News and Announcements

Introducing the ISSO's International Student Welcome Days!

February 24, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

The International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) is excited to announce the dates for the Fall 2022 International Student Welcome Days (IWD)! Previously known as International Pre-Orientation, we are thrilled to share this reimagined program. IWD will occur a few days prior to New Student Orientation as a way to welcome our international undergraduate students to campus.

  • Move-in Day for International Students: Thursday, August 18, 2022
  • International Student Welcome Days: Thursday, August 18, 2022 - Saturday, August 20, 2022
  • New Student Orientation: Sunday, August 21 - Wednesday, August 24, 2022
  • First Day of Classes: August 25, 2022

Hosted annually in August, IWD aims to prepare new undergraduate students for their experience at Brandeis. We invite international first year students, international transfer students, and students who maintain a home address outside of the U.S. IWD hosts sessions on immigration and academic success, offers the chance for new students to engage with their peers and campus partners, and provides the time, space, and resources needed to adjust to living in a new country.

Every year, the ISSO hires and collaborates with student leaders as we welcome students to campus. This year, we will establish the International Student Welcome Committee, composed of student representatives, or iREPs. Formerly known as International Orientation Leaders (IOLs), the iREPs play an integral role in IWD. iREPs communicate and connect with new students prior to arrival, develop social programming during IWD, and support students as they navigate resources on and off campus. 

If you have any questions about IWD, or are interested in getting involved, please reach out to Rachael Elliott & Adrea Papadopoulos via email at We look forward to collaborating with our campus community over the next six months!


Rachael Elliott & Adrea Papadopoulos

Updates to STEM OPT

January 27, 2022

The ISSO would like to share with you some updates regarding the New Biden-Harris Administration Immigration Policies to Attract New Talent in STEM Fields. Although the new policy does not directly influence current students and scholars at Brandeis, a summary of changes can be found below.

DHS Adds 22 Fields to STEM Designated Degree Program List:
The Department of Homeland Security has added 22 new fields/CIPs to the STEM-eligible program list, but based on the current programs of study at Brandeis, this will not expand the current number of STEM eligible CIP codes at Brandeis. The original STEM eligible fields are still on the list, so current STEM eligible students are not affected.

Up to 36 Months of J-1 Academic Training for Pre-Doctoral STEM Students (through academic year 2022-2023):
College and university students on J-1 visas pursuing STEM undergraduate or pre-doctoral degrees and recent graduates to request STEM-related academic training for up to 36 months. This update will only influence undergraduate and master’s level students who are J-1 visa holders, which at Brandeis, is rare.

By following the links provided, you can also learn more about changes to the O-1 visa and National Interest Waivers (NIWs).  

On the whole, this is a positive step for US immigration policy affecting international students and scholars, even if the impact of these new policies will be minimal at Brandeis. It acknowledges the tremendous impact, and potential for impact, our students can have on the US. Please see NAFSA’s full statement here.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

SEVP & DOS Announcements

April 30, 2021

Dear International Students and Alumni,

We are writing to share with you two important updates that were released on April 26, 2021, by the U.S. government.

First, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released an update to their temporary guidance for COVID-19. As anticipated, due to the continuing pandemic, the spring 2020 guidance remains in place for summer and fall 2021. Please note, students who entered the U.S. in F-1 status after March 9, 2020 may not maintain their F-1 status if they are enrolled 100% remotely. You can review the updated SEVP FAQs for details.

Also, the U.S. Department of State released this announcement:

Students and academics subject to (Proclamations 9984, 9992, and 10143 related to the spread of COVID-19) due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for an NIE [National Interest Exception] only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later. 

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.

Students whose program at Brandeis starts on or after August 1, 2021 will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days in a third country prior to entering the U.S., which was a very burdensome requirement affecting our students from China, Brazil, and other countries. Under the updated policy, no F-1 student will be required to request a National Interest Exception to enter the U.S.

