FAQ

Dear International Student Community,

We have updated the compiled list of frequently asked questions for international students, which includes information specific to current immigration and international travel restrictions. This FAQ is based on the most recent information we have available from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If DHS and CDC release new guidance, the FAQ will be updated accordingly. 

In addition, the FAQ includes important information regarding employment eligibility, financial aid, academic advising, and other campus support resources for international students. If your academic plans for Spring 2022 change, or if you have any questions not addressed in this FAQ, below are the relevant offices to contact:

The College: Undergraduate students should email [email protected] or call 401-863-9800. Students may also sign up for an individual advising appointment or attend drop-in hours with an academic dean after the semester begins.

The Graduate School: PhD students should email [email protected] and refer to the Graduate School FAQ website.

The Medical School:  Medical students should email [email protected]

School of Professional Studies: Master’s students should email Associate Dean of Master’s and Professional Programs Shayna Kessel ([email protected]) and copy Assistant Director of Administration and Faculty Affairs Sam Caldis ([email protected]). They should also refer to the Graduate School FAQ website.

Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS): For visa and immigration-related inquiries, email [email protected] or schedule an appointment online: brown.edu/go/oisss.

Global Brown Center: For information about international orientation and events, email [email protected]u or schedule an appointment with the GBC Program Director.

Office of International Programs: For Brown students studying abroad, email [email protected] or call 401-863-3555.

Healthy Brown: For information about vaccination clinics, quarantine and other public health information, check the Healthy Brown website or contact [email protected]

Global Brown: If you have any other questions or are unsure whom to contact, please email [email protected]

For all other information on Brown’s academic and vaccine policies, please visit your respective academic unit’s website and Healthy Brown for answers to your questions.

Sincerely, 

The Global Brown Team

Travel Health & Safety

Brown requires that all students, including visiting students or students who engage in any level of in-person instruction, whether in the U.S. or abroad, be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Medical and religious exemptions from vaccination will be granted to students and reasonable accommodations will be provided (as determined by applicable law). 

As conveyed to the full Brown community in December 2021, all Brown students (and employees) must receive a COVID-19 booster shot no later than Jan. 26, 2022 (the first day of classes of the spring semester), or within 30 days of becoming eligible. We recommend that eligible students get a booster shot as soon as possible. Please consult with your health care provider if you have questions about vaccines or booster.

Brown students can upload their vaccination cards (and proof of booster vaccinations, when applicable) directly to the Health & Wellness Patient Portal at: https://patientportal.brown.edu/

Visiting students should email their COVID-19 vaccination documentation directly to [email protected]

For more information and updates on university COVID-19 vaccination requirements and recommendations, consult Healthy.Brown.edu

Brown University partners with International SOS to provide emergency travel assistance and important travel health, safety and security alerts and resources. To access the information on this website you will need to log in with Brown’s membership number: 11BSGC000031.

The International SOS Pandemic website provides updated country-by-country (and also U.S. state-by-state) travel restriction information and other travel-related guidance. If you have travel health, safety and security questions, please refer to Brown’s International Travel Risk Management website or contact Christine Sprovieri, Director of International Travel Risk Management. If you have questions about visa requirements, please contact OISSS (Office of International Student and Scholar Services) at [email protected] 

Additional guidelines on Rhode Island COVID-19 public health policies are available on the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) website.

All travelers arriving to the United States from an international destination must be fully vaccinated and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one (1) day before boarding their flight or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19. Airlines are required to check each passenger's documentation and will deny boarding to those who do not comply or cannot show proof of a negative test result or recovery. Passengers are required to show negative results from a test for current infection or viral test

More detailed information on this requirement can be reviewed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website as well as on this CDC flowchart.

All travelers to the U.S. are required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (defined at least 14 days after a second dose of an accepted two-dose series or one dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine) and the negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than one (1) day before boarding their flight or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19. 

Information about health and safety guidance for return to the Brown campus is available on the Healthy Brown website, which includes contact information for offices that can assist you with questions about your specific circumstances. For additional information, please contact [email protected]. If you are an international medical student and have questions about the Spring 2022 return plans, please reach out to Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Roxanne Vrees ([email protected]).

In the event that Spring 2022 on-campus instructional or operational plans change due to public health or other considerations, the University will communicate and provide clear guidance about how international students can complete the semester while considering implications of the current and/or forthcoming Student and Exchange Visitor Program guidelines.

