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Frequently Asked Questions about 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated: March 24, 2020, 1:00 P.M. This webpage is being updated regularly, and we encourage you to check it frequently for important updates. Please note that this information is constantly evolving and we do not have all the answers at this time.

pinned note PLEASE NOTE:  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.

 

STUDENTS

(F-1 and J-1 Visa Holders)

 

COVID-19, VISA STATUS, & ONLINE CLASSES

Yes. If you are enrolled in full-time classes this spring semester then you are still considered in good immigration status. This does not change even though the courses are moved to online. Due to this unprecedented situation, an exception is being made for students to complete their spring courses online while continuing to remain in the U.S.

Please note that you must remain enrolled in your spring semester classes. If you choose to drop any of your classes this could negatively impact your immigration status. 

Yes, the University and essential functions will remain open at this time, however many offices (including the ISSS office) are currently working remotely.  Please check each office's website for details of their current services.

The ISSS Office remains open at this time. However, to comply with current COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, the ISSS team is now working remotely as of March 23, 2020. Our office in the Union Building is currently closed. Staff will be available to respond to your emails Monday-Friday / 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

  • We are currently not able to answer our main phone line. Email at international@utah.edu is the best way to reach us for questions.
  • 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 followng 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 Mountain Time, Mon-Fri).
    • A description of what you wish to discuss (the more detail you provide, the better we can assist you)

We understand that this is a difficult time right now 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.

 

The ISSS Office remains open at this time. However, to comply with current COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, the ISSS team is now working remotely as of March 23, 2020. Our office in the Union Building is currently closed, and we are only able to schedule phone advising appointments until further notice. 

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 folliwng 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, Mon-Fri).
  • A description of what you wish to discuss (the more detail you provide, the better we can assist you)

Please be sure to include all of the details above in your email so that we can schedule an appointment for you in a timely manner.

We encourage you to review the university's official COVID-19 webpage for more information.

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.

 

COVID-19 AND TRAVEL

Questions to Ask Yourself if Returning Home:

  • Are you able to access the technology used at the U of U for online coursework in your home country (e.g., Canvas, UMail, Zoom, etc.)?  Will you require a VPN to access it?
  • Have you considered the difference in time zones between Utah and your home country?
    • For example, if your professor chooses to use Zoom they may want to keep the same class time and date but will hold the class virtually, and you will still need to participate fully as if you were physically in the classroom. Also, keep in mind the time zone impacts of this. Discuss these concerns directly with your professor, and receive confirmation prior to travel.
    • PLEASE NOTE: If you have questions about the time zone differences for online class hours and exams, please contact your instructors or academic advisors and express your concerns. Faculty have been instructed to make lectures available asynchronously as much as possible to avoid potential issues with varying time zones. Tests will performed online using a new program called ProctorU, which will accommodate time zone differences. Please contact your instructor for further information.
  • Have you read our online COVID-19 FAQ for international students and scholars?
  • Is your passport valid for a return in August? Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your return date to the U.S.
  • Is your visa still valid for a return in August?
    • Be mindful that some US Embassies and Consulates in some countries are currently CLOSED and that we anticipate significant delays in renewing your visa. Be prepared that more embassies/consulates could shut down during this time in further countries.
  • Does your I-20 have a recent travel signature that has been signed AFTER September 1, 2019? If not you need to have a new travel signature from our office. Visit our website for further instructions.
  • Is this your last semester? If so, then please review our COVID-19 FAQ for international students and scholars website that discusses next steps you should take.
  • Have you reviewed the University's COVID-19 webpage?
  • Did you know that the CDC and the University of Utah are strongly recommending suspending/cancelling nonessential international and domestic travel?
  • Have you discussed the potential risks associated with travel with your family back home?

PLEASE BE AWAREWe 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 your travel is related to your academic program, please consult your department or academic advisor about your travel plans.

If you have further questions please review our online webpage in regards to COVID-19. As well, our office is open and available to answer your questions through phone or email. Please call us at 801-581-8876, or email us at international@utah.edu if you have further questions or concerns.

The answer to this question will depend on your individual situation.  Please consider the questions below:

  • Are you able to access the technology used at the U of U for online coursework in your home country (e.g., Canvas, UMail, Zoom, etc.)?  Will you require a VPN to access it?
  • Have you considered the difference in time zones between Utah and your home country?
    • For example, if your professor chooses to use Zoom they may want to keep the same class time and date but will hold the class virtually, and you will still need to participate fully as if you were physically in the classroom. Also, keep in mind the time zone impacts of this scenario. Discuss these concerns directly with your professor, and receive confirmation prior to travel.

Please read the question above ("Are you considering traveling home for the rest of the Spring semester?") for more important considerations!

Effective March 18th, the U.S. government has suspended entry for any non-U.S. citizens who were physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry to the U.S

  • Countries in the Schengen Area (beginning Friday, March 13th at midnight), which include: 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, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Ireland.
  • People’s Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)
  • Islamic Republic of Iran

The university strongly recommends that everyone reconsider travel to any country with a CDC level 3 or State Department level 4 advisory based on the novel coronavirus. Those recommendations change frequently and can be monitored through the State Department and CDC websites.

No other countries are impacted at this time, but the situation is changing daily. Please continue to monitor the news, airline travel information, and the university’s COVID-10 website for the latest updates. Please check the university’s COVID-19 website for the latest updates.

How long will these travel restrictions last?

