The bargaining committee’s next bargaining session is scheduled for Monday, August 17, 1:30-5 PM. Please email if you would like to attend the session over Zoom.

Yesterday the International Students Working Group (ISWG) of GWC-UAW met for the second time with the Provost’s International Issues Working Group (IIWG). The meeting was attended by Provost Ira Katznelson, Vice Provosts Julie Kornfeld and Soulaymane Kachani (Vice-dean of SEAS), as well as Dean Carlos Alonso (GSAS). We successfully discussed and clarified several issues faced by international students, including ability to receive appointments and pay remotely. 

The administration recognised the haste with which they announced the policy that withheld payment to anyone working from abroad. They acknowledged that they had not sufficiently explored solutions to the issue and regretted the severe anxiety it caused the student community.  A full annotation of the first item on Provost Katznelson’s August 12 email as well as our wins as to the expansion of International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) and University Apartment Housing (UAH) services are detailed below.

A. Paying students working from outside the US 

“Students who are abroad can hold teaching and research appointments and will be paid service stipends if they have a valid Form I-9 on file with the University, hold a U.S. work authorization, and have a U.S. bank account. [We will continue to work with our schools regarding students who do not satisfy these requirements, and continue to explore potential solutions.]”

      • “Service stipends”: students will be paid the entire fellowship amount including both the stipend (usually paid in a lump sum at the beginning of the semester) and the salary (wages paid bi-weekly through the remainder of the semester).
      • “US work authorization” means both having an I-9 form on file and a Social Security Number.
      • “Students who do not satisfy these requirements”: Any student (international or domestic) who has not filled out a Form I-9 and is not currently in the US to fill it out does not meet the requirements outlined by Columbia.
      • “Explore potential solutions”: Considering a significant number of people will not meet the requirements, including many first time TA and RAs, the Provost and the Deans are looking into university-wide solutions for those affected. The specifics will be announced soon (the date has not yet been confirmed).

Thank you to the over 1,000 student workers and members of the Columbia community who signed our open letter to the Columbia administration.

B. ISSO Town Hall with Immigration Lawyers

After years of demanding that the ISSO offer regular town halls with immigration attorneys specializing in issues pertinent to international students and scholars, we finally persuaded the administration to hold one soon. We are waiting for an announcement on the times/dates by the ISSO. Depending on the attendance and feedback at this town hall, the ISSO has tentatively promised to regularly hold them once or twice every academic year.

C. Extension of ISSO Call-in Hours to Students

After consistently demanding that ISSO call-in hours, a service currently offered only to international students, be extended to international students, ISSO has agreed to extend its service hours and offer virtual walk-in hours and appointments. Details will be announced by ISSO soon.

D. Extension of No-Penalty Lease Cancelation in UAH 

During the meeting we clarified the importance of extending the suspension of the $1000 UAH lease cancellation fee  in light of the uncertainties caused by the announcement on remote pay. After our meeting today, we received an update that University Apartment Housing (UAH) has agreed to extend the no-penalty cancellation of UAH leases for two more weeks from August 15, till the end of August 2020. UAH is expected to update its website and send out an official announcement to this regard very soon. Given that an on-going pandemic means situations will continue to develop and change, we will continue to advocate for the further extension of the no-penalty cancellation period. 

ISWG will be sending out a survey on ISSO services soon and will be holding town halls for both incoming and continuing international students. If you would like to get more involved with organizing with ISWG, please get in contact with us at


In solidarity,

International Students Working Group

Graduate Workers of Columbia-UAW Local 2110