A note to continuing students

We recognize the ambiguity in the language SEVP provided regarding the date continuing students are eligible to enter the U.S. this spring and summer. We are working with our professional organization, NAFSA, and its government liaison, to determine how to interpret this for you.  As soon as we learn more, we will share the information with you.

We hope that these policy updates will make travel arrangements smoother for students who will be returning to Brandeis, or joining us on campus for the first time, in the fall. As always, feel free to reach out to your ISSO advisor with any questions about your specific situation.


Best regards,

The ISSO Team

Letter from President Ron Liebowitz

February 3, 2021

Many of our students have experienced delays when submitting applications to USCIS for OPT and STEM OPT. We are happy to share that, on January 27th, Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz sent a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security asking for action to be taken on this matter. Please find the text of the letter below:


Dear Secretary Mayorkas,
I am writing today regarding the current delays in receipting and adjusting Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT work authorization applications, as part of the COVID-19 issues affecting the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) lockbox. We have heard from many of our alumni who are at risk of missing employment start dates or losing job opportunities due to these significant delays. 
As you know, F-1 students contribute greatly to our society and economy, both as enrolled students and alumni with specialized training. Because of the value that these students bring to our nation, we ask that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) take action to resolve these delays and ensure that international students across the U.S. receive the support they need during the COVID-19 crisis. 
In particular, we join our colleagues across higher education in asking that UCIS:

  1. Grant conditional approval for I-765 OPT applications that have been delayed due to the lockbox situation, so students and graduates do not miss their start date for employment or risk falling out of status;
  2. Grant conditional extension for STEM OPT applicants to extend their existing work authorization if their applications have been delayed and clarify that employers can use a receipt or other confirmation of timely filing for I-9 purposes, so STEM OPT students who have not yet received a receipt notice can continue working for 180 days beyond the expiration of their standard OPT as their application is being processed;
  3. Do not penalize OPT applicants if they submitted applications to the wrong address because the lockbox address suddenly changed;
  4. Coordinate with DHS’ Student and Exchange Visitor Program to ensure that Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records and pending STEM OPT requests are not improperly canceled or terminated, and to quickly and efficiently apply relevant data fixes to SEVIS records if needed;
  5. If an OPT or STEM OPT application is rejected, but because of receipt notice and processing delays the student is beyond regular filing timeframes by the time the student is made aware of the rejection, accept a refiled application that cures the deficiency, despite being outside the regulatory filing windows; and
  6. Given the ongoing delays for OPT processing, allow applicants to submit I-765 applications up to 180 days (rather than 90 days) before the I-20 program end date (standard post-completion OPT applicants) or the expiration date of the student’s current OPT employment authorization (STEM OPT extension applicants), given that processing time is closer to five months rather than a standard 90 days.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. 

Ronald D. Liebowitz


New Travel Restrictions

January 26, 2021

Dear International Students and Scholars,

We are writing to share with you that there are now new travel restrictions placed on non-immigrants traveling from Brazil, Schengen Area, the UK, Republic of Ireland, and South Africa.  For complete details, and to know if you or someone you know may be affected, please follow this link, White House Presidential Proclamation January 25, 2021.

We would also like to remind you that beginning on January 26, 2021, all air passengers traveling to the United States will be required to get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. Please read the CDC press release and the CDC Order for more information.

If you have any questions for the ISSO, please contact us. We know some of you have made plans for the upcoming days, and we are so sorry if you will have to change your plans as a result of these updates. We'd like to offer our support and assistance. Please reach out to us if you'd like to discuss alternative plans for the upcoming semester.

We are thinking of you! Please stay safe and healthy.

Yours sincerely,


Terra Dotta New Student Experience

January 25, 2021

The ISSO's Terra Dotta software will be going through a major update which will change how applications are processed (currently I-20 reprint requests, CPT applications, and OPT applications are handled through Terra Dotta). Please do not submit any applications between Friday, January 29th and Monday, February 1st while we implement updates. The new system, called the New Student Experience, goes into effect Monday, February 1st. This will be a new system by which students are able to update their personal information as well as submit various ISSO applications.

