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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR FALL 2020 SEMESTER DUE TO COVID-19

Last updated: July 9, 2020, 9:30 A.M.This webpage is being updated regularly, and we encourage you to check it frequently for important updates. We understand that you may have additional questions outside of what is listed. We will continue to monitor the situation and update our website with any new information.

Please note that this update includes information about the newly released SEVP guidance for Fall 2020. For information that specifically addresses the Fall 2020 semester, please review our "Fall 2020 Guidance" page (click here) - but note that the information on that page is also included in the FAQ you are currently viewing (ISSS COVID-19 FAQ). We encourage students to continue to refer to this COVID-19 FAQ page in order to receive other important immigration and returning to campus procedures.

 

pinned note PLEASE NOTE:  There are two main University of Utah webpages that contain resources related to COVID-19. The first is, COVID-19 Central@TheU which has information & precautions, travel advisories, and the current phase of return that the campus is on. The second, Return to Campus has specific information for students, required trainings, and details on mandatory wearing of face coverings on campus.  

issS office updates

Yes, the University of Utah will be operational. However, many offices (including the ISSS office) are working remote and taking virtual appointments only. Please check each office’s website for details of their current services.  

The ISSS office is virtually open. However, to comply with current COVID-19 physical distancing recommendations, the ISSS office will remain physically closed to visitors without appointments through the Fall semester. We will continue to work remote through Friday, July 31. This means staff will be available to respond to your emails, and we will have phone appointments available Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00 PM MST 

Beginning Monday, August 3, the ISSS office will be available for phone calls to our main line phone number, and we will also schedule virtual appointments with ISSS Advisors. You may choose at that time to either call our office to schedule an appointment (801-581-8876), or you may continue to email our office at international@utah.edu. The current email inbox to schedule appointments, appointment@utah.edu will no longer be active after July 31st. Our offices in the Union Building, as well as Building 124, will remain unavailable for drop-in visits due to physical distancing recommendations to best ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff. However, ISSS staff will be available to respond to your phone calls to our main office, will continue to respond to your emails in a timely manner, and will shift from phone to virtual advising appointments Monday-Friday, 8:00-5:00 PM MST 

We understand that this is a difficult time for many of you, and we continue to be here to support you. As we continue to monitor this situation, please note that we may need to further adjust our office hours in the future based on new information or directives. We thank you for your patience and flexibility during this time as we make plans to return to campus safely. 

The ISSS office is virtually open. However, to comply with current COVID-19 physical distancing recommendations, the ISSS office will remain physically closed to in-person visitors through the Fall semester. We will continue to work remotely through Friday, July 31. This means staff will be available to respond to your emails, and we will have phone appointments available Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00 PM MST 

Beginning Monday, August 3, the ISSS office will be available for phone calls to our main line phone number (801-581-8876), and we will also schedule virtual appointments with ISSS Advisors. You may choose at that time to either call our office to schedule an appointment, or you may continue to email our office at international@utah.edu.Our offices in the Union Building, as well as Building 124, will remain unavailable for drop-in visits due to physical distancing recommendations to best ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff. However, ISSS staff will be available to respond to your phone calls to our main office, will continue to respond to your emails in a timely manner, and will shift from phone to virtual advising appointments Monday-Friday, 8:00-5:00 PM MST. 

  • Through Friday, July 31st, if you would like to schedule a phone appointment to speak with an ISSS advisor, please send an email to Appointment@utah.edu with the following information: 
    • Your full, official name 
    • Your uNID 
    • Your US phone number 
    • Your specific availability (date and time, between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM MST, Mon-Fri). 
    • A description of what you wish to discuss (the more detail you provide, the better we can assist you) 

During this time, we will not be offering in-person appointments to sign your I-20. However, you can complete the e-form “I-20 reprint request” in UAtlas and we will send to your University UMail a signed electronic copy of your I-20 reflecting the updates to your record. The U.S. government has announced during this COVID-19 period that digital I-20 forms with a scanned signature will be allowed and can be sent via email to a student’s UniversitUMail account. Once the I-20 and travel signature has been processed, an ISSS advisor will email you additional information and an attached PDF copy of your I-20 form. 

We will not be mailing physical copies of I-20's or other documents during this time.

If you are reentering the U.S. please be aware of travel guidance domestically or internationally at this time. Any travel you choose to do during this time is at your own risk. At this time, due to COVID-19, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as well as USCIS are allowing the use of digitally signed forms of I-20s. Please ensure that you print and have a physical copy of your I-20 for travel.  

If you choose to travel and re-enter to U.S. at this time, ISSS recommends that you travel with: 

  • Your most recent I-20 that includes a travel signature signed at least 1 year (6 months for STEM OPT) from your re-entry date to the U.S. 
  • IF you are using an electronic copy of your I-20 that one of our advisors digitally signed, then print the electronic copy to use for travel. 
  • We recommend that you also print the guidance https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf, which indicates on page 5 that DSOs are allowed to digitally sign and send copies of the I-20. Please keep in mind: when you re-enter the U.S., the border agent at the port of entry will expect to see a printed I-20, and you should not show them the PDF version of your I-20 on your phone or any other electronic device.
  • If you are issued an I-515A upon your re-entry and would like help with submitting the follow up documentation to CBP or have any questions upon your return, please contact ISSS. 
  • You will also need to ensure you have a valid U.S. visa and passport. 
  • For students currently on OPT or STEM OPT, we also recommend the additional documents: 
    • EAD card 
    • An offer letter or other letter from your employer confirming your employment (if applicable) 
    • Ensure employment is updated in the SEVP Portal and appears on your most recent I-20 
    • Please see our Travel Guidance for more details. 

As a reminder, travel signatures are valid for 1 year for enrolled students, and 6 months for those on OPT. 

