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ISSS News

Welcome to the News page for ISSS!

Here is where you can find information about ISSS Programs and Announcements.

This page was last updated on: April 12, 2021.

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Announcements

Please expand each section below to view announcements by selecting the + sign.

ISSS News of the Week

Click here to see the ISSS News of the Week:

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Open Hours

ISSS offers Open Hours for students, exchange visitors, and alumni to come in and speak with an advisor in person. ISSS is currently working remotely for Spring 2021.

ISSS has moved to an online platform for advising. You can schedule a 15 minute meeting with an ISSS advisor during our Open Hours every weekday, Monday - Friday. 

GO HERE to schedule an appointment: https://go.oncehub.com/RPIISSSOffice

  • If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, please do so as soon as possible to open the space to others who need assistance.

Appointments will be held as virtual meetings via the WebEx platform.

  • An ISSS advisor will send you a calendar invitation that contains a link to access the WebEx meeting within one business day after your appointment is scheduled.
Scam Calls & Messages

ISSS Reminder Notices

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What Should You Do?

Do you suspect you have been scammed or received a scam message/phone call? Here are steps you can take:

  1. Report the scam to RPI.
    • Contact ISSS and contact Public Safety so they can take a report of what happened.
    • Public Safety may advise you to also file a police report with the Troy Police Department.
  2. If you provided sensitive information, like your SSN or financial information, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report identify theft and get a recovery plan
    • If the scam involved login credentials or card information, you need to contact your banks and credit card companies to inform them.
    • If the scam involved financial information or personal information, you can prevent fraud of your identity by requesting a credit freeze or placing a fraud alert on your credit.
  3. Report the scam to government agencies.

KNOWN SCAMS

IRS Scam Calls

Be ware of people calling who pretend to be the IRS. The IRS does not call to ask you for money. They only send you payment notifications via paper mail.

Often these callers say frightening words, such as they threaten to arrest you if you do not make payment [which is often via a gift card], or they will report you to ICE. If you receive a call, please note the caller's phone number and say that you will call them back, then contact ISSS via phone immediately.

DO NOT MAKE ANY PAYMENTS OVER THE PHONE. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated and are able to mask the number they call from so it looks like the FBI or the IRS.

USCIS or Department of Homeland Security Scam Calls

Be ware of people calling who pretend to be from USCIS or the Department of Homeland Security. Often the caller threatens to deport you if you do not pay to keep your visa status.

USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security will never contact you via phone.

Social Security Number Scam Calls

You are told that your Social Security Number (SSN) will be suspended, and you are asked to provide personally identifying information and/or payment to stop the suspension of your SSN. The SSN Office will never call you.

Scam Emails Targeting Students from .edu Emails

The email phishing attempt is sent from an email ending in .edu, and emails display the IRS logo and have subject lines like "Tax Refund Payment". Do not click any links in this email or submit information.

The IRS published a set of instructions for sending copies of the phishing emails to authorities. Those instructions also cover what to do for those whose tax returns are rejected because someone has already filed a return with their Social Security number.

Scam Targeting PRC Citizens in the U.S.

The caller impersonates People's Republic of China (PRC) law enforcement, a government official, a representative from a financial institution, or a shipping company and uses threats to obtain personal information and/or payment.

DHL Scam Calls

Scammers have been pretending to be DHL representatives and indicating a package the student shipped from the U.S. to another country was stopped by customs and contains illegally manufacted documents, like fake passports and debit cards. The student did not ship this package, but are kept on the line and then "transferred" to the local police to provide their national identification number [such as the Chinese ID number]. Students are not asked for money, but asked to provide identity proof. DO NOT PROVIDE YOUR NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER and instead get their phone number and name, and then contact ISSS.

Link to more details about this scam is available here. Please contact ISSS if this happens to you, and do not follow the instructions in the article.

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Programs

ISSS holds programs during the year to provide support for the international population at Rensselaer. These programs range from orientation sessions and informational workshops to social events.

Please expand each section below to view the schedule for each workshop series by selecting the + sign.

Orientation for New Students: Spring 2021

Graduate Students & Undergraduate Students

  • ISSS Orientation is going virtual.
    • There will be a series of online modules that must be completed.
    • All virtual modules must be completed by Tuesday, January 18, 2021.

