IO Announcements Archive

  Updated August 30, 2018 - IO Technology Fee - More Information and FAQs

At Northwestern, our world-class institution is committed to supporting our diverse student body on a myriad of campuses across the country and throughout the globe. As an international student, you are inextricably linked with our shared mission of global eminence.

The mission of the International Office is to enrich the academic, research, and cultural experience of Northwestern’s international community. We advise and support you, advocate on your behalf, and increase the visibility of our international community while promoting educational and cultural exchange. One of the ways in which we achieve these goals is by navigating the various reporting requirements for our international students.

Over the past 15 years, our reporting requirements have grown exponentially. As you know, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires that we report on many different aspects of our international students. From a compliance perspective, international students are treated differently from U.S. students. As a result, our current systems cannot keep up and must be replaced.

Therefore, we are implementing new software to meet the increasingly challenging federal reporting requirements, as well as to transform your experience as international students by making our processes more transparent and fluid.

In order to implement this new software, the Provost approved an annual fee for all students who require the use of this software to begin September 1. This fee will be used to purchase and maintain the licensing and support of this system, and we will provide an end-of-year accounting of the fees – what was paid and what was spent – on our website.

This fee is in direct response to a federally-mandated change in process with which the University is obligated to comply. We always carefully consider implementing or increasing fees to students because we understand any additional cost may create or contribute to a financial burden. However, this fee is in line with previous increases Northwestern has had to implement in direct response to changes in other mandatory requirements around technology or health.

Because the University’s fiscal year ends on August 31, the first annual fee of $50 will be assessed as of September 1. All international students – undergraduate, graduate, exchange students, etc. – will be assessed this fee as part of the fall quarter when enrolling in classes. If you do not attend classes in the fall, you will be assessed the fee in the first quarter in which you attend during the academic year. You will be charged this fee once per year, and in subsequent years, the amount will be reduced to correspond with the actual costs of ongoing licensing and maintenance. Similar to an activity fee or other fee type, it must be paid directly by each individual student and will not be covered by a school or program.

As you know, the University uses CAESAR, an Oracle/PeopleSoft product, as our system of record to manage student data. The SEVIS module that the International Office has been using for years is part of their delivered product, meaning that it is free to the University. While PeopleSoft has continued to make updates to its module throughout the years, it in no way can function in the robust reporting environment that we are currently faced with for the size of our international student population. There is no upgrade option. We have supplemented the SEVIS module for years with Google forms, Eventbrite, MailChimp, and a plethora of Excel spreadsheets. This inefficient system takes too much time to process student requests, and it does not enable us to be proactive in notifying students of potential issues. This additional time puts the student and the university at risk through non-compliance with strict federal reporting timelines. It also requires a much longer process to do everything from creating initial documents to processing CPT and OPT applications to educating and communicating with students.

In a word, the current system is unmanageable. The increasing reporting burden from the federal government, as well as their increased scrutiny of our students, demands that we have a much more robust and responsive system purchased through and provided by a third-party vendor.

Our goal is to assist you with maintaining your status. We try to educate and notify all students when changes happen or when a student is in danger of falling out of status. With the new unlawful presence regulations that went into effect on August 9, there is increasing pressure to catch and prevent potential issues.

This is one of the many ways we believe the new software will positively affect our international students. We will be more proactive in situations where you may be in danger of a status violation. We will be able to provide consistent education to all students on a variety of topics. We will be able to track your needs and questions, no matter which adviser you speak with. We will be able to provide proactive advice on CPT and OPT and other employment questions. These are only a few of the ways the new software will transform the service we are able to provide to our international students.

There are few vendors in the SEVIS reporting environment. Only two provide the services we need. After extensive research, the International Office and the University approved the purchase of Terra Dotta’s ISSS software. As with any new system, there are implementation costs, annual licensing fees, additional security costs, staff support needs, hardware needs and coordination with existing campus resources. The budget approved by the Provost is lean. All money collected through these fees will be going only to the new system and its upkeep.