Once the New Student Experience is implemented, you will be able to log in with your Brandeis credentials to access the ISSO Portal in Terra Dotta. There, you will see important reminders and updates on the Welcome tab.

 Image of the ISSO Portal Welcome tab

You can view your Personal & Program information that we have on record and ensure that it's accurate.

 The ISSO Portal's Personal & Program tab

You can submit requests as Contact Information Updates, I-20 Reprint Requests, or CPT and OPT Requests from the Control Center tab. Here, you can also view any pending requests that you have submitted.

ISSO Portal's Control Center tab

As previously mentioned, this system will go live Monday, February 1st.

Federal Guidance for Spring 2021
Dear International Students,

We are writing to share the federal guidance on international students remains the same for Spring 2021

As reported in Inside Higher Ed (Federal Guidance on Foreign Students Remains Same for Spring), "Federal guidance for enrolling international students in programs operating in hybrid or online modes due to the pandemic remains the same for the spring term, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program said Tuesday."

Students who are engaged in OPT and STEM OPT should continue to abide by SEVP guidance originally issued in March 2020:
  • For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT.
  • Students currently participating in OPT, including STEM OPT, may work remotely if their employer has an office outside of the United States or the employer can assess student engagement using electronic means. 

If you have any questions, please email

Best wishes,
The ISSO Team

December Immigration Update

December 2, 2020

Good News for our International Students and Scholars!

We hope that this news finds you and your family and friends in good health. For many months, our community has felt a great deal of uncertainty with respect to two federal lawsuits affecting international students and scholars regarding (1) OPT and (2) H-1B prevailing wages and the narrowing definition of a specialty occupation.

We are writing to tell you that both of these cases have been settled in a way that benefits international students, scholars, their employers, and their universities. The first decision protects the OPT program for international students and scholars. You may read more about the decision in Forbes (Judge’s Order Will Save OPT For International Students).

We also have good news for those concerned about the H-1B skilled worker program. In October, DHS and the Department of Labor (DOL) published rules that redefined “specialty occupation” and changed certain wage rates.  On 12/1/2020, we learned that the judge in that case struck down the new rules. You may read more about the decision in Forbes (Trump Immigration Loss:  Judge Declares H-1B Visa Rule Unlawful).

President Liebowitz ensured that Brandeis University was a contributor to the amicus briefs in the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, et al., v. US Department of Homeland Security, et al., (H-1B) AND the Washington Alliance of Technical Workers v. United States Department of Homeland Security, et al., (OPT), and we are thankful to the Brandeis Office of the General Counsel for coordinating these efforts. We hope that these actions, and favorable outcomes, illustrate how deeply we value our international students and scholars at Brandeis. You deserve some certainty regarding long-standing programs like H-1B and OPT that make studying and working in the United States a compelling choice for so many of you.

Best wishes,
The ISSO Team

DHS Proposal to Replace Duration of Status

September 30, 2020

Dear Brandeis University International Students, Scholars, and Alumni,
On Friday, September 25, the US Department of Homeland Security published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would eliminate the practice of Duration of Status for those admitted to the US in F-1 or J-1 status. A summary of the proposed rule and its possible effects can be found on the NAFSA website. There is also a good summary about this issue in ForbesPlease understand that nothing has changed, yet, as the proposed rule is still in the “comment” period.
In every orientation we provide to our students and scholars, we tell those in F-1 and J-1 status that since they have been admitted with “duration of status,” their immigration status is governed by their continued participation in a degree program or research or teaching objective, and not just by the expiration date on their visa foil, stamp in their passport and the I-94 end date. While there are a number of issues at stake, this proposed rule change would grant a defined period of time (2 or 4 years) to students and scholars entering the US in F-1 and J-1 status, and shift the decision-making power on program extensions to US Citizenship and Immigration Services. 
The US government provides a 30 day period for students, universities, employers, and other affected individuals to comment on any proposed rule before it can be published in the Federal Register or its parameters can go into effect. The government is required to review all comments submitted and can make changes or even withdraw the initiative after the conclusion of the comment period.
The effects of this proposed rule would be widespread and disruptive to all our students and scholars. Like you, we are disappointed to see the contents of the proposed changes. Brandeis University stands with our international students and scholars at every turn because you are integral to the Brandeis community. We will always be committed to advocating on your behalf. NAFSA, our professional organization, has also highlighted preservation of Duration of Status as one of their ongoing advocacy priorities. Any individual may submit comments on this proposed rule by clicking on this link: (this page may take some time to load). Please do so, as your voices and experiences as international students and scholars matter!
We will reach out to the international community as we have additional information. In the meantime, please accept our best wishes, as always, during this time of turmoil and uncertainty. We are here to answer any questions you may have. Please keep in touch.
The ISSO Team
Update on 7/24/2020 SEVP Guidance