If you have other letter requests that are needing to be original documents, such as the work authorization letter for your social security letter, then please email our office and/or include this information in your e-form request in the “additional comments” section. We will work with you to understand your situation and if you need a physical copy of your letter.  


Please note that our office will work to expedite documents as quickly as possible during this time, but our normal processing times – 10 business days - will remain in effect. 

Yes, our office will remain virtually open for students and we will continue to process requests. Information is subject to change and we will update our office availability as new information comes in. 

We plan to continue processing requests within our usual 10 business day processing times (5 business days for letter requests). You will be emailed to your UMail account when your documents are ready. If you do not receive an email within this processing time then you may contact our office by email. If you have follow up questions please make a phone appointment with one of our international student advisors. 

Through Friday, July 31st: if you would like to schedule a phone appointment to speak with an ISSS advisor about your OPT application, please send an email to Appointment@utah.edu with the following information: 

  • Your full, official name 
  • Your uNID 
  • Your US phone number 
  • Your specific availability (date and time, between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM MST, Mon-Fri). 
  • A description of what you wish to discuss (the more detail you provide, the better we can assist you) 

Beginning Monday, August 3: Please contact our office by phone at 801-581-8876 or email us atinternational@utah.eduto schedule a phone appointment. You will need to email international@utah.edu  your scanned documents at least three hours prior to your phone appointment so we can forward your documents to your scheduled advisor accordingly. This will allow the advisor to review your documents ahead of the appointment and have feedback ready to be shared. Please do not send us a copy of your check or money order due to security risk. 

 

STUDENTS 

(F-1 and J-1 Visa Holders)

 

UNIVERSITY POLICIES & CLASS QUESTIONS 

The University sent an email message to all incoming and returning U of U studentannouncing plans for Fall 2020 semester instruction on June 1. Classes will resume —in a mixture of in-person and hybrid delivery—on campus on August 24.  Classes with in-person instruction will finish by Thanksgiving, November 26. The fall break (October 4-11) will be canceled and courses will be conducted either online or in-person. Following the Thanksgiving break, instruction will shift online from November 30 to December 3, with final exams held online December 7-11. 

The University of Utah academic calendar has details for the Fall semester, and we recommend to review it to become familiar with upcoming deadlines. Note, the academic calendar is subject to change. Please continue to refer to the U’s Covid-19 page for updates.  

Physical distancing protocols will be in place, including reduced capacity in classrooms and laboratories, restricted traffic patterns in hallways and wearing of face coverings in common indoor areas, including classrooms, and when maintaining a 6-foot distance is not possible outside. For those who do not have a face covering, the university will provide one. Hand sanitizer and wipes will be provided in every classroom and laboratory. The University of Utah campus is not unlike a small town. To maintain health and safety on campus, students, faculty and staff will have shared responsibility for maintaining physical distance, wearing masks and keeping classroom and office spaces clean. Training will be required for all members of our campus community. 

Use of face coverings on campus is required.

  • Face coverings (cloth masks, scarves, gaiters, bandanas) are expected to cover the nose and mouth, except in approved circumstances, in all common areas in campus buildings such as hallways, restrooms, lounge areas, classrooms, conference rooms, etc. Face coverings must cover both the nose and the mouth. Plastic face shields do not meet this requirement. 
  • Those who come to class showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to see their doctor for a referral to be tested and then to isolate at home. Likewise, those who come to class without wearing a face covering will be asked to leave. Absences in these circumstances will be excused. 

Mandatory online training for all students.

In order to return to campus safely the University of Utah has developed specific trainings for students as well as staff and faculty to complete. Safety training will be required for all members of the community before they return to campus. The training will include proper sanitation, hygiene and social distancing practices. After training is completed community members will be asked to sign an attestation stating they will adhere to all safety protocols. Information will be released about the trainings required for students on the Return to Campus page 

Further information on the return to campus safety precautions can be found on two main University of Utah webpages that contain resources related to COVID-19. The first is, COVID-19 Central@TheU which has information & precautions, travel advisories, and the current phase of return that the campus is on. The second, Return to Campus has specific information for students, required trainings, and details on mandatory wearing of face coverings on campus. 

It may be. The U will be offering courses in several different formats/modalities for the Fall 2020 semester. We encourage you to pay close attention to how your course is delivered. Some courses have had their delivery method adjusted to Online, Hybrid, IVC, or In Person. The delivery method is identified as “Type” in the Class Schedule.  

Classes that are listed as “IVC” (Interactive Video Conferencing) are classes which would normally be taught in person, but are being offered remotely in order to best compile with the CDC physical distancing requirements. These classes will be taught synchronously, so you will be responsible to attend classes at the time listed in the Utah time zone. If you will be outside of the U.S. and in a different time zone, you will need to be prepared to attend your class at an odd time in your current time zone. We encourage you to contact your professor or instructor for the course to ask what accommodations may be available to you since you will be attending the class outside of the U.S.  

Classes listed as “online” are classes offered in an entirely online format with asynchronous delivery. This means that lectures may be recorded and uploaded for you to access course materials at any time. 

We understand that this is a difficult time right now and we continue to be here to support you. Please contact our office by phone at 801-581-8876 or email us atinternational@utah.eduto schedule an appointment with one of our international student advisors to discuss your situation. They will be able to provide you additional resources within the University of Utah that are specific to your situation. 

No, IVC and online courses do not meet the requirements for an in-person class to meet immigration requirements. Students will need ttake hybrid or courses coded as in-person to meet this immigration requirement

International students will need to take at least one in-person or hybrid course (3 credits) in order to maintain their F-1 status within the U.S. This may be subject to change as clarifying information comes out over the next few weeks. 

Since thesis courses are coded as in-person and not online courses then this should meet the requirements necessary for maintaining full-time course load for an active SEVIS record.  

Please note that in order to maintain an active F-1 SEVIS record status, even when outside the U.S., a student must remain enrolled in a full-time course load which is 9 semester credits, or 3 thesis credit hours for graduate students. 

