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Immigration Advice and Resources

Cornell offers many resources to support our international community. On this page, you'll find answers, advice, and allies for your immigration-related concerns, including campus resources for internationals, immigration emergency aid, university statements of support, and more.

Learn more about how the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs advocates for Cornell's international community. Find answers about university plans, travel and visa status, and employment rules on International Services' COVID-19 FAQ pages for international students and faculty and staff.


Monthly Immigration Update

Update: The November 26 proclamation restricting travel from certain African countries was revoked on December 28, 2021.

On November 26, President Biden issued a presidential proclamation restricting entry to the U.S. for non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents who were physically present in the following countries in the 14 days prior to their entry to the U.S.: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. 


Updated December 13, 2021

Omicron and Winter Break Travel

The new Omicron variant of COVID-19 may affect air travel in December and January. If you are planning to travel outside the United States during break, please be aware that rapidly changing travel restrictions and more stringent testing requirements in the U.S. and countries around the world could complicate your arrival to your destination abroad and your reentry to the U.S. for the spring 2022 term.

The Office of Global Learning will continue to monitor the situation. We will communicate any updates as we receive them.

For more information: Visit Cornell's COVID-19 Response website for updates on the Omicron variant. Read International Services’ alert about Omicron travel restrictions and our FAQ pages for students and scholars. If you travel, closely watch the CDC’s international travel requirements and countries impacted by Omicron travel restrictions. ​​

We recommend International SOS as a reliable source for the latest information on travel restrictions and entrance requirements (enter the Cornell membership number 11BSCA827281). Additionally, every country information page on the U.S. Department of State website provides a link to that country’s embassy COVID-19 page with helpful information regarding your destination.

The Ithaca campus’s COVID-19 testing site will be closed on December 18 and 19. Please plan accordingly if you need test results in advance of travel. The Tompkins County testing site at the Shops at Ithaca Mall is open on Sundays. On-site, pre-departure testing is available at many airports. Cornell Tech students should refer to theCornell Tech COVID-19 website for information about testing or reach out by email.

Housing During Break

Student and Campus Life recognizes that recent and possible future Omicron travel restrictions could impact break plans for students living in the Ithaca dorms. Consequently, the winter break application will remain open for students with a current on-campus housing assignment. Visit the Housing Portal for winter housing dates, rates, and to apply. If you have questions, please email the Housing office.

Many Ithaca dining outlets are closed over the winter break, so options will be limited. Please check with Cornell Dining for Winter Break hours as well as off-campus dining options.

Emergency Funding

Limited funding support is available to international students experiencing certain types of emergencies. Visit our Get Advice page for more information.

Travel Documents and Urgent Travel Help

If you do decide to travel internationally, make sure that you carry the required documents for travel and reentry to the U.S. In addition to proof of your full vaccination, you’ll need evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within one day of departure of your return flight to the U.S. Testing requirements implemented by your destination before you depart the U.S. should also be expected.

See Travel Documents for Students if you’re a continuing student or Travel Documents for Scholars if you’re on a J-1, H-1B, O-1, or other faculty/staff visa. For those on OPT/STEM OPT, visit Travel on OPT. Be aware that the country you travel to may also have entry and COVID-19 requirements that you should check before you travel.

If you are a current international student, scholar, or staff member, Cornell provides 24/7 travel assistance through International SOS. If you are arrested or detained by a federal officer, or if you have an accident or injury, call International SOS (+1-215-942-8478) and reference Cornell's membership number: 11BSCA827281.

Cornell Vaccination Policy

Cornell requires vaccination for students attending classes on the Ithaca, Geneva, and Cornell Tech campuses or participating in any other Ithaca-based program during the 2021–22 academic year. Students who have already provided proof of COVID-19 vaccination or received a religious or medical exemption do not need to take any further action to meet the COVID-19 vaccine requirement. All others enrolling for the winter 2021–22 or spring 2022 terms must comply with the COVID-19 vaccine requirement by December 15, 2021.

