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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS related TO COVID-19

The University of Utah has announced that Spring semester classes will be taught in a similar format as Fall semester. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not confirmed a continuation of the Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance through the Spring 2021 semester for students on F-1 & J-1 visas. Once we have further information from DHS for Spring 2021 ISSS will email all students and update this webpage.

Please complete the ‘Report Spring 2021 Status’ E-form in UAtlas once you know your plans for the Spring 2021 semester.

Last updated: December 1, 2020, 12:45 P.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.

pinned notePLEASE NOTE: There is a main University of Utah webpage that contains additional resources related to COVID-19 for students. This includes travel advisories, current phase of return on campus, and details on mandatory wearing of face coverings on campus. This is found on COVID-19 Central @TheU.

issS office updates

The University of Utah will be operational. However, many offices (including the ISSS office) are primarily working remotely and taking virtual appointments only. A few ISSS staff members are present in the physical office each day. Please check each office’s website for details of their current services.  

The ISSS 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.  

Fall 2020 semester:

  • Virtual office hours - Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
  • Phone - We are available to answer phone calls Monday from 12:30 PM - 5:00 PM, and Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, with the exception of 12:15 PM - 12:45 PM for lunch. If you are calling outside of those hours, please leave a voice message and we will return your call as soon as possible.
  • Email - You may contact us at international@utah.edu for general questions. While we are receiving a high volume of emails at this time, we will respond to your email within 24-48 hours. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
  • Appointment - If you need to speak with an international student advisor you may call our office (801-581-8876) to schedule a phone or virtual appointment, or email us at Appointment@utah.edu.

After Thanksgiving break (Starting Monday, November 30):

  • ISSS will continue to be virtually open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM even after the University of Utah transitions to remote-only classes.

Winter Break:

  • ISSS will continue to be virtually open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
  • ISSS will be closed Thursday, December 24 through Friday, January 1, and we will virtually reopen on Monday, January 4. 

Spring 2021 semester (Starting Monday, January 19):

  • ISSS will continue to be virtually open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
  • Further updates will be announced closer to the start date of the semester.

*If there are any additional changes to ISSS’ virtual hours over Winter or Spring semester we will announce this to students by email, and update this website.

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 so that we can serve the campus community safely.

We are available to schedule either a phone or virtual Zoom advising appointment. You will need to either call or email our office in order to schedule a time to meet with an international student advisor.

Please refer to the question above, “Will offices on campus, including International Student & Scholar Services, be open for the Fall 2020 semester, over Winter Break, and Spring 2021 semester?” in order to find the most updated information on virtual office and phone line hours.

If scheduling an appointment via email (Appointment@utah.edu), please include the following information: 

  • Your full, official name 
  • Your UnID
  • Your U.S. phone number
  • Your preference for a phone or Zoom appointment
  • 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) 

The ISSS 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.

We will not be mailing physical copies of I-20's or other documents during this time. Due to current policy guidance exceptions resulting from the COVID-10 pandemic, I-20s may be issued electronically at this time. 

How to receive a requested I-20, including a travel signature:

The U.S. government has announced, during this COVID-19 period, that digital I-20 forms with a scanned DSO signature will be allowed and can be sent electronically to a student for official use. Once the I-20 has been processed you will be able to access the completed document in your UAtlas portal. You will need to print your I-20, and complete the “Student Attestation” section of the I-20 for it to be valid.

If you need a travel signature, you can complete the E-form “I-20 reprint request” in UAtlas and we will process a signed electronic copy of your I-20. Please refer to the question “I am a continuing student who returned home. I plan to re-enter the U.S. before Spring semester begins. How do I receive a travel signature on my I-20?” in the Immigration Status & Travel section for further details on travel signatures.

*If you are traveling into the U.S. please refer to the recommendations for travel below.

How to receive a letter request:

Most letter requests will be made available to you electronically through your UAtlas portal. If you need an original signature on a letter request, such as the work authorization letter for a social security number, then please request this in your e-form in UAtlas in the “additional comments” section. There are some letter requests that we are aware of that must be with an original signature. We will work directly with you in order for you to receive this letter for those exceptions.

*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 complete the "Student Attestation" section of the I-20 for it to be valid, and have the physical copy of your I-20 for travel. 