This fee is to offset a cost, no more. We appreciate your questions and concerns, and we welcome your comments. We will continue to provide you with open communication and FAQs regarding this project of the course of the implementation.

If you have additional questions, please reach out to our Assistant Director of Operations Jennifer Zabel at JenZabel@northwestern.edu.

June 14, 2018 - Updated Presidential Proclamation (Travel Ban) information

Please see this page for more information

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December 12, 2017 - IO cautions students about USCIS, Tax, and FBI Scams

USCIS, DHS, CBP, Evanston/Chicago Police Departments (or any other US government agency) will not call you on the phone.  If anyone calls and asks for your personal information (address, passport number, SSN, etc), money, goods (ex: iTunes gift cards) or threatens to deport or imprison you, PLEASE hang up. Do NOT give them any personal info or money.  Read more about these scams

There have also been tax scams reported.  If anyone calls or emails and asks you to "test" multifactor authentication or asks for a copy of your W-2 or SSN, PLEASE hang up/ignore the email.  Do NOT give them any personal info or money.  Read more about these scams

If you receive a suspicious call, please contact your IO advisor

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*Traveling overseas? Bring your I-20/DS-2019 with you.
The following documents should always be in your carry-on luggage: I-20/DS-2019, passport, EAD card (if applicable), copy of your Northwestern admissions letter

*Check the expiration date of your passport and visa stamp today!  if your F-1/J-1 visa has expired since you’ve been at Northwestern, you will need to renew your visa stamp by visiting a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad.  If you need to renew your visa stamp, please make your appointment as soon as possible.  Many international students travel  home for the holidays and the embassies are very busy (and closed for Christmas and New Year’s). 

*Scan and email yourself copies of your important documents: passport, visa stamp, I-20/DS-2019, EAD card.  Those documents are easier to replace with copies!

Visit our Travel page for more advice, Frequently Asked Questions and emergency contact information.

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June 27, 2017 - Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Travel Ban Executive Order

Dear Colleagues,
 
Earlier today the Supreme Court announced that it will hear the case on the president’s immigration order and partially overturned lower court orders that had temporarily blocked it from taking effect.  The Supreme Court’s order does not appear to impact the current status of our international students and scholars from the six affected countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  The court will hear the Trump administration’s appeal in early October 2017.
 
Northwestern is committed to supporting its students and scholars affected by this action. The University will continue to provide a variety of resources for information and support, including the retention of legal services. Students and scholars who have issues with their visas -- or anyone concerned -- should contact the International Office. Email intoff@northwestern.edu or call 847-491-5613.
 
The International Office is responding to every call and email in order to help students and scholars address their specific concerns. Where necessary, individuals are referred to outside counsel to provide guidance. Northwestern is engaging legal counsel to help us in these cases at no expense to the individual seeking assistance.
 
We understand that this time is filled with worry and uncertainty. Northwestern leadership takes these concerns very seriously, and we are monitoring these events carefully to ensure we have the very best support and updated information in order to assist our students and scholars.
 
Best regards,

Philip L. Harris
Vice President and General Counsel

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June 2017- Annual NAFSA report on how the U.S. benefits from international students

Read the 2017 report!

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April 2017 - IO cautions students about USCIS, Tax, and FBI Scams

USCIS, DHS, CBP (or any other US government agency) will not call you on the phone.  If anyone calls and asks for your personal information (address, passport number, SSN, etc) or money, or threatens to deport or imprison you, PLEASE hang up. Do NOT give them any personal info or money.  Read more about these scams

There have also been tax scams reported.  If anyone calls or emails and asks you to "test" multifactor authentication or asks for a copy of your W-2 or SSN, PLEASE hang up/ignore the email.  Do NOT give them any personal info or money.  Read more about these scams

If you receive a suspicious call, please contact your IO advisor

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April 1, 2017 - Northwestern + 30 Peer Institutions File Amicus Brief Opposing March 6 Executive Order

On Friday, April 1, Northwestern and 30 peer institutions filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the plaintiffs seeking to uphold a Maryland District Court’s preliminary injunction of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order on immigration. Northwestern joined in the amicus brief once again to support efforts to enable students, faculty and scholars to continue to study and conduct research in the U.S.

