes to entirely online courses after Thanksgiving break.   

New Students

  • New students on F-1 visas who will arrive in the U.S. for Fall semester must enroll in at least one in-person course for Fall 2020. 

 

  • New students who cannot enroll in at least one in-person course for Fall 2020 should plan to remain in their home country to begin their program remotely. 

 

  • All students who will not be able to arrive for Fall 2020 should submit a SEVIS Defer-Update I-20/DS-2019 Start Date form. This includes students who have deferred their admission term, students who will study online from home, and students who will enroll in a UConn First Year program in China. This also includes transfer-in students who will spend their first UConn semester studying outside the U.S.  

 

  • To be safe, we advise students who have filed an I-539 to change visa status to F-1 beginning Fall semester to enroll in at least one in-person course for Fall 2020. 

 

Thank you for your patience as we work to understand the details of the planned rule. ISSS is experiencing a high volume of inquiries at this time.  While we may not be able to provide you with all of the information you need,  we are working with our colleagues and resources to understand these proposed changes and get this information to you as quickly as possible. Once we have a better understanding of the proposed rule, we will host a meeting to answer your questions. Please continue to check our Fall 2020 Information and Resources page for continued updates. 


Thank you all for your attention during this challenging time. 

ISSS Summer Book Club Meets Fridays in July

July 10, 3 pm – 4 pm: ISSS Summer Book Club

Join ISSS Advisor Sarah Manning for the first ISSS Summer Book Club. Have you ever gotten lost in a book? Now is the best time to do it! Join ISSS for a community book club. We will be reading We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This is a summer mystery book that will be fun to discuss and share. Sign Up here to participate. 

Reminder of Quarantine Guidelines for International Travelers

International Students and Scholar Services would like to remind UConn students and visiting scholars who travel to campus from international locations that they should self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival to the United States. Current Center for Disease Control guidelines ask that international travelers stay home and monitor their health for this period, to prevent community spread and protect the health of others.  The University has already established the expectation that new students who live on campus arrive two weeks before classes to quarantine, with limited outings to obtain food and other necessities. International students and visiting scholars  who live off-campus must also consider this policy, while CDC guidelines remain in place.  

All international students and scholars traveling from international destinations  should plan to arrive 14 days before you are expected to be on campus for coursework or employment. As a recent traveler, it will be impossible to follow a strict quarantine, and you will need to leave your room/home to get food from the dining halls or grocery stores and other necessary items, following health precautions like mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social-distancing.  However outside of these outings, you should stay home to the extent possible for these 14 days. You should monitor your health symptoms and take your temperature daily. If you will live on-campus, your housing will be available two weeks before classes begin to accommodate this quarantine period, and you will have access to on-campus dining services for meal pick-up. If you are living off-campus, you may need to ensure that your lease covers an earlier move-in date, and if it does not, you may need to find other short-term housing.  

We are very sympathetic to the extra burden this requirement may impose, as you try to arrange for a timely arrival to the U.S. For graduate students who anticipate arriving late, you will need to take into consideration this quarantine period and the effect it may have on your studies and where applicable your employment. For those international students who have a Graduate Assistant appointment for the fall 2020 semester or 2020/2021 academic year, your employment as a GA begins on the date specified in your offer letter and work assignments should not be performed before that date. If you believe you will be arriving late, contact the Graduate School and your program as early as possible as late arrivals will be handled on a case-by-case basis. 

New visiting scholars should plan to arrive two weeks before your intended program start date. If this is not possible, your start date at UConn should be delayed so that you can arrive two weeks before your start date.  We appreciate your understanding and cooperation, to support your health and safety and those of others, during this unprecedented time. 

It is especially important during a health pandemic that you have health insurance covering you from the time you arrive in the United States.  If you have the UConn Student Health Insurance Plan (UConn SHIP), your coverage will be effective August 15. If you have the Graduate Assistant employee health plan (CT Partnership Plan), your coverage will not be effective until the 1st of the month following your Assistantship/eligible Fellowship start date, and you should obtain insurance in your home country to cover you temporarily until your employee insurance becomes active. 