If you choose to travel and re-enter the 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. Complete the ‘Student Attestation” section of the I-20 for it to be valid.
  • We recommend that you also print this guidance, 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 to schedule an appointment. 
  • 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 are a new student with an initial I-20 with a start date of January 19th, 2021, then the earliest you may enter the U.S. is December 20th, 2020. Per F-1 student visda regulations, the earilest you may enter the U.S. is 30 days prior to the start date of the semester. 

If you are a continuing student that requested an initial I-20 because your SEVIS record was closed due to Leave of Absence, part-time enrollment, or other reason, please check that your new I-20 has a start date of January 19th. If so, then the earliest you may enter the U.S. is December 20th, 2020. Per F-1 student visda regulations, the earilest you may enter the U.S. is 30 days prior to the start date of the semester. 

Please refer to this chart to help determine if you are a new or continuing student. If you are unsure then please contact ISSS.

flow chart


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. 

If you would like to schedule a phone or Zoom 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 U.S. phone number 
  • Your preference for a phone or Zoom appointment
  • 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) 

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. 

@The U has posted an article to help understand the various class formats for the Fall 2020 Semester, and also explains the academic calendar changes. To see this story, please click here.

We have created a visual flowchart of your Fall 2020 options, based on your situation. Please see the flowchart here. 

On October 1st, 2020 the University of Utah announced that Spring 2021 classes will be offered in a mix of modalities, as they were in the fall, including in-person, hybrid, and interactive video conferencing.

Spring semester classes will begin one week later than normal, on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021.

In addition, Spring break, will be eliminated to reduce the risk of infection spread due to travel and to allow the semester to end on time.

As in the Fall semester, there will be a two-week online-only break halfway through the semester to interrupt and slow COVID-19 infections on campus during March 1-14.

@TheU has posted an article to help understand further details in regards to Spring 2021 semester. To see this story, please click here.

The University of academic calendar has details for the Spring 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 Central @TheU page for updates.

Further information will be updated once that information is released.

Further information will be updated once that information is released.

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 is 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 on trainings for students can be found on the COVID-19 Central @TheU page.

There is a main University of Utah webpage that contains additional resources related to COVID-19 for students. This includes travel advisories, current phase of return on campus, and details on mandatory wearing of face coverings on campus. This is found on COVID-19 Central @TheU.

University Information Technology (UIT) has provided a quick glance at some of the many digital resources you may need as a student and to direct you to answers for any questions you may have. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Please refer to their New Student Guide to Digital Resources page.

The U is offering courses in several different formats/modalities for the 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.  

IVC (Interactive Video Class) - Synchronous* delivery using web video technology. The class has a scheduled meeting time with Canvas as the class location providing learning materials and links to join the class video meetings.

Hybrid - A blending of synchronous* in-person and asynchronous online modalities.

IVC-Hybrid - A class is a mixture of in-person and synchronous* online interactive video modalities.

In-Person - A campus-based, fully in-person class with a scheduled room and meeting time.

Online - A class facilitated online, primarily through Canvas, with greater than 80 percent of the required learning activities taking place asynchronously. An online class does not have required locations or meeting times; although, regular, substantive instructor-student interactions are an expected part of the teaching and learning process.

*Synchronous delivery - You will be responsible to attend classes at the time listed in the Utah time zone (Mountain Time). 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 inconvenient 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.  

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 at international@utah.edu to 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 on-line courses are not considered to be in-person classes. They are considered to be remote classes that are taught synchronously. This means that the class will be taught live and will be taught at the designated class time during normal working hours in the Utah time zone. Please note that if you will be taking these classes from outside of the United States, you will need to adjust your schedule to be able to attend class, and this may mean that you are attending class at an inconvenient time in your time zone.

*The Department of Homeland Security has made certain class modality exceptions during COVID-19 for students on F-1 status. Please be sure that you understand these exceptions, as they are different for new and continuing students, in order to stay in active status. Please refer to the “IMMIGRATION STATUS & TRAVEL” section of this page for the most updated immigration information, and if there is a need to take in-person or any modality of classes, to maintain an active SEVIS status during this COVID-19 pandemic.

No, the University of Utah has no further exceptions to the deadline for credit/non-credit policy. 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 decide 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

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not confirmed a continuation of the Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance through the Spring 2021 semester for students on F-1 & J-1 visas. Once we have further information from DHS for Spring 2021, ISSS will email all students and update this webpage.

