What's New

October 5, 2022

The Department of State has announced the procedures for the next Diversity Visa Lottery (DV-2024). Detailed information is available on the Department of State website.

The Diversity Visa Lottery enables individuals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States an opportunity to enter a lottery to obtain a green card provided they meet certain minimal qualifications. For Fiscal Year 2024, 55,000 Diversity Visas will be available.

For DV-2024, natives of the following countries are NOT eligible to apply because the countries sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years:
Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea (South Korea), United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, Venezuela, and Vietnam. 

Persons born in Macau SAR and Taiwan ARE eligible to participate in the Lottery.

September 16, 2022

Many U.S. airports have discontinued stamping passports with an entry stamp when you enter the U.S. Instead, each time you enter the U.S., the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) creates an online, electronic entry record to record your entry to the U.S. This is called your I-94 record.  The I-94 record will be your only official record of entry to the U.S. 

You should check and save a screenshot of your I-94  record each time you enter the U.S. as the I-94 record is the only official evidence of your entry into the U.S. and you may need it for other purposes. If the I-94 record ever displays incorrect information, or cannot be found, please contact your HIO Advisor.

September 14, 2022

We hope that international students, scholars, and student interns are settling in to campus well for the start of the term. If you are in need of talking with your HIO advisor, please review the resources below to get in touch with the HIO:

August 1, 2022

If you will be working on campus at Harvard and earning U.S. income, you will need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) for tax purposes.

You may find full details on the application process, including the required documents to apply, here. Please note, the application will require you to go in person to a Social Security office during their walk in hours. An appointment is not needed to apply for an SSN.

Your visa status determines your eligibility and required documents for the SSN application:

  • J-1, H-1B, and O-1 Research Scholars do not need a letter from the HIO to apply for an SSN.
  • J-1 Students and J-1 Student Interns need a letter from the HIO first before applying for an SSN.
  • F-1 Students must be working on campus, or have a period of approved OPT or CPT, to qualify for an SSN. If you are working on campus at Harvard as an F-1 visa holder, you must obtain a letter from your employer using this template and a letter from the HIO prior to applying for the SSN.

Students requiring a letter from the HIO must make the request through the HIO’s SSN Letter Request Form. Please review the full application instructions on the HIO’s SSN page.

Please note, newly arriving students, scholars, and student interns MUST register with the HIO first, and receive confirmation that the registration has been completed, before beginning the SSN request process. 

July 31, 2022

Welcome to Harvard to any incoming international students, scholars, student interns, and their families!

As a reminder, once you arrive in the U.S. you must register your arrival with the HIO. The HIO is processing all registrations via email. Please do not come to the HIO offices for registration at this time. You may find instructions based on your visa category below:

After registration is complete, individuals on F-1 and J-1 visas and their dependents with visas sponsored by Harvard will need to obtain a travel signature on their F-1 Form I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 Form in order to travel internationally during their program. 

  • F-1 students may request a travel signature to be sent via email by completing the F-1 Travel Signature Request Form. If you have dependents, you do not need to submit a separate request for F-2 signatures; all forms I-20 will be issued and sent to you automatically.
  • J-1 students, scholars, and student interns and their dependents will need to visit the HIO during our walk in travel signature and document pick up hour, which takes place Monday-Friday from 12pm - 1pm on the 8th floor of the Smith Center to obtain a travel signature. DS-2019s cannot be sent electronically and must contain an original signature from the HIO.
June 21, 2022

If you are an incoming student or scholar who is applying for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, please make sure to update any visa appointment booking, visa appointment cancellations, and visa approvals with the HIO using our online reporting form. You may submit this form multiple times to update previously-reported information. We will use your reporting anonymously to help your fellow students at the University as they navigate the visa application process.

As a reminder, U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide are working through backlogs from the pandemic, and may be operating at reduced capacity, making obtaining an appointment more difficult. You may view the current operating status of a given U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the U.S. State Department website.

 You may find more detailed instructions for the visa application process this year, including updates on 2022 Embassy protocols and instructions on requesting an emergency visa appointment, in the Student visa application, Scholar visa application, and Student Intern visa application pages of the HIO website.

June 13, 2022

As of 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) will no longer require air passengers traveling to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight. For more information, see Rescission: Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test Result or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 for all Airline or Other Aircraft Passengers Arriving into the United States from Any Foreign Country. All travelers to the U.S. will still need to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Newly arriving students and scholars can find arrival information, including the documents needed to show to Customs upon first arrival to the U.S., here. 

Continuing students and scholars may find a full list of documents needed to travel to the U.S. from a trip abroad here. 

May 20, 2022

As of Monday, May 23, 2022 the HIO will move the daily document pickup and travel signature services to the 8th floor of the Smith Campus Center, outside suite 864. The daily service will take place Monday through Friday from 12pm to 1pm, excluding holidays. You do not need to make an appointment for this walk-in service.

