FAQ

Dear International Student Community,

Welcome to Brown and the new academic year! We have updated the compiled list of frequently asked questions for international students with relevant information on current immigration and international travel restrictions. This FAQ is based on the most recent information we have available and assumes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) SEVP COVID-19 provisions remain in place. If DHS releases 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 Fall 2021 change, or if you have any questions not addressed in this FAQ, below are the relevant offices to contact:

We are excited and look forward to the full resumption of all in-person teaching and administrative operations this fall.

Sincerely, 

The Global Brown Team

Last updated September 3, 2021. 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 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 show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three (3) days of 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

Even if you have received the full vaccination against COVID-19, you still must provide a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery. 

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

In addition to the COVID-19 testing requirement described above, and in accordance with U.S. Presidential Proclamations, non-U.S. passport holders who were physically present in specific countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States are subject to additional entry requirements and/or restrictions. Please note that there are some exceptions to these Proclamations that pertain to students holding certain visa types. For more information about current U.S. Presidential Proclamations and other immigration entry requirements, please review the U.S. Department of State information on National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) for non-U.S. citizen travelers to the United States.  

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 Fall 2021 return plans, please reach out to Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Roxanne Vrees ([email protected]).

In the event that Fall 2021 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. This federal guidance will remain in place throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. 

However, it is important to note that starting in the Fall 2021 term, most Brown courses and instruction will 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 September 8, 2021, 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 fall semester should contact their academic units as soon as possible. Undergraduate students should contact the College ([email protected]), and graduate students should contact respective academic department. 

New undergraduate and master's students in initial status who have been pre-approved to study remotely can begin their academic program from abroad — while waiting for their student visa or for travel restrictions to be lifted — and should inform their academic advising deans of their anticipated arrival dates as soon as they receive their visa. 

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.

Please check with the U.S. 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. 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

A National Interest Exception (NIE) currently applies to international students who travel to the U.S. from designated countries and regions. Per a recently updated Department of State announcement on August 12, 2021, international students traveling from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland and India whose academic program begins after August 1, 2021,are also eligible for an automatic NIE at the time of F-1 visa approval. Students with valid F-1 visas who intend to begin or continue an academic program after August 1, 2021, are no longer required to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel.

From an immigration perspective, 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 has launched 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 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

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 September 8, 2021, 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 Fall 2021 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 (August 29) 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) will resume 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 Spring 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)

Brown has returned to the traditional two-semester academic calendar and mostly in-person operations for Fall 2021. Only a portion 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, with limited exemptions for students who are unable to do so due to approved accommodations on medical grounds, or for travel or visa restrictions, or financial hardship. Only those graduate students with an approved Petition to Study Remotely for Fall 2021 may take their courses remotely. For additional information, please see the FAQ under Petitions to Study Remotely for Fall 2021

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.

Teaching assistants should proceed with their courses’ planned instructional modalities as originally proposed and listed in [email protected]. Courses that were previously proposed and planned with online or hybrid instruction for pedagogical reasons may proceed with their instructional methods. All other courses should proceed in-person from the start of the semester, including shopping period.

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 Fall 2021. If you are unable to arrive before August 25, 2021, but can expect to arrive in Providence by September 25, 2021, 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 September 25, please review your deferral options with your Director of Graduate Study (DGS). It may be necessary to defer until Spring or Fall 2022. Requests for deferrals should be made to the Director of Graduate Study (DGS) in your program no later than August 1. This is a hard deadline and coincides with the university’s fall billing deadline. Please discuss your deferral options directly with your program before making a final decision.

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 Fall 2021 term. If you were unable to arrive before August 25, 2021, but can expect to arrive in Providence by September 25, 2021, 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. 

The deadlines to request permission to study remotely or defer admission have passed. If you cannot arrive in Providence by September 25, please contact your program immediately.

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]

English Language Support staff are available remotely to support students with questions around language, terminology, or usage, and using English in different academic and social settings. There are options for support during the fall semester via synchronous or asynchronous options, and 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; 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 virtual and in-person activities 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. 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]

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.