Visa & Immigration

On April 26, 2021, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued a broadcast message following its initial March 2020 SEVP guidance. Per these SEVP guidelines, students whose SEVIS record was active on March 9, 2020, may continue to follow the SEVIS guidance from Spring 2020, which is still in effect.  Please be aware that all new F-1 students in initial status (including transfer or change of educational level students), who entered or will be entering the U.S. after March 9, 2020, are required to take at least one in-person or hybrid course and attend the in-person component of the course throughout the entire term.

However, it is important to note that most Brown courses and instruction now take place in-person and students are expected to resume in-person learning. A limited number of courses will be available remotely for students who have been granted exceptions to study remotely for the semester. 

New international students only: Your program begin date is indicated on your immigration document I-20/DS-2019. If you are not able to enter the U.S. by the beginning of classes on January 26, 2022, undergraduate students should contact the College ([email protected]), and graduate students should contact their academic department to request a confirmation letter of support. The letter should indicate up to which date during the present semester you may enter the U.S. to begin your program (not to exceed 30 days from the program's begin date listed on the immigration document). Please forward a copy of the letter to OISSS, so that we can adjust your immigration document accordingly. 

Students who are unable to obtain a student visa in time for spring semester, should contact their academic units as soon as possible. Undergraduate students should contact the College ([email protected]), and graduate students should contact their respective academic department. 

 Students in initial F-1 status are still expected to arrive in the U.S. within 30 days of the program begin date listed on their I-20 (or earlier if stipulated per the terms of their pre-approval from either the College, the Graduate School or the School of Professional Studies). Students who are unable to meet this timeline, should immediately contact their respective academic advising deans before the begin date listed on their I-20. 

Only eligible master’s students can request to have their immigration document deferred until they can enter the U.S. Once a master’s student is approved for deferral, OISSS will forward a copy of your new I-20 to you. OISSS will issue a new I-20 accordingly with the updated program begin date. The deferral request process for immigration purposes also applies to students who have been approved to take classes remotely from outside the U.S. After you have received your new I-20, you may use it to schedule a new visa appointment or update your information for a pending appointment.

 

Per the U.S. Department of State announcement, most recently updated on November 9, 2021, international travellers whose travel originates in China, Iran, Brazil, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland and India are covered under the Presidential Proclamation titled “A Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” U.S. Consulates are permitted to process visa applications for persons physically present in the affected countries, pending availability of timely visa appointments. 

The global pandemic continues to impact U.S. embassies and consular services, including appointment availability and processing timelines. Please continue to check on the status of these services with the U.S. Department of State (DoS) and individual U.S. Consulates regularly. In consideration of potential COVID-19 travel-related disruptions and until all U.S. consulates resume normal operations, consular staff might cancel existing visa appointments or reschedule them to a later date. Students with existing appointment dates that are later than desired can also check the U.S. consulate website regularly for earlier, expedited appointment times. For current DoS information please visit the U.S. visas website

 

The five-month rule does not impact your ability to take classes remotely for continuing students with active SEVIS records, who are covered by the SEVP spring 2020 guidance. Until further notice, the five-month rule will not have an impact on your ability to take classes remotely while maintaining a full course load, as long as you meet all of the following requirements:

  • you are a continuing student with an active SEVIS record;
  • the SEVP spring 2020 guidance applies to you;

and 

Your visa can expire while you are in the U.S. without impacting your legal status as long as your immigration document I-20/DS-2019 has not expired and you are pursuing a full course of study. As of now we recommend that you stay in the United States and limit international travel to emergencies only until the travel and visa renewal situation has become more stable. 

You cannot work on campus while on leave, per Brown policy. You would also not be eligible for CPT or pre-completion OPT while on leave.

You can take a leave of absence only under certain documented medical circumstances and with pre-approval by OISSS. For more information about leaves of absence, please contact OISSS.

If you previously studied in the U.S. and are now approved to be enrolled abroad as a full-time student, your F-1 SEVIS record will remain active. However, you must be in the U.S. to apply for OPT. Please consult with OISSS about your specific case: brown.edu/go/oisss.

