MIT | ISO | International Students Office
ISO Newsletter
April 9, 2021
Reminder: F-1 Five-Month Temporary Absence Rule

The ISO has been receiving additional inquiries regarding the F-1 Five-Month Temporary Absence Rule. MIT has reviewed USDHS guidance and FAQs, and had additional inquiries to USDHS on this topic, and from this advice that determined the suspension of the rule only applies to students who were enrolled and physically present in the U.S. prior to March 9, 2020, left the U.S. before August 31, 2020 (the start of the Fall 2020 term), and have not be able to re-enter the U.S. 

ALL enrolled F-1 Students who were physically present in the U.S. during the Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 semester, and then depart the U.S., are subject to the 5-month Temporary Absence Rule from the new date of their departure from the U.S.  

F-1 alumni on approved Post-Completion OPT and STEM OPT Extension are also subject to the 5-month Temporary Absence Rule from their last date of departure from the U.S.

We advise that students please read the guidance available on the ISO Knowledge Base article concerning the F-1 Five-Month Temporary Absence Rule.

[NOTE:  J-1 visa holders (student category) are NOT subject to this 5-month temporary absence rule].
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your ISO Advisor

U.S. State Department Issues Visa Services Update
Prioritization to reduce backlogs of visa applications
On April 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of State issued an announcement and FAQ to provide an update on the status of visa services at U.S. Embassies/Consulates abroad that have been impacted by COVID-19 as they move towards returning to full staffing and offering full visa services. 

The summary indicates the prioritization of immigrant visas that have faced backlogs. Those Embassies/Consulates with capacity for processing nonimmigrant visas “are prioritizing travelers with urgent needs, foreign diplomats, mission-critical categories of travelers (such as those coming to assist with the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and workers who are essential to the American food supply), followed by students, exchange visitors, and some temporary employment visas.”

Students and Exchange Visitor visa applicants are advised to check the website of the closest U.S. Embassy/Consulate to where they reside to confirm current processing status and updates on scheduling visa interview appointments. The full announcement from the U.S. Department of State can be viewed here.
Reminder: Income Tax Filing Deadline is May 17, 2021
Tax Workshop: Recording & Slides available here 
Students are required to file income tax returns for all who had been physically present in the U.S. during the 2020 calendar year. Students physically inside the U.S. during 2020, whether they worked or not, are required to file an income tax return.

A brief overview of the available tax resources are as follows:

Tax Guidance for Non-Resident Tax Filers
The MIT Office of the Vice President for Finance, in cooperation with the International Scholars Office (ISchO) and the International Students Office (ISO), created a website for foreign nationals to provide resources and links related to receiving payments from MIT and guidance on income taxes. This is the best place to start with any questions about taxes and filing your income tax returns. 

MIT Tax Workshops Presentation Recordings/Slidedecks
On March 2, 2021, MIT hosted Tax Workshops for MIT students and scholars regarding the filing the 2020 calendar year income tax returns.

The Workshop recordings and slidedecks are posted on the MIT VPF “How to Get Tax Help” webpage.  

Additional tax information for international students and scholars is available on the VPF website.

Glacier Tax Prep Software
The ISO makes available to MIT international students for free a license for the Glacier Tax Prep software to assist in completing the Federal income tax return. The software is available here

By the end of February 2021, any students who have worked at MIT during 2020, including receiving assistantships or fellowships, should have received the necessary documents needed to complete their income tax returns by the May 17 deadline.
Navigating MIT Series - Spring 2021
Next Session: "Imposter Phenomenon" 
April 13, 2021 at 1:00PM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time)

Stress Management has been rescheduled to Thursday, April 22nd at 1:00PM EDT.

Sign up for each virtual session at this link
Various topics to support international students with adjustment to MIT and the U.S. during the spring semester. Most topics are repeated from the fall semester since some students have newly arrived for the spring. Open to all international students.

