What's New

August 30, 2021

Monday through Friday from 12pm – 1pm (excluding holidays), an HIO staff member will be available on the ground floor of the Smith Campus Center for walk-in travel signature and document pickup services only. You must enter the Smith Campus Center through the side entrance at 11 Holyoke Street, Cambridge. You do not need to make an appointment for this walk-in service. 

Please note, the HIO offices will continue to be closed to walk-in advising and in-person appointments until further notice.

Newly arriving students, scholars, and student interns should not come to the HIO to register during the travel signature and pick up hours. Instead, you must register online after entering the U.S. 

 All HIO staff and advisors will be available via telephone and email, or for appointments via Zoom. For quick immigration assistance and questions, you may connect with an HIO Advisor through daily virtual advisor on call sessions. You may also contact your HIO advisor directly, or email internationaloffice@harvard.edu.

If you need a new travel signature, and have available space on your Form I-20 or DS-2019 for a new travel signature, you do not need an appointment to come to the Smith Campus Center for walk-in travel signature hours.  

If you do not have available space on your Form I-20 or DS-2019 for a new travel signature, or need a new document for any reason, such as a funding update, extension, or replacing a lost document, you must contact your HIO Advisor directly first to request a new form to be printed. You must wait for confirmation that your document is available before coming to the walk-in pick up hours.  


August 18, 2021

With the beginning of the new school year approaching, the HIO would like to welcome new and returning international students, scholars, and their families to Cambridge/Boston area! For many of you, this may be your first time arriving on campus at Harvard. We hope the start of your orientation and fall semester goes smoothly.

New and returning international students and scholars should always contact the HIO directly for any immigration-related questions or concerns during your time at Harvard. While our offices remain closed for walk in advising until further notice, HIO advisors are available via phone, email, for virtual appointments, and virtual drop in advising hours.

Newly arriving international students and scholars may find information to help ease their transition into life in the U.S. in our virtual New Student Welcome Guide and New Scholar Welcome Guide.

We also want to remind incoming students and scholars that, while Boston and Cambridge are relatively safe, it is important for you to use caution when dealing with both physical safety and other safety issues such as identity theft. We encourage you to visit the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) should you have any questions regarding safety issues, and to familiarize yourself with the safety resources that Harvard offers. You should also protect your personal information from scams by not responding to unsolicited phone calls and emails. We hear of a number of scams each year (a dishonest way of soliciting money by deceiving people) targeting non-immigrants and U.S. citizens alike, including calls from individuals claiming to be immigration and tax officials requesting personal information such as social security numbers and credit card information. Government officials do not call or email requesting such personal information. If you receive any calls like those described above, simply hang up!  You may find more information on the Safety, Scams, and Identity Protection page of the HIO website.

July 27, 2021

As we approach Harvard’s return to campus, and look forward to welcoming thousands of incoming international students, scholars, faculty, and their families to Harvard’s campus, we are happy to share that the U.S. Department of State and Department of Education recently released a Joint Statement of Principles in Support of International Education.

The message reaffirms the U.S. government’s commitment to fostering international education, including “study in the United States by international students, researchers, and scholars.” The message states that these key federal agencies intend to “welcome international students, researchers, scholars, and educators to the United States in a safe and secure manner and encourage a diversity of participants, disciplines, and types of authorized schools and higher education institutions where they can choose to study, teach, or contribute to research” and “recognize the significant benefits that international students, researchers, scholars, and exchange alumni contribute to research, innovation, economic development, and job opportunities in many fields and sectors throughout the United States.”

This has been a particularly challenging year for us all in many ways. The impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic have had on international education, and our international community, are immeasurable. However, we feel hopeful for the future, and encouraged that the U.S. government is reaffirming its commitment to international education.

July 8, 2021

To reach the high levels of vaccination needed to protect our community, Harvard will require COVID vaccination for all students, scholars, staff, and faculty who will be on campus this fall. All vaccines authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization will meet the University’s vaccine requirement. You can read more about the requirement and how to submit documentation on the Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) website.

