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Current ISO Student News

January 15, 2021


Table of Contents

  1. Welcome and Welcome Back for 2021! (more)
  2. ISO Student Service Hours: Changes Effective Spring 2021 (more)
  3. Important Reminders for International Students (more)
  4. Mandatory ISO Attendance Verification for Spring 2021 by 1/18 (more)
  5. Enrollment Requirements During COVID-19 (more)
  6. F-1 Employment Webinars: OPT, Internships & STEM (more)
  7. Getting Ready for Tax Season (more)


Welcome and Welcome Back for 2021!

Welcome and welcome back for 2021! The International Services Office (ISO) would like to offer a warm welcome to the newest members of our international community at the University of Rochester. To our returning students, we wish you a wonderful new year and a good term at UR.

For those who are not familiar, ISO Student News is the ISO’s semi-monthly email newsletter. Through this publication, we will announce upcoming events, report on changes to regulations and policies, and provide reminders about immigration responsibilities and benefits relevant to international students.

For students, new issues of ISO Student News will be sent to your current UR email address. If you prefer to use a personal account, please be sure to forward your campus email so you will continue to receive this important resource. University staff, faculty, or affiliates who would like to be added to the mailing list should email


ISO Student Service Hours: Changes Effective Spring 2021

Since last Spring, ISO staff have been working remotely, while sustaining a high level of service through virtual means. For Spring 2021, our plan is to continue remote operations and our offices in College Town will remain closed. As outlined in our COVID-19 FAQs on ISO Operation & Services, ISO has plans in place for sustainable advising support, I-20/DS-2019 issuance, SEVIS maintenance, and required document distribution. Please review our FAQs regularly for the latest instructions.

Effective Monday, January 18th, ISO will be following an adjusted schedule for student services. Individual appointments can still be scheduled during our current hours of operation (see our FAQ: What is the best way to contact ISO right now?). ISO is happy to offer Virtual Drop-In Advising Hours. These are still intended for short advising questions on a first-come-first-served basis, but are offered virtually during both afternoon and morning times each week. To access our Virtual Drop-ins as scheduled, please join via Zoom. Students will be admitted to the meeting individually to address their inquiry with an ISO Advisor, so please be patient while awaiting your turn. Our schedule for Spring 2021is as follows:

Schedule of ISO Virtual Services


Office Hours

Student Virtual Drop-Ins


8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.


8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.



8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.


8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


Important Reminders for International Students

International students on F-1 and J-1 immigration status must follow certain policies and regulations in order to maintain their status. Here are some reminders that both new and returning students should keep in mind:

* All F-1 and J-1 students must maintain full-time registration each term. If you will need to take a reduced course load, please speak to an ISO student advisor before you drop below full-time enrollment. (Please see below for important enrollment requirements during COVID-19).

* International students must have appropriate employment authorization before they begin working. F-1 and J-1 students are allowed to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the school year while maintaining their immigration status. J-1 students must complete additional documentation with the ISO for on-campus employment. Any off-campus employment for both F-1 and J-1 students must be specifically authorized and documented. Please contact an ISO student advisor if you have any questions about work authorization.

* All changes of residential address must be reported within 10 days. International students are required to notify the ISO within 10 days of moving. You can report this information at any time using the appropriate online registration tool for your UR division. Students pursuing post-completion employment, please use the appropriate reporting tool online.

* Keep your immigration & other records up-to-date. Make sure that you maintain a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 for the current year. If you have renewed or extended your passport, please submit a copy to ISO; if your passport will be expiring in the next year, make plans to renew it. Also, remember to update your GLACIER record with required address information, travel dates, and UR employment details.


Mandatory ISO Attendance Verification for Spring 2021 by 1/18

On January 5th, ISO improved and relaunched the Student Attendance Verification form for Spring 2021.  During the COVID-19 public health crisis, ISO is managing modified reporting obligations under the temporary immigration guidance currently in place. We must carefully assess each student’s individual circumstances and take appropriate action(s) in your SEVIS record.  Participation in the ISO Student Attendance Verification is MANDATORY for all students eligible for UR F-1 or J-1 sponsorship this semester and we have a deadline of Monday, January 18th for timely reporting.  You must access the form via URcompass and will receive email reminders with the direct link until you complete this requirement.  Please note that this tool is separate from any other University processes for Spring 2021 planning, and is necessary to satisfy required immigration reporting.

After submitting the Attendance Verification, you will receive a detailed email with information about any impact to your immigration record, additional tasks you need to complete, or other options to consider. You can review your submission at any time by linking through the initial email notification. If your circumstances change during the semester, you must update the Attendance Verification form as needed to ensure that your SEVIS record is accurate and you are getting appropriate information. Please reply to our email at to request that your form be reset for editing. We greatly appreciate your timely assistance with this effort!