 

Thank you and please contact ISSS at international@uconn.edu  if you have any further questions. 

 

Presidential Proclamation from June 22

Dear international students and scholars,

 

As you may now, yesterday President Trump signed a Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak

 

This proclamation suspends the entry to the U.S. of certain visa holders through December 31, 2020, including:

 

  • H-1B and H-2B visa holders, and their dependents
  • J-1 visas in the following categories: intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and their dependents
  • L visa holders, and their dependents

 

The proclamation does not impact: 

  • Those who are currently in the U.S. and seeking a Change of Status to H-1B 
  • Those currently in the U.S. and seeking an extension of H-1B status
  • Those who are outside the U.S. and have a current, valid H-1B visa stamp – reentry is possible on the current visa. 
  • J-1 visas in the student, student intern, research scholar, professor, short term scholar and specialist categories. 
  • F-1 OPT or CPT work authorizations, or Change of Status inside the U.S. from F-1 to H-1B

 

If you are currently outside the U.S., and you are transitioning to H-1B status through consular processing, please consult with your employer for further assistance. If you are currently on OPT and transitioning to H-1B through Change of Status, we urge you to be cautious with any international travel plans. If you have difficulty returning in F-1 status, you will not be able to rely on applying for your H-1B visa abroad, as a back-up. We will update students and OPT participants with any further developments on this proclamation, as we learn of them. 

 

 

ISSS Message on Racial Justice Protests in U.S.

Originally sent on June 5

Dear International students and scholars,

 

In recent weeks, Americans have voiced their pain and frustration over systemic racism and violence in our culture toward black men and women through protests, demonstrations, memorials and campaigns in many cities.  Many of these protests have been peaceful, but some have resulted in violence, looting, and aggression, which can be very scary to experience if you are here and away from home. This experience may be especially difficult for our black international students and scholars, as you may be considering your own identity in terms of U.S. racial constructs. You may be scared about how police in the U.S. could treat you, or you may have experienced racism toward you or your family members. 

 

On May 31, 2020, UConn President Tom Katsouleas and Provost Carl Lejuez stated to the University community that “These events underscore the critical importance of our infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in everything we do every single day. Not with mantra and platitudes, but with clearly articulated and tangible action that is supported by the University with budget and action. As scholars, educators, and colleagues, we are uniquely positioned to reflect, learn, and act.”

 

This message is to help international students and scholars have some basic context for what is happening in the U.S. right now, and find resources to learn more.

 

1.    Connecticut and Safety: Connecticut is generally a very safe state. Protests and demonstrations held in Connecticut to support racial justice have been held in communities large and small, and while police have been deployed to some cities, demonstrations have been peaceful. There are no curfews currently in place in Connecticut or its cities. ISSS works closely with UConn police to support our international students and scholars. Students who are overseas can follow the local Connecticut news through such media as the Hartford Courant, the Daily Campus and the Willimantic Chronicle.  UConn campuses are located in rural locations (Storrs and Avery Point) or small cities (Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury). UConn values a diverse environment with students from all racial, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

 

2.    Know Your Rights: The American Civil Liberties Union provides resources on knowing your legal rights not to be discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin or your immigration status, and your rights when stopped by police/law enforcement.

 

3.    Understanding race and ethnicity in America:  Learning more about the history of race and the civil rights movement in America is vital to understanding U.S. history and culture. The concepts of race and ethnicity may carry different meaning and significance in America than in other countries where you have lived. Many international students may not think about themselves in terms of racial identity before arriving in the United States, and suddenly find themselves identified by others in terms of race based on their physical appearance. This can be uncomfortable and disorienting. For some international students, your perception of racial identities may have been formed by pop culture, or the news media, and coming to the U.S. helps you to confront these perceptions. The World Education News and Review provides a definition of race and ethnicity in the U.S. context, that can be helpful for international students to understand the different use of these terms in America:

 

Race refers to a categorization of people based on physical characteristics (or phenotypes), such as skin color. Race is widely acknowledged to be a social construct, something formulated and understood differently in different national and other social contexts based on different histories and cultures. In the U.S., race is often described as being a “white/black binary,”[1] informed heavily by the country’s history of slavery and racial segregation focused primarily on black Americans.