For those international students and scholars with Harvard IDs who are not able to receive an authorized vaccine prior to arrival on campus, HUHS will provide opportunities for vaccination.

International students and scholars who arrive on campus not fully vaccinated will NOT be barred from move-in or classroom activity, and will NOT need a 14-day quarantine, assuming they have no COVID symptoms and no known recent exposure to a person who tested positive. Testing is required prior to international departure and upon arrival to campus. Instructions and protocols for international students who will arrive not fully vaccinated are available on the For International Students and Scholars page.

July 8, 2021

On July 6, 2021, the Department of State announced that National Interest Exceptions (NIE) to all COVID-19 travel bans will now be valid for 12-months from the date of approval and may be used to travel to the U.S. multiple times for the purpose indicated in the approved NIE. This extension applies to travelers subject to the presidential proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and India who currently have approved NIEs or who were granted NIEs in conjunction with a visa application. As a reminder, F-1 students and their dependents are not subject to the travel ban and do not require an NIE. 

If you were previously approved for an NIE to travel to the U.S., your NIE will now be valid for 12 months from the date of approval and can be used for multiple entries to the U.S., as long as the NIE is used for the purpose under which it was granted. Previously, NIEs were only valid for 30-days from the date of issuance and could only be used for a single entry to the U.S. This new State Department policy expanding the validity of an NIE is effective immediately. 

For more information regarding the NIE and your visa type, please review the HIO COVID FAQ under “U.S. Embassy Visa Issuance and Travel Updates”.

May 3, 2021

UPDATE: Effective Tuesday, May 4, 2021, India will be added to the list of countries with a travel ban to the U.S. The U.S. Department of State has already confirmed that the below National Interest Exception to the travel ban will be extended to certain travelers from India, in addition to certain travelers from Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa.

On April 27, 2021, the U.S. Department of State extended National Interest Exceptions for certain travelers from Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa. Previously, the National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) were only available for certain travelers from the EU Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. These existing NIEs remain in effect.

The new NIEs allow incoming students with valid F-1 visas to travel directly from Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa to the U.S. to begin an academic program of study that commences August 1, 2021 or later. According to the Department of State, “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.”

J-1 Students, Scholars, and Student Interns located in these countries must request an NIE from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to qualify for direct travel to the U.S. from Brazil, China, Iran, or South Africa.

April 30, 2021

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, some U.S. Embassies and Consulates have started to resume routine visa services depending on the in-country situation, while others may be closing again due to new in-country lockdowns. U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide have different policies and procedures in place about re-opening, and they are facing severe application backlog that have accrued during their closures. You may view the current operating status of a given U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the U.S. State Department website.

If your visa appointment is cancelled, please take the steps necessary to rebook your appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly. You may find more detailed instructions in the Student visa application, Scholar visa application, and Student Intern visa application pages of the HIO website.

April 20, 2021

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 below. Each webinar will cover the same topics listed below:

  • Tuesday, May 4, 2021; 09:30-10:30AM EST - Register here
  • Thursday, May 6, 2021; 5:00-6:00PM EST - Register here

The informational webinars will cover:

  • An overview of tax for Non Resident students and scholars
  • Who must file a 2020 US tax return
  • What income forms students/scholars may receive
  • Forms that need to be completed and sent to the IRS
  • Terms like FICA, ITIN and Form 1098-T
  • What happens if students don’t file, or misfile
  • State tax returns
  • IRS stimulus payments
  • Sprintax overview
April 1, 2021

Presidential Proclamation 10052, which temporarily suspended the entry of certain H-1B, H-2B, J (for certain categories within the Exchange Visitor Program), and L nonimmigrants, expired on March 31, 2021. The Biden Administration and U.S. Department of State have confirmed that the Proclamation will not be renewed. Scholars who have been previously impacted by Presidential Proclamation 10052 should reach out to their HIO Advisor for guidance. 

