Frequently Asked Questions for International Students on F-1 and J-1 Visas Re: COVID-19

Fall 2021 Semester and Vaccine Information

Which COVID-19 vaccines will fulfill the Rutgers proof-of-COVID vaccination requirement?   

Updated May 28, 2021:

COVID-19 incidence rates in New Jersey have markedly decreased and are likely to continue to decrease in the coming weeks.  Therefore, for international students outside of the US who cannot receive a US FDA EUA-authorized vaccine (currently Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Janssen-J&J), and who have been vaccinated in their home country, Rutgers will now accept proof of vaccination by a World Health Organization (WHO) authorized vaccine (e.g., AstraZeneca, SinoPharm BIBP). The relevant vaccination records must be uploaded to the Rutgers Immunization Portal at  

Rutgers will also continue to offer US FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines to international students upon arrival at no cost, as previously noted, for those that have not yet been vaccinated with an US FDA-authorized vaccine. International students (in F-1 and J-1 visa status) may enter the country no more than 30 days prior to the start of the fall term. To ensure that students who need to be vaccinated upon arrival are able to do so and to allow for necessary vaccination wait times and quarantine, the university is in the process of developing interim housing space in August. 

Rutgers continues to closely monitor both the science of COVID-19 vaccination (including the effectiveness of WHO-authorized vaccines and the safety/effectiveness of boosting with an FDA-authorized vaccine), as well as COVID-19 rates regionally and globally. This information may inform future changes or updates of the Rutgers vaccination or re-vaccination policies. 

The health and safety of our students and all members of the Rutgers community is the driving force behind the Rutgers vaccine policies. We encourage all eligible international students abroad to seek out and receive COVID-19 vaccines that are internationally approved, if at all possible. 

Additional information and details will be provided in the coming weeks on the University-wide COVID-19 vaccination information site or the COVID 19 FAQs for international students. Please continue to check your Rutgers email for information and updates. 

What if I was already vaccinated for COVID-19 in my home country but it is not on the U.S. FDA and CDC authorized list?
You will need to show proof of receipt of vaccination upon arrival at Rutgers. We will assist international students to comply with the university’s requirement, as appropriate. If you have questions about your specific vaccine, please contact the Director of the Student Wellness Center, Dr. Neuza Maria Serra, at or the Associate Director of Medical Services, Dr. Patricia Prior at

If I am unable to obtain one of the U.S. FDA authorized vaccines prior to my arrival in the U.S., will I be able to obtain a U.S. FDA authorized vaccine upon arrival to campus?   

Rutgers has received approval from the State of New Jersey to administer authorized COVID-19 vaccines at our three campus locations. As soon as an adequate supply is available, we will make vaccinations available to our students, staff, and faculty, consistent with public health guidelines. This should allow all international students to receive the vaccination at Rutgers once they arrive. More information about vaccination requirements and options will be provided to you directly in the coming months. Stay in communication with our office regarding your arrival date and we will communicate the process at that time.

Will there be a cost for the vaccine? 

The New Jersey Department of Health has advised that there will be no charge for the vaccine.   

Are there any exemptions to the vaccine requirement? 

Students may request an exemption from showing proof of vaccination for medical or religious reasons. More information on exemptions can be found on the Rutgers Immunization Portal.   

When should I arrive in order to start my semester on time?  

Based on current guidance, international students with an F-1 or J-1 visa may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the program start date indicated on their I-20 or DS-2019 forms. When making plans for arrival to the U.S., students are advised to factor in adequate time to receive the vaccine and quarantine. No student will be allowed to participate in campus events, reside in the residence halls, or attend classes without being fully vaccinated. The university is in the process of developing interim housing space for arriving international students to allow for vaccination wait times and quarantine.  The university will be offering online programs and activities for international students during this period. 

In advance of arriving to New Jersey, please review the Rutgers webpage on Updated Quarantine and Travel Guidance

When is International Student Orientation? 

All new undergraduate and graduate international students are required to attend our International Student Orientation (ISO). This mandatory program will be offered virtually in August for all incoming students for the Fall 2021 semester.  More information about the ISO will be made available at a later date. Please consult our International Student Orientation webpage for updated information during the coming months.  

