Dear Graduate Students,
COVID-19 has placed enormous stress on all graduate students, and the travel restrictions associated with it have placed an especially large burden on international graduate students. Most international graduate students have remained here since the pandemic began, and may be isolated from not only your University communities, but also your friends and families in your home countries. We know these past seven months have been very difficult, and we want you to know that we are here to support you in the months ahead. Many of you are wondering about whether you should travel over the winter holidays and whether you can hold a graduate assistantship and perform the duties associated with it while you are outside the U.S. I am writing to you with information that I hope you will find useful as you make your plans.
GAs provide vital teaching and research service to the University, and some of this work might be possible remotely. GAs who are here in the U.S. are able to work remotely, provided they have supervisor approval and that the responsibilities of the position can be completed from the remote location. GAs who are outside the United States, however are subject to the employment, labor, and tax obligations of the country from which they are working, even if they are working on behalf of an employer like UConn that is located in the U.S. In some cases, accepting a paycheck from UConn could expose an individual to personal liability and other significant consequences in the country where they reside.
We continue to try to balance the University’s commitment to supporting our graduate students with our concern that some well-intentioned efforts could place students at risk in their home country. Therefore, GAs are expected to be in the U.S. by the start date of their Spring semester appointment and remain in the U.S. for the duration of that appointment. Remote employment taking place outside the United States must be approved in advance by The Graduate School, and will only be approved under extremely limited circumstances described in the following guidelines. These guidelines were developed in conjunction with the Office of the Provost, the Office of the General Counsel, and the Office of Global Affairs.
- Graduate students who leave for winter break and who expect to hold graduate assistantships in Spring 2021 are expected to make every effort to arrive in the U.S. to begin the responsibilities of their Spring semester appointment (and no later than the semester start date of January 19, 2021). International students are advised to consult with ISSS about the likelihood of being able to return to the U.S. in time for Spring 2021 before making travel plans.
- GAs will only be considered to work from abroad for Spring 2021 in the event that new travel restrictions or travel related circumstances that were not in place at the time of departure prevent them from returning to the U.S. Students may review current U.S. entry restrictions, and current global travel restrictions. The Graduate School will also consider changes to local travel conditions (i.e. flight cancellations, local lockdowns) when considering your emergent circumstances.
- In the case of a GA who chooses to leave the country and is unable to return because of travel restrictions that prevent return, the department may request approval for work abroad, but approval will be subject to export control and grant restrictions. Approval will take at least several days and could take several weeks. You should understand that you may be placed on unpaid leave while the request is reviewed.
- Prior approval to work remotely while abroad for Fall 2020 does not guarantee approval to work remotely while abroad in Spring 2021. A new request for each student must be submitted by the department and each request will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Please be sure to consult your ISSS advisor with any questions you have about your visa status and for updates on travel restrictions to and from the U.S.
If you have any questions, please send them to email@example.com, and we will respond as quickly as possible.