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March 7, 2017 - Message from General Counsel on Executive Order

Today, President Trump issued a new executive order on immigration. The revised order states that individuals who have valid visas from the affected countries – Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya – are no longer prohibited from entering the country. In addition, the order no longer includes persons from Iraq. However, persons from the affected countries who do not have a valid visa on March 16, 2017, would be barred from entering the U.S. for a 90-day period.

Northwestern University is a global institution that attracts faculty, students, researchers and staff from all over the world, including from the countries that are identified in the new executive order. Accordingly, we are concerned that this new order will limit our ability to meet our mission as a global university. We will work with other universities to respond to this new order in a manner which protects that mission.

Any members of our community who are concerned about the impact that the new executive order might have on them should contact our International Office or me. The International Office is reviewing the executive order and will have an updated question-and-answer guide later this week.

Philip L. Harris
Vice President and General Counsel

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Feb 13, 2017- Updated Message on Executive Order

Northwestern joins 16 other leading research universities in filing an amicus brief opposing the Executive Order.  More information
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Feb 10, 2017 - Updated Message on Executive Order

On Thursday evening February 9, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government's emergency motion for a stay on the District Court's temporary restraining order preventing the government from enforcing Executive Order 13769's 90-day entry bar. For more information.

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Feb 6, 2017 - Updated Message on Executive Order
Northwestern University is monitoring closely the national discussion over the Executive Order from President Trump temporarily banning travel by citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries and the temporary restraining order from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the action. There are many conversations on campus about what this means, including discussions on whether valid visas will be impacted.  We are very concerned about the status of visas and are following the situation closely. Northwestern is committed to supporting its students and scholars affected by this action. The University will continue to provide a variety of resources for information and support, including the retention of legal services. Students and scholars who have issues with their visas -- or anyone concerned -- should contact the International Office. Email intoff@northwestern.edu or call 847-491-5613. Or go go: http://www.northwestern.edu/international/

The International Office is responding to every call and email in order to help students and scholars address their specific concerns. Where necessary, individuals are referred to outside counsel to provide guidance. Northwestern is engaging legal counsel to help us in these cases at no expense. We understand that this time is filled with worry and uncertainty. Northwestern leadership takes these concerns very seriously, and we are monitoring these events carefully to ensure we have the very best support and updated information in order to assist our students and scholars. 

Philip Harris
Vice President and General Counsel

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January 31, 2017
Dear International Students, Scholars, and Friends,
 
The International Office is deeply troubled by the new Executive Order signed by President Trump on Friday, January 27.  We are writing to tell you that we are here to support you and that we care deeply about you. 
 
The Executive Order bans the issuance of visas and further bans admission to the U.S. by citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This ban is effective for at least 90 days. The International Office is closely reviewing the order and its impact, and we will do everything we can to keep you updated on related developments moving forward.
 
If you are a citizen of one of the countries, and are currently in the U.S., our guidance to you is to remain in the U.S. for the time being. You face a very real risk that you will not be permitted to reenter the country should you choose to depart as long as this order remains in effect. If you are not currently in the U.S., it is highly likely you will not be permitted to board a U.S.-bound airplane or permitted entry into the U.S., and should make alternative arrangements until further notice. 

We understand and agree that this Executive Order is upsetting and may be creating anxiety and uncertainty. We invite you to come to our walk-in advising hours (Monday-Thursday, 10am-1pm and 2-4pm; no appointment necessary) if you have questions or concerns.  Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is also available to you if you would like to talk to someone. 
 
As President Schapiro wrote Sunday, “knowledge knows no borders, and we all benefit greatly from the presence of the talented international students, faculty and staff who are members of the Northwestern community. I sincerely hope that the Administration quickly makes clear that this country still welcomes scholars and students from around the world, just as Northwestern University does, and will continue to do so.”
 
In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and one another.
 
Sincerely,

Ravi Shankar and The International Office staff