New international graduate students are advised to contact their program director for information on school and program-specific orientation activities for graduate students.

How does current government policy affect my immigration status and ability to start in-person classes in the fall? 

While the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not provided updated guidance regarding online instruction beyond spring 2021, we are hopeful that the fall 2020 and the spring 2021 flexibilities will continue. Based on current guidance, continuing Rutgers students who are in active SEVIS status, whether inside the U.S. or abroad, will continue to maintain their legal status and enroll in 100% online coursework or any combination of in-person and online study to maintain their legal status.  New international students, and students who started their programs in the fall 2020 or spring 2021 semesters from overseas, are eligible to apply for a visa and enter the U.S. to attend in-person classes. However, current regulations are that new international students may not enroll in 100% online courses if they will be in the U.S. for the fall 2021 semester. All students should continue to regularly monitor travel regulations between the country they are traveling from (including transit countries), and the United States, as these policies are subject to change. 

What if I am unable to get a visa to start my Rutgers education in New Jersey?  

Should travel to the U.S. not be possible due to visa issues, we will work with you to provide a virtual experience until we can welcome you to campus as soon as feasibly possible. Students should also contact their undergraduate academic advisor or graduate program director regarding available online options to progress in their degree program. The university will continue to process I-20 and DS-2019 documents as students request them to ensure that you are able to schedule a visa appointment should one become available for you.  

We realize there are concerns with getting a visa and arriving on-campus in time for the fall term. Students should check with the embassies and consulates near them as they prepare their visa applications. We also recommend checking the U.S. Department of State website for the status of operations at the embassy or consulate where you intend to apply for a visa.  Please be assured that Rutgers, along with other U.S.-based universities, are strongly lobbying the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and we are urging them to take immediate action and allow international students to enter the U.S. in time for the fall semester.   

Will I be required to get a visa if all my classes are online? 

The existing guidance states that new/initial students may only apply for a visa and enter the U.S. to enroll in a U.S. school only for a full course of study that is not 100% online. Please visit OIS website for regulatory guidance, resources, and information for international students. We will continue to update our websites as more information becomes available and notify you as changes occur. 

Will this information change?  

We expect both the COVID-related health regulations, as well as the U.S. immigration regulations and status, will continue to evolve over the next several months.  Updates will be provided by email and on our websites as they occur. We are here to support you in any way we can, and we truly hope to welcome you to campus this Fall.   

Should you have any questions about the vaccination program or Rutgers’ requirements, please see the FAQs For general questions about COVID-19 vaccines, please visit and

We will also email you with updates and information as they become available.  


Please note that as public health guidelines, federal immigration and travel policy, and Rutgers policies continue to evolve, additional information will be provided on changes/updates to this policy. 


I am currently in the U.S. but was planning to travel outside of the U.S. soon. Should I travel? Given the fluidity of the current situation, we are unable to advise one way or the other about international travel. This is a decision you will need to make keeping in mind all available information. Even if your destination does not have any travel restrictions at this time, we cannot guarantee that the situation will remain the same at the time of your travel, as many countries are imposing travel restrictions in order to contain the virus. International students should also be aware of U.S. government-imposed travel restrictions if you consider travel outside the United States, and you may face difficulties when trying to re-enter the U.S., including being denied entry. However, we understand that international students may want to return home to be with their families. As long as you have weighed the risks and then made your decision, please know that the OIS will continue to support you. Your status will remain active while you are utilizing the university’s remote instruction plan and otherwise remain compliant with applicable regulations. Should you choose to travel, make sure you have a valid travel signature or have requested a new one.

I am planning on going home for the summer. What do I need to return to the US for the fall 2020 semester? You should plan for your trip home by first reviewing your visa documents for re-entry to the US. These are the documents you will need to return to the US: 1. Unexpired passport, 2. Unexpired F-1 visa, 3. Unexpired I-20, 4. Unexpired travel signature on your I-20 (travel signatures are good for 12 months), 5. SEVIS fee payment receipt.