If you are unable to complete or begin the vaccination series with an approved vaccine by the deadline because you’re an international student currently residing in a country where those vaccines are not available, you must email Cornell Health or call +1-607-255-4364 before December 15. More details are available on the Cornell Health International Students FAQ.

Applying for OPT? 

Don’t wait! If this is your last semester of registration and you want to work in the United States, apply for OPT now. You can only apply for OPT while you’re in the U.S., and you do not need a job in order to apply. Make sure you check your eligibility and timeline.

Do You Need an SSN?

A Social Security number (SSN) is used by employers and employees for tax-reporting purposes. All international students, faculty, and staff need current employment to be eligible to apply for an SSN. Please note that if you are an F-1 or J-1 student with a campus job or assistantship, one of the required application documents required is a letter from International Services verifying that you are eligible for an SSN. You may request this letter in myStatus: F-1 SSN Eligibility Letter or J-1 SSN Eligibility Letter.


International Services FAQ

Find more answers to questions about student travel rules, including National Interest Exceptions and travel bans. Faculty and staff, please visit the scholar FAQ.


Support at Cornell

International Services

Cornell’s Office of Global Learning International Services is here to help students and scholars from around the world thrive at Cornell. Talk with International Services staff about general immigration information including visas and jobs, finding your niche in Ithaca, campus resources, and more. Get advice from International Services.

Emergency Assistance

If you are a current student, faculty, or staff member experiencing an immigration-related emergency, find out how to get the help you need at any hour on International Services' Stopped at the Border page.

Legal Assistance

Cornell Law School Clinical Programs provide free immigration legal advice and/or referrals for Cornell students on specific issues such as asylum and naturalization. Income guidelines may apply. Reach out to the clinical faculty team by email at immigrationhelp@cornell.edu or call the clinic at +1-607-255-4196.

Cornell Law’s immigration clinic handles immigration cases for the Cornell community. Contact Jaclyn Kelley-Widmer, associate clinical professor of law, by email to discuss your case. In addition, the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School publishes free online law materials to help people understand the law.

Resources for undocumented and DACA student support can be found on the Student and Campus Life website.

University Statements​ of Support (select)

Explore the complete archive of university statements.

Guidance and Counseling

  • Part of Cornell Health, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) includes the Let’s Talk program. Talk confidentially with a trained healthcare professional and find support for stress, loneliness, anxiety, depression, adjustment challenges, relationship difficulties, questions about identity, managing an existing mental health condition, or other issues. Call CAPS at +1-607-255-5155 to speak with a staff member.
  • Cornell's Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives offers general advising on personal and academic support, as well as planning for academic and professional aims and referrals for undocumented students as part of the trailblazers program.
  • Cornell's Office of Graduate Student Life serves the Cornell community in many capacities: discussing student concerns, providing available resources and services, and sharing options for handling difficult academic and personal situations. Contact Janna Lamey to identify appropriate resources.
  • The staff in the Dean of Students office is available for support, advice, and guidance in navigating various circumstances. Contact the office by email or call +1-607-255-1115.
  • Cornell's Faculty and Staff Assistance Program offers free, confidential guidance and support to benefits-eligible employees and their partners to address issues that may be affecting their personal lives and job satisfaction or performance. This resource is part of Cornell's broad commitment to foster and support the mental health and well-being of the campus community.

Housing in Ithaca

  • If you're an international student concerned that visa issues will limit your ability to travel to your home abroad during university breaks, on-campus housing may be an option. Send an email in confidence to find out more.
  • International Services provides general housing information on its website. Visit Your First Week and Student Resources.

Support from Off-Campus

Hotline to Combat Coronavirus Hate Crimes and Xenophobic Rhetoric

New York's Attorney General Letitia James created a hotline to report hate crimes and bias-based incidents. The hotline comes in the wake of rising reports of harassment and assaults, as well as rhetoric against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The attorney general urges those experiencing hate crimes and bias report an incident by email or by calling +1-800-771-7755. Learn more about the initiative.