You can find more information about F-1 Orientation here: info.rpi.edu/isss/new-f1-students/#Orientation

Scholar Orientation

ISSS holds a Scholar Orientation session each month to help the scholars understand the requirements of maintaining status in the U.S. and to answer any questions.

The Orientation schedule can be found here: https://info.rpi.edu/isss/new-exchange-visitors/#Orientation

OPT Workshops: Spring 2021

ISSS developed a workshop series to help F-1 students prepare for their OPT application and ask questions. We recommend that students who are in their final semester and intend to apply for OPT participate in a workshop to be prepared for their OPT application.

The Spring 2021 OPT Workshop schedule can be found here: https://rpi.box.com/v/OPTworkshops202101.

ISSS has a soft deadline for May 2021 graduates to apply for OPT: Monday, March 8, 2021. We will still process applications submitted after this date.

Workshop Schedule

  • Friday, January 29 at 12:00 p.m.
  • Monday, February 1 at 4:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, February 16 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, February 24 at 1:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 4 at 12:00 p.m.
  • Friday, March 12 at 3:00 p.m.
  • Monday, March 15 at 11:00 a.m.
  • Tuesday, March 23 at 1:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 7 at 4:00 p.m.

Workshop Access Details

Follow these steps to access the event:

  1. Log in to Webex using your RCS account information
  2. Click WebEx Events on the gray menu bar on the left
  3. Search for "ISSS OPT Workshop" for the date and time you want
  4. Event password: OPTspring
  5. Register for the event
Travel Signature Week: Spring 2021

ISSS will be holding a Travel Signature Week this semester. The format will be different than in past semesters. Instead of signing your current I-20, you will request a new I-20 with a travel signature (keep ALL your old I-20s!). You can pick up your new I-20 during specific times and dates, or the I-20 can be mailed to you.

You do not need a travel signature if you do not plan to leave the U.S. or already have a valid travel signature (valid for one year from the date of signature on Page 2 of the I-20).

The request must be submitted to ISSS between April 1 - April 12. For details about the process to request a new I-20 with a travel signature, see this link: https://rpi.box.com/v/travelsignatureweek202101.

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Virtual Programs: Spring 2021

Note: For information on the OPT Workshops, please see the section OPT Workshops: Spring 2021.

Question and Answer with Chinese Families

  • Date and Time: Wednesday, March 3 at 8:30 a.m. EST
  • Description: Chinese families are invited to join members of RPI Faculty and Staff for a question and answer session focused on academic support for our Chinese Students.  The presentation will include an overview and some frequently asked questions, followed by a live question and answer session with a Chinese interpreter to help with communication.
  • Recording Link: https://rensselaer.webex.com/rensselaer/lsr.php?RCID=fb429c09a5954550a9c8f2b2865cfc2a

Working in the U.S.: CPT & Internships (Undergrad)

  • Date and Time: Tuesday, March 16 at 9:30 a.m. EST
  • Description: Calling all undergraduate students! Join CCPD and ISSS to learn about Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - what is it, how can you get it, when can you get it, CCPD support for internships and co-op, and frequently asked questions!
  • Recording Link: Coming Soon!

Working in the U.S.: CPT & Internships (Graduate)

  • Date and Time: Thursday, March 18 at 9:30 a.m. EST
  • Description: Calling all graduate students! Join CCPD and ISSS to learn about Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - what is it, how can you get it, when can you get it, CCPD support for internships and co-op, and frequently asked questions!
  • Recording Link: Coming Soon!

NPZ Law Group Workshop

  • Date and Time: Thursday, April 8 at 9:00 a.m. EST
  • Description: ISSS has brought NPZ Law Group to discuss the many visa types available and options for you to consider after you graduate. Join this workshop to learn about your options and ask questions of this highly regarded law firm.
  • Recording Link: https://rpi.box.com/v/NPZworkshoprecording-04082021
    • Access by logging in with your RCS account.
    • Alumni: If your RCS account has expired, please contact Assistant Director Emilie Buse at busee@rpi.edu to request access.
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Immigration Announcements

Please expand each section below to view immigration announcements by selecting the + sign.