My visa is expiring soon. Can I travel home or to a third country to apply for a new visa? International students should consider the following as they plan to travel out of the country to apply for a new visa: Students can remain in the U.S. with an expired visa as long as they have legal status in the U.S. The F-1/J-1 visa only needs to be valid at the time of entry into the U.S. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S., you can still continue to stay here as long as you are maintaining your status. If your visa expires and you have traveled out of the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa. If students must travel out of the country, they should keep in mind the status of visa application operations at the embassy or consulate where they intend to apply, as well as travel and other restrictions in the destination countries visited while out of the U.S. The following pages should be closely monitored for the latest information on the status of embassies and consulates around the world: The Department of State website for the status of operations at the embassy where students intend to apply for a visa, Visa wait times at various embassies. Students should also be mindful of U.S. government-imposed travel restrictions that may lead to problems with re-entry into the U.S. Students should also consider the implications of their travel on immigration benefits such as OPT.

National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland (updated 4/26/21): On April 26, 2021, the Secretary of State made a national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9984, 9992, and 10143 related to the spread of COVID-19.  As a result of this determination, together with national interest determinations already in place, travelers subject to these proclamations, due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure; journalists; students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs, may now qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE).  Students and academics subject to these proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later.  Qualified travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may travel to the United States following the procedures below, even as PPs 9984, 9992, and 10143 remain in effect.

Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel.  They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies.  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 an NIE to travel.

Travelers in categories described above who have a valid visa in the appropriate class or who have a valid ESTA authorization for travel under the Visa Waiver Program and seek to travel for purposes consistent with ESTA authorization, should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling, if they believe they may qualify for a National Interest Exception.  If a National Interest Exception is approved, they may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization, as appropriate.

The Department of State also continues to grant NIEs for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security.  These travelers and any others who believe their travel to be in the United States’ national interest should also review the website of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for instruction on how to contact them.  

As with all NIEs for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States under a Presidential Proclamation, if circumstances warrant, the Secretary of State may revise the national interest determination.

Where are the current travel bans? The March 14 (2020) Presidential Proclamation updates previous travel restrictions. It suspends entry into the U.S. of all non- U.S. citizens who were physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry to the U.S. People’s Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) Islamic Republic of Iran Schengen Area United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe Republic of Ireland Brazil (as of May 24-25) – This Presidential Proclamation suspends the entry for any non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents who were physically present in Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry to the U.S. National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland (July 16, 2020) – This guidance from the Department of State allows certain travelers eligibility of National Interest Exceptions (NIE) to travel to the U.S. even while the travel bans remain in effect. According to the guidance, F-1 students from the “Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas, do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel. Students from those areas who are traveling on a J-1 may contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate an exception request.” Please note that the situation is changing daily. Also, many countries are imposing immigration restrictions in order to contain the virus. For further information, please review travel advisories available from the U.S. State Department, the CDC, and the country/countries outside of the US from which you want to fly from or to. Please contact our office if you have any other questions.

Nationality-Based Travel Ban No Longer in Effect, January 20, 2021 
On January 20, 2021, the Biden Administration released a Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States. The revocation of the Travel Ban means that all previous restrictions associated with Executive Order 13780 and Presidential Proclamations 9645, 9723, and 9983 are no longer in effect. Nationals of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Venezuela, and Yemen will no longer be subject to restrictions on nonimmigrant and/or immigrant visa issuance imposed by a 2017 Trump Administration travel ban. Nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (Burma), Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania will no longer be subject to the immigrant visa restrictions under a January 2020 Trump Administration presidential proclamation.

For further details and background information, please refer to Travel Ban: NAFSA Resources.

Executive Order on Promoting Covid-19 Testing Prior to Domestic and International Travel, January 21, 2021
President Biden has issued a Presidential Action directing government agencies to assess and implement CDC guidelines on testing and other mitigation measures. As per CDC requirements, all airline passengers two years of age or older arriving in the United States must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding. This order applies to both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. Visit the CDC website (link) for additional information. 

NJ State Recommendations and Requirements Related to Travel
For those that arrive in New Jersey from any international destination, or from out of the 5-state region (NJ, NY, CT, PA, DE), the CDC and NJ state regulations state:

1. Get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel.

2. Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.

3. If you test positive, self-isolate for at least 10 days to protect others from getting infected.

4. If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.

5. Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

Proclamation Continues Shengen, UK, Ireland, Brazil, China and Iran Covid Restrictions and Adds South Africa, January 21, 2021
Effective January 30, 2021, the Proclamation issued by President Biden continues the 14-day U.S. entry restrictions on individuals who were recently present in certain countries.  