July 27, 2020

On Friday, July 24, 2020 (and later on 8/7/2020), SEVP released its Clarifying Questions for Fall 2020 Based On March 9 Spring Guidance Broadcast. We are thankful that the following issues are now clarified for our international community:

  1. Students who enter the US in initial status may maintain their F-1 records as long as they are not engaged in 100% online learning. While students are welcome to take as many hybrid and/or in person classes as are available, taking just one hybrid/in person course is sufficient to maintain F-1 status.

  2. Continuing students who maintained F-1 status and were enrolled in the spring 2020 either in the US or abroad may continue their studies during the fall 2020 semester online, hybrid, or in-person. They may do so either in the US or outside of the US. Students may enroll in more than one online course per semester during the pandemic.

  3. Students in the US who are joining Brandeis as SEVIS transfer students may enter the US and pursue 100% online coursework, if desired, and can still maintain F-1 status. 

  4. Students enrolled in 100% online coursework are not obligated to live in the Waltham area to maintain F-1 status.

  5. Students whose I-20 forms were issued for “Initial Attendance” or “SEVIS Transfer” who cannot arrive in the US for the Fall will need to notify their Admissions Office so an updated Form I-20 can be provided to them with a modified Initial Session Start Date for their future entry.

  6. As we know, the Brandeis 2020-2021 academic calendar begins on August 26th, with November 20, 2020 being the end of in-person class activities for the fall semester. While we hope this will not be the case, SEVP has clarified that if a school switches from traditional in-person or hybrid instruction to fully online instruction mid-semester, nonimmigrant students pursuing studies in the United States for the fall 2020 school term may remain in the United States and maintain their nonimmigrant status.  They will not be subject to initiation of removal proceedings based on their online studies. 

  7.  The ISSO does not need to reissue I-20s stating the format of your coursework. In a future communication, we will ask you to complete a survey regarding your plans for the fall 2020 semester, as we are required to update your SEVIS record with a note that states you are outside the US as a result of COVID-19. Based on the guidance, we do not need to issue a new I-20 for this update. 

We understand that this has been a difficult few months for our international community and want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we read, digest and interpret the guidance as it pertains to the Brandeis community. While we expect this to be the last large piece of information that will come from the Student & Exchange Visitor Program, we will continue to monitor information from our professional organization, immigration attorneys, and the US government and continue to update our FAQs if needed.

Update on SEVP Guidance

July 14, 2020

Greetings to our international students,

We are writing to share the good news that in the hearing today in Boston District Court, we learned that DHS has rescinded the July 6, 2020 Broadcast Message: COVID-19 Fall 2020 AND the July 7, 2020 FAQs. This means that the guidance will revert to what was released in March 2020.

In the upcoming weeks, we will be keeping a close watch on what additional information is released regarding the fall 2020 semester.

We know that last week, the announcement created so much anxiety for our international students and those who support you. For this reason, we are thrilled to share this victory with you. We also know that while this news provides a great relief, it does not take away the concerns many of you still face in your daily lives during this pandemic.

We are thankful for universities across the US, including Brandeis, who filed amicus briefs in support of the lawsuit. We couldn't be prouder that Brandeis played a part in this positive result. Please know that the ISSO team and all of Brandeis stands with all of you, and we are here to help with any questions or concerns you wish to raise with us.