 

Ethnicity refers to categorizations based on cultural differences, such as language, customs, and beliefs, as well as ancestry. This would include groups such as Chinese (or Chinese American), Jewish (or Jewish American), Cherokee, and so forth. Many countries around the world have more than one ethnic group living within their borders, all of which would be classified as the same race in the U.S. For example, in Nigeria, the largest ethnic groups are Hausa, Igbo (Ibo), Yoruba, and Fulani, according to the CIA World Factbook. Each group has its own language, history, culture, and traditions. Of course, race and ethnicity can have complicated overlaps, and there is no full, universally agreed-upon distinction between the two.

 

4.    The Black Lives Matter movement and current demonstrations: The current U.S. protests and demonstrations were triggered by the death of a black man, George Floyd, after a police officer pinned him down by his neck for minutes during an arrest. The protests, however, reflect years of frustration and pain over black men and women losing their lives to police aggression, with little done by leadership to change the culture of racism in our police enforcement and communities, and a complex history of slavery, racial abuse and discrimination. The Black Lives Matter movement formed in 2013 out of the African American community to campaign against systemic violence toward black people and is now a global human rights movement. People from all backgrounds have participated in the recent demonstrations, to show their support for all people of color who may be suffering under systems of oppression. If you are living in a city and do not feel safe due to potential for violence, stay indoors while they are happening. If you want to participate in the protests, you have a legal right to do so, but if you are arrested this could potentially impact your eligibility for future visas to the United States.

 

5.    How to learn more? ISSS has compiled some resources and suggestions to become more informed about the history of race in the U.S. and the current protests and demonstrations for racial justice:

●        Take a class: UConn offers many classes that teach about racial justice, racism, and different identities and affinities in the U.S. Look to classes in the social sciences and humanities, such as Sociology, Africana Studies, Human Rights, Human Development and Family Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies, Anthropology, and more, for options.

●        Follow events and resources from the UConn African American Cultural Center, the Africana Studies Institute and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Also follow events and resources from the UConn Asian American Cultural CenterPuerto Rico/Latin American Cultural CenterRainbow Center, and Women’s Center.

●        Explore further reading resources and racial justice resources compiled by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

●        Check out the UConn Rainbow Center’s Anti-Racist Resources.

●        UConn student organizations can be a good starting point to show active support or learn more on a particular issue you are passionate about. Look for organizations in the Activism & Advocacy category at UConntact.

●        Using inclusive language shows your support and effort to create a welcome environment for all. If English is not your first language, it can be intimidating to learn the nuances of inclusive language use. You can search online for guides to inclusive language, and check out the Rainbow Center’s Guide to Gender and Pronouns and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s glossary for helpful language. 

●        Read UConn President Katsouleas’ and Provost Lejuez’s  message to the community.

●        Read about Black Lives Matter movement.

●        BBC Viewpoint: What It’s Like to be an African in the U.S.

●        NPR (National Public Radio) Special Series American Reckons With Racial Injustice and Code Switch Podcast 

●        PBS Newshour Series, Race Matters

Please feel free to contact ISSS or any of the UConn resources above if you have questions or concerns. As we identify new resources, we will add these to our webpage under the News posts.

New Presidential Proclamation Issued

On Friday, May 29, President Trump published a Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China. This proclamation goes into effect at noon EST on June 1 and will remain in effect until terminated by the President. ISSS wants you to know that we are following this development and can provide you with the following limited information at this time.

What we know:

This proclamation intends to restrict the entry to the United States of students and exchange visitors for study or research if they have connections to any institution that supports China’s “military-civil fusion strategy”, defined as a national of the PRC seeking entry as an F or J visa holder to study or research, and  who either receives funding from or who currently is employed by, studies at, or conducts research at or on behalf of, or has been employed by, studied at, or conducted research at or on behalf of, an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the PRC’s “military-civil fusion strategy”.