The countries include Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, Schengen area, United Kingdom and now South Africa has been added to the list.

Maintaining F-1 Status and Academics

If I leave the U.S. now and stay out of the country for more than 5 months, will this be a problem for my immigration status? What happens to my SEVIS record and my I-20/DS-2019? Based on current guidance from the government, students who leave the country but remain enrolled full-time and make normal progress towards their program by participating in modified modes of instruction (as offered by the university) will be considered to be in active SEVIS status. They will also be eligible for the summer vacation after the end of the spring term. In this case students could potentially leave any time during the spring semester and return any time before the start of classes in the fall term and their SEVIS records would remain active. This applies to continuing students only – that is students enrolled in the spring and expected to enroll in the fall term. If students withdraw from their programs in the spring term, the usual five-month rule would apply to their SEVIS status.

As an international student can I take online classes and still remain in legal status? The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) guidance from July 6, 2020 has been rescinded (July 14, 2020) and will no longer take effect. F-1 students are expected to follow the guidance issued in March 2020. On July 24, 2020, the SEVP issued a broadcast message and clarification on its March guidance and also updated ICE FAQs (on July 15, 2020). According to this updated guidance, students who were actively enrolled at Rutgers as of March 9, 2020, and were maintaining active SEVIS status, whether from inside the US or abroad, can continue to stay in active SEVIS status and enroll in 100% online coursework or any combination or in-person and online study, as needed, to make normal progress toward their degree. They must follow all other rules to maintain their legal status. Continuing/returning international students can enroll either abroad or in the U.S., and maintain their legal status, as long as they continue to remain enrolled in a full course of study and make normal progress towards their degree (unless they qualify for a reduced credit/course load based on permissible exceptions). SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) has also confirmed that if all your courses cannot be delivered online the full-time requirement can be waived as a direct result of the impact of the COVID crisis. New international students with an initial SEVIS I-20 may enter the United States to study if the student’s schedule is not 100% online. Students with I-20 marked “initial attendance” taking at least one in person class may study in the United States. New international students outside of the US may take classes 100% online while they remain outside of the US. International students do not need an F-1/J-1 visa or legal status in the US to begin their programs from overseas. Their legal status will be activated when they come to the US in a future semester. New international students in the US (transferring their SEVIS record to Rutgers or changing status to F-1/J-1 for the fall) may take classes 100% online and maintain their legal F-1/J-1 status.

The Provost announced an option to take my courses pass/no credit. Is this an option for international students? Yes, international students in F-1 and J-1 status may opt to: 1.) receive the earned letter grade for a final grade, OR 2.) opt to use the Pass/No Credit option in lieu of the earned grade. The Pass/No Credit option is available to students on a course-by-course basis. It does not need to be selected for all courses in the semester. (Sponsored students should check with their government or sponsoring institution about taking this option.) For more information, students should consult with their academic advisors or graduate departments as limitations may exist.

If I am taking a full course load from my home country, will I lose my status after 5 months? Five-Month Rule – As long as you maintain a full course load online and make normal progress towards your degree, the five-month rule will not impact your immigration status. This is a temporary measure put in place by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) due to COVID, and is subject to change. Learn more about the five-month rule here.

I have been re-admitted to Rutgers for the summer; how does the current crisis impact my situation? Students who are in the U.S. (possibly at another institution, e.g. a community college) can transfer their records back to Rutgers. Students who are outside the U.S. and were looking to return over the summer may face the travel restrictions (based on when they are looking to return and the travel restrictions at the time). If they are unable to return, their readmission as well as their immigration status may have to be deferred. Since their SEVIS records are closed, students may take online classes as offered by their school/department while overseas. Students will need to contact an OIS for guidance on the appropriate way to obtain a new I-20 when they are able to return. Based on the period of their absence from the country (less than 5 months or more than 5 months), the action recommended will be different.