As additional information is released for the fall 2020 semester, we will be sure to update all of our students and scholars. Please feel free to read about it further via The Boston Globe, The New York Times and Forbes.

Please see President Liebowitz's email from July 8, 2020. 

July 8, 2020

Our ISSO FAQ has been updated to make the latest SEVP FAQ, issued 7/7/2020, available. Please note that the SEVP FAQ remains tied to the guidelines that are not yet published in the Federal Register - they are not equivalent to regulation or law.

We also want you to know that people are advocating on your behalf. The Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey has indicated that her office intends to take action in defense of our international students during this difficult time. In addition, Harvard University and MIT have filed a lawsuit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security District Court in Boston on Wednesday, 7/8/2020.

We realize you may have a number of questions for us. The ISSO team can address your individual questions and scenarios regarding fall semester studies once we have more information from the federal government. We are committed to notifying our students of any new announcements from the federal government that might affect you.



July 7, 2020

We hope this message finds you healthy and safe amidst a very difficult time for the Brandeis international community.  As we write this, we understand many of you are experiencing a good deal of anxiety and apprehension about the fall semester.  While this message is intended to reach all of you at once, we encourage individual inquiries if you have specific questions that require the attention of your ISSO advisor. As you do so, please understand that we are experiencing very high email and call volume to a fluid situation, so we truly appreciate your patience.

On Monday, July 6, the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released its Fall 2020 operational guidance.  It also indicated the Department of Homeland Security’s intention to publish the procedures and responsibilities in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule in the near future.

For students previously enrolled in the US, maintaining F-1 status, this guidance is an abrupt departure from SEVP’s Spring Semester 2020 guidance in March, which allowed full time, online enrollment, in recognition of the public health crisis caused by the global pandemic.  You were provided with significant assurances that during the temporary remote (online) instruction, international students on F-1 and J-1 visas could remain in the US, or abroad, and maintain their SEVIS record as long as they were enrolled full-time and making academic progress in their degree programs. Since the March 2020 guidance referenced that this would be in effect for the duration of the emergency, Brandeis and our colleagues at peer institutions hoped that SEVP would provide similar accommodations for Fall 2020. 

While the Temporary Final Rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register, which means that the July 6, 2020 SEVP guidance cannot yet be enforced, we are very concerned that SEVP will not provide the same flexibility offered to F-1 students in March 2020.  It leaves a lot of questions that SEVP must answer, and we hope this will be accomplished prior to the publication of the Temporary Final Rule.  Advocacy groups, including NAFSA, American Council on Education, and the Association of American Universities, have voiced their strong objections to the SEVP guidance, and we also expect legislators to address this issue with DHS, hopefully before the Temporary Final Rule is published. Once the rule is published, it is quite possible that there will be litigation in the federal courts to stop its implementation. 

Please know that the ISSO Team is in contact with Brandeis senior leadership, colleges and universities in the Boston area, and around the country to come up with solutions that we can offer to our community.  We are all feeling these effects, and are deeply concerned about how this will affect more than one million international students enrolled in programs here in the US. We want you to know that we do not have all of the answers to your questions at this time, but we do want to share the information we have now.

Here are some important points to remember about July 6th’s SEVP announcement:

  1. The July 6th announcement is a set of guidelines, not a Temporary Final Rule which can be enforced.  We expect that additional advocacy could influence the publication of the Temporary Final Rule, and make clear the need for greater flexibility for our students.  
  2. Information is coming at us at a rapid pace, and not everything you hear from the news, classmates, or friends at other schools will apply directly to your personal situation.  We will continue to update our COVID-19 FAQ as new information becomes available.
  3. This announcement has no immediate effect on your immigration status.  Until we have the Temporary Final Rule, and even once the rule has been published, you do not need to make immediate travel plans, whether it is to enter or leave the US. 
  4. For new and continuing students, please refer to the Brandeis University Plans for Fall 2020 for specific information on how you can enroll at Brandeis, whether you are in the US, or abroad, this fall.  There, you will find details on the opportunities for hybrid enrollment, that we believe will allow our students to maintain their immigration status while studying at Brandeis in the US this fall.
  5. We encourage all of our international students to support one another, and keep in contact as worries and concerns occur to you.  If you are in touch with a classmate who is struggling and may need additional support, please remember that there are a number of resources at Brandeis that can provide support during this period, including the Brandeis Counseling Center, Brandeis Hillel, and the Center for Spiritual Life.  You may also visit the Support at Brandeis website to review the comprehensive list of services available to everyone.