No, the University of Utah has no further exceptions tthe deadline for credit/non-credit policy for the Fall semester. Further information on the credit/non-credit policy can be found online here. Additionally, if you would like to know more information on the specific deadlines to elect or revoke credit/non-credit courses then please see the academic calendar. For more information, please check the Office of the Registrar’s website, call 801-581-5808, or email registrar@utah.edu     

Choosing CR/NC option, will not impact your F-1 immigration status as it will still be counted towards your full-time study. However, we strongly encourage you to consult your academic advisor before you make a decision as some changes may affect your graduation credit. 

If you elect credit/non-credit for a CPT course, and earn NC grade for your internship, you will not be eligible for CPT the following semester. In addition, you will need to confirm with your academic advisor to see if CR/NC for your internship course is allowed. 

NOTE: If you are a Utah Global student, please contact the Utah Global office directly. 

 

IMMIGRATION STATUS & TRAVEL

Currently, there are two published guidance documents related to Fall 2020 from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We anticipate further FAQ’s from SEVP to be announced in the following days or weeks.

Please note that this is a dynamic situation and information is subject to change. We understand that you may have additional questions outside of what is listed. We will continue to monitor the situation and update our website with any new information. Once further clarification on the policy guidance for the Fall 2020 semester is given, we will update this webpage with any changes to the information that we have provided. We hope to have additional information and answers available to you as soon as possible.

First - the Broadcast Message 2007-01 - COVID-19 and Fall 2020 published by SEVP on Monday, July 6, 2020 states that:
  • There will be some flexibility to allow students to remain in the U.S. for schools that adopt an in-person or hybrid model for Fall 2020.
  • However, students who choose to study entirely online for Fall 2020 will not be able to remain in the U.S. for the semester.
  • By August 4, 2020, schools must reissue all international students their Forms I-20 with a statement in the Form I-20 Remarks field that “the school is not operating entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.”
  • All schools must update their operational plans with SEVP: Schools that will be entirely online or will not reopen for Fall 2020 must notify SEVP no later than Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Schools that will offer an in-person or hybrid program for Fall 2020 must notify SEVP of their plans by August 1, 2020.
Second - on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 there was a Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about Guidance for the Fall 2020 Semester that was published. In summary:
  • DHS is adopting a new approach to carefully balance public health concerns against the varied approaches that schools and universities are taking to combat the spread of COVID-19. Under DHS' fall 2020 guidance, all students scheduled to study at a U.S. institution in the fall will be able to do so, though some will be required to study from abroad if their presence is not required for any in-person classes in the United States. Through this guidance, DHS is seeking to maximize flexibility for students to continue their studies, while minimizing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 by not admitting students into the country who do not need to be present to attend classes in-person.
  • SEVP’s guidance for fall 2020 will take effect on the first day of the fall semester.
  • Continuing F-1 students may remain in Active SEVIS status while studying online, outside the United States.
  • SEVP will still allow electronic Form I-20 issuance for the fall semester, and DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS.
  • DSOs must issue new Forms I-20 to each student certifying that the school is not operating entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. DSOs must indicate this information in the Form I-20 Remarks field in SEVIS.
  • Students will not be issued a refund for their I-901 fee if they paid the fee, entered the U.S. and now must leave.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS?

Since the University of Utah will be hybrid this Fall with a number of courses online, in-person or with an in-person hybrid format, then new or continuing students who wish to study in the U.S. for Fall 2020 semester will be allowed to remain in the U.S. (or enter the U.S.) as long as they are enrolled in a mixture of online and in-person courses. If students will be unable to take at least one in-person or hybrid course, and will instead be taking only online/IVC courses, then they will need to return to their home country (continuing student) or remain in their home country (incoming student).

New and continuing students who decide to take all online/IVC courses for Fall 2020, must depart the U.S. (or remain in their home country if they are already outside the U.S.) Continuing students outside of the U.S. may also choose to take a leave of absence for fall semester if they do not wish to take online/IVC courses from their home country. New students will need to defer or can take online/IVC courses from abroad, but will not be issued immigration documents until Spring semester or after, depending on when they enter the U.S. Students remaining abroad during the Fall semester will need to work with ISSS to receive new immigration documents to return to the U.S. to continue their studies in a future semester.

In the event that the University changes its operations to offer only-online courses (even if this changes mid semester), all students in the U.S. must depart the U.S. and continue their semester online from their home country.

We know this has created significant fear and anxiety for all international students who study and teach at the university. We want to reassure you that you are a valued member of the University of Utah family and that we are committed to you and your educational success. 

The University of Utah, along with other leading universities, is seeking clarification on the implications of SEVP announcement.  However, we do not believe the new guidance will conflict with our plans for returning to campus for the fall 2020 semester with both in-person and online courses.

In addition, the University is working with departments and colleges across campus to publicize in-person and hybrid courses in undergraduate and graduate programs that will satisfy this requirement.  We encourage each of you to contact your academic advisor to make certain you comply with the in-person course requirements.

Please see our Fall 2020 F-1 Student Guidance page for further details. Please note that these same details are listed here on the COVID-19 FAQ page you are currently viewing.

The ISSS office is currently evaluating the SEVP Fall 2020 guidance on new I-20 issuance, and will have more information about this topic soon. Please check this FAQ frequently for updates, and monitor your UMail for specific communication from ISSS about new I-20s.

The May 24 Presidential Proclamation updates previous travel restrictions. It suspends entry into the U.S. of all non-U.S. citizens who were physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry to the U.S.

  • People’s Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)
  • Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland)
  • United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe
  • Ireland
  • Brazil

Please continue to monitor the news, airline travel information, and the CDC web page for changes or updates.

It is unknown how long these restrictions will last. The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services will monitor the situation and will advise whether the restrictions continue, change, or end.