BROADCAST MESSAGE 2007-02: ICE CONTINUES MARCH GUIDANCE FOR FALL SCHOOL TERMPUBLISHED BY SEVP ON FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2020 STATES THAT:

  • Students with active F-1 status and who were actively enrolled at the University of Utah on March 9, 2020 will be permitted to continue to take classes in any modality and maintain their active status.
  • In order to maintain active F-1 status, students who were actively enrolled at the University of Utah on March 9, 2020 will need to enrolled in a full-time course load (12 semester credit hours for undergraduate students; 9 semester credit hours or 3 thesis credit hours for graduate students). If it will be you last semester, please notify ISSS. If you have notified ISSS that it will be your last semester, you may be permitted to drop below full-time course enrollment.
  • New international students, currently outside of the United States, seeking an F-1 student visa and planning to enter the United States for the Fall 2020 semester are required to be enrolled in at least one in-person or hybrid class (3 semester credit hours).
  • New international students, currently outside of the United States, who will be taking classes 100% online should plan to remain in their home country and request a new initial I-20 document with a Spring 2021 start date.
  • New international students, currently outside of the United States, seeking an F-1 student visa and planning to enter the United States for the Fall 2020 semester may need to prove enrollment in at least one in-person or hybrid class at their visa appointment.

Please note that the information below regarding the Broadcast Message 2007-01-COVID-19 and Fall 2020 published by SEVP on Monday, July 6, 2020, as well as the Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about Guidance for the Fall 2020 Semester published on July 7, 2020 HAVE BEEN RESCINDED. You do not need to follow the policy guidance below. Since the guidance has been rescinded, we will revert back to previous policy. The information in the section below are listed for reference purposes only.

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.

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.

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?

 Under updated policy guidance issued on July 24, 2020, this means the following:

  • Under the July 24, 2020 guidance, new international students, currently outside of the United States, seeking an F-1 student visa and planning to enter the United States for the Fall 2020 semester are required to be enrolled in at least one in-person or hybrid class (3 semester credit hours).
  • If you are a new international student, currently outside of the U.S., and seeking an F-1 student visa, you will need to prove that you will be enrolled in at least one in-person or hybrid class (3 semester credit hours). ISSS will issue a new initial I-20 with updated remarks to you. In order to receive your updated I-20, please make sure that you have completed the “1st Step: Find your New Student Checklist” E-Form. If you indicate through this form that you are planning to come to campus for Fall 2020, then ISSS will issue the new I-20 with updated remarks to you.
  • If you are a new international student, currently outside of the U.S., and have not obtain your F-1 student visa, and you are planning to take classes 100% online for the Fall 2020 semester, please request a new initial I-20 document with a Spring 2021 start date by going to the UAtlas portal and submitting the “Continuing Student Request Initial I-20” E-Form.
  • Continuing international students on an F-1 student visa (F-1 students who were active on March 9, 2020 and have continued to maintain enrollment) do NOT need to be enrolled in at least one in-person class in order to maintain their status and remain in the United States. You may choose to enroll in all online or remote classes, or choose classes offered in a variety of formats.
  • If you are a continuing student with active F-1 status, currently located outside of the U.S. and unable to enter the U.S. for this Fall semester, you WILL be able to take all online or remote classes.
  • According to the current guidance, if you are continuing student with active F-1 status, you will also be able to maintain your F-1 status, even if you are taking all online or remote classes, and even if you are currently located outside of the U.S.
  • Additionally, if you are a continuing student with active F-1 status, you will NOT need to be issued an updated I-20 document with remarks stating that you will be enrolled in in-person classes. You will be able to use the I-20 document that you have already been issued.
  • However, although this flexibility is allowed for the Fall semester, it is important to remember that if you have been issued an F-1 student visa and would like to maintain your active F-1 status, you will still need to be enrolled in a full-time course load for the Fall 2020 semester.
    • This means that you will need to be enrolled in at least 12 semester credit hours if you are an undergraduate student and 9 semester credits or 3 thesis hours if you are a graduate student. This requirement applies whether you are currently located in the U.S. OR outside of the U.S. in order to maintain your active F-1 status.