The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services will monitor the situation. China and Iran travel restrictions will be monitored no more than 15 days after the date of the proclamation, and every 15 days after, the Secretary will advise whether the restriction continue, change, or end. See February 29 Presidental Proclamation, section 5

It is indicated that the countries in the Schengen Area will have travel restrictions imposed for the next 30 days.

PLEASE BE AWARE:We do not have confirmation of 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 your travel is related to your academic program, please consult your department or academic advisor about your travel plans.  

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 your travel is related to your academic program, please consult your department or academic advisor about your travel plans.

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

Additionally, please click here to review our F-1 and J-1 Travel Guidance for further travel information. 

We understand your concern and want to reassure you that the University of Utah is taking necessary precautions. University administrators are carefully monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

If you choose to return home while completing your spring semester courses online, then the summer semester will still be considered a vacation semester. Please note that you should remain enrolled in your spring semester classes. If you choose to drop any of your classes this could impact your immigration status.

You will need to ensure you have a valid travel signature on your I-20 prior to leaving the U.S. Please review your I-20 and if you have received a travel signature AFTER September 1, 2019 then you have a valid travel signature and do NOT need to have us sign your I-20 If you have a travel signature that is BEFORE September 1, 2019 then you DO need to have a new travel signature. You can receive a travel signature by completing the "I-20 Reprint" E-Form through iStart.

If you are currently on Post-Completion or STEM OPT it is required to have a travel signature that’s endorsed within the last 6 months from your re-entry date. If you need to obtain an updated travel signature, please submit “I-20 Reprint Request” through iStart and allow ISSS 1-3 business days for processing.

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 your travel is related to your academic program, please consult your department or academic advisor about your travel plans.

Additionally, please click here to review our F-1 and J-1 Travel Guidance for further travel information. 

Please consider these factors before making your decision:

If you still have questions after reviewing these FAQ’s then you can still make a phone appointment with an international student advisor. Please email us at international@utah.edu, or call 801-581-8876 to schedule a phone advising appointment.

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.

If you leave the U.S. and then plan to reenter then you will need to renew your F-1 visa. If you plan to remain in U.S. then you do not need to renew your F-1 visa.

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 your travel is related to your academic program, please consult your department or academic advisor about your travel plans.

Yes, summer will still be considered a vacation semester unless summer 2020 is your first semester at the University of Utah. You are allowed to take as little as zero (0) credits or as many online classes you wish during your summer vacation. You are not required to be on-campus at this time.

Please click here to review our policy regarding vacation semesters.

 Students on Post-Completion or STEM OPT is required to have a travel signature that’s endorsed within the last 6 months from their re-entry date. If you need to obtain an updated travel signature, please submit “I-20 Reprint Request” through iStart and allow ISSS 1-3 business days for processing.

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.

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 web page for updates.

Continue to monitor the situation until we are closer to summer semester. We are waiting for updates from the U.S. government to determine if there will be any exceptions or accommodations for students needing to return for studies.

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.

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, 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.

Housing & Residential Education has a website dedicated to your questions if you live in on-campus housing. Please view their COVID-19 website for further related questions.

 

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.

This depends, and may vary depending on completion of your course work and if you have met the curricular objective 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 location of your work.

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 to online does not permit you to now work full-time on an approved part-time CPT authorization. Please reference the policy guide for further questions.

Please click here to review our CPT policy guide for more information.

 

 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 phone at 801-581-8876 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 it 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 are remaining in the U.S. to finish your last semester, you may be eligible to apply for Post-Completion OPT. Please read the Post-Completion OPT policy guide and contact ISSS if you have any questions.

PLEASE NOTE:  As ISSS is currently taking phone appointments only, if you would like an OPT application packet review, you will need to email your documents to international@utah.edu at least one hour prior to your phone appointment so we can forward your documents to your scheduled advisor. 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.

 

I-20 PROCESSING, E-FORMS, & APPOINTMENTS

Our office will remain open for students to pick-up your documents. You will be emailed to your UMail account when your documents are ready for pick-up. If you do not receive an email to pick-up your documents then you may contact our office by phone, 801-581-8876. If you have follow up questions, you will be asked to make a phone appointment with one of the advisors.

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.

To request express mail service, go to the eShipGlobal website at: https://study.eshipglobal.com  The site works best with Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox browsers. Do not go to the DHL or FedEx sites directly.  You will be required to create your own user name and password in order to create an account.

Be sure you have the following items ready:

  • Your unid
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Credit card information
  • Chose Department/Contact “International Student and Scholar Services” as the sender Upon completing your request.

eShipGlobal will send you an email that includes a tracking number for your shipment. If you experience any problems when using the online service, please use the help feature on their website.

Please note: Information is subject to change and we will update our office availability as new information comes in.

Yes, our office will remain 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 for pick-up. If you do not receive an email to pick-up your documents within this processing time then you may contact our office by phone at 801-581-8876. If you have follow up questions please make a phone appointment with one of our international student advisors.

Please contact our office by phone at 801-581-8876 or email us at international@utah.edu to schedule a phone appointment. You will need to email international@utah.edu us your documents at least one hour 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

The residence halls and dining room will remain open. 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 and schedule a phone appointment with an international student advisor to discuss your specific situation.

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 iStart within 10 days of moving. It is your responsibility to report your change of address to ISSS in a timely manner at all times.

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 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 summer semester, please email the Orientation Team at international-welcome@utah.edu.

If you are experiencing stress or anxiety about this 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:

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.


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: 3/30/20