We expect this to be the first of several communications that we will send about SEVP’s fall guidance. As we know more information from SEVP, NAFSA, and the Brandeis senior leadership, we will continue to communicate with you.  For those of you who have yet to make travel plans to return back to campus, please contact us so that we can advise you based on your situation, as there are factors other than this SEVP guidance that may complicate your travel, such as Presidential Proclamations that may still be in effect.

As a final note, please keep in mind that Brandeis University is a global community committed to the success of each student and scholar.  The ISSO and our campus partners are working diligently to analyze the information currently available to us, and anticipate changes that may come in the future.  We do all of this in order to support and inform our international students as effectively as possible, and affirm that you are intrinsically linked to this community now, and in the future.

Please accept our best wishes to you and your families.  

Yours sincerely,

The ISSO Team


June 22nd President Proclamation

June 24, 2020

Dear Brandeis International Community,
We are writing to provide guidance on news (See NYT 6.22.2020) that undoubtedly caused a great deal of worry for many of you leading up to its release. 
Since its inception, the Trump administration has circulated proposals that would seek to limit the number of immigrants and non-immigrants admitted to the US. To date, none of these proclamations has sought to restrict the immigration benefits for those sponsored by Brandeis on valid, non-immigrant visas. We know that living with this uncertainty is very difficult for members of our international community and all of us, across the University, who support you. Please know that the ISSO is thinking of all of you, and at every turn, will be here to help you process all of these concepts to separate reality from what you may be hearing in the news. 
On Monday, June 22, 2020, an Executive Order was released which immediately suspended the issuance of H-1B, H-4, L, as well as some J-1 and most H-2B visas at US consulates around the world. Individuals outside the US who are seeking to apply for H-1B, H-4, J-1 (intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, summer work travel program categories only, plus the J-2 dependents of such individuals), and H-2B visa categories may not do so until at least January 2021. Brandeis University sponsors individuals on H-1Bs and their H-4 dependents, as well as J-1s (students, research scholars, short term scholars, professors & specialists) and their J-2 dependents.
The Proclamation will only apply to an individual identified above if they are:
  • Outside the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation;
  • Do not have a non-immigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of the Proclamation; and
  • Do not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document), valid on the effective date of the Proclamation or issued thereafter permitting the individual to be admitted to the United States.
This proclamation has no effect on individuals maintaining status on J-1 research scholar, short term scholar, professor or specialist categories; F-1 OPT and STEM OPT; J-1 Academic Training. 
If you are receiving this message as a student or member of our alumni community, it will also be important for you to understand the scope of the restriction. The Executive Order does not prohibit changes of status to H-1B, or change of employer, for individuals currently in the US in a valid immigration status. 
Those of you with valid J and H visas sponsored by Brandeis may continue to use those visas for travel purposes, but please continue to follow guidelines established by the University in connection with the CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice and well as travel restrictions that are currently in place. Those of you in the US with an expired J or H visa should not plan to travel internationally, since you will likely need to wait until January 2021 before you can acquire a new visa.
There are exceptions for individuals intending to enter the US in these visa categories in connection to the coronavirus fight. If you are a manager or principal investigator facing this issue, please contact us at
As we continue during this tumultuous time, please know that any Brandeis community member should contact the ISSO at if they have any questions or concerns. If an emergency arises, and you must travel internationally, please contact your manager and the ISSO, so that we can advise you accordingly. We are here to support you, and help you with whatever questions or concerns you may have.
5/29/2020 Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China

June 1, 2020

Dear International Students and Scholars,
On Friday, May 29, 2020, President Trump issued a Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China, which went into effect at 12:00 pm on June 1, 2020. We know this message must have been very confusing and frustrating for our community. We are facing so many challenges related to the pandemic, and we know announcements like this can be extremely unsettling. The ISSO is committed to supporting our international students and scholars and providing accurate information on announcements such as this, and we are available for individual consultations if you need to connect with one of our team members. 

