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!
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 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
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.
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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