If you are reentering the U.S. please be aware of travel guidance domestically or internationally at this time. Any travel you choose to do during this time is at your own risk. At this time, due to COVID-19, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as well as USCIS are allowing the use of digitally signed forms of I-20s.

If you choose to travel and re-enter to U.S. at this time, ISSS recommends that you travel with:

  • Your most recent I-20 that includes a travel signature signed at least 1 year (6 months for STEM OPT) from your re-entry date to the U.S.
  • If you are using an electronic copy of your I-20 that one of our ISSS advisors digitally signed, then print the electronic copy to use for travel.
  • We recommend that you also print the guidance https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf, which indicates on page 5 that DSOs are allowed to digitally sign and send copies of the I-20. Please keep in mind: when you re-enter the U.S., the border agent at the port of entry will expect to see a printed I-20, and you should not show them the PDF version of your I-20 on your phone or any other electronic device.
  • If you are issued an I-515A upon your re-entry and would like help with submitting the follow up documentation to CBP or have any questions upon your return, please contact ISSS.
  • You will also need to ensure you have a valid U.S. visa, and passport.
  • For students currently on OPT or STEM OPT, we also recommend the additional documents:
    • EAD card
    • An offer letter or other letter from your employer confirming your employment (if applicable)
    • Ensure employment is updated in the SEVP Portal and appears on your most recent I-20
    • Please see our Travel Guidance for more details.

As a reminder, travel signatures are valid for 1 year for enrolled students, and 6 months for those on OPT.

During this time, we will not be offering in-person appointments to sign your I-20. However, you can complete the e-form “I-20 reprint request” in UAtlas and we will send to your University UMail a signed electronic copy of your I-20 reflecting the updates to your record. The U.S. government has announced during this COVID-19 period that digital I-20 forms with a scanned signature will be allowed to use for entry into the U.S., and can be sent via email to a student’s University UMail account. Once the I-20 and travel signature has been processed, an ISSS advisor will email you additional information and an attached PDF copy of your I-20 form.

We will not be mailing physical copies of I-20's or other documents during this time.

If you are reentering the U.S. please be aware of travel guidance domestically or internationally at this time. Any travel you choose to do during this time is at your own risk. If you choose to travel and re-enter to U.S. at this time, ISSS recommends that you travel with:

  • Your most recent I-20 that includes a travel signature signed at least 1 year (6 months for STEM OPT) from your re-entry date to the U.S.
  • IF you are using an electronic copy of your I-20 that one of our advisors digitally signed, then print the electronic copy to use for travel.
  • We recommend that you also print the guidance https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf, which indicates on page 5 that DSOs are allowed to digitally sign and send copies of the I-20. Please keep in mind: when you re-enter the U.S., the border agent at the port of entry will expect to see a printed I-20, and you should not show them the PDF version of your I-20 on your phone or any other electronic device.
  • If you are issued an I-515A upon your re-entry and would like help with submitting the follow up documentation to CBP or have any questions upon your return, please contact ISSS.
  • You will also need to ensure you have a valid U.S. visa, and passport.

As a reminder, travel signatures are valid for 1 year for enrolled students, and 6 months for those alumni on OPT.


Please note that our office will work to expedite documents as quickly as possible during this time, but our normal processing times will remain in effect.

Students on Post-Completion or STEM OPT are required to have a travel signature that’s endorsed within the last 6 months from their re-entry date. 

During this time, we will not be offering in-person appointments to sign your I-20. However, you can complete the e-form “I-20 reprint request” in UAtlas and we will send to your University UMail a signed electronic copy of your I-20 reflecting the updates to your record. The U.S. government has announced during this COVID-19 period that digital I-20 forms with a scanned signature will be allowed and can be sent via email to a student’s University UMail account. Once the I-20 and travel signature has been processed, an ISSS advisor will email you additional information and an attached PDF copy of your I-20 form.

We will not be mailing physical copies of I-20's or other documents during this time.

If you are reentering the U.S. please be aware of travel guidance domestically or internationally at this time. Any travel you choose to do during this time is at your own risk. At this time, due to COVID-19, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as well as USCIS are allowing the use of digitally signed forms of I-20s.

If you choose to travel and re-enter to U.S. at this time, ISSS recommends that you travel with:

  • Your most recent I-20 that includes a travel signature signed at least 1 year (6 months for STEM OPT) from your re-entry date to the U.S.
  • IF you are using an electronic copy of your I-20 that one of our advisors digitally signed, then print the electronic copy to use for travel.
  • We recommend that you also print the guidance https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf, which indicates on page 5 that DSOs are allowed to digitally sign and send copies of the I-20. Please keep in mind: when you re-enter the U.S., the border agent at the port of entry will expect to see a printed I-20, and you should not show them the PDF version of your I-20 on your phone or any other electronic device.
  • If you are issued an I-515A upon your re-entry and would like help with submitting the follow up documentation to CBP or have any questions upon your return, please contact ISSS.
  • You will also need to ensure you have a valid U.S. visa, and passport.
  • For students currently on OPT or STEM OPT, we also recommend the additional documents:
    • EAD card
    • An offer letter or other letter from your employer confirming your employment (if applicable)
    • Ensure employment is updated in the SEVP Portal and appears on your most recent I-20
    • Please see our Travel Guidance for more details.

As a reminder, travel signatures are valid for 1 year for enrolled students, and 6 months for those alumni on OPT.


Please note that our office will work to expedite documents as quickly as possible during this time, but our normal processing times will remain in effect.

If you have left the U.S., and your visa is currently expired, and you plan to re-enter the U.S. then you will need to renew your F-1 visa. If you have remained in the U.S. then you do not need to renew your F-1 visa.

