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ISO Student News: 10/15/2021

Table of Contents

  1. International Student Entrepreneurship Workshop – 11/1 (more)
  2. Protecting Your SSN and Financial Identity (more)
  3. US Diversity Visa Lottery Open 10/6 – 11/9 (more)
  4. OPT Eligibility Reminders (more)
  5. UCC & UHS Programming: International Student Drop-In Support Group and More! (more)


International Student Entrepreneurship Workshop – 11/1

The Ain Center for Entrepreneurship and ISO are holding a workshop specifically for international students who are interested in entrepreneurship. Please join us, along with immigration attorneys from Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP, on Monday, November 1st at 1 PM for this virtual event. This workshop will provide information for international students to better understand the restrictions and risks in trying to start their own venture in the US. Learn about how your status as an international student plays into your entrepreneurship journey. Attorneys Frank Novak and Glenn Schieck will share general tips and tricks on:

  • Visa status and entrepreneurship
  • CPT/OPT factors
  • Incorporation as an international student entrepreneur
  • International alumni founders
  • and more!

To learn more about this event, please review the workshop details here. This event is being held via Zoom, and registration is required.


Protecting Your SSN and Financial Identity 

The US Social Security Number (SSN) is a very important form of identification in the United States and will be used to access many of your financial records. Since many UR international students are now receiving these cards, please consider these important reminders to protect your SSN, so it remains private and is not used without your knowledge or permission.

  • Do NOT regularly carry your SSN card with you. Unlike other documents and IDs, you will not need the original card often and it is not an essential travel document. You will not need to bring the SSN card with you unless you are moving or traveling to a new location to start a new job.
  • Do NOT store or transmit your SSN electronically, unless by a secure platform. Never type your full SSN or attach a picture of the card in an email. Never save your SSN or a picture of your card somewhere on your phone. These are easily compromised and make you vulnerable to identify theft.
  • Do NOT disclose your full SSN over the phone, unless you are certain who is receiving it and their intended purpose. If you have called a service provider to set up an account (credit card, cell phone contract, etc.), the SSN may be required to check your US financial history. However, if someone calls you claiming to be from your service provider OR you don’t believe there is a need for your SSN, you may refuse to give the full number and call them back later.
  • Do NOT provide your SSN on a job application. While the SSN required information to complete US hiring procedures, you should not give this number out until you have formally accepted the company’s offer of employment. You may be prompted to fill out tax forms and other systems at that time, but there should be no need for your SSN prior to that. When in doubt, you should ask the hiring company for an explanation.

Unfortunately, many email and phone scams target the SSN, meaning that scammers may try to trick you into providing your SSN and other personal identification information through a fraudulent message or phone call. If scammers collect enough of your personal information, they may be able to steal your identity to carry out financial transactions, as well as other types of transactions, under your name. This is a real, scary, and common occurrence within the United States. When your SSN is requested, feel free to ask how it will be used and whether it will be stored and protected. You can find more information related to scams and frauds on the ISO's website. You can also watch a video on Scam Prevention in Blackboard under ISO's Spotlight Content.


US Diversity Visa Lottery Open 10/6 - 11/9

The US Department of State has announced registration details for the FY 2023 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2023). This lottery-based program was developed to provide an avenue to the US for citizens of countries with historically low rates of US immigration (citizens of countries with high rates of US immigration are generally not eligible to apply).

Applications will be accepted for DV-2023 from 12PM noon Eastern time on October 6, 2021 and will continue to be accepted until 12PM noon Eastern time on November 9, 2021. For the 2021 lottery, there are 55,000 Diversity Visas (DVs) available. Please see the US Department of State DV-2023 instructions for full details about eligible countries and online application procedures.

There is no fee required to submit an electronic entry for the Diversity Visa Program. Please ensure you check the website that you are using to apply and be aware of any fraudulent websites claiming that you need to pay a fee. A fraud warning and helpful fraud FAQs are available on the Department of State’s website.

The Diversity Visa Program application process is simple and does not usually require the assistance of an immigration attorney. However, if your application is selected in the lottery you may eventually want to consider hiring an attorney for help with completing the Permanent Residency application process that follows.