Since the following policy guidance, Broadcast Message 2007-01 - COVID-19 and Fall 2020 published by SEVP on Monday, July 6, 2020 and  Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about Guidance for the Fall 2020 Semester  were rescinded on July 14, 2020, we will revert to previous policy guidance. This means the following:

  • Under the current guidance, we believe that new and continuing students are eligible to obtain their F-1 visas from U.S. Embassies or Consulates to begin or resume their studies in the United States.
  • International students on an F-1 student visa do NOT need to be enrolled in at least one in-person class in order to maintain their status and remain in the United States. You may choose to enroll in all online or remote classes, or choose classes offered in a variety of formats.
  • If you are currently located outside of the U.S. and unable to enter the U.S. for this Fall semester, you WILL be able to take all online or remote classes.
  • According to the current guidance, you will also be able to maintain your F-1 status, even if you are taking all online or remote classes, and even if you are currently located outside of the U.S.
  • Additionally, you will NOT need to be issued an updated I-20 document with remarks stating that you will be enrolled in in-person classes. You will be able to use the I-20 document that you have already been issued.
  • However, although this flexibility is allowed for the Fall semester, it is important to remember that if you have been issued an F-1 student visa and would like to maintain your active F-1 status, you will still need to be enrolled in a full-time course load for the Fall 2020 semester.
    • This means that you will need to be enrolled in at least 12 semester credit hours if you are an undergraduate student and 9 semester creditsor3 thesis hours if you are a graduate student. This requirement applies whether you are currently located in the U.S. OR outside of the U.S. in order to maintain your active F-1 status.

New Fall 2020 students who took classes online in their home country and plan to enter the U.S. to take classes will need an I-20. You can request a new initial I-20 by completing the “Continuing Student Initial I-20” request E-form in UAtlas.

In addition, please complete the mandatory “Report Spring 2021 Status” E-form in UAtlas once you know your plans for the semester.

If you are a new student with an initial I-20 with a start date of January 19th, 2021, then the earliest you may enter the U.S. is December 20th, 2020. Per F-1 student visda regulations, the earilest you may enter the U.S. is 30 days prior to the start date of the semester. 

If you are a continuing student that requested an initial I-20 because your SEVIS record was closed due to Leave of Absence, part-time enrollment, or other reason, please check that your new I-20 has a start date of January 19th. If so, then the earliest you may enter the U.S. is December 20th, 2020. Per F-1 student visda regulations, the earilest you may enter the U.S. is 30 days prior to the start date of the semester. 

Please refer to this chart to help determine if you are a new or continuing student. If you are unsure then please contact ISSS.

flow chart

ISSS has created an E-form that you may submit to request documentation if you will be arriving late to the U.S. between January 19, 2021 and January 29, 2021. Please submit the “Late Arrival Letter Request” E-form on UAtlas. Further information on arriving late maybe be found in the following question “If I receive my visa during the Spring 2021 semester, can I enter the U.S. immediately, or should I wait until Summer 2021 to enter? (Late Arrival)”.

Please contact us with your specific situation if you plan to enter the U.S. after January 29th, but please consider that the longer you wait into the Spring 2021 semester to enter the U.S., the riskier your entry. If you are issued your visa mid-semester, please plan to wait until the Summer 2021 semester to arrive on campus.

The current Presidential Proclamations will remain in effect even with a new president-elect, Joe Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20th, 2021. The new president may choose to rescind or continue the policies of the previous administration. We will update this FAQ if there are updates after January 20th.

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

UPDATE: New guidance from the U.S. Department of State  was released on July 16, 2020 and it provided an update related to the travel bans for Schengen area (most continental European countries), Ireland and UK.

Under this guidance, it is our understanding that students with a valid F-1 visa and their dependents may travel to the US while the Presidential Proclamation is in effect. This means that students with a valid student visa traveling from these countries shouldnot be subject to the ban based on if they have been in one of these countries in the last 14 days and should be allowed entry to the U.S.

However, this does not include students subject to the Travel Ban traveling from Iran, China, or Brazil.

Please continue to monitor the news, airline travel information, and the CDC webpage 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 advisors digitally signed, then print the electronic copy to use for travel. Complete the ‘Student Attestation” section of the I-20 for it to be valid.
  • We recommend that you also print this guidance, 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 are a new student with an initial I-20 with a start date of January 19th, 2021, then the earliest you may enter the U.S. is December 20th, 2020. Per F-1 student visda regulations, the earilest you may enter the U.S. is 30 days prior to the start date of the semester. 

If you are a continuing student that requested an initial I-20 because your SEVIS record was closed due to Leave of Absence, part-time enrollment, or other reason, please check that your new I-20 has a start date of January 19th. If so, then the earliest you may enter the U.S. is December 20th, 2020. Per F-1 student visda regulations, the earilest you may enter the U.S. is 30 days prior to the start date of the semester. 

