Dear Members of the Brown International Student Community:

As you may have heard, the United States Government has agreed to rescind the July 6 ICE Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) policy directive regarding international students engaging in remote learning on a nationwide basis, as well as the July 7 FAQ and any implementation of its directives. The U.S. Government will return to the previous guidance issued on March 9 and March 13, 2020, which is further clarified in a July 15, 2020 FAQ and a broadcast message and subsequent FAQ on July 24, 2020. You can read more about the update here.

This reversal in policy is an important recognition of the extraordinary contributions that international students make to our university communities. We are grateful to MIT and Harvard and the more than 200 institutions across the United States, including Brown, that opposed the ICE SEVP July 6 & 7 guidance.

We have updated the FAQ for International Students and other related sources to reflect the implication of this decision and will continue to monitor any further updates on this matter. 

We know that you may have questions after reviewing these updated resources, and we have provided contact information below for offices that are providing ongoing support. Because Global Brown is managing a high volume of emails related to Brown's fall plans, academic advising and other COVID-19 related inquiries, please allow 3-5 business days for the offices to respond. Thanks for your patience and understanding.


The Global Brown team

Last updated August 3, 2020. Information on this page may be updated as the University’s planning evolves and/or immigration guidance prompts a shift in Brown’s operations and protocols.


Travel Health & Safety

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 login with Brown’s membership number; the Brown member is available on the International SOS website. Their COVID-19 page provides country-by-country (and also U.S. state-by-state) guidance on the following: 

  • International travel disruption (including details on commercial travel as well as inbound and outbound travel restrictions),
  • Domestic mobility considerations, and 
  • Other non-movement related conditions that could affect your travel.

Additional guidelines on Rhode Island COVID-19 public health policies are available on the Rhode Island Department of Health website.  See the “Alerts and Latest Guidance” section of this page for specific travel restrictions. We also encourage you to read Brown’s Plan for a Healthy and Safe 2020-21.

If you have travel health, safety and security questions, please refer to Brown’s travel policies on the Healthy Brown website, which includes contact information for relevant offices. You can also refer to the 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 at [email protected]

Information about health and safety guidance for return to 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, refer to the COVID-19 FAQ for Graduate Students, or Undergraduate Student FAQ website. If you are an international medical student and have questions about the fall return plans or the academic year, please reach out to Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Roxanne Vrees ([email protected]) and Associate Dean for Medical Education, Paul George ([email protected]).

In the event that on campus activities are suspended due to public health or other considerations, the University will provide clear guidance about how students can complete the semester remotely considering the implications from current and/or forthcoming SEVP guidelines.

Visa & Immigration

On July 14th SEVP rescinded its July 6 and 7 guidance and reverted back to the previous guidance issued on March 9 and March 13, 2020, which is further clarified in a July 15, 2020 FAQ, and a broadcast message and subsequent FAQ on July 24, 2020.Continuing students who are in the U.S. are able to take classes either remotely or hybrid. Incoming students in “initial” status must enroll in at least one hybrid course.

New international graduate students only: Your program begin date is indicated on your immigration document I-20/DS-2019, which also is the begin date of the Orientation for International Students. If you are not able to enter the U.S. within 30 days of that date, international graduate students should contact their academic department to request a letter of support. The letter should indicate up to which date during the fall semester you may enter the U.S. to begin your program. Please forward a copy of the letter to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS), so that we can adjust your immigration document accordingly.

Note: Kindly refrain from requesting such a letter until your travel plans are solidified.

New international students in initial status who begin their academic program remotely, while waiting for their student visa or travel restrictions to be lifted, will have their immigration document deferred until they can enter the U.S. OISSS will be deferring immigration documents beyond 30 days from the initial program begin date (August 26 plus 30 days) accordingly, and will forward a copy of your new I-20 to you.

Please check back with the Department of State (DoS) and individual U.S. Consulates regularly. Until U.S. Consulates resume normal operations, consular staff might cancel existing visa appointments or reschedule them to a later date.  For current DoS information please visit the U.S. Visas website

Note: We have received information that U.S. Consulates are gradually resuming nonimmigrant visa processing. Please check with the U.S. Consulate nearest you about most current updates. 