As of March 20, the U.S. Department of State announced it was temporarily suspending routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. They will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

If you need to travel outside the U.S. and will require a new visa before returning, we recommend you review the Embassy or Consulate’s visa appointment information where you be traveling to before you make final travel plans. You may want to reconsider your travel plans since we do not know how long this suspension will last. If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return. If your travel is related to your academic program, please consult your department or academic advisor about your travel plans.

Please note that we do not have updates at this time regarding when routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will reopen these services.

In addition, the May 24 Presidential Proclamation updates previous travel restrictions. It suspends entry into the U.S. of all non-U.S. citizens who were physically present within certain countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry to the U.S. Please seek further guidance on these restrictions from the CDC before you enter the U.S. 

The U.S. government is not allowing exceptions at this time. Continue to monitor the news or this web page for updates. If you have not yet been in touch with an international student advisor or your academic department, then please email or call us to inform us of your situation.

The U.S. government is not allowing exceptions at this time. Continue to monitor the news or this webpage for updates.

ISSS can provide a letter to you verifying the U of U’s operational status for the Fall 2020 semester and verifying your course enrollment, provided that you are registered for at least one in-person or hybrid class. We will check your enrollment before we can issue the letter. If you will be enrolled in classes that are only coded as online, we will not be able to provide this letter to you and encourage you to remain in your home country and take fully online classes (asynchronous delivery).

You can submit an e-form request for a “Travel Request Letter” through the UAtlas portal on the ISSS website.

Continue to monitor the situation until we are closer to fall semester. Student’s situations may be different depending on the degree level you may be in, your department, and your personal situation. If you have not yet been in touch with an international student advisor or your academic department then please email or call us to discuss your situation.

  • Consider independent study/online course from your home country as permitted by your advisor and academic department.
  • Leave of Absence (if applicable) 

International students will need to take at least one in-person or hybrid course (3 credits) in order to maintain their F-1 status. This may be subject to change as clarifying information comes out over the next few weeks. If students will be unable to take a least one in-person or hybrid course, and will instead be taking only online/Interactive Video Class (IVC) courses, then they will need to return to their home country (continuing student) or remain in their home country (incoming student). If they remain outside of the U.S., then students can take all online/IVC courses.

ISSS does not recommend traveling outside of the U.S. at this time, since we are unable to predict how current travel restrictions may change in the future. Please continue to check the COVID-19 FAQ page you are currently viewing for updates as they become available.

No, new or continuing students in the United States who decide to take all online courses for Fall 2020, must depart the U.S. (or remain in their home country if they are already outside the U.S.) According to the SEVP FAQ guidance released on July 7, 2020, students taking all online classes from their home country can maintain their active F1 SEVIS status. However, we are still seeking clarification on this information.

Please note that in order to maintain active F-1 SEVIS record status, a student must remain enrolled in a full-time course load (12 semester credits for undergraduate students; 9 semester credits or 3 thesis credit hours for graduate students).

We do not know how long COVID-19 travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added or removed from the restrictions already in place. Both current travel restrictions and visa processing delays at U.S. consulates, for students who need a new F-1 visa, might make it impossible for some students to enter the U.S. and return to campus for Fall semester. 

We recommend you register for classes or stay registered for the Fall 2020 semester. The U of U is planning to offer a combination of in-person courses, hybrid courses with in person and remote learning, and fully online courses for Fall 2020, so you may still be able to stay enrolled for this semester even if you remain outside of the U.S. Choose a schedule for Fall semester classes that may give you the most flexibility in case you are unable to return for the Fall semester.

Please note that in order to maintain an active F-1 SEVIS record status, even when outside of the U.S., a student must remain enrolled in a full-time course load (12 semester credits for undergraduate students; 9 semester credits or 3 thesis credit hours for graduate students).

Yes. New students outside of the U.S. may choose to take all online classes. This will not impact their immigration status as they have not yet entered the U.S.

New students taking all online classes will not be issued immigration documents until Spring semester or after, depending on when they enter the U.S. Students remaining abroad during the Fall semester will need to work with ISSS to receive new immigration documents to return to the U.S. to continue their studies in a future semester. Further information will be available from ISSS on how to receive these new immigration documents shortly.

Please continue to check the COVID-19 FAQ page on the ISSS website for updates as they become available. You can also monitor the U.S. Government’s Study in the States: COVID-19 Resources for updates.

Every student’s situation is different. However, in general, if you wish to take off the Fall semester, you should either consider deferring your admission (if you are new and will be starting your studies at the U of U this Fall), or take a Leave of Absence (if you are a continuing student who will not enroll in any credits in the Fall 2020 semester). Please note that if you elect to take a Leave of Absence, you will need to submit a request to ISSS to close your SEVIS record and depart the US. If you have departed the US and your SEVIS record is closed, you will be responsible for requesting a new I-20 from ISSS at least one month prior to when you intend to return to campus.

If you are interested in part-time study (and you are outside the US): if you are a continuing student, currently outside of the U.S., and plan to remain outside of the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester, please note that in order to maintain an active F-1 SEVIS record status, even when outside of the U.S., you must remain enrolled in a full-time course load (12 semester credits for undergraduate students; 9 semester credits or 3 thesis credit hours for graduate students). If you will not be enrolled in a full-time course load, you will need to submit a request to ISSS to close your SEVIS record. If your SEVIS record is closed, you will be responsible for requesting a new I-20 from ISSS at least one month prior to when you intend to return to campus.

Please note: if you are remaining in the US, you must continue to follow F-1 visa requirements for full-time study (12 semester credits for undergraduate students; 9 semester credits or 3 thesis credit hours for graduate students).

You will not be able to apply for a Medical Reduced Course Load if you are currently outside of the United States. To apply for a Medical Reduced Course Load, you must be able to submit a letter from a U.S. licensed medical doctor. If you will be located outside of the United States for the Fall 2020 semester and do not wish to enroll in any classes in the Fall, we encourage you to apply for a Leave of Absence.