Please refer to this chart to help determine if you are a new or continuing student. If you are unsure then please contact ISSS.

flow chart

ISSS has created an E-form that you may submit to request documentation if you will be arriving late to the U.S. between January 19, 2021 and January 29, 2021. Please submit the “Late Arrival Letter Request” E-form on UAtlas. Further information on arriving late maybe be found in the following question “If I receive my visa during the Spring 2021 semester, can I enter the U.S. immediately, or should I wait until Summer 2021 to enter? (Late Arrival)”.

Please contact us with your specific situation if you plan to enter the U.S. after January 29th, but please consider that the longer you wait into the Spring 2021 semester to enter the U.S., the riskier your entry. If you are issued your visa mid-semester, please plan to wait until the Summer 2021 semester to arrive on campus.

To enter the U.S., you are required to have a valid I-20, U.S. visa, and passport. In addition to a valid passport from your home country, please be sure that you check the validity of the dates on your I-20 and U.S visa before you enter the U.S. If you are currently within the U.S. then you must have a valid I-20, and passport. You may remain within the U.S on an expired visa. If you travel abroad though, you will need to receive a new valid U.S. visa in order to reenter the U.S. Please see below for examples of your I-20 and visa.  If you are currently on OPT or STEM OPT please refer to the question “I am currently on Post-Completion OPT or STEM OPT. Do I need a new travel signature?” for details on further documents we recommend to travel with.

                F-1 Student I-20                                                     F-1 Student Visa 

I-20        Visa

The U.S. government has announced during this COVID-19 period that digital I-20 forms with a scanned DSO signature will be allowed and can be sent electronically to a student for official use. If you need a travel signature, you can complete the E-form “I-20 reprint request” in UAtlas and we will process a signed electronic copy of your I-20.

Once the I-20 has been processed you will be able to access the completed document in your UAtlas portal. You will need to print your I-20, and complete the “Student Attestation” section of the I-20 for it to be valid.

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. Complete the ‘Student Attestation” section of the I-20 for it to be valid.
  • We recommend that you also print this guidance, 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.

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. 

The U.S. government has announced during this COVID-19 period that digital I-20 forms with a scanned DSO signature will be allowed and can be sent electronically to a student for official use. If you need a travel signature, you can complete the E-form “I-20 reprint request” in UAtlas and we will process a signed electronic copy of your I-20.

Once the I-20 has been processed you will be able to access the completed document in your UAtlas portal. You will need to print your I-20, and complete the “Student Attestation” section of the I-20 for it to be valid.

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 complete the "Student Attestation" section of the I-20 for it to be valid, and have the 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. Complete the ‘Student Attestation” section of the I-20 for it to be valid.
  • We recommend that you also print this guidance, 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 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 webpage 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 upcoming semester and verify 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 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 the start of the 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. For continuing students, you may take all on-line courses and remain in active status as long as you are enrolled in a full course of study.
  • Leave of Absence (if applicable) 
  • Defer admission if you are a new student.
    • For undergraduate students please refer to International Admissions deferment process to a following semester.
    • For graduate students (Masters or PhD) please contact your department directly in regards to the deferment process.

Please complete the mandatory “Report Spring 2021 Status” E-form in UAtlas once you know your plans for the spring 2021 semester.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not confirmed a continuation of the Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance through the Spring 2021 semester for students on F-1 & J-1 visas. Once we have further information from DHS for Spring 2021 ISSS will email all students and update this webpage. The current guidance for the Fall 2020 states the following:

Since the Department of Homeland Security guidance released on July 6, 2020 was rescinded on July 14, 2020, current guidance does NOT require for international students on an F-1 student visa to take at least one in-person course in order to maintain their F-1 active SEVIS status. Students may choose to take online or remote classes, and may choose to take classes in a variety of formats.

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 on the ISSS website for updates as they become available.

Currently, in order to maintain an active F-1 SEVIS record status, inside 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. It does not matter the course format you are enrolled into.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not confirmed a continuation of the Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance through the Spring 2021 semester for students on F-1 & J-1 visas. Once we have further information from DHS for Spring 2021 ISSS will email all students and update this webpage. The current guidance for the Fall 2020 states the following, and could be subject to change:

Continuing/Transfer/Returning Students:

Yes, since the Department of Homeland Security guidance released on July 6, 2020 was rescinded on July 14, 2020, current guidance allows for international students on an F-1 student visa to take all online or remote classes and still maintain their active F-1 SEVIS record status if they are a continuing/transfer/returning student.

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).