Travel Restrictions Based on Country as of March 19, 2021

From the Federal Register: Arrival Restrictions Applicable to Flights Carrying Persons Who Have Recently Traveled From or Were Otherwise Present Within the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the Republic of Guinea

"This document announces the decision of the Secretary of Homeland Security to direct all flights to the United States carrying persons who have recently traveled from, or were otherwise present within, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the Republic of Guinea to arrive at one of the U.S. airports where the U.S. government is focusing public health resources to implement enhanced public health measures. For purposes of this document, a person has recently traveled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the Republic of Guinea if that person has departed from, or was otherwise present within, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the Republic of Guinea within 21 days of the date of the person's entry or attempted entry into the United States."

From NAFSA COVID-19 Resources: "Canada-Mexico "Essential Travel" Restrictions. Two Federal Register notices published on March 24, 2020 announced the decision to temporarily allow entry to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S. Mexico borders for "essential travel" only. The restrictions have been consistently extended on a monthly basis, and will be in effect until 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 21, 2021."

The notices do permit "essential travel" by individuals traveling to attend educational institutions.

From NAFSA COVID-19 Resources: "Geographic COVID-19 Proclamations Affecting Entry from Certain Countries. The following COVID-19-related presidential proclamations limit travel to the United States by individuals who were present in certain countries during the 14-day period prior to their planned entry to the United States." These proclamations suspend entry into the United States of all aliens (except those listed in the Exceptions to the geographic COVID-19 travel restrictions area of the link) who were physically present in the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States (in alphabetical order):

  • Brazil
  • Islamic Republic of Iran
  • People's Republic of China, excluding the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau
  • Republic of Ireland
  • South Africa
  • The European Schengen Area (this includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland)
  • The United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe

From the Department of State: National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland. "Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual national interest exception to travel. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel.

Business travelers, investors, academics, J-1 students, journalists, and treaty traders who have a valid visa in the appropriate class, an ESTA authorization that was issued prior to the PP’s effective date, or who are seeking to apply for a visa, and believe they may qualify for a national interest exception should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling. If a national interest exception is approved, they may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization, as appropriate." [emphasis is our own]

From U.S. Customs and Border Protection Carrier Liason Program: Waivers of Presidential Proclamations 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland) for Academics and Students. "F and M visa holders subject to these Proclamations have been granted a national interest exception to travel and can be boarded without contacting CBP as long as all admissibility and document requirements are met."

April 08, 2021: Update on Presidential Proclamation 10052

From the U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs:

"Presidential Proclamation 10052, which temporarily suspended the entry of certain H-1B, H-2B, J (for certain categories within the Exchange Visitor Program), and L nonimmigrants, expired on March 31, 2021.

Visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview will have their applications prioritized and processed in accordance with existing phased resumption of visa services guidance.  Visa applicants who were previously refused visas due to the restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 10052 may reapply by submitting a new application including a new fee."

January 26, 2021: COVID-19 Test Requirements for Air Passengers Arriving in the U.S.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

"If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get tested no more than 3 days before you travel by air into the United States (US) and show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).

On January 12, 2021, CDC announced an Order requiring all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. Air passengers will also be required to confirm that the information they present is true in the form of an attestation. This Order is effective as of 12:01am EST (5:01am GMT) on January 26, 2021."

January 21, 2021: USCIS OPT Employment Compliance Unit [Rescinded]

ISSS recently received notification from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that they are creating an OPT Employment Compliance Unit. We anticipate there will be an increased scrutiny of employment reporting on OPT and STEM OPT, and want to keep you informed and aware.

See this link for the email sent to students on OPT and STEM OPT from ISSS with more information: https://rpi.box.com/v/OPT-compliance-unit-01-2021

UPDATE: January 27, 2021

ISSS recently received notification from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that they will not be creating an OPT Employment Compliance Unit. This decision was made because “the program determined that it is already performing much of the work outlined” in the original Broadcast Message.

See this link for the email sent to students on OPT and STEM OPT from ISSS with more information: https://rpi.box.com/v/OPT-compliance-update-01-2021

 

January 20, 2021: Presidential Proclamation

Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States

From NAFSA: Association of International Educators:

"Update: President Biden Revoked Travel Bans 4.0 and 3.0 on January 20, 2021.

Travel Ban 4.0 countries effective February 21, 2020

  1. Eritrea
  2. Kyrgyzstan
  3. Nigeria
  4. Myanmar
  5. Sudan
  6. Tanzania

Travel Ban 3.0 Countries

  1. Iran
  2. Libya
  3. North Korea
  4. Syria
  5. Venezuela
  6. Yemen
  7. Somalia"
October 16, 2020: Proposed Rule to Change Duration of Status

There is a proposed rule published in the Federal Register that may impact international students. This proposed rule intends to remove "D/S", or Duration of Status, and replace it with a particular time period for students to remain in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status. It has not yet been written into regulation, so it is not currently an active rule.