OPT, STEM OPT, CPT, and Graduation

I am an F-1/J-1 student studying on-campus at Rutgers and in my final semester of study at Rutgers. What are my options at this time? Employment authorization: F-1 students have a 60-day grace period. Within this 60-day period F-1 students may apply for: Optional Practical Training (OPT). F-1 students can apply for post-completion OPT, which grants them employment authorization and an extension of status for 12 months (per advancing degree level) after the completion of their program. This authorization can be extended by another 24 months for students in approved STEM fields, based on certain eligibility criteria. The application is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and involves a $410.00 filing fee. It provides employment authorization as well as extension of a student’s legal status. Students must apply for post-completion OPT no sooner than 90 days prior to their program end date and up to 60 days after their program end date. Please check your Form I-20 for your program dates. J-1 students have a 30 day grace period. Within this 30 day grace period, you may apply for Academic Training. and work in the U.S. after completion of their program. Academic Training is authorized for a specific job and may also be processed through our office. Legal application deadlines must be adhered to. Continue your education F-1 students have the option to start a new degree program at RU-C or another institution. If you will begin a new degree program at another school soon (not RU-C) you must contact your OIS advisor to coordinate the transfer of your SEVIS record. F-1 students must submit their request before the end of the 60-day grace period. J-1 Students should coordinate your transfer with your current program sponsor before the end of your academic program. If you are completing a Rutgers Bachelor’s degree and have accepted an offer to begin graduate studies (Master’s, Doctoral) at RU-C, work with your OIS advisor to change your degree level on your SEVIS record. If you are interested in continuing your studies, consider applying to Rutgers-Camden. The application fee has been waived for graduate admission and there are graduate scholarships and assistantships available to international students. Grace Period and Travel If you do not apply for OPT or academic training, F-1 students (60 days) and J-1 students (30 days) to depart the US.

Can I leave the U.S. and go home after I mail my OPT application to USCIS? Will I be allowed to re-enter the U.S. to start working once my application is approved? Yes, you can leave the U.S. when an OPT application is pending at USCIS, but there has always been an element of uncertainty. The basic risk factor is that if you receive correspondence from USCIS in the mail, you would not be there to respond. That has always been true and in these extraordinary times it remains to be true. In the best case scenario, if your application goes through smoothly, your EAD is delivered to a valid U.S. address, and someone arranges for your EAD to be sent to you (if you used OIS address as your mailing address, we will email you once it arrives and arrange mailing with you), and you may be able to enter the U.S. with your travel documents.

I am currently on OPT/STEM OPT or CPT. How does the current situation impact me and my ability to work? OPT/STEM OPT and CPT work authorizations that have been authorized remain valid for the dates of authorization. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has provided guidance and accommodation recognizing that changes to workplace requirements may impact students pursuing practical training. Students in such situations should consult with their employers and seek alternative ways to maintain employment such as teleworking and other arrangements. If there are any substantial changes to OPT employment, make sure you to report the change to OIS so we can update your SEVIS record. Students on authorized CPT should check with their employer about the viability of the employment/experience. If there is any change to employment dates, contact OIS to have the authorization updated on your I-20. 

New Students

I am a new student starting my studies in the fall semester at Rutgers University. Can I begin my studies in the fall if I cannot come to the U.S. in time? As a new student, you would need to come into the U.S. and report to Rutgers to activate your SEVIS record and legal status. If you are enrolled for the fall, and unable to come to the U.S., your F-1/J-1 record would need to be deferred to the start of the next semester. You can academically begin in the fall if your department/school provides remote instruction options, but your immigration status would only be activated when you are able to enter the U.S. Please inform OIS at if you are in this situation. More information about delayed enrollment, as well as possibly beginning Rutgers enrollment and courses while abroad (using online or other methods), will be outlined in future communications.

I am planning to attend Rutgers in the fall and am already in the U.S. What should I do? New students who are already in the U.S. (in high school, or at a different institution), can have their SEVIS records transferred to Rutgers and stay in the U.S. even if their program at Rutgers begins in the fall. Please consult with the international services office in your current school about your transfer eligibility and timelines.