This proclamation does not apply to students coming for undergraduate study, to those who are studying or conducting research in a field “involving information that would not contribute to the PRC’s military-civil fusion strategy”,  permanent residents of the United States, to someone who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and limited other exception categories.

The proclamation keeps open the possibility for other future changes.  It directs appropriate government agencies to consider revoking  the visas of PRC nationals who meet the identified criteria, and are currently located in the United States, to review in the next 60 days other nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs to assess whether measures should be taken to protect access to sensitive technologies and intellectual property, and for government agencies to consider issuing updated regulations and guidance to implement the new provisions.

What we don’t know:

We do not know a lot about how the order will impact you, the students and researchers.  For example, the proclamation does not tell us how individuals will be identified as meeting the identified criteria, how that identification will be flagged, or which institutions are considered to support the PRC’s military-civil infusion strategy. We do not know which fields of study in the U.S. will be considered “OK”, or whether students/exchange visitors whose visas are revoked while inside the U.S. will need to leave the country. The proclamation leaves much of the details to still be worked out among the various government agencies who will need to implement the order.

Next Steps:

ISSS will keep international students up to date on the details of this order, and let you know what we can once more information is available. We plan to have a webinar in the coming weeks to address your questions and concerns. While at this time we do not have any specific recommendations for students regarding travel, graduate students and exchange visitors who were considering to travel outside the U.S. may need  to consider this proclamation when determining your plans, especially if you study or research in a field that potentially involves sensitive technologies.

Thank you, and we hope to have more information for you soon.

UConn SHaW Provides Support Group for International Students

Do you feel stressed about the COVID-19 situation? Do you feel lonely when you maintain social distancing? Join our international students support group! The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many people’s life, especially international students. The Student Health and Wellness-Mental Health office is here to support! We are offering a support group for all UConn international students who reside in U.S. during this period of global pandemic, where you can express your concerns, connect with others, and support your peers!

The support group will be conducted through WebEx on Friday, 6/5, at 1 pm for one hour. Please sign up through the relevant WebEx registration links below if you are interested. Please spread the word and join us!

If you have any questions, please contact SHaW-MH at 860-486-4705 or email Dr. Song at chao.song@uconn.edu.

Sign up: International Students Support Group in English: http://bit.ly/intlsupport65

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

觉得压力山大吗? 觉得孤单吗?加入我们的中国留学生互助小组吧!COVID-19 极大的影响了人们的生活,尤其是中国留学生。为了更好的支援中国留学生,学生心理咨询中心将为无法回国的中国留学生提供一个在线互助小组。中国留学生可以在小组里用中文表达各种顾虑,互相支持,互相帮助。

互助小组时间为65日周五下午2 点到3 点。如有兴趣,请用以下的WebEx链接注册!如果你的朋友或同学有需要,请广而告之!如有问题,请致电学生心理咨询中心860-486-4705 或邮件联系宋老师chao.song@uconn.edu.

Sign up: Chinese International Students Support Group in Chinese: http://bit.ly/chineseintlsupport

Do you need to file taxes? Watch Sprintax Workshop free online.

Do you still need to file taxes?  Watch a free Sprintax Workshop for general information about U.S. tax filing process including the forms necessary, the steps to follow and the process to file your taxes.  Sprintax is hosting a series of free workshops on nonresident alien tax filing from now until July 1st, 2020.  Read more about taxes visit: https://isss.uconn.edu/tax-preparation-resources/

International students and scholars can prepare their federal tax return and 8843 form online using Sprintax. This service is provided free for current UConn students and scholars, as well as recent graduates who are on post-completion OPT, or Academic Training. Sprintax can also prepare your state tax return for an extra fee. Sprintax prepares tax forms for individuals who are nonresident aliens for tax purposes. The software will have you complete a short questionnaire to determine whether you qualify to use the service. You will need to request an access code from ISSS that you will enter at “Checkout” to obtain your federal tax preparation at no cost. Email international@uconn.edu and provide your full name and Peoplesoft number if you would like to request an access code and a link to the Sprintax portal.

