Scholars / Employees FAQs

Last reviewed April 1, 2021

Please find below answers to immigration-related questions. Be aware that this situation is fluid and federal guidance may change. We will update this information as needed.

We are hopeful that we will be able to return to normal university life in Fall 2021. Read more in President Bollinger’s message.

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Scholar / Employee FAQs

Please see Travel Resources on our COVID-19 Hub web page.

The Department of State issued updated guidance for the NIE on October 1, 2020 for certain travelers from the Schengen Area, the UK and Ireland. The NIE process is handled directly by the U.S. embassy/consulate in the country from which you would be traveling. Please refer to their website for relevant guidance.

If you will be joining the Morningside/Manhattanville campus, contact your ISSO Faculty and Scholar Adviser. If you will be joining the CUIMC Medical Center, contact your ISSO-CUIMC adviser. Be sure your academic department administration is also aware of your delayed arrival.

In order to get an ID Card, the process is as follows:

  • If you are an employee, consult your Department Administrator for guidance.
  • If you are a Visiting Scholar/Scientist conducting independent research

When you receive the confirmation email and have arrived in New York, email the ID Center (dd5@columbia.edu) stating you are ready to have your ID Card printed. You will receive an email response stating a designated pickup time at the ID Center and directions on how to pay the $20 ID Card fee.

The best source of comprehensive and up-to-date information university-wide is the COVID-19 hub that Columbia created to centralize information, resources and latest guidance for the university community. CUIMC scholars may also refer to the Coronavirus Resource Center.

Please see the Columbia COVID-19 Resource Guide for the required protocols for returning to campus, which include getting a COVID-19 test and completing a daily symptom self-check. NY State also has quarantine guidelines for arrival from other US state and from international destinations. 

Columbia University provides an explanation of the differences between social distancing, isolation and quarantine here

If you have concerns regarding these directives and wish to speak to an ISSO adviser, please contact Morningside/Manhattanville Faculty and Scholar Services or ISSO-CUIMC.

Our office recently transitioned our workshops and events to an online format and you can keep up to date here. We also encourage you to connect with others in the Columbia University community through the Office of University Life.

You can sign up for our listserv for an easy way to communicate with others in your international scholar community. You can use it for things like looking for a place to live, buying / selling household items and connecting with others from your home country-- and beyond! Joining the list is voluntary, and you can unsubscribe any time. Learn more and sign up here.

All Social Security Administration (SSA) offices are closed until further notice.  Please consult your hiring department for guidance in addition to following guidance on our SSN Application page.

Please contact your academic department administration or Human Resources (HR).. Special approvals are needed for remote work from abroad. Please also contact your ISSO adviser to let them know you are unable to travel.

Telecommuting must first be approved by the hiring department.

If you are in H-1B status, this is permitted within certain parameters. Please contact your ISSO adviser so we can advise both you and your department.

If you are in J-1 status, the U.S. Department of State has indicated that they recognize the challenges institutions are facing in light of COVID-19,  and the flexibility needed for working remotely during this time. Most important to your J-1 program is that you maintain the program objective for which you have been sponsored while you are telecommuting.

When you are outside the U.S. you are no longer in a U.S. immigration status.  As there are factors that are not immigration-related when working from abroad, you must contact your academic department administration or Human Resources (HR) to discuss whether it is an option for you to perform your work duties outside of the U.S.

The ISSO website provides a list of companies for internationals visiting Columbia University, who are not covered under Columbia University plans.  Please read the policies carefully as you research your insurance coverage options.

The Library Status Updates webpage will have the most current information on openings, work space, and remote access. Please contact the relevant library directly if you have questions regarding appointments.

Go to the ISSO webpage on Travel Signatures and DS-2019 reprints to request a new DS-2019 with an updated travel signature. Under Step 1 there is a link for scholars from the Morningside/Manhattanville campus and another for scholars from the CUIMC campus. 

It's best to obtain a new travel signature prior to your departure from the U.S.

Check our travel resources for current information.

Contact your academic department administration or Human Resources (HR) immediately. Requests for an extension must reach ISSO through the hiring/sponsoring department. Both ISSO offices are working remotely and continue to process these requests. You will be notified when processed.

Be sure to monitor the travel conditions of your destination country. Contact your academic department Human Resources via email and copy the ISSO adviser at the Morningside/Manhattanville or CUIMC campuses.  The ISSO will then take the necessary steps to shorten/end your visa status. If you are in J-1 status and expect to return to the United States on a J-1 visa in the coming months, you may not be able to do so due to the 12- and 24-month bars. Please be sure to review the ISSO website regarding these bars.

All changes to your position must be approved by your academic department administration or Human Resources (HR) as appropriate. If approved, please contact your ISSO adviser at either Morningside/Manhattanville or CUIMC and inform them of your intent to depart the U.S. Together we can explore visa options that may be available to facilitate your return. Keep in mind that some visa options may not be available to you due to restrictions imposed by regulation.

Please contact the ISSO at Morningside/Manhattanville or CUIMC.  Together we can explore other visa options that may be available to you.

Be sure to continue to monitor the travel conditions of your destination country. For information relevant to visas and travel to the U.S., see the Travel Resources on our COVID-19 Hub.

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