If you need a travel signature or to pick up a document, please review the applicable instructions below. Note that this service is not intended for advising questions. HIO Advisors are available via email, phone, zoom appointments, and daily virtual advisor on call hours for advising questions. 

  • If you are in the Cambridge area and have available space on your Form I-20 or DS-2019 for a new travel signature, please attend the walk in hour for a signature.
  • If you are in the Cambridge area and do not have available space on your Form I-20 or DS-2019 for a new travel signature, and/or need a new document for any reason, you must contact your HIO Advisor first to request a reissuance of your document. Once you have confirmation from the HIO that your document is ready for pick up, you may then come to the Smith Campus Center for this walk-in service.
  • If you were informed by the HIO that a document is ready for pick up, you may attend the walk in hour with a photo ID to pick up the document. 
  • F-1 students who are not in the Cambridge area may contact their HIO Advisor via email to request an updated travel signature on your Form I-20. The HIO will respond to your request by sending you a new Form I-20 via email.  
  • J-1 Students and Scholars who are not in the Cambridge area will need to request a new document with a new travel signature to be shipped via FedEx. To request this service, please follow the steps to purchase a FedEx label using eShipGlobal.  
April 20, 2022

As a reminder, students graduating in May 2022 need to submit work authorization applications to remain in the U.S. and work in their field of study after graduation. Post-graduation work authorization needs to be approved before graduating students may begin any positions in the U.S., including on campus work at Harvard, after graduation.

  • F-1 students will need to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Details can be found here. A job offer is not required for OPT applications. OPT applications must be submitted before students depart the U.S. after graduation, or before the end of the 60 day grace period post-graduation. 
  • J-1 students will need to apply for Academic Training (AT). Details can be found here. A U.S. job offer is required to apply for AT. AT applications must be submitted to the HIO before the end of your 30 day grace period post-graduation. 
April 14, 2022

The Harvard International Office provides informational sessions regarding future visa options and green cards each year.  The session is hosted by a local immigration firm speaking about such topics as H-1Bs, TNs, O-1s, entrepreneurship, green cards and much more. The recording from the Spring 2022 session is now available online via this link

Please note that the university does not endorse any attorney or firm nor is this presentation intended to be legal advice. 

April 12, 2022

As of Thursday, April 7, Social Security Administration offices nationwide will reopen for walk in services. International students, scholars, and student interns in need of applying for a Social Security Number (SSN) no longer need to schedule an appointment in advance to visit a Social Security office. Once you have all of the SSN application documents printed, you may visit a Social Security office without an appointment during their walk in hours. Please note, there may be long wait times for walk ins when the offices first open.

For a list of documents needed for the SSN application, please review the HIO’s Social Security Numbers page.

For Social Security hours and locations, please use the Social Security Administration website.

March 31, 2022

If you were present in the United States (U.S.) during any part of calendar year 2021 in any immigration status other than B or WT/WB (ESTA), there is at least one tax form (IRS Form 8843) you must file with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) this spring. Below is what you should consider in preparation for the coming tax filing season. If you were not in the U.S. at all during 2021, you do not need to complete any tax forms at this year.

  • Review the HIO Tax FAQ and Tax Filing Overview for background on the U.S. tax system and tax filing deadline dates for 2021. 
  • The HIO licenses a software called Sprintax, which will assist all tax nonresidents with their federal and state tax filing. Current students, scholars, and student interns may log in to use Sprintax using their Harvard key. The cost for federal U.S. filings are covered by the Harvard license. State filings for all 50 U.S. states can be done using Sprintax for an additional fee, listed here.
  • All current students, scholars, and student interns at Harvard will receive an email from the HIO in mid-late February providing additional information and instructions to access the Sprintax tax preparation software.
  • If you are no longer an active student or scholar at Harvard and need to file taxes for 2021, please contact the HIO via email (internationaloffice@harvard.edu) in late February to request a unique access code to use Sprintax.

This season, Sprintax will be hosting a series of free open tax webinars to provide helpful information around nonresident tax filing obligations. You can find the details and registration links on the HIO's Tax Filing Overview page.

March 17, 2022

Join us for Harvard's first Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Forum which will bring the Harvard community together from April 12th through April 14th in an online virtual platform to learn and engage with critical EDIB topics. This year's theme, Reimagine Our Community, is driven by the need to collaboratively explore how we might work together to build a campus environment where everyone can thrive. All Harvard affiliates are invited to attend and participate.

For more information visit the EDIB Forum website.

February 3, 2022

If you are an F-1 student completing your degree in May 2022, now is the time for you to start the F-1 Post-Completion OPT application process.

Applying for OPT is a two step process. First, you must submit an OPT request to the HIO in order to obtain an OPT recommendation I-20. The HIO will start accepting OPT applications as of Monday, February 7, 2022. The HIO will begin emailing OPT I-20s to students as of Monday, February 28, 2022, along with instructions for the second step of the process: filing your OPT application with USCIS.