Enrollment Requirements During COVID-19

Last summer, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released supplementary guidance for schools planning to adapt their academic operations due to continued concerns surrounding the COVID -19 pandemic. Due to the ongoing health crisis, this temporary government guidance remains unchanged for Spring 2021. The guidance pertains to F-1 student permissions and modified enrollment requirements; please review ISO’s summary for additional details.

In general, students who maintain full-time enrollment in valid F-1 status may pursue online study exceeding the normal limitations on distance education while school operations require it.

  • Continuing students (those who have been maintaining an Active F-1 SEVIS record since March 2020) may enroll fully online for Spring 2021, either from in Rochester/US or from abroad, and maintain their US immigration status and benefit eligibility.
  • New students (those who have an Initial F-1 SEVIS record to start at UR this term) may enroll fully online from abroad, or from within the US, may enroll less than 100% online with some physical attendance for Spring 2021. In that case, they must enter the US in valid F-1 status and arrive in Rochester to attend in-person component(s), but arrival could be delayed into the semester, with academic approval from their school/department.
  • Immigration Transfer and Change of Level students (those who had maintained an Active F-1 SEVIS record since March, and are transitioning to a new program of study at UR) must be in the US to activate their SEVIS record again, but are then able to enroll fully online as a continuing student if they choose.
  • Delayed Arrivals, either for later in Spring 2021 or for the start of Summer/Fall 2021 should work with their admitting department to request updated program dates on their Form I-20.

The US Department of State (DOS) has issued similar allowances for J-1 Exchange Visitor students to maintain their immigration status while pursuing modified enrollment during the health crisis. Guidance is issued more generally; please contact ISO directly to discuss any questions.


F-1 Employment Webinars: OPT, Internships & STEM

ISO’s spring webinar series on F-1 off-campus employment authorizations will begin over the next couple of months. These workshops are useful to get a sense of the timing and procedures required for common employment activities. Each session will be delivered virtually, recorded, and posted to our Archived ISO Events page shortly after the event.  Stay tuned for Zoom links to these events in our next newsletter!

Topic: Work After Graduation and F-1 OPT Application Procedures
When: Friday, February 12, 2021, 11:00am Eastern (with Q&A)
Summary: This workshop provides a detailed overview of Optional Practical Training (OPT) - what it is, how to apply for it, and how to use it. This workshop covers topics such as employment and unemployment during post-completion OPT, travel on OPT, the STEM OPT extension, and transitions to H-1B. Students can apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days before their program end date, so if you will be graduating this semester, now is the time to begin thinking about this process.

Topic: Understanding the F-1 OPT STEM Extension
When: Friday, February 26, 2021, 11:00am Eastern (with Q&A)
Summary: This workshop provides an overview of the STEM OPT Extension and is geared toward students and recent graduates of STEM-designated academic programs who may plan to apply for STEM OPT in the future. This workshop covers STEM eligibility and employer requirements, Form I-983, reporting, and relevant timelines.

Topic: Academic Internships During an F-1 Academic Program
When: Friday, March 12, 2021, 11:00am Eastern (with Q&A)
Summary: This workshop provides a detailed overview of considerations that F-1 students should make when pursuing a paid or unpaid job or internship opportunity in the United States during their academic program. This workshop explores what is considered employment and the various types of on- and off-campus work authorization that F-1 students may be eligible for during their academic programs, including F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT).



Getting Ready for Tax Season

International students who were present in the United States during any part of 2020 must comply with Federal and State tax filing requirements. All F-1 and J-1 students who are categorized as Non-Resident Aliens for Tax Purposes must file a Federal Tax Statement (Form 8843), regardless of whether any income was earned. Additionally, any student who has earned income while in the United States during 2020 may also need to file income tax forms for Federal and State earnings. Over the next several weeks, you may receive important tax forms by mail from the University, off-campus US employers, banks, or other financial institutions. Do not discard these forms! You will need to use them when preparing to file your 2020 taxes.

To help in understanding your US tax obligations, several resources will again be available to UR international students. The GLACIER software system can help to determine your tax filing category and will allow access to its tax preparation program. Please pay close attention to future editions of ISO Student News for more details on international student tax support resources.

In addition, ISO will be holding virtual tax workshops on the dates and times listed below. More details on these workshops will be coming soon.

Tax Workshops:

Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 12:00pm - 1:30pm Eastern 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 6:00pm- 7:30pm  Eastern 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 12:00pm-1:30pm Eastern 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 6:00pm-7:30pm Eastern 


Prepared by: ISO Student Services