Graduate and Early Career Caucus of the History of Science Society

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At the 2020 Virtual Forum GECC hosted a successful and practical Tacit Knowledge Event: Supporting International Scholars in Pandemic Times.
Many thanks to all involved!
Find the full write up here, including panel member biographies and resources.
Below are the FAQs from the panel:


What can I do to help now?

We need people to comment on the proposed rule limiting visa extension options. This takes just a second and has a serious impact on how administrative law gets made. Here is an overview.

What are the financial costs associated with student visas?

International students pay fees for work authorizations above and beyond their visas, and there are proposals in the works to increase fees significantly. Graduate stipends and teaching pay only go so far, so please do everything in your power to lobby your department, union, or university administration to pledge to cover these fees. 

What are some limitations on J-1 visas in particular?

Visa holders typically have to return home to satisfy “cultural exchange” requirements, limiting their employment options. These scholars are in particular need of research funds to let them continue their work.

Help, I’m stuck at my field site, a country with travel restrictions, and have to come back and renew my visa. What should I do?

Students have been facing major difficulties in getting back to the U.S., and while going through another country not under travel restrictions may seem like a good idea, it could be risky. Work with your international office to document your renewal.

How do I support undergraduate students on visas during online teaching?

Knowing your students can help you better support them. If you have international students who are on the verge of withdrawing or dropping out of their courses, encourage them to go and talk to someone. The government is being less lenient on how they classify a ‘full course load’ and if possible—without being invasive or overbearing—we want to help prevent our students from making mistakes that could impact their future status.

What are the expenses associated with visa processing and how do these change in emergency situations?

On top of the fees students already have to pay to study in the U.S. ($350 database fee, $160 visa fees, additionally reciprocity fees), students have to pay multiple renewal fees depending on how long their visa is approved for. Most significant are work authorization fees: OPT is currently $410, they can only apply right before they need the authorization, and often these are not processed in time. Students can now apply for expedited ‘premium’ processing within 30 days. There is a $1500 fee associated with that. Dealing with extensions ($600) and changes in status add up.

Can I use OPT to look for jobs after I finish my dissertation and defend?

OPT is an F-1 benefit, 12 months per degree level, but doing something unrelated to your degree is a problem and it needs to be used within a certain time frame of graduation. It’s generally common for students to pursue work outside of their background—push toward alt-ac—and this is not supported by OPT.

How can students best anticipate timing issues with international visas and inconsistencies between consulates?

There are a lot of disparities, and timing can be hard to predict due to consulates being in different states of reopening. Other things impact the time: administrative processing is an additional security check for certain visa applicants (watchlists, country restrictions) so applicants under these restrictions face especially tricky situations.

What are the overlaps between student visas and asylum cases?

If anyone on nonimmigrant visas has been a victim of persecution abroad (race, religion, sexuality, risk of violence and threats back home, etc.) they can file for asylum, and do so even if their visa lapses. Asylum seekers get work authorization indefinitely and can apply for a green card. If you fear harm in the future, it is important to talk to someone; this is particularly relevant to LGBTQ+ clients.

The Graduate and Early Career Caucus is currently looking for graduate students and early career scholars who would like to review books for Isis, the journal of the History of Science Society!

If you would be interested in being considered to write a book review, please fill out the form below. We will be organizing an online workshop for potential book reviewers later this summer, date TBD, where representatives from Isis and GECC will explain the journal’s review process and best practices for writing a book review. If you fill out the form below, you will receive notification for the review workshop.

Form for potential reviewers

The Graduate and Early Career Caucus (GECC) seeks to address the concerns and issues of graduate students and scholars in the early stages of their careers. As an official caucus of the History of Science Society (HSS), GECC offers mentoring programs and organizes sessions as well as social events at the annual meetings of the HSS. The chairs and officers are graduate students and early career members of HSS, who serve as liaisons between the standing committees of HSS and the student/early career constituency.

Contact us:

GECC officers can be reached by e-mail at