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International Graduate Students – Decision Trees for Fall Semester Planning

June 12, 2020

Dear Directors of Graduate Studies,

Earlier in the week the OGE Office of International Services published a set of three decision trees which we have been developing to assist faculty and staff in planning for the Fall 2020 semester.  However, as we noted, conditions change regularly and in fact there have been some developments this week.

Based on the new developments, we have revised the decision trees regarding assistantship appointments and employment of international scholars.  You can find these documents on the OIS website at the following location

The decision trees provide guidance for the following scenarios:

  1. Courses modalities (online versus in-person) for international students;
  2. Assistantship options for international students; and
  3. Employment options for visiting faculty and postdocs.

We will be regularly updating the documents as we continue to receive guidance from federal, state and university authorities regarding immigration regulations as well as tax and employment regulations.  For those wishing to know more about the particular issues we face and the recent updates, I am providing some greater detail below.  But please know that we are committed to working with all university offices to develop guidance that will best support members of our international community who a vital component of our academic enterprise and global engagement.

Fall Semester Course Modalities Decision Tree

We hope that continuing international students will be able to continue studying remotely as they have been during late spring and summer.  However, the Department of Homeland Security has not provided any guidance for the Fall semester and afterward.  We will have to monitor and share whatever guidance is issued which, we hope, will provide a degree of flexibility (similar to the spring and summer semesters) regarding online or hybrid classes for continuing international students whether abroad or not.


We were informed this week that new and continuing graduate students who remain abroad in Fall should not be awarded assistantships.  Unless the university system is able to obtain legal guidance regarding potential employment and tax regulations related to the student’s country of citizenship, there would be significant risks in awarding assistantships to those abroad.

Visiting Scholars

For the same reasons as with assistantships, units should not employ new or continuing visiting scholars who will remain abroad during the Fall.  It is worth noting, however, that J-1 visa applications are currently being processed.

Good News

Fortunately continuing students and scholars who remain in the U.S. (there are many) or new students and scholars who are able to enter the U.S. and start their programs/employment in August remain eligible for assistantships or other employment.

We understand that for many academic units, faculty and students, instruction and research are heavily dependent upon the excellent work performed by international student assistants and scholars.  We are committed to supporting those efforts by sharing the best guidance available as we receive updates and information from federal, state and university authorities.

Please feel free to contact the OGE Office of International Services at regarding particular cases or concerns.


Neal McCrillis
Vice Provost for Global Engagement