March 15, 2021

On March 8, 2021, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas designated Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, until September 2022. 

Additionally, on March 12, 2021, Secretary Mayorkas also designated Burma (Myanmar) for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. 

This new designation enables Venezuelan and Burmese nationals (and individuals without nationality who last habitually resided in Burma (Myanmar) or Venezuela) currently residing in the United States to file initial applications for TPS, so long as they meet eligibility requirements.

Individuals desiring TPS must file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the 180-day registration period. They may also apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and for travel authorization. All individuals applying for TPS undergo security and background checks as part of determining eligibility. More details about the eligibility criteria to submit an initial TPS application and apply for an EAD can be found in the Federal Register Notice (FRN).

February 2, 2021

In President Biden’s first months in office, he has made the COVID-19 pandemic and immigration among his top priorities. President Biden has signed multiple immigration and COVID-19 related executive orders and proclamations that we wanted to bring to your attention. 

As this is an evolving situation, and additional executive orders and proclamations are likely to be signed, we are providing the link to NAFSA’s Biden Administration Immigration Portal. This website will continue to be updated with links to significant immigration-related changes and initiatives instituted by the Biden administration.

The Harvard International Office (HIO) is working closely with the University’s federal relations office in Washington D.C. and will update you with any new information. The most pertinent information will be updated on the HIO homepage and in the HIO COVID FAQ.

February 1, 2021

F-1 students graduating in May 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 Monday, February 8, 2021 for students graduating this May.  The HIO will start releasing new OPT I-20s via email on Friday, February 26, 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, February 17, 2021. Any OPT requests submitted after February 17, 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, the HIO will begin virtual drop-in OPT advising hours starting Friday, February 5, 2021.

February 1, 2021

The Harvard Language Center is excited to announce that they have launched The Language Exchange Program, an informal language practicing program for Harvard affiliates. This program provides members of the Harvard community the possibility of practicing informal conversation with a partner who speaks their target language. The purpose of the language exchange, or "tandem," is to allow partners equal time to practice their desired languages. All Harvard community members, including spouses and partners of faculty, staff, students, and visiting scholars, as well as alumni and retired faculty and staff, are eligible to participate in the exchange. 

January 27, 2021

COVID-19 Travel Bans Still in Effect

President Biden has issued a Presidential Proclamation to extend the travel bans from the EU Schengen area, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil, and added a travel ban from South Africa, effective as of January 30, 2021. The travel bans from China and Iran also remain in effect. These proclamations prohibit entry to the U.S. for certain individuals who were present in a travel ban country in the 14 days preceding their travel to the U.S., unless they have been granted an exception. You may read more about the impact of the travel bans on the HIO's COVID FAQ.

Ending a Discriminatory Entry Ban

The HIO is pleased to share that President Biden has issued a proclamation ending discriminatory bans put in place by the Trump administration that prevented certain individuals from entering the U.S., such as those from primarily Muslim countries and from largely African countries. While this travel ban has been overturned, there is likely going to continue to be administrative processing for visa applicants and a backlog for visa appointments in these regions.

January 12, 2021

As of January 26, 2021, all air passengers entering the U.S. will be required to comply with the following COVID-19 safety measures in order to board a flight to the U.S.:

  • show proof of a negative viral COVID-19 test within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs;
  • complete a seven-day quarantine when a passenger arrives in the U.S.;
  • and take another COVID-19 test 3-5 days after arriving.

Full details may be found on the CDC website. This order is backed by President Biden, who signed an executive order on January 21, 2021, requiring all air travelers to comply with these CDC measures. 

Until January 26, 2021, only travelers from the UK are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to board a flight to the U.S. You may read more on the CDC website for “Testing Requirements for Arriving UK Air Travelers”.  

In addition to these requirements, please keep in mind that all travelers arriving in Massachusetts must also complete the MA COVID Travel Form prior to arrival in the state. Students and scholars should also make sure they have the required documents to enter the U.S. with. 