If you choose to take a Leave of Absence for the Fall 2020 semester, ISSS will need to close your SEVIS record. Once your SEVIS record is closed, you will be responsible for notifying ISSS at least one month prior to when you intend to return to campus to issue a new I-20 document so that you can enter the U.S. for the Spring 2021 semester.

ISSS will be creating a new e-form soon to allow for you to request a new I-20 document to enter the U.S. It will be available on our website through the UAtlas portal.

We do not recommend for new first semester students to enter the U.S. in the middle of the Fall 2020 semester. For new students, your I-20 document has a start date listed on it, which is the first day of Fall 2020 classes (August 24, 2020). It is at the discretion of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to determine if they will allow for a student to enter the U.S. after the start date listed on the I-20 document. Chances of denial upon entry become increasingly likely the longer that you wait to enter the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester.

If you plan to arrive in the United States after the start date listed on your I-20 document, but before the last day to add or drop classes (September 4), please contact us to let us know that you will be arriving late. We will need to issue additional documentation to you to help facilitate your arrival. Even with additional documentation, we can not guarantee entry into the U.S. as that is up to Customs and Border Patrol. ISSS does not recommend attempting to the enter the United States after September 4, 2020 for the Fall 2020 semester. If you are issued your visa mid-semester, please plan to wait until the Spring 2021 semester to arrive on campus.

For the Fall 2020 semester only, ISSS will be creating an e-form that you may submit to request documentation for a late arrival. This e-form will be available on our website soon.

Students taking all online classes from their home country can maintain their active F-1 SEVIS status.

Please note that in order to maintain active F-1 SEVIS record status, a student must remain enrolled in a full-time course load (12 semester credits for undergraduate students; 9 semester credits or 3 thesis credit hours for graduate students).

Student’s situations may be different depending on the degree level you may be in, your department, and your personal situation. If you have not yet been in touch with an international student advisor or your academic department then please email or call us to inform us of your situation.

  • Leave of Absence (if eligible)- If you choose to take a Leave of Absence for the Fall 2020 semester, ISSS will need to close your SEVIS record. Once your SEVIS record is closed, you will be responsible for notifying ISSS to issue a new I-20 document so that you can enter the U.S. for the Spring 2021 semester.
  • Consider independent study/online course from your home country as permitted by your advisor and academic department.

If you plan to travel to another country before entering the U.S., be sure to review any travel restrictions in that country before making travel plans. Be aware that you must remain physically present outside of the country impacted by travel restrictions for 14 days or more before you will be allowed to enter the U.S. ISSS advisors cannot advise on travel to countries other than the U.S., so make sure you do your research and understand any restrictions or visa requirements before traveling.

We do not know how long travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place. If you decide to travel: be prepared, understand the risks, be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return. If your travel is related to your academic program, please consult your department or academic advisor about your travel plans.

Currently, there are two published guidance documents related to Fall 2020 from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We anticipate further FAQ’s from SEVP to be announced in the following days or weeks. Please refer to our Fall 2020 F-1 Student Guidance for further details.

University of Utah Leadership is reviewing this question and updated University policy guidance regarding self-quarantine will be released as we get closer to the start of the Fall 2020 semester. ISSS does not have additional information to provide at this time.

The university is asking students, faculty, and staff returning from countries with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Level 3 travel health notice to self-isolate and to implement social distancing. If you have recently returned from a Level 3 country, please fill out the "Returning Traveler Self-Reporting" form. This form will help you inform the university of your situation and allow the university to reduce the risk of any potential spread of COVID-19. The university will not release personal information about returning students, faculty, and staff. For questions about this form, please call the U's COVID-19 hotline at:  801-213-2874.

We encourage you to monitor the University of Utah Return to Campus website for more updates.

Please work directly with the Learning Abroad office in regards to questions or concerns.

 

EMPLOYMENT: ON-CAMPUS, OPT, & CPT

Yes, students are still eligible to work on campus, but please contact your supervisor with any questions or concerns. Please remember students are still restricted to 20 hours per week for on-campus work during the Fall and Spring semester, even if classes have been moved online.

Please click here to review our on-campus employment policy guide for more information.

Please submit the "On-Campus Work Authorization Request" through UAtlas . You will need to upload a copy of your job offer letter that has department letterhead, your job title, work hours, employment start date, and employer information such as phone number and email address. Once ISSS approves your request, you will receive an approval email with an electronic version of On-Campus Work Authorization Letter with an electronic signature.

Normally, students will need to visit the Social Security Office with their documents to request a Social Security Number (click here for more information). If you are requesting this letter from our office, an advisor will be in contact with you in regards to receiving a physical copy of your letter.

For more information on Salt Lake City Social Security Office, please visit here.

In order to receive the benefits of your participation in the Tuition Benefit Program, including GA/TA/RA positions, it is our understanding that you must have a valid U.S. Social Security Number and be located in the United States. If you are unable to come to the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester and do not have a U.S. Social Security Number, you will need to wait until you can enter the U.S. until you can participate in this program.

For graduate students participating in the Tuition Benefit Program, we encourage you to contact your academic department directly to address questions about deferring your position. It will be the academic department’s decision on whether your position can be deferred to an upcoming semester.

This depends, and may vary depending on completion of your course work and if you have met the curricular objectives of your CPT. Please contact our office to schedule a phone appointment with an international student advisor to discuss your situation if there is any change to your authorized CPT dates or to the location of your work.

If you are interested in pursuing an off-campus internship or practicum opportunity, please read our CPT policy guidefor more detailed information. You can see if your class is approved from our Approved CPT Course List

 

Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, adjustments have been made to requirements that will need to be met in order to be approved for off-campus work authorization. Please use this chart to assess your specific situation:

Situation

Do I need CPT Authorization?

Working in U.S. for a U.S. based employer

Yes

Working in U.S. for a company based outside U.S.