All sessions will be held virtually over Zoom. Even if you cannot attend the session, if you register, you will receive the slides (a recording may not be possible).
Language Conversation Exchange "Conversation Cafes"
Next Event on Thursday, April 13
12:00 - 1:00 PM EDT

Co-sponsored by LCE & ISO

Advance registration for each event is required at this new link:

After a short opening culture or language presentation, language learners will be sorted into breakout rooms by language where you can practice with native speakers.

Participants, please start arriving at 11:50 AM so that presentation can start promptly at 12noon.

Subscribe to the LCE email list
Registration Link
Zoom Break: Codenames
Thursday, April 15, 2021
1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT
Join  your fellow students and have some fun playing Codenames!

Sign Up requested. 

Open to entire MIT community during IAP
Co-sponsored by ISO and Postdoc Association (PDA)
Zoom Break: Among Us
Thursday, April 29, 2021
1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT
Join to play an hour of Among Us with us!

The game can be found here for Android and here for iOS.

A quick introduction video to how the game works is here!
Sign Up

Cook with Antoinette
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
12:00 Noon EDT

Join ISO staff member Antoinette as she teaches us again how to make two simple and fun recipes. You don't have to cook both recipes, only what you are most interested in. Or just observe! See ingredient flyers. 
Sign Up Here
Session 4 of the Muslim Mental Health Dialogue Series
Friday, April 9, 2021
5:00 - 6:30 PM EDT

Join MIT Mental Health Staff as we debunk misconceptions about Islam and mental health.

Learn how to manage stress and anxieties and how you can support friends and family. 
Join on Zoom Here
SaveTFP Presents:
Gathertown Jeopardy!
Friday April 9, 9:00-11:00PM EDT


Backup Zoom room:
Come play trivia with a team and get some prizes. You can come with a team in mind or join solo and get teamed up at the event!  Prizes will be won!
(Most likely squishables)

Open to everyone

Various events happening each Friday during the spring semester
Add our Google Calendar and/or fill out this form to be added to our mailing list!
OGE Spring Financial Literacy Workshops- Investing series
Part-II on Tuesday, April 13, 2021
1:30 - 12:30 PM EDT
OGE will be hosting a virtual workshop series on investing brought to you by Fidelity Investments. This three-part series will help guide those interested on the path to investing.
Introduction to Investing Part 1- Recording HERE
Introduction to Investments Part II- April 13, 11:30-12:30 PM EST, Part 2 of this series will be slightly more advanced and will build on the knowledge offered in Part 1. Hayley Newhall will discuss asset allocation, asset location, and understanding the market and economic business cycle. An announcement with the RSVP link will go out closer to the event. RSVP HERE
Introduction to Investments Part III- April 22, 11:30-12:30 PM EST, Hayley Newhall will return for Part 3 of this series to discuss choosing investment vehicles and offer tips for fund selection. This workshop will build on topics covered by Part 1 and 2. An announcement with the RSVP link will go out closer to the event.
Apply for the 2021-2022 MIT Addir Fellowship
Deadline: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at 11:59 PM
Undergrad and Grad students are encouraged to apply for the 2021-2022 cohort of the Addir Fellows. Apply here

More information about the Addir Fellows:
Do you want to talk about life’s big questions and hear other people’s perspectives? Are you curious about people’s life experiences in different religious, spiritual and secular traditions? Do you want to make new friends with a diverse group of your MIT peers?  Then Addir, MIT’s only interfaith dialogue program, is for you!
'Addir' is an ancient Sumerian word for ‘bridge’, which represents Addir’s mission is to build bridges of understanding, friendship and solidarity between people of different religious, spiritual and secular traditions. Addir Fellows agree to participate in weekly 1-hour small group discussions and a 24-hour retreat every semester. Small groups decide both the topics to explore and the time to meet each week, while Addir provides the meeting space and yummy snacks.
Addir fellows may be diverse in their backgrounds but they are united by their commitment to curiosity, kindness, and community where there is appreciation for difference
Apply Here
The Personal Empowerment Series
Visit ENGAGE.MIT.EDU to RSVP for each workshop