Some F-1 and J-1 students are hesitant to apply for the Diversity Lottery, concerned that it will impact their current nonimmigrant status and ability to renew their student visa for travel. Please note that applying to the Diversity Visa Program is not the same as applying for US Permanent Residency. Applicants whose applications are selected in the DV-2021 lottery will become eligible to apply for Permanent Residency based on this program. The Permanent Residency application itself must be filed separately within FY 2021. Simply submitting an application to the Diversity Visa Program lottery does not contradict your current nonimmigrant status!


OPT Eligibility Reminders

Given the standard F-1 student regulations and the temporary COVID-19 guidelines, ISO understands there may be a need for some additional clarity when it comes to OPT eligibility. The fact that many students have engaged in some remote learning from abroad over the past year or more creates significant variability among those who will now be completing their degree requirements this semester or in spring 2022. During the COVID‐19 pandemic the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has relaxed normal restrictions on distance education and allows F-1 students to maintain an Active SEVIS record while enrolled abroad. By comparison, students with a new SEVIS record do not begin their F-1 status or work permissions until they arrive in the US, even if they are full-time enrolled remotely prior to that.

In order to be eligible for OPT, F-1 students must have an ‘Active’ SEVIS record for at least one academic year (two semesters) and maintain their study. Since many international students have pursued academic enrollment while abroad throughout this COVID pandemic, ISO is now seeing this distinction between valid F-1 status and continuous full-time study play out differently among some students. To better understand the issue, please consider standard SEVIS processing:

  1. ISO creates an 'Initial' SEVIS record for student's new program of study
  2. Student enters US & submits ISO Immigration Check‐In forms
  3. ISO reports arrival via SEVIS; Record is marked as 'Active' status
  4. Student must maintain full‐time study & required SEVIS reporting

In order to meet the one-year study requirement, OPT eligibility begins accruing at the time of your immigration check-in with UR, basically when you arrived in the US in F-1 status (step 3). Under normal circumstances, this directly aligns with a student’s arrival to campus and beginning their program of study. However, for students with a new F-1 record who enrolled remotely during the pandemic, your F-1 status may have begun much later than when you matriculated at UR academically. If you are a transfer or change of education level student, your immigration benefits are carried over from your previous degree program. Therefore, students in the same program graduating in December 2021 or May 2022 may face very different F-1 employment benefits based on when they arrived in the US under UR’s immigration sponsorship.

If you are an F-1 student ending your academic program this semester and are not sure if you are eligible for OPT based on this information, please schedule an appointment with an ISO Advisor to review your circumstances individually


UCC & UHS Programming: International Student Drop-In Support Group and More!

UCC International Student Drop-In Support Group in October

The University Counseling Center (UCC) continues to offer a virtual drop-in support group for international students bimonthly during the month of October. These drop-in sessions are open to all active UR students. The next session will be on Tuesday, 10/28 at 2:00 PM via Zoom. This group will be a safe space for international students to share their experiences and connect with others.

Relax and Renew Retreat

On October 30th, 2021, the Mindful University Project will be holding their Relax and Renew Retreat! Held on the River Level of the Interfaith Chapel, participants will experience four hours of noble silence while engaging in a variety of contemplative practices including:

  • Breath Awareness Meditation
  • Gentle yoga
  • Mindful walking
  • Dharma talks (a lesson about the practice of mindfulness in everyday life)

Retreats are co-facilitated by certified Koru Mindfulness teachers and a UCC staff psychologist in attendance for individual support. Prior meditation experience is not necessary to participate. Please bring a yoga mat if you have one, and dress comfortably. Retreats are free of charge and open to all students, faculty, or staff members of the University community. Register here to be a part of this event! 

PAWS for Stress Relief

Come pet the puppies on Monday, October 18th from 6-7:15pm in the Goergen Athletic Center! Paws for Stress Relief brings therapy dogs to campus for students to spend some time with. The Health Promotion Office also provides educational information, fun activities, and stress-relief giveaways such as lavender sachets or stress balls.

Sex & Chocolate Carnival

Join us for our annual Sex & Chocolate carnival to learn about the spookiest topic of all: SEX! We have brought together multiple campus resources, student groups, and community organizations to educate about safe sexual practices. Groups will include UHS, UCC, Trillium Health, CARE Network, RESTORE, and many others! Come join these organizations for interactive activities, free STI testing, free chocolate, safe sex supplies, and pizza! The first 150 attendees will get an extra goodie bag, and all attendees will be entered into a raffle for a gift basket. Stop by on Monday, October 25th from 3-5pm in Hirst Lounge!



Prepared by ISO Student Services