Yes

Working outside U.S. for a U.S. based employer

Yes

Working outside U.S. for a company based outside U.S.

No

 

Yes, you are okay to continue to complete your CPT. Please work directly with your employer if you have questions or concerns in regards to your health and safety. You must still abide by the policies outlined by your approved CPT. Moving classes online does not permit you to now work full-time on an approved part-time CPT authorization. Please reference our CPT policy guide for further questions.

 

We are still waiting for further clarification from the U.S. government for the Fall 2020 semester. Although the guidance released on Tuesday, July 7th indicated that students can maintain in active status while abroad and taking online classes, we are reviewing and seeking further clarification on how this will relate to a student’s eligibility to apply for OPT.

Please note that in order to maintain an active F-1 SEVIS record status, even when outside of the U.S., the student must remain enrolled in a full-time course load (12 semester credits for undergraduate students; 9 semester credits or 3 thesis credit hours for graduate students).

 No, ISSS does not recommend returning home if you plan to apply for Post-Completion OPT. You will not be able to return to U.S. past the program end date on your I-20 if you have not applied for Post-Completion OPT. If you have questions, please request an appointment with ISSS advisor. 

Click here to review our OPT policy guide.

Please review the following scenarios:

  • I’ve applied for OPT and my application is pending: continue monitoring the University of Utah’s COVID-19 website as well as your mail and email for updates regarding the status of your application from USCIS.
  • I’ve applied for OPT, received my EAD, and will start to work soon. My employer still wants me to come in. Am I okay to do so?  Please work directly with your employer if you have questions or concerns. Please reference the OPT policy guide for further questions. 
  • I’m on OPT, but my place of work is closed. What should I do? Please contact our office by email international@utah.edu to schedule a phone appointment with an international student advisor.
  • I applied for Post-Completion OPT and used my dorm address as the mailing address. What do I do? On campus housing will still be open. If you would like to change your address with USCIS, you can contact USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 to report a change of address. Please make sure follow up with them afterwards to confirm that your address has been updated in their system to ensure your EAD card is delivered to the new address.

ISSS does not recommend students to travel internationally when their Post-Completion application is pending with USCIS. We always recommend students to remain in U.S. as they are required to show their EAD card when returning to U.S. With the current COVID-19 outbreak, we are unsure what this process may look like when you are planning to return. If you are considering returning home and this is your last semester, please speak with an ISSS advisor. 

We do not know how long travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place. If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return.

If you were laid off or your hours were drastically diminished, please first speak with your employer and your employer's HR. Eligibility for unemployment benefits is a complicated combination of immigration and labor laws. There is some concern that accepting unemployment benefits could count as being a “public charge” and potentially affect eligibility for future immigration benefits. It seems, however, some exceptions might be made by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for cases severely affected by COVID-19. Please speak with your employer about this. If you are given the option of using any type of work-related leave (e.g. sick leave, personal leave) during this time, please document this leave for your records.

If you find yourself in this situation, you are encouraged to speak with an immigration attorney who can provide more guidance.

Please remember: you are eligible for up to 90 days of unemployment time on your first year of OPT, and an additional 60 days of unemployment time once your STEM OPT begins.  If you have remaining unemployment time, or have not yet used any of your unemployment time while on OPT/STEM OPT, you are eligible to use it during this time until you are able to begin working again. Please contact ISSS if you anticipate exceeding your unemployment time. If you are on Post-Completion OPT and have lost your employment, please log into your SEVP portal and update your employment. If you are currently on STEM OPT, please submit an updated I-983 reflecting your end date or change in your training plan through “STEM OPT: Employment Update/Change in Training Plan” E-form. Please contact ISSS if you have any questions on your unemployment days.

Through Friday, July 31st: if you would like to schedule a phone appointment to speak with an ISSS advisor about your OPT, STEM OPT, or Reinstatement application, please send an email tAppointment@utah.edu witthe following information: 

  • Your full, official name 
  • Your uNID 
  • Your US phone number 
  • Your specific availability (date and time, between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM MST, Mon-Fri). 
  • A description of what you wish to discuss (the more detail you provide, the better we can assist you) 

Beginning Monday, August 3: Please contact our office by phone at 801-581-8876 or email us atinternational@utah.eduto schedule a phone appointment. You will need to email international@utah.edu  your scanned documents at least three hours prior to your phone appointment so we can forward your documents to your scheduled advisor accordingly. This will allow the advisor to review your documents ahead of the appointment and have feedback ready to be shared. Please do not send us a copy of your check or money order due to security risk. 

 

 

OTHER QUESTIONS & RESOURCES

Student health insurance will cover COVID-19 testing and it will be a no-cost expense to the student. If hospital treatment becomes required, you will receive partial coverage on your student health insurance depending on care provided in network, or out of network. For additional information about what will be covered, please contact the Student Health Center.

We understand that this is a difficult time, and that you and your family may have been impacted financially. Although international students are not eligible for funding through the CARES Act, Financial Aid & Scholarships has separate emergency funds available for eligible students. Please contact their office directly for further information on these funds. We recommend that you inform them that you are an international student so they can direct you to the appropriate resources within their offices.

In addition, you may make an appointment with an ISSS international student advisor to discuss your situation. There may be further resources or guidance they are able to provide depending on your situation.

Yes, a notation will be added to your transcripts for the Spring, Summer, and Fall 2020 semesters to indicate that class modality, format, and delivery were impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic. For more specific information about transcript notations, please contact the U of U Office of the Registrar.

There are two main University of Utah webpages that contain resources related to COVID-19. The first is, COVID-19 Central@TheU which has information and precautions, travel advisories, and the current phase of return that the campus is  following. The second, Return to Campus has specific information for students, required trainings, and details on mandatory wearing of face coverings on campus.

