ISSS News

Welcome to the News page for ISSS!

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

This page was last updated on: January 24, 2020.

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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 2020

ISSS Orientation has been scheduled for the Spring 2020 semester date listed below. Please plan your travel in advance to ensure you can attend on the appropriate date.

  • Graduate and Undergraduate Students: Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The agenda for the F-1 Orientation is available here: https://rpi.box.com/v/ISSSorientationagenda-SP20

The orientation schedule for Exchange Visitors (J) Orientation can be found here: https://info.rpi.edu/isss/new-exchange-visitors/#Orientation

Scholar Orientation for 19-20

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

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 2020 OPT Workshop schedule is as follows:

  • January 31, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. - Low Center for Industrial Innovation, Room 4034
  • February 4, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. - Darrin Communications Center, Room 235
  • February 12, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. - Low Center for Industrial Innovation, Room 4034
  • February 20, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. - Low Center for Industrial Innovation, Room 4050
  • March 2, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. - Lally Hall, Room 102
  • March 10, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. - Low Center for Industrial Innovation, Room 4040
  • April 1, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. - Low Center for Industrial Innovation, Room 4034
  • April 16, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. - Lally Hall, Room 02

Please register in advance for the workshop you plan to attend. Register at this link: https://isss-spring2020-optworkshoptickets.eventbrite.com

ISSS has a soft deadline for you to apply for OPT: March 16, 2020. We will still process applications submitted after this date.

Workshop flyer: https://rpi.box.com/v/OPTworkshops202001

Travel Signature Week

ISSS will hold two Travel Signature Weeks in Spring 2020 for students to obtain a travel signature on the spot on their I-20 or DS-2019.

If you are planning to travel outside the U.S. in the next year, ISSS recommends you get a travel signature before you leave if you do not have a travel signature or if your last signature was issued over six months ago.

Bring your most recent I-20 or DS-2019, passport, and visa to ISSS for a signature on the spot during these dates and times:

  • February 24 - 28 from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • April 20 - 24 from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Travel Signature Week flyer: https://rpi.box.com/v/travelsignatureweek202001

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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:

Need to convert the image to plain text? Use this free online OCR service: www.onlineocr.net/

Open Hours

ISSS offers Open Hours for students, exchange visitors, and alumni to come in and speak with an advisor in person.

Scam Calls

Scam Calls - March 22, 2019

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.

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 here.

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.

Software

ISSS is in process of switching to a new software called Terra Dotta. We will keep you posted of any changes and let you know how to access your account when it is ready.

If you receive any automated emails from Terra Dotta, please forward them to ISSS along with your RIN so we can look into why that is occurring.

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Immigration Announcements

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

Unlawful Presence Policy - Effective August 9, 2018

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

December 12, 2019: OPT & STEM OPT Reporting Policy Guidance

On September 27, 2019, SEVP published new guidance on determining the direct relationship between OPT employment and a student’s major area of study.  This guidance specifies what is required to prove that employment is “directly related to the students area of study,” and outlines the responsibilities of both the student and ISSS staff to meet the reporting requirements.  

Students on Post-Completion OPT

If you are adding new employment or updating how the employment is related to your major, you need to notify International Services via email at isssoffice@rpi.edu that you have made a change to your SEVP Portal which requires ISSS review. We will review your information to ensure that your position is clearly related to your field of study and advise if any clarification is needed. In this process, we are reading what you have reported in the SEVP Portal, in the “How employment is related to course work” question.

Here is a sample answer to the “How employment is related to course work” question:

I will be working as a Biomedical Engineer. This is in relation to my Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering. During my education, I took various courses such as Advanced Calculus, Finite Element Analysis, Mathematical Statistics, and Statistical Analysis. This job requires direct application of those courses. In addition, my role requires me to perform statistical calculations to analyze the accuracy of biomedical images.

Students on STEM OPT

International Services carefully reviews your Form I-983 and your STEM OPT Reporting Form to determine how the position is clearly related to your field of study and will advise if any clarification is needed during the process of adding employment through ISSS. Please do not make any changes to your employment information through the SEVP Portal, as you need to report all employment changes directly to ISSS along with the appropriate documentation.

November 08, 2019: F-1 Students & OPT Concerns

Students have reached out about possible OPT policy changes.

See the ISSS information provided to address these concerns: https://rpi.box.com/v/ISSS-studentOPTconcerns

June 06, 2019: Social Media Question on Visa Applications

"The Department of State (DOS) has added a "social media" question to Form DS-160,  the standard online application used by individuals to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. The item requires applicants to use a drop-down list to indicate the social media platforms that they have used during the five years preceding their visa application, and to provide any identifiers or handles they used on those platforms. DOS also added a similar item to the Form DS-260 immigrant visa application" (NAFSA Release).

Find more information in this NAFSA article: http://www.nafsa.org/Professional_Resources/Browse_by_Interest/International_Students_and_Scholars/Social_Media_Question_on_Visa_Applications/

November 19, 2018: OPT & STEM OPT Unemployment Counter Update

USCIS released a news alert which pertains to F-1 students who are currently on Post-Completion OPT or STEM OPT.

For more information, please see this link: https://rpi.box.com/v/SEVPunemploymentcounter

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

USCIS released a news alert on Friday, September 28, 2018 which pertains to F-1 students who have an H1-B petition that remains pending on October 1, 2018

** Note that this affects a small portion of the Rensselaer population. You are only impacted by this if your employer filed an H1-B petition on your behalf and it is still in a pending status as of October 1, 2018.

For more information, please see this link: https://rpi.box.com/v/USCIScapgapH1B

August 17, 2018: STEM OPT Employment - Third Party Employers

USCIS has updated their policy regarding third party employers for students on STEM OPT.

Please see this link for more information: https://rpi.box.com/v/STEM3rdpartyemployer