We understand that this possible change is concerning to the international community, and we share your concern. Please see a message in the below link to help explain the process (timing), to identify how you might be affected (potential impact), and what you can do to advocate (action items).
- Link: https://rpi.box.com/v/2020proposedruleDS

August 05, 2020: Unlawful Presence Policy

From NAFSA: Association of International Educators:

"On July 31, 2020 DHS filed a motion to dismiss its own appeal of the lower court's decision. For now, USCIS has returned to applying prior policy guidance based on its unlawful presence memo issued on May 6, 2009. Under that prior policy, individuals admitted for duration of status do not begin accruing unlawful presence until an immigration judge finds a status violation in the course of an immigration proceeding, or an immigration officer finds a violation of status in the course of an application for an immigration benefit."

Previous Update from February 06, 2020

A permanent nationwide injunction was issued blocking the August 2018 policy from USCIS.

From NAFSA Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigration Resource: “On February 6, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina issued a permanent nationwide injunction blocking the August 8, 2018 USCIS policy memo that sought to change how days of unlawful presence are counted following a violation of F, M, or J nonimmigrant status.”

Previous Update from 2019

USCIS has revised their policy regarding unlawful presence, effective August 9, 2018.

Please see this link for additional information: https://rpi.box.com/v/USCISunlawfulpresence

July 16, 2020: Phased Resumption of Routine Visa Services

From The U.S. Department of State: Phased Resumption of Routine Visa Services

"The resumption of routine visa services will occur on a post-by-post basis, in coordination with the Department’s Diplomacy Strong framework for safely returning our workforce to Department facilities.  U.S. Embassies and Consulates have continued to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services since March and will continue to do so as they are able.  As post-specific conditions improve, our missions will begin providing additional services, culminating eventually in a complete resumption of routine visa services.

We are unable to provide a specific date for when each mission will resume specific visa services, or when each mission will return to processing at pre-Covid workload levels.  See each individual U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website for information regarding operating status and which services it is currently offering."

Accessed on 07/16/2020, URL: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/phased-resumption-routine-visa-services.html

June 01, 2020: Presidential Proclamation

From NAFSA Resources: Proclamation Suspending Entry of Chinese Students and Researchers Connected to PRC “Military-Civil Fusion Strategy".

"On May 29, 2020, the President issued Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China. The proclamation is effective at 12:00 p.m. eastern daylight time on June 1, 2020, and will remain in effect until terminated by the President.

Section 1 of the proclamation suspends "entry into the United States as a nonimmigrant of any national of the PRC seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the United States, except for a student seeking to pursue undergraduate study," and who either:

  • Currently "receives funding from or who currently is employed by, studies at, or conducts research at or on behalf of... an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the PRC’s 'military-civil fusion strategy'," or
  • In the past "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'"

Under the proclamation, "the term “military-civil fusion strategy” means actions by or at the behest of the PRC to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance the PRC’s military capabilities."

Section 1 wholly exempts F and J undergraduate students from the proclamation. Likewise, graduate students and researchers are also exempt from the proclamation if they do not have any of the specific current or past funding, employment, study, or research nexuses with "an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the PRC’s 'military-civil fusion strategy'."

ARCHIVED Immigration Announcements: 2020

ARCHIVED Immigration Announcements - from 2020

June 23, 2020 Presidential Proclamation 10052

June 18, 2020 Department of Transportation Order

April 23, 2020 Presidential Proclamation 10014

April 22, 2020 Travel Restriction Updates

February 21, 2020 Travel Ban Updates

January 31, 2020 Novel Coronavirus Update - Travel Restrictions

 

ARCHIVED Immigration Announcements: 2018 - 2019

ARCHIVED Immigration Announcements - from 2019 and earlier

December 12, 2019 OPT & STEM OPT Reporting Policy Guidance

November 08, 2019 F-1 Students & OPT Concerns

June 06, 2019 Social Media Question on Visa Applications

November 19, 2018 OPT & STEM OPT Unemployment Counter Update

September 28, 2018  Cap-Gap & Pending H1-B Petition Alert

August 17, 2018  STEM OPT Employment - Third Party Employers