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HIO’s COVID FAQ is updated quite frequently and may prove to be useful to you:  https://hio.harvard.edu/coronavirus   We are cognizant that there are questions that still remain unanswered as time passes and decisions are made at the highest levels of the University. And, as always, all are welcome to contact peter_omeara@harvard.edu or call me at 617-496-2819 with questions.

To address concerns specific to HLS, please review the following information which is the most current but could be subject to change as events unfold in the coming weeks.

CPT and FedEx

For those JD students who have applied for or are in the process of applying for the summer F-1 Curricular Practical Training (“CPT”) employment authorization, HIO must ship the updated I-20 form with the CPT authorization notation via FedEx since we are working remotely.  HLS has graciously agreed to cover the cost of FedEx charges so that HIO can ship the I-20 form.  HIO is working with eShipGlobal to arrange for refunds to those who paid for a FedEx air bill through eShipGlobal and have already received their I-20 form. Those who had created a FedEx air bill in eShipGlobal but whose I-20 form was not yet issued will be shipped the I-20 form at HLS’s expense.  If you are still in the process of applying for CPT, please ensure that you provide HIO with your current residential address on the “HIO Form for CPT” so that we can ship the I-20 form to you.

Electronic I-20 forms

Although SEVP has indicated that it is possible to utilize electronic versions of the I-20 form, this proposal has not yet been officially or uniformly accepted across the various U.S. federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, that work with international students.  As such, HIO feels it is best for students to have an original form to avoid any difficulties.

Health Insurance

We understand that some students may wish to purchase insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector, including MassHealth, when their HUHS student insurance ends after graduation.  HIO has seen that use of MassHealth has resulted in denial of the U.S. Lawful Permanent Residence (a.k.a., the “Green Card”) and cautions that any decision to purchase MassHealth be done only after consultation with an immigration attorney.  HIO is looking into whether some short-term private insurance options will cover COVID-19 testing and treatment costs and will update the HIO website when the information is clarified.

OPT and Maintenance of Status

  During the year-long post-completion Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) period, F-1 students may be unemployed, i.e., not engaged in practical training activities, for a cumulative total of 90 days.  Study for the Bar exam does not count as employment or practical training.  HIO advises students to maintain their OPT status by doing at least 20 hours of paid or unpaid work directly related to the field of law from the start date of their OPT, as indicated on the OPT Employment Authorization Document.  HLS OCS and OPIA could advise you on paid or unpaid activities that you could seek to maintain your lawful status until your law firm employment begins.

Federal Coronavirus Stimulus checks

Most students are not eligible to receive the check since students are considered non-residents for tax purposes for the first five years spent in the U.S. and non-residents do not qualify for the stimulus check. Those who are correctly determined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to be a resident alien for tax purposes may receive the check.  In the absence of definitive clarification from the IRS, the Congressional Research Service reports that cashing a stimulus check does not count as a public benefit under the public charge rule.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HIO staff is working remotely from home as of Wednesday, 3/18/2020, so any inquiries should be directed via email to your HIO advisor, Peter O’Meara.   Contact Peter at peter_omeara@harvard.edu or 617-496-2819.  For inquiries related to international travel and public health concerns, please refer to the Harvard University page which contains current FAQs and links to relevant campus resources:  https://www.harvard.edu/coronavirus