International students may prepare their own tax returns or seek other options to file their tax returns. The IRS webpage lists options for filing tax returns.

Sprintax Student Webinar Schedule and Registration Details

Webinar 1: Thursday, April 30th @ 12pm EST

Please register for Sprintax Open Webinar on Apr 30, 2020 12:00 PM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3405344048290225936

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Brought to you by GoToWebinar®  Webinars Made Easy®

 

Webinar 2:  Wednesday, May 13 @ 12pm EST

Please register for Sprintax Open Webinar 2 on May 13, 2020 12:00 PM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7454661754926884365

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Brought to you by GoToWebinar® Webinars Made Easy®

 

Webinar 3:  Wednesday, May 27th @ 1pm EST

Please register for Sprintax Open Webinar 3 on May 27, 2020 1:00 PM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4064682688540467727

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Brought to you by GoToWebinar® Webinars Made Easy®

          

Webinar 4:  Thursday, June 11th @ 11am EST

Please register for Sprintax Open Webinar 4 on Jun 11, 2020 11:00 AM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5501302382369394703

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Brought to you by GoToWebinar® Webinars Made Easy®

 

Webinar 5:  Wednesday, July 1st @ 12pm EST

Please register for Sprintax Open Webinar 5 on Jul 1, 2020 12:00 PM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7533961832057510415

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

For Faculty: Online Instruction and International Students

ISSS would like to share some tips for working with international students through online learning. These tips were shared by Jodi Simek, International Student and Scholars, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the Global Ambassadors at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, with added suggestions offered by current UConn international students from the ISSS Student Advisory Board and CETL. 

 

Tips for Online Instruction with International Students Due to COVID-19 

While international students are required to take a certain number of in-person courses, the federal authorities are allowing institutions a temporary change in mode of instruction due to COVID-19.   This means that you may have international students taking your class from UConn residence halls and the local community, other parts of the United States, or from their home country. Below are a few thoughts compiled from international students to help you prepare for online instruction:

  1. International students who went home would rather be in your class.  Their families, governments, or exchange programs are recalling them. They are experiencing culture shock and returning to a home very different than the one they left.  For many, it is a dream cut short.
  2. They may be in forced home or governmental quarantine for a period of time where they may not have access to the internet.
  3. They may be joining your course or advising appointments in the middle of the night, where they may share space with family who are sleeping.  Consider being as flexible as possible with assessments and their timely administration for international students, recording your synchronous class sessions so that students can view the content in their local time and refer back to the content for additional review. If instructors are considering holding tests at multiple times, we have found that 8 am EST works well for many other time zones.
  4. If the mode of instruction will increase spontaneous written response in online discussion, they may be writing with an accent without the opportunity to check their own writing.  As we typically allow people to speak with an accent, consider that in spontaneous writing. Similarly, if you have time, please consider close captioning your recorded lectures. CETL offers workshops on how to do this using Kaltura machine-generated captioning and additional information can be found at https://ecampus.uconn.edu/keep-teaching-strategies/  Research suggests closed captioning enhances retention for all students including ESL students. 
  5. Some websites are not readily available in China but may be accessed through VPN, such as google products, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.  WeChat works. We have told students that they need to anticipate these challenges, but they may reach out to you about their concerns and technology limitations for their courses. 
  6. Students who are graduate assistants are still fulfilling their GA duties remotely. It is really challenging to balance this along with online courses. Added to this mental stress, students are considering that their summer plans to travel or visit family will not be possible if the pandemic persists worldwide. Once this is all over, many students will appreciate a break to get away or see their families.  
  7. Students appreciate having extra study guides to supplement the course content, especially for content-heavy courses. This is especially helpful for students who cannot participate in online office-hours due to time differences.
  8. The students are anxious. There is a lot of pressure on them to do well. We continuously remind them to reach out to you to talk about their concerns and limitations, and they really appreciate faculty checking in on them to see if they need anything or have any questions.