Billing & Financial Aid

Due to limited available resources for financial assistance with travel, the University prioritizes aided international undergraduate students with highest demonstrated financial needs and/or who are receiving university aid. To support those students, the University administers the Aided International Students Travel Pilot to assist with travel support for eligible students. More information regarding the Aided International Undergraduate Students Travel Pilot will be included in your financial aid award letter. Eligible students can contact the Travel Pilot Team at ([email protected]). 

For more information about tuition and fees, including leave refund policies, installment payment plan options and related policies, visit the Bursar Office website

The University has a policy and process for eligible undergraduate international students and families to petition for need-blind financial aid. To review the guidelines, eligibility criteria, and to submit an application, visit the Financial Aid website. For information about graduate student emergency funding, Doctoral and MFA students should contact Dean Maria Suarez ([email protected]) and master’s and professional students should contact Dean Alicia LaPolla ([email protected]). Graduate students should also ask their programs if any additional funding is available.

Academic Continuity

Undergraduates

If you are an international student attending Brown on an F-1 visa, please also refer to the The College Frequently Asked Questions.

Undergraduate students who are unable to arrive on campus by the start of classes on January 26, 2022, should immediately contact the College ([email protected]). Graduate students should contact their respective academic advisors. In addition, students in on-campus housing should inform Residential Life ([email protected]) if their Spring 2022 arrival and/or housing plans change. 

Undergraduate students who are approved to study remotely until they arrive on campus must be on campus within 30 days from the program begin date (January 26, 2022) stated on their Form I-20/ DS-2019. 

International students on F-1 visa status with established legal residency in the prospective home country of study may be eligible for Brown's study away option, which enables them to enroll in and take courses as a non-degree visiting student in an approved institution in their country of residence. For more information, students can email the College at ([email protected]

Yes. In consultation with Brown’s Global Travel Risk Assessment Committee (GTRAC), the Office of International Programs (OIP) resumed a select portfolio of study abroad programs for the 2021-2022 academic year. Program resumption decisions are made on a semester basis; therefore, more information about the Fall 2022 term will be forthcoming. For additional study abroad questions relating to COVID-19, visit the Study Abroad COVID-19 Updates page of the Office of International Programs website. 

Undergraduate students who are required to complete an internship as a part of their concentration are able to satisfy those requirements with either a completed overseas internship or a capstone project. For more information, please contact your concentration advisor, or consult with OISSS advisor Kelsey Dennis (brown.edu/go/oisss). 

Continuing Graduate Students (Master's and Doctoral)

Starting in Fall 2021, Brown has returned to the traditional two-semester academic calendar and mostly in-person operations, therefore very little of the curriculum will be available in hybrid or fully online form. Students who are taking courses and/or serving as a Teaching Assistant, Teaching Fellow, Research Assistant or Proctor will be expected to participate in-person. For the full guidance, please see Spring In-person Planning for PhD and MFA Students

Being registered for research/dissertation after the completion of required coursework is considered full-time student status, and students working on their thesis or dissertation are considered to be maintaining valid F-1 status. Students who need to re-enter the country at this stage in their program are advised to obtain from their graduate program a letter indicating their need to be in residence at Brown in order to make progress toward the completion of the degree. 

As per current federal regulations, students are required to spend a minimum of two semesters in the U.S. prior to becoming eligible for curricular or optional practical training. Graduate students whose program requires an internship prior to graduation are exempt from the two-semester requirement for CPT purposes only. As of now, SEVP guidance has not been provided otherwise. Please contact [email protected] for further information

New Ph.D. Students

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) will be issuing immigration documents in time for you to matriculate for the semester for which you have been admitted, assuming all required documentation is received in time. Students who have not completed this process are advised to submit all required passport copies and funding documents to the Graduate School ([email protected]) in a timely manner so the immigration document issuance can proceed on your behalf. We realize that you may be experiencing difficulty getting documents from educational institutions and banks, for example, and encourage you to do your best to send the necessary documents as they become available.

We understand that, due to multiple delays and complications caused by COVID-19, a number of students may not be able to arrive on campus prior to the start of Spring 2022. If you are unable to arrive before January 26, 2022, but can expect to arrive in Providence by February 25, 2022, you may be able to matriculate and continue in-person once you arrive, with approval from your department or program. 