We draw our analysis from our professional organization, NAFSA. Please read on for more information.

This proclamation does not affect Chinese students and scholars who are currently in the US.
This proclamation bars "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,"

The majority of Chinese international students and scholars sponsored by Brandeis are explicitly excluded from this proclamation.
Those international students and scholars who would be explicitly excluded from this proclamation (F-1, J-1, H-1B, O-1 are the most common student and research visa categories at Brandeis for Chinese citizens) are:

  • F and J undergraduate students
  • Graduate students and researchers, 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,'" as defined by the US Department of State.

Additionally, the following individuals are exempt:

  • Individuals "studying or conducting research in a field involving information that would not contribute to the PRC’s military‑civil fusion strategy, as determined by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the appropriate executive departments and agencies (agencies)"
  • U.S. lawful permanent residents
  • Spouses of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents
  • Members of the United States Armed Forces and their spouse and children
  • Individuals "whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement or who would otherwise be allowed entry into the United States pursuant to United States obligations under applicable international agreements"
  • Individuals "whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee"
  • Individuals "whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees."

Who is affected?
The proclamation suspends entry if an individual is connected to an entity that “implements or supports” the government of China’s “military-civil fusion strategy.”  An individual is considered to have a connection to such an entity if they have been funded by, employed by, studied or researched at, or on behalf of the entity.   Under the proclamation, the Secretary of State will determine which entities are covered, and we will provide more information once the government has identified the entities.

In short, the proclamation includes any individual not belonging to an exempt category as described above, who is outside the US and who:

  • 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'"

Commonly Asked Questions

"How will I know which organizations or institutions are considered to be an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the PRC’s military-civil fusion strategy?"

At this time, the government has not published a list.

Under the proclamation, the Secretary of State will determine which entities are covered, and we will provide more information once the government has identified the entities.

"What if my undergraduate degree is from one of the institutions associated with PRC’s military-civil fusion strategy?"

At this time, the government has not published a list.

Under the proclamation, the Secretary of State will determine which entities are covered, and we will provide more information once the government has identified the entities.

The ISSO is here to support you, and we ask that you contact the ISSO if you think you may be affected by this proclamation. Also, during this complex and confusing time, please remember to always consult with the ISSO prior to making any decisions regarding travel, employment, or other matters relating to your immigration status. If you are contacted for any reason regarding your status as an F-1 or J-1 visa holder, call us at (781) 736-3480 or send us an email at or, so we can provide guidance and support.

April 23, 2020

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the ECA has released the above linked message for exchange visitors in the U.S. regarding COVID-19.

Re: President Trump's Announcement on Immigration

April 22, 2020

Dear International Students and Scholars,

We want to proactively reach out to remind you that the ISSO is here to provide guidance on visa issues and your experiences being in the United States. Like you, we were disheartened by President Trump's announcement to "suspend immigration."  While it is now more clear that the announcement affects permanent residency (green card) applications for a period of 60 days (see New York Times), the initial announcement was vague, and understandably unsettling for our community. Brandeis University has always thrived on the presence of international students and scholars like you, and we believe that your presence at the university makes the student experience both inside and outside of the classroom better and more robust.

Please note that F-1, J-1, H-1B, TN, and O-1 visas are all considered temporary, non-immigrant visas. The article referenced above also mentions a proposal that may change the availability of temporary work visas, like H-1B visas, but there are no concrete details so far and it appears that this would come in a separate announcement.