Students who wish to engage in CPT have to be in lawful F-1 status for a minimum of two semesters prior to becoming eligible to apply. There is one exception to this requirement: International graduate students only, whose program requires a summer internship (e.g. master’s in Computer Science), may apply for CPT without first completing one full academic year. More information about CPT eligibility requirements can be found on the CPT webpage

Based on previous guidance from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), transfer students who are outside the U.S. and unable to begin their program in person, may request a deferral of their program's begin date. Students in that situation should enroll in a full course of study remotely for fall. 

Note: OISSS defines deferral in the context of the program begin date indicated on your I-20.  If you wish to forego fall enrollment and defer your academic program begin date, please contact the Graduate School.

Transfer is defined for immigration purposes as the electronic transfer of your SEVIS documents from one U.S. institution to another. Transfer students in initial status who are not able to begin their program in the U.S., will need to request a timely deferral of their program's begin date. 

This will depend on travel restrictions between your home country and the U.S. For updated information for each country, please see the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website.  For information on specific considerations and exemptions, please see applicable National Interest Exceptions

The five-month rule does not apply if your SEVIS record has remained in active status. If you are a continuing student in the same degree level program and will continue online full-time enrollment from outside the U.S. this fall, your record will remain in active status and not be terminated.

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. Due to a variety of reasons including the potential for applicable visa delays and/or travel restrictions, we recommend that you limit international travel to emergencies only. 

Continuing students’ SEVIS record will remain active as long as they are making adequate progress toward their degree and remain enrolled in a full course of study, regardless of location, in or outside the U.S. 

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 and remain in the U.S. only under certain documented medical circumstances and with pre-approval by OISSS.

Yes, but please note that you must be in the U.S. when you apply for OPT. You can apply for OPT no more than 90 days before the end of your program. Please consult with OISSS about your specific case: brown.edu/go/oisss.

Yes, OISSS can request a reactivation of your SEVIS record from SEVP, and upon approval you would remain eligible for summer off-campus employment. Please consult with OISSS about your specific case: brown.edu/go/oisss.

No, you will not be eligible for off-campus work authorization if you take a leave of absence until you have returned to campus for two consecutive semesters. Please consult with OISSS about your specific case: brown.edu/go/oisss.

Billing & Financial Aid

Due to limited available resources, the University has to prioritize aided international undergraduate students with highest demonstrated financial needs and/or who are receiving University aid. To support those students, the University has launched the Aided International Students Travel Pilot ([email protected]brown.edu) to assist with travel-related support. Eligible students may also apply to the EGAP Fund (ufunds.brown.edu) for other support. More information regarding the Aided International Undergraduate Students Travel Pilot was included in your financial aid award letter and you will be receiving more information via email soon.

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, please contact Dean Maria Suarez ([email protected]). Graduate students should also ask their programs if any additional funding is available.

Academic Continuity


If you are an international student attending Brown on an F-1 visa, please also refer to the Undergraduate FAQ and Leavetaking FAQ.

You can consult the revised Academic Calendar for important fall, spring and summer dates, including term dates, pre-registration, shopping period, and exams. You can also find additional information on academic policies on the Undergraduate Student FAQ. To discuss the consequences of late arrival due to visa and other travel restrictions, please consult with an academic advising dean at [email protected].

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 about declaring a leave, visit the Leavetaking FAQ. To schedule an appointment with an advising dean or request more information about study away, please email [email protected].

Given the uncertain nature of the global health crisis’s continued effects on both public health and on travel between countries, Brown made the decision to cancel all University-sponsored undergraduate study abroad for Fall 2020. For more information and future updates, please refer to the Undergraduate FAQ here. 

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

Graduate Students (Master's and Doctoral)

All matriculated students will be given the option to take courses online, whether they are in Providence or not. Incoming students studying in the U.S. will need to enroll in at least one hybrid class.

In-person class meetings will be limited to 20 students to enable safe distancing of students and instructors within classrooms. Many courses with enrollments above 20 will have in-person section meetings of 20 or fewer students. Brown has developed plans for every classroom space that allow for six-foot or greater separation between individuals. In addition, exiting students and instructors will be asked to wipe down physical property (desks, chairs, lecterns, etc.) between class sessions. 

All fall courses will be available to be taken remotely. The University hopes that the health situation will improve, so that Spring 2021 courses will be able to return to a residential model. 

Masters students should contact their program and the Interim Associate Dean for International Graduate Students, Shayna Kessel ([email protected]),  if they find they need to study remotely for more than one semester.