Next event on April 15, 2021 at 5:00 PM EDT:
Navigating "Professionalism" in the Working World
Sponsored by Student Organizations Leadership Engagement (SOLE), in partnership with MCR, DUSP, Political Science, ISO, MITAA, VPR, PKG, CAPD, LGBTQ@MIT, and OMP
MIT Spouses & Partners Connect and Language Conversation Exchange Events
Featured April Events
Newly admitted students are welcome to our twice monthly Newcomers Office Hours, to ask questions about MIT Spouses & Partners Connect and what life is like for families at MIT: Register Here.
CRAFTERNOON- Collagraphy
Tuesday, April 13 at 6 p.m.
Come learn how to make prints using objects from your quarantine space! We will be exploring the process of collagraphy, a versatile and experimental form of printmaking that relies on collage. This project will challenge you to be resourceful and gather materials from what you have. Led by MS&PC member Hanna Pauline Bernbaum. This event is for MS&PC members only.
To register and have supplies mailed to you, go to
The Apple Tree – presented by Beech Tree Puppets
Wednesday, April 21 at 6 p.m.
The Apple Tree is a marionette puppet show presented by Beech Tree Puppets of the Washington DC Area.  A woman lives in the countryside with her lively dog, her shy cat and her cuddly sheep.  She decides to plant an apple tree so she can make a pie for her Birthday. She is surprised by an unexpected little helper. Warm colors and beautiful singing bring special magic to this 30-minute. show. Followed by a live meet and greet with artists.
Register at
KORU Mindfulness
4 Mondays 12-1:15 p.m., starting April 26
Open your mind and manage your stress! You and your partner are invited to experience Koru, a four-week introduction to the practice of mindfulness. Participation in Koru is associated with decreased stress and self-judgment and increased mindfulness and sleep quality. Attendance at all four classes is required. There will be 10 minutes of mindfulness practice per day required. Open to MS&PC members and their spouse or partner – limited spaces available. Led by Caitlyn McCourt, Director, Community Wellness at MIT Medical
Find more information and register here -

English Conversation Group
If you would like to feel more comfortable conversing in English and work on your fluency via cultural dialogues about life in the US, customs, and current events, then this is for you! Meet other MS&PC members, exchange ideas, and have fun in a friendly environment! All levels of English are welcome. Please contact for more information or for the password to attend the meeting.  Open to members of the MIT community, which includes enrolled students, staff, visiting scientists and scholars, faculty, their spouses and partners.
Monday link -  at 5 pm
Friday link  -  at 10 am
Self Growth Journeys – Part 2 coming soon!
Mondays at 3 p.m. and Thursdays at 4 p.m. starting April 12
Has working from home decreased your efficiency? Have you lost touch with your goals? Or would you simply like to become a better version of yourself? Then join us we will look at different ways to encourage self-growth through award-winning books, TedTalks, and research:
We meet up online twice a week where each e-meet will revolve around a new idea or book.
Pre-registration is required as there is a limited number of participants for each e-meet. This way everyone will have the opportunity to express their opinions and insights about the subjects.
The leaders of the group are MS&PC members Tal Eyal and Anna Soendergaard Muehlbach. It is a peer group - not professionally led.
Watch for upcoming dates on our events calendar
Fridays at 5 p.m.
We invite you to spend Friday evenings dancing with us. Meet Elif Yarar Sayın and join our virtual Zumba party!
Please register here -
Career Connect events are reserved solely for the spouses and partners of graduate students, postdocs, and visiting scholars and researchers. These events are not open to MIT grad students or academic professionals.
Thursday April 15 at 11 a.m.
This talk focuses on how to LEVERAGE LinkedIn and relationship building. Dominique Koehl, the speaker, won’t cover how to optimize your LI profile. However, Dominique will share where you can find detailed information to create a stellar LinkedIn presence.
Register at
Friday April 30 at 11 a.m.
Learn the basics and the dos and don'ts of the interview process. Led by Bori Stoyanova, Human Resources Administrator in Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Register at
Writing Together Online with the WCC: April Edition
April 1 - 30, 2021
Please join the Writing and Communication Center in Writing Together Online to work on your writing projects starting April 1st through April 30th. Our 90-minute sessions create a community of writers who connect, set realistic goals, and write together to motivate each other and to make progress on their academic projects. This program is open to graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, researchers, and all, who are actively writing their proposals, manuscripts, or thesis/dissertation chapters.  
Feel free to register for any number of 90-minute sessions:
  • Every Mon 3-4:30pm EDT
  • Every Tue, Thu, Fri 9-10:30am EDT
  • Every Wed 5-6:30pm EDT
Click here for more information and to register, or check the WCC website. Please spread the word and join with friends and peers.
MIT Commencement 2021: Submit your video
Submit via Dropbox by Friday, May 7, 2021
Please submit video for consideration in the online Commencement festivities!
Commencement Day schedule
  • Noon–1 pm EDT | Pre-program
  • 1–2 pm EDT | Online Commencement Celebration Program and Degree Conferral
  • 2–3 pm EDT | Graduate Recognition

