Scholars / Employees FAQs

Last reviewed and updated November 3, 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.

Scholar / Employee FAQs

Effective November 8, 2021 all adult travelers to the U.S. are required to show proof of full vaccination (see the CDC list of accepted vaccines at Table 2) and a negative result to a COVID-19 test taken no more than 3 days before departure. Country and region-specific COVID-19 travel restrictions have been removed.

For more information, see:

Limited exceptions to the vaccine requirement apply. Exceptions for J-1 exchange visitors include:

  • J-1 exchange visitors under the age of 18
  • J-2 dependents under the age of 18
  • Persons with valid J-1 visas who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability. Find CDC's list of these countries at Table 4.

Beginning November 8, 2021, the answer is no. Based on the Presidential Proclamation issued October 25, 2021, National Interest Exemptions (NIEs) will no longer be required. Travelers from abroad will be required to show proof of full vaccination of a WHO-approved vaccine (see the CDC list of accepted vaccines at Table 2) and a negative result to a rapid COVID-19 test taken no more than 3 days before departure. Limited exceptions apply.

More information can be found in our ISSO news here.

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, email [email protected]. Be sure your academic department administration is also aware of your delayed arrival.

In order to get an ID Card, first consult your Department Administrator for guidance and refer to the ID Center webpage for information.

The best source of comprehensive and up-to-date information is the university's COVID-19 Resource Guide for the Columbia Community. CUIMC scholars may also refer to their Coronavirus Resource Center.

The Covid-19 vaccination and testing is mandatory for all faculty and staff.  Please see the Columbia COVID-19 Resource Guide for the required protocols.

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.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has limited services during the COVID-19 pandemic and an applicant to make an appointment to be made by phone. More information can be found here.

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

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.  Be sure to choose the correct campus, Morningside/Manhattanville or CUIMC.

It is 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 several months in advance of the current expiration date.

An ISSO adviser is available to discuss the process together with you and your hiring department, if preferred.

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.

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