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) has issued immigration documents (I-20/DS-2019) in time for you to matriculate for the fall semester, assuming all required documents were 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]) as soon as possible, so that  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 recognize that delays and travel restrictions caused by the public health situation will prevent a number of incoming students from arriving before the beginning of the fall semester. Please contact your program if you plan to arrive after the start of classes. International graduate students must arrive within 30 days of their program start date, as listed on Form I-20.

Incoming Ph.D. Students

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 by late August. If you are unable to arrive before September but can expect to arrive in Providence by October 10, you may be able to matriculate and begin your program remotely and continue in person once you arrive. 

If you cannot arrive by early in the semester, please review your deferral options with your Director of Graduate Study (DGS), allowing you to postpone your program start date to Spring 2020 or Fall 2021. Due to the first-year curricula some programs are not able to offer the option of a one-semester deferral, and students may need to defer to fall 2021. Requests for deferrals should be made to the Director of Graduate Study (DGS) in your program no later than July 31. Please discuss your deferral options directly with your program before making a final decision.

One important factor to keep in mind is that Brown is unfortunately unable to pay students their stipends until the students have completed the I-9 process, and that cannot be done until 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.

Unfortunately, Brown is unable to distribute your stipend until after you have completed the I-9 process, which can only be done once the student’s visa has been issued and the student has entered the country. If you are unable to arrive before September but can expect to arrive in Providence by October 10, you may be able to matriculate and begin your program remotely and continue in person once you arrive. 

You may also request a deferral, postponing your program start date to Spring 2021 or Fall 2021. Due to the first-year curricula some programs are not able to offer the option of a one-semester deferral, and students may need to defer to Fall 2021. Requests for deferrals should be made to the Director of Graduate Study (DGS) in your program no later than July 31. Please discuss your deferral options directly with your program before making a final decision.

Incoming Master's Students

If you are unable to arrive before September, you may be able to matriculate and begin your program remotely. Once you arrive in the U.S., you can continue your studies in person or remotely. Please communicate with your department or program as soon as possible if you cannot arrive on campus by September. 

You may also defer your admission. Students in the School of Public Health may only defer their admission to fall 2021. Students in all other master’s programs may defer to spring or fall 2021. If you would like to defer your admission, please contact your department administrator. 

Please discuss your options, questions, and concerns directly with your graduate program before making a final decision.

Medical Students

If you are an international medical student and have questions about the fall return plans or the academic year, please reach out to Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Roxanne Vrees ([email protected]) and Associate Dean for Medical Education, Paul George ([email protected]).

Campus Support & Resources

We continue to work closely with peer institutions, higher education associations, and other partners to advocate for inclusive support of international students and against the deleterious impact of the recent federal actions. These troubling actions include the Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China, the Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak, and the now-rescinded SEVP Guidelines for Fall 2020 Semester. And as President Paxson shared in her email of July 8, 2020, Brown supported the actions taken by Harvard and MIT seeking a temporary restraining order with a U.S. District Court to block the implementation of the rule, including Brown’s participation as a signatory to an amicus brief filed with the courts in support of the Harvard and MIT lawsuit.

As Brown’s plans for Fall 2020 have been announced and recent decisions from ICE SEVP have raised new questions for international students studying in the United States, we have held a series of webinars for undergraduate, master’s, and PhD international students to speak directly with a panel of academic and international student advisors. So far, we have completed two webinars for undergraduates and one session for master’s and PhD students. Below is a complete schedule of our remaining Conversations with Global Brown town hall series:

For Master’s Students:

  • Thursday, August 6th at 9:00am

For PhD Students:

  • Wednesday, August 12th at 9:00am

Please register for any of the above sessions at this link. Students that register will be sent access information prior to the event. 

The Global Brown Center for International Students (GBC) and the Graduate School are working to transition the international orientation experiences (at both the undergraduate and graduate levels) to online and remote options. The GBC is currently onboarding our amazing new IMP mentor class for January orientation offerings, and the Graduate School is finalizing training for peer mentors for orientation opportunities in August. For questions about general orientation, please contact [email protected]

There are several resources for students that are experiencing stigmatization, bias and xenophobia. For individual support, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has remote appointments and resources for students here. 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]. 

English Language Support staff are available for support with questions around language, terminology, or usage, and using English in academic and social settings. Students 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; click here to contact an academic dean.  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 virtual gatherings for students to come together in community. The GBC will collaborate with other offices, including student staffers, to create events and webinars that meet the needs of our international students. More information to come as events become finalized! If you have any suggestions or would like to get involved, please contact us at [email protected]

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.