Why send video?
The hour prior to the online Commencement celebration program will be hosted by two students and dedicated to reflecting on your MIT experience: we’re interested in anything you would like to share, from your early days on campus to the phenomenal adaptations and achievements of the last year. Video may show individuals or groups—and it’s fine to include anyone who is part of your life…classmates, lab mates, friends, teachers, family, supporters…with their permission, of course.

What to send?
Video may be either
  1. Clips of up to 30 seconds or
  2. Edited pieces of up to 4 minutes
You may submit your material via Dropbox between now and Friday, May 7; multiple submissions showing different people and activities are welcome. Please be sure to label the file(s) clearly (with your name, in case we need to follow up with you) and either include a text file with a caption or put the necessary details in the metadata. Note: Copyrighted music may prohibit us from using the piece. It is not necessary to set your video to music, but if you do, please choose carefully.
Video questions? Please contact MIT Video Productions

Commencement 2021 FAQ
MIT Center for WorkLife and WellBeing Seminar Series
Spring Seminar Offerings Here
Open to grad students, postdocs, & staff
Check out the MIT Center for Worklife and Wellbeing's webinar series for the Spring '21. 

These expert-led webinars are free, but registration is required.

Seminar highlights:
  • Investing 201: Continuing the Conversation
  • Positive Psychology: Combat Negativity Bias & Optimize Your Happiness
  • Coping With Worries
Sign Up
Wellness Events & Resources
Daily Table Grocery Store
Now in Central Square
No one should have to choose between their health and their budget when it comes to food. That's why Daily Table sources nutritious, delicious food at prices that every budget can afford --an average of 30% less than other local supermarkets.
Faculty Panel: "Perspectives of MIT Professors on Surviving Graduate School"
Thursday, April 16, 2021
12:00 - 1:00 PM EDT
Food reimbursement of up to $9 for first 50 sign-upsRSVP here

MIT iREFS are thrilled to invite you to the first panel discussion of the Spring semester, "Perspective of MIT Professors on Surviving Graduate School" on April 16th (Friday), 2021 at 12 PM. Join us for a panel discussion of life challenges during graduate school and how to survive them. Hear the experiences of seven MIT professors: Anna Mikusheva (Statistics and Data Science Center), Charlotte Brathwaite (Music and Theater Arts), Charles E. Leiserson (High-Performance Computing, CSAIL), Daniel Jackson (Human-Computer Interaction, CSAIL), David Karger (Human-Computer Interaction, CSAIL), Frédo Durand (Synthetic Image Generation and Computational Photography, CSAIL), and Troy Van Voorhis (Computational Chemistry). 
If you are interested in attending the panel, please RSVP here ASAP. The first 50 to sign up will be reimbursed $9 for lunch (please note that MA sales tax will not be reimbursed). The detailed instructions for reimbursement will be sent to the participants after the event.
You can also submit any questions you have anonymously here and we will share them with our panelists during the session. You can also ask questions to the panelists during the discussion through Zoom chat.
Here is the zoom link for the event:
Please feel free to reach out to us at in case you have any questions or concerns.

MIT iREFS mailing list:
MIT iREFS webpage and google calendar 
MIT International Students Office
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Office Hours:
9:00-16:00 (M-F)
Closed (W) 10:00-11:30
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