You are not required to have a job offer to apply for OPT and you are encouraged to apply for OPT as early as possible.  OPT applications may take 3-5 months to process by USCIS. Please note that you are still permitted to travel in and out of the U.S. while your OPT application is pending with USCIS until the completion date listed on your I-20. 

To apply for OPT, please review this information and take the following steps:    

January 31, 2022

How does culture influence the ways you communicate and interact with others? Learn more about your own style of communication and about different communication styles around the globe. Practice intercultural communication strategies to build connections with others. Join us for a “Navigating Intercultural Communication” Workshop!

On Wednesday, March 16 from 12 – 1:30 p.m. the HIO will host a workshop on intercultural communication for international postdocs led by Sarah Emory, Assistant Director for International Teachers and Scholars at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University. You will have the opportunity to engage and connect with other international postdocs across the university around the important topic of intercultural communication.

The workshop will take place via Zoom; please register here. Upon registering you will receive an email with the Zoom meeting link and password.

Please contact Renee Burke with any questions.

December 31, 2021

Effective January 1, 2022, President Biden rescinded the presidential proclamation restricting entry to the U.S. for non-U.S. citizens who were physically present in the following countries in the 14 days prior to their entry to the U.S.: the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Students and scholars located in the above mentioned countries will be allowed to travel directly to the U.S. as of January 1, 2022. Please ensure that you have the required documents for travel.

November 19, 2021

On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued Presidential Proclamation 10294 rescinding the geographic COVID-19 travel bans and adopting COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all international air travelers to the U.S., with limited exceptions. The proclamation will go into effect on November 8, 2021.

National Interest Exemptions (NIEs) will no longer be needed for noncitizens who were physically present in any of the 33 countries (identified in earlier travel restriction proclamations) during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the U.S.

With limited exceptions, travelers will be required to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination before boarding a plane to the U.S, in addition to proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed that for purposes of travel to the U.S., vaccines approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or on the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listed (EUL) vaccines will be accepted. Please refer to the CDC website for the list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines and how to confirm you are fully vaccinated to travel to the U.S.

Please refer to the CDC website to confirm you have the required COVID-19 vaccination and testing documentation to travel to the U.S., on or after November 8th. Please also see the FAQs and list of exemptions to the requirement on the CDC website.

November 18, 2021

We are thrilled that members of the classes of 2020 and 2021 are welcome back to campus for an unforgettable and joyous Commencement on May 29, 2022.

Any graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 who are not currently located in the U.S. on F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT), STEM OPT, J-1 Academic Training, or any other visa status, will need to travel to the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visitor visa or visa waiver program (ESTA) for the purpose of attending the Commencement. Please see the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country for more information if you need to apply for a B-1/B-2 visa stamp.

If you are no longer an enrolled student at Harvard you are not eligible for University visa sponsorship for an F-1 or J-1 student visa. There are no specific visa documents, e.g. an F-1 Form I-20 or J-1 Form DS-2019, with which to apply for a B-1/B-2 visa. The B-1/B-2 visa is a personal application that does not require documentation from the Harvard International Office.

October 14, 2021

The HIO has received multiple reports of international students and scholars receiving scam phone calls from individuals representing themselves as employees with “U.S. Immigration” or other government entities. They alter caller ID systems to make it appear that the call is coming from a governmental number. The scammers obtain or verify personally identifiable information from their victims through various tactics, including by telling individuals that they are the victims of identity theft. The scammers also pose as law enforcement or immigration officials and threaten victims with arrest unless they make payments to the scammers using a variety of methods.

Students and scholars who have received scam phone calls have reported that their caller ID said the IRS or an immigration office (e.g. SEVP, USCIS) were calling. Scam phone calls have also been received where the caller ID stated that the Massachusetts State Police, Cambridge Police, or other local police were calling. If you do not know who is on the line, do not simply assume it is someone from the office identified on your caller ID. Scammers are able to “spoof” these numbers so it appears the call is coming from a government office.

Government officials would never ask you for money or to meet them with gift cards. The IRS would never call individuals regarding their taxes and USCIS or SEVP would never call you to threaten you with arrest or deportation. If you receive any calls like those described above, simply hang up!  You should also never email your social security number or give it to someone you do not know over the phone. Please refer to the links below for resources and more information:

September 7, 2021

F-1 students graduating in December 2021 can start applying for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) up to 90 days before their program completion date (Form I-20 end date) in order to be eligible to work in the U.S. following graduation. 

To help accommodate the large number of OPT requests, the HIO will begin accepting OPT requests via a new web form starting Wednesday, September 8, 2021 for students graduating this December. The HIO will start releasing new OPT I-20s via email on Friday, September 17, 2021. 

To receive your OPT I-20 on the earliest release date, you must submit your OPT request to the HIO no later than Wednesday, September 15, 2021. Any OPT requests submitted after September 15, 2021, will be processed by the HIO in 5-7 business days. 

Please visit the OPT section of our website for a detailed overview of the OPT process. If you have any questions on the process, please log in to speak with the Advisor on Call.

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