We recognize a lack of information can be more upsetting than actually knowing what the proposed changes are, and that this announcement was extremely upsetting to you, as it was to us. Some of you or your family members may be in the process of considering or applying for permanent residency, and this is especially hard news to share, even if the proposal is temporary.

Whenever such difficult and unexpected announcements are made, we consult with attorneys and our professional organizations to best understand the nuances of what is being proposed. At this point, we have no additional information to share, but know that we are deeply troubled by this announcement. As we learn more, we will share updates with you. And as always, our office is here for you in these unprecedented times. 

Feel free to email with any questions.

Massachusetts Marijuana Law

February 12, 2020

As a reminder, international students and scholars are responsible for following federal immigration regulations, federal laws, as well as Massachusetts state regulations. Massachusetts law recently was updated to legalize some medical and recreational use of marijuana.  However, it is important for international students and scholars to be aware that the use of marijuana (both medical and recreational) remains a federally controlled substance which makes marijuana use illegal and risky for non-citizens to use.  It is strongly recommended to receive legal advice if you truly are in need of medical marijuana and understand the potential impact on your immigration status.

Violations of federal law, such as marijuana use or possession, can affect your immigration status, your ability to obtain a U.S. visa, or admissibility to enter the U.S.  Just recently, there have been reports that USCIS is beginning to question adjustment of status applicants regarding marijuana use.  Therefore, use of marijuana may impact long term benefits such as adjustment of status to U.S. permanent residency or work authorization applications.  In some cases, the consequence may be as severe as permanently being ineligible for these benefits.

Additional resources regarding the update in the Massachusetts state law and warning for international students and scholars may be found here:

Warning for Immigrants About Medical and Legalized Marijuana

Marijuana in Massachusetts - What's Legal?

It is also important to remember the Brandeis University Drug and Alcohol Policy. Please review the Brandeis Public Safety website for additional information.

Update on Expanded Travel Ban

February 5, 2020

Dear Students and Scholars,
We are writing to provide details and perspective on the travel ban update issued on January 31, 2020.
As you may know, in 2017, Proclamation 9645 initiated a ban on travel to the U.S. for citizens of certain countries. Our professional organization, NAFSA, which is dedicated to supporting international education professionals and their students and scholars in the U.S., has a very good resource that can help you understand the current situation. You may click this link to view the NAFSA resource, which summarizes the effects for individuals from each of the countries listed.
We'd like to emphasize that there have been no changes to the restrictions on the original list from 2017 (Iran, Libya, North, Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia).
For citizens of countries just placed on the list, the U.S. has not imposed any nonimmigrant visa restrictions (for example:  F-1, J-1, H-1B).
Please contact the ISSO with any questions or concerns you have about the update to Proclamation 9645. We are here to help or provide additional guidance, should you need it.

October 3, 2019

Please see the linked letter (PDF) from presidents of Massachusetts colleges and universities on the importance of international students and scholars.
June 26 Supreme Court Decision on Presidential Proclamation 9645

June 26, 2018

On June 26, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision regarding Presidential Proclamation 9645, ruling that the Proclamation was a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Consistent with the Court’s decision, the Department will continue processing visa applications in accordance with the Presidential Proclamation for subject nationals of the seven affected countries. Since December 8, 2017, the Department has fully implemented Presidential Proclamation 9645.

Regarding Executive Order 13769

February 1, 2017

We were pleased to see so many members of our community at the panel discussion on Executive Order 13769 restricting travel and access to USCIS benefits for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Please note, during the discussion on Wednesday night, additional countries were brought up as being expected to join the list of original 7 countries. The source has since been deemed unsubstantiated. At this point in time, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen are the only countries identified by an EO as being subject to travel restrictions and provisional visa revocation.

As always, the ISSO is here to help. Please visit our office, call, or send us an email with any concerns you may have regarding immigration status in the United States. We will either answer your questions, or in the case of individuals not sponsored on a visa through Brandeis, put you in touch with experts who are ready to help.