If you have specific questions that are not answered by the information on the university's official COVID-19 webpage, we encourage you to call the U’s COVID-19 telephone hotline at 801-213-2874.

Please contact the residence halls in regards to housing requirements. The residence halls and dining room are open during the Fall semester. Housing & Residential Education has a website dedicated to your questions if you live in on-campus housing. Please click here to view their website for further related questions.

Please contact our office by phone at 801-581-8876 or email us at international@utah.edu to schedule an appointment with one of our international student advisors to discuss your situation.

 **Please speak with a Utah Global advisor before you finalize your plan.**

 

Q: My I-20 expires this semester and I need a new I-20. Where do I get one?

A: It depends on your situation:

  • If you are progressing to a different level after this semester, please speak with Utah Global advisor as well as the International Admissions Office (iao@sa.utah.edu, 801-581-8761).
  • If you are not progressing to a different level and will be staying in the same level, please contact ISSS office (international@utah.edu) for further instruction.

Q: What if I want to stay in the dorms now and continue with online classes? Can I do that?

A: Please contact Utah Global office about your housing question.

Q: I have more questions. Who do I contact?

A: If you have more questions, please contact Utah Global advisors for more information. If you have immigration specific questions that are related to your F-1 student visa, then please contact International Student & Scholar Services at international@utah.edu.

If you have specific questions that are not answered in this FAQ, please refer to the University of Utah Asia campus COVID-19 webpage that is dedicated to your concerns. If you have further questions please contact our office by email or call to schedule a phone appointment.

Please be aware of scam texts, calls, and/or emails in relation to COVID-19. The University of Utah has dedicated websites that will ask you to log-in to your Campus Information System using your student credentials if you are needing to self-report travel. The University of Utah, government agencies, CDC, and local health departments will NOT ask you to confirm your bank account, or detailed immigration information. Do not give out this information! Please refer to our scam page if you have questions or concerns, or are a target of a scam

Some students report they have received a text message from the CDC about COVID-19. This is a hoax and not from the CDC.

In a real notification, the Utah County Health Department would attempt to first call an individual. If the individual can't be reached by phone, the health department would send an email with an official letter.

We encourage any resident of Utah County to visit coronavirus.utah.gov for more information, or to call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 if they are worried if they have COVID-19.

Please submit an “Address Update” E-form through UAtlas within 10 days of moving. It is your responsibility to report your change of address to ISSS in a timely manner.

All incoming students will receive a welcome email from our office in regards to next steps to prepare for arrival on campus. These emails and further instructions about your arrival will be sent out to your Umail over the next few weeks. Please refer to these emails for the most updated information. If you have questions about International Student Orientation requirements for the Fall semester, please email the Orientation Team at  international-welcome@utah.edu.

If you are experiencing stress or anxiety about your situation, we encourage you to reach out to counselors, advisers, or friends to talk about your feelings. Resources on campus that are here for you and can be of support:

The University of Utah has further resources listed that are available to students.

Stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is infected or at risk for the disease. Stigma hurts everyone by creating fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem. Please refer to the university’s website or the CDC website for additional guidance.

  • Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds.
  • People—including those of Asian descent—who have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of COVID-19 or been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.
  • People who have returned from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 more than 14 days ago and do not have symptoms are not infected with the virus and contact with them will not give you the virus.
  • Share the need for social support for people who have returned from affected countries or are worried about friends or relatives in the affected region.

If you face discrimination, please let our office know and we can refer you to further resources.

  • There are two main University of Utah webpages that contain resources related to COVID-19. The first is, COVID-19 Central@TheU which has information & precautions, travel advisories, and the current phase of return that the campus is on. The second, Return to Campus has specific information for students, required trainings, and details on mandatory wearing of face coverings on campus.
  • We encourage you to call the U’s COVID-19 telephone hotline at 801-213-2874.
  • Contact our office by email: international@utah.edu, or call our office to schedule an appointment at 801-581-8876.
  • New immigration information will be updated on our website so please continue to check back for updates.


J-1 Exchange visitors

(J-1 Visa Holders in the research scholar, professor, and short-term scholar categories)

If you are able to continue to collaborate with your PI/supervisor and make progress in your goals, you will be able to maintain your status, even if you are located off-campus.

We do not know how long these travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place. If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return.

  • If you depart the US and are still able to collaborate with your PI/supervisor and make progress in your goals, you will be able to maintain your status. If you will be outside of the US for more than 30 days and are eligible for a Temporary Absence, you will be able to maintain your status. This would be considered a continuation of your program activities. Please note: You must have a valid J-1 visa to re-enter the US after a temporary absence.
  • If your program activities (such as research, observation, teaching, and/or collaboration) are suspended, your program will be considered complete, and you will not be able to re-enter the US on your current J-1 visa. Upon return for a new J-1 exchange program, you may be subject to a 12 or 24-month bar. Some exchange visitors will also be subject to the 212(e) home residency requirement, which would impact anyone interested in an H-1b visa or legal permanent residence (green card).

If you leave permanently without an intent to return, but still plan to collaborate with your department while abroad, please submit a “shorten Program Request” e-form through iStart. Although you can still pursue your program objective while abroad, you will not be able to return to the US on your current J-1 visa.

Extensions will be considered as usual, and as long as the eligibility requirements are met, extension will be granted.

Yes, as long as the invitation from the University host department is still valid. Visitors must follow all general University procedures for travelers, including submitting the Returning Travelers Self-Reporting Form.

At this time, the University is not restricting visits to campus from foreign nationals.  

We encourage you to remain informed about these travel restrictions. Please check the university’s COVID-19 website for the latest updates.

At this time, the University is not restricting visits to campus from foreign nationals, and we are still issuing DS-2019s as normal for foreign national scholars that are otherwise eligible.

We encourage you to remain informed about these travel restrictions. Please check the university’s COVID-19 website for the latest updates. 

 

 

Last Updated: 7/10/20