January 8, 2021

If you were present in the United States (U.S.) during any part of 2020 calendar year 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. We recommend reviewing the information below in preparation for the coming tax filing season. If you were not in the U.S. at all during 2020, you do not need to complete any tax forms this year.

  • Review the HIO's introduction to tax filing in the U.S. and HIO Tax FAQ  to familiarize yourself with the process, including tax filing deadlines for 2020.
  • All current students, scholars, and student interns at Harvard will receive an email from the HIO in mid-late February providing additional information, instructions, and discounted access to use the Sprintax tax preparation software.
  • If you are no longer an active student, scholar, or student intern at Harvard and need to file taxes for 2020, please email the HIO (internationaloffice@harvard.edu) in late February to request a unique discount code to use Sprintax.
December 14, 2020

Harvard's President Lawrence Bacow has written a letter to U.S. President-elect Joseph Biden to advocate for policies that will benefit Harvard's international community. The letter advocates in favor of U.S. Embassies prioritizing visa issuance for international students and scholars, preserving immigration programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and overturning executive orders and presidential proclamations put into place by President Trump, including the Muslim travel ban. 

You may view the letter in its entirely on the Harvard Gazette

November 17, 2020

As winter break approaches, we want to remind students and scholars that the University strongly discourages personal travel, both international and domestic. Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. For the foreseeable future, the global pandemic will continue to affect the safety and feasibility of travel. In addition to lowering the risk of coronavirus transmission on campus and helping ensure the health and safety of the Harvard community, the University also seeks to slow the worldwide spread of COVID-19.

If you have personal reasons that require you to travel, you must speak to your HIO Advisor before making any travel arrangements. 

If you do make the decision to travel, you must confirm that you have the required documents for your specific visa type to travel and reenter the United States (U.S.). You must also consider the travel disruptions that may be caused by pandemic, including travel bans and quarantine requirements. For more information on how travel is currently impacted by the pandemic, please review the HIO’s COVID-19 FAQ.

COVID-19 is a fluid situation worldwide and travel guidance and travel bans can change quickly as a result of the pandemic. Please consider all the risks and uncertainties when discussing your proposed travel plans with your HIO Advisor.

November 13, 2020

Harvard University recently issued guidance for individuals preparing for the upcoming 2020 tax season. Of note, international students and scholars who are receiving income from the University should be aware of certain deadlines and requirements to prepare for tax season:

  • Tax Treaty Renewal Deadline for 2021. Per IRS regulations, certain tax treaties must be renewed annually. To meet these requirements, and claim a tax treaty exemption in the calendar year 2021 (if previously determined eligible in 2020), foreign individuals must complete the treaty renewal process before Friday, December 18th, 2020.
  • Deadline to Declare new tax treaty benefits for 2020. If GLACIER determines a foreign individual is possibly eligible to claim a new tax treaty exemption for 2020, the completed GLACIER submission must be received by the Nonresident Alien Tax Compliance Office no later than Sunday, November 29th, 2020.
  • Update Your Addresses for 2020 Tax Forms. In order to make sure there are no delays in receiving 2020 tax forms, make sure your address is up-to-date or better yet, sign up for electronic delivery if available!
  • Report Your Government-Issued Social Security Number (SSN). It is important that government-issued SSNs are submitted to Payroll/Student Services as soon as they are received, if you are earning income from Harvard. If you have not yet applied for an SSN, you should review the HIO instructions to do so now.  
October 19, 2020

The Harvard International Office provides informational sessions regarding future visa options and green cards each year.  This session provides general information regarding sponsorship possibilities outside of Harvard.  Given the current pandemic, we have asked the attorney scheduled to present this semester to record her presentation.  You may access the presentation on YouTube

Please note that the university does not endorse any attorney or firm nor is this presentation intended to be legal advice.   If you have questions for the presenter, please feel free to leave them in comments on the link and she may respond.