Several news outlets are reporting that the Biden administration plans to lift the current COVID-19 travel bans to the U.S. as soon as November 8. In return, the administration plans to require vaccination for all non-U.S. citizen travelers to the U.S. At this time, we do not yet have official clarity from the government on the scope of these requirements, and whether or not there will be exceptions based on visa status. The HIO will be in touch with all international students, student interns, and scholars if and when this information is confirmed by the U.S. government. Until the plans are confirmed by the Biden administration, we are not yet certain of the scope, impact, or timeline for implementation.
The HIO has received multiple reports of international students and scholars receiving scam phone calls from individuals representing themselves as employees with “U.S. Immigration” or other government entities. They alter caller ID systems to make it appear that the call is coming from a governmental number. The scammers obtain or verify personally identifiable information from their victims through various tactics, including by telling individuals that they are the victims of identity theft. The scammers also pose as law enforcement or immigration officials and threaten victims with arrest unless they make payments to the scammers using a variety of methods.
Students and scholars who have received scam phone calls have reported that their caller ID said the IRS or an immigration office (e.g. SEVP, USCIS) were calling. Scam phone calls have also been received where the caller ID stated that the Massachusetts State Police, Cambridge Police, or other local police were calling. If you do not know who is on the line, do not simply assume it is someone from the office identified on your caller ID. Scammers are able to “spoof” these numbers so it appears the call is coming from a government office.
Government officials would never ask you for money or to meet them with gift cards. The IRS would never call individuals regarding their taxes and USCIS or SEVP would never call you to threaten you with arrest or deportation. If you receive any calls like those described above, simply hang up! You should also never email your social security number or give it to someone you do not know over the phone. Please refer to the links below for resources and more information:
- Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts
- Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance
- For more information about how to avoid identity theft please review the HUPD website.
The Department of State has announced the procedures for the next Diversity Visa Lottery. Detailed information is available on the Department of State website.
The Diversity Visa Lottery enables individuals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States an opportunity to enter a lottery to obtain a green card provided they meet certain minimal qualifications. For Fiscal Year 2023, 55,000 Diversity Visas will be available.
For DV-2023, natives of the following countries are NOT eligible to apply because the countries sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years:
Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
Persons born in Macau SAR and Taiwan ARE eligible to participate in the Lottery.
I have found it easier and quicker to learn about anything, whether academic or nonacademic, by asking the people around me about it rather than looking up the information online or in books. Therefore my advice to new international students would be to really utilize people around them as resources.