If you will not be able to arrive by February 24, 2022, please review your deferral options with your Director of Graduate Study (DGS). It may be necessary to defer until Fall 2022. The deadline for deferral requests was January 4, 2022. If you have any questions, please contact your Director of Graduate Study (DGS) in your program.

Brown is unfortunately unable to pay students their stipends until the students have completed the I-9 process, and the I-9 process can only be completed once the student’s visa has been issued and the student has entered the country. Thus, we are unfortunately unable to pay the stipend prior to your arrival in the US and completion of this process.

New Master’s Students

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) will be issuing immigration documents in time for you to matriculate for the semester for which you have been admitted, assuming all required documentation is received in time. Students who have not completed this process are advised to submit all required passport copies and funding documents through their applicant portal in a timely manner so the immigration document issuance can proceed on your behalf. We realize that you may be experiencing difficulty getting documents from educational institutions and banks, for example, and encourage you to do your best to send the necessary documents as they become available. Students in departments in the Division of BioMed and the Warren Alpert Medical School should send questions regarding submission of documents to [email protected]. Students in all other departments should contact [email protected].

We understand that, due to multiple delays and complications caused by COVID-19, a number of students may not be able to arrive on campus prior to the start of the Spring 2022 term. If you were unable to arrive before January 25, 2022, but can expect to arrive in Providence by February 24, 2022, you may be able to matriculate and begin your program remotely and continue in-person once you arrive, with approval from your department or program. 

 

Medical Students

The medical school does not offer a remote-only option for enrollment in the curriculum. If you are an international medical student and have questions about the spring return plans or the academic year, please reach out to the Warren Alpert Medical School’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Roxanne Vrees ([email protected]).

Campus Support & Resources

Over the past several years, Brown and its international students and scholars have experienced an unprecedented array of immigration-related challenges and setbacks. We have worked closely with peer institutions, higher education associations, Rhode Island congressional delegations, and other partners to advocate for inclusive support of international students and scholars including:

It is impossible to overstate the impact and contributions of international students and scholars to Brown and the U.S., and Brown will continue to advocate for inclusive and equitable immigration policies.

 

The Global Brown Center for International Students will be hosting our annual International Orientation for Undergraduate Students as part of our International Mentoring Program (IMP) this year to welcome the Class of 2025. Move-in for students participating in International Orientation will take place on August 27 and August 28, 2021, and our virtual orientation experience will begin on August 29, 2021. More information will be available on the Global Brown Center website’s International Undergraduate Orientation Fall 2021 page. 

Graduate student international orientation virtual activities, co-sponsored by the Global Brown Center for International Students and the Graduate School, will be hosted throughout August and September 2021. More information about graduate international orientation is available on the International Graduate Student Orientation Fall 2021 page.

There are several resources for students that are experiencing stigmatization, bias and xenophobia. For individual support, Brown’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has remote appointments and resources for students on the CAPS website. Staff members within the Campus Life Centers and Student Support Services are also available by appointment to support students and direct you to further resources. You can also report the incident(s) to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity using the online incident reporting tools. If you are interested in creating a space for discussion around these issues, please contact the Global Brown Center for International Students at [email protected]

Writing and English Language Support staff are available to support students with questions around language, terminology, or usage, and using English in different academic and social settings. Students can choose from in-person,  synchronous or asynchronous virtual consultation options, and  can schedule an appointment on the ELS website or email [email protected]

For information about personal leaves for undergraduate students, visit the CRC leave-taking resource page and the Personal Leave FAQ. Undergraduate academic deans are available virtually by individual appointments or drop-in advising to discuss leave options; you can contact an academic dean online. Graduate students have multiple types of leave, including personal leave, available to them through the Graduate School and School of Professional Studies. Graduate students with questions should contact Associate Dean Maria Suarez or Shayna Kessel.

The Global Brown Center for International Students is planning several events and activities for students to come together in community. The GBC will collaborate with other offices, including student staffers, to create events that meet the needs of our international students. This will include community, cultural, and mentorship based programming, along with programs specifically for graduate students. If you have any suggestions or would like to get involved, please sign up for our newsletter online or contact us at [email protected].edu

Brown Auxiliary Services’ “Guide to Living Off-Campus” is a resource page for off-campus housing. In addition, graduate students can join GSBB, a Brown graduate student listserv, which often has postings about roommates and sublets.