I am a student currently enrolled at another institution in the U.S. Do I need a new visa to begin study at Rutgers in the fall? You do not need a new visa to begin the new program at Rutgers if you remain in the U.S. while between schools. If you choose to travel internationally, you will need to check with your embassy or consulate to determine if you need to apply for a new visa. If you have a valid visa (valid at the time of expected entry to the U.S.), chances are you won’t need to apply for a new one. F-1 students can have their record transferred to Rutgers within 60 days of their program completion date at the current school. Your program at Rutgers must begin within five months of the date of last enrollment at your current school (program completion date) or the last date of authorized Optional Practical Training (OPT). J-1 students can transfer their SEVIS records to Rutgers, but their new program must begin immediately after completion of the current program (no gap allowed).

Immigration Policy Updates

The information included here is intended to provide guidance and resources to all members of the Rutgers community regarding recent changes to immigration policy as announced by President Biden’s administration. As more changes are expected, Rutgers Global will keep international students and scholars posted of any updates, and we remain steadfast in supporting our international community during this time of transition.

Preserving and Fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), January 20, 2021 
On January 20, 2021, the Biden Administration released a memorandum to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Published in the Federal Register at 86 FR 7053, the memorandum directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to “take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA.”

President Biden Withdraws Proposed Rule to Eliminate H-4 EAD Benefit, January 27, 2021
The Trump administration had previously proposed a new rule to terminate the H-4 EAD benefit (that allows certain spouses of H-1B workers to apply for work authorization).  This rule has now been withdrawn.  Certain H-4 spouses will continue to be eligible to apply for work authorization. Please refer to USCIS’ website for more information about eligibility requirements.

Upcoming and Proposed Changes to H1-B and Permanent Residence Rules
Additional changes relating to the regulations pertaining to the H-1B and Permanent Residence Sponsorship processes may be forthcoming. There is a possibility that Trump-era rules impacting H-1B salary requirements and H-1B visa prioritization may be blocked.

President Biden has also proposed several measures that may change the way that employment-based immigration visas are allocated and how backlogs are managed and potentially makes it easier for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States. These changes to the Permanent Residence application process would still need to be approved by Congress.

Update to Proposed Rule to Replace Duration of Status (D/S)
On September 25, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule to eliminate duration of status (D/S) for F students and their dependents, J exchange visitors and their dependents. Visit the NAFSA website for a summary of the proposal and the latest updates.

On January 21, 2021, the Biden Administration issued its Regulatory Freeze memorandum. Because the Trump administration did not publish the final rule on duration of status in the Federal Register, the Biden administration has withdrawn the rule and is not moving forward with its implementation.

For a complete listing of executive actions by President Biden, go to the Presidential Actions listing on

You can also review the Association of International Educators (NAFSA)’s Biden Administration Immigration Portal for the latest updates and information.

Stimulus Checks and Unemployment Benefits

CARES Act Stimulus Checks – According to the IRS, only individuals who are considered residents for tax purposes are eligible for the stimulus check from the federal government. For F-1 and J-1 students, a resident for tax purposes is defined as someone who has lived in the US for five or more years. If you do not meet this criterion, you are not eligible for the stimulus funds and may need to return the money if you have received it erroneously. Please click here for more detail (read the section on Erroneous Receipt of CARES Act Stimulus Check.

Unemployment Benefits – The U.S. Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance programs provide benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet other eligibility requirements. Each state administers the program differently; those employed in New Jersey can learn about New Jersey’s program at OIS cannot advise on your eligibility of unemployment benefits; please read the information and contact the appropriate state office for questions. 19. Can I get paid for an assistantship, fellowship, or hourly work while I am overseas? Can I receive tuition remission? Continuing fully supported PhD students who have active SEVIS records, SSNs, can be onboarded in the Rutgers HR/Payroll systems, and have a US bank account may receive tuition remission, stipends/pay, and Fellowship funds while overseas. This is not guaranteed, the graduate program will determine if the student can carry out the duties associated with the academic appointment remotely. There may be other factors influencing this decision which will be considered by the graduate program. This guidance only applies to fully supported continuing PhD students. Decisions on all other forms of funding/employment for continuing students (PTLs, hourly work, etc.) while they are overseas is still pending. We will share this information as soon as guidance is made available at the university.

Additional Resources

An anonymous, free online screening is available to Rutgers University-Camden students experiencing depression, anxiety, disordered eating, or alcohol and substance abuse. Upon completing this survey, students are provided a report with helpful resources. Take the screening survey here.

Visit our “Forms” tab for more information about social security numbers, program extensions, and transferring.