New Students:

According to policy guidance issued on July 24, 2020, new students currently outside of the United States who are seeking a visa, and planning to come to campus for Fall 2020, must prove enrollment in at least 3 credits of in-person or hybrid class in order to obtain a visa and enter the U.S. However, if the University of Utah needs to change its operational mode during the Spring 2020 semester due to changing conditions related to the COVID-19 global pandemic, and must change to all online or remote classes, new students who have successfully entered the United States will be able to maintain active F-1 status and remain in the United States, even taking all online classes.

Please refer to this chart to help determine if you are a new or continuing student. If you are unsure then please contact ISSS.

flow chart

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not confirmed a continuation of the Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance through the Spring 2021 semester for students on F-1 & J-1 visas. Once we have further information from DHS for Spring 2021 ISSS will email all students and update this webpage.

In addition, 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.   

We recommend you register for classes or stay registered for the 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, so you may still be able to stay enrolled for this semester even if you remain outside of the U.S. Choose a schedule that may give you the most flexibility in case you are unable to return for the start of the semester.  

Further information on class types and credits that you must take in order to maintain an active F-1 SEVIS record status please review the questions “If I am a student in the U.S, can I take all of my classes online? Will my I-20 stay valid?” and “If I am a new student outside the U.S., can I take all of my classes online? Will my I-20 stay valid?”.

If you are a continuing student who was enrolled full-time Spring 2020, and returned home to study outside the U.S. during the pandemic, and maintained full-time enrollment through the Fall semester, then your I-20 will still be valid to enter the U.S. for the Spring semester. We recommend to review the question “What documents do I need to enter the U.S. at this time?” to confirm you have the appropriate documentation to enter the U.S. for the Spring semester.

If you are a continuing student who was enrolled full-time Spring 2020, and returned home to study outside the U.S. during the pandemic, but did not maintain full-time enrollment through the Fall semester, then your SEVIS record was closed and you will need to receive a new initial I-20 in order to enter the U.S. Please complete the “Report Spring 2021 Status” e-form for further instructions on receiving your new I-20 to enter the U.S. for the Spring semester.

If you are a new student with an initial I-20 with a start date of January 19th 2021, then the earliest you may enter the U.S. is December 20th, 2020. Per F-1 student visa regulations the earliest you may enter the U.S. is 30 days prior to the start date of the semester.

If you are a continuing student that requested an initial I-20 because your SEVIS record was closed due to Leave of Absence, part-time enrollment, or other reason, please check that your new I-20 has a start date of January 19th. If so, then the earliest you may enter the U.S. is December 20th, 2020. Per F-1 student visa regulations the earliest you may enter the U.S. is 30 days prior to the start date of the semester.

If your I-20 has a start date of January 11, 2020, please contact ISSS.

Please refer to this chart to help determine if you are a new or continuing student. If you are unsure then please contact ISSS.

flow chart

ISSS has created an E-form that you may submit to request documentation if you will be arriving late to the U.S. between January 19, 2021 and January 29, 2021. Please submit the “Late Arrival Letter Request” E-form on UAtlas. Further information on arriving late maybe be found in the following question “If I receive my visa during the Spring 2021 semester, can I enter the U.S. immediately, or should I wait until Summer 2021 to enter? (Late Arrival)”.

Please contact us with your specific situation if you plan to enter the U.S. after January 29th, but please consider that the longer you wait into the Spring 2021 semester to enter the U.S., the riskier your entry. If you are issued your visa mid-semester, please plan to wait until the Summer 2021 semester to arrive on campus. 

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 they determine which semester they plan to start in-person classes, and enter the U.S. Students remaining abroad during the 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.

Please complete the ‘Report Spring 2021 Status’ E-form in UAtlas once you know your plans for the spring 2021 semester.

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 semester, you should either consider deferring your admission (if you are new and will be starting your studies at the U of U this Spring). If you are a graduate student (Masters or PhD) then please contact your department that you’ve been admitted into to discuss your options. Or you may take a Leave of Absence (if you are a continuing student). 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 recordand depart the U.S. 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. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not confirmed a continuation of the Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance through the Spring 2021 semester for students on F-1 & J-1 visas. Once we have further information from DHS for Spring 2021 ISSS will email all students and update this webpage. The current guidance for the Fall 2020 states the following, and could be subject to change:

If you are interested in part time study: if you are a continuing student, currently outside of the U.S. and plan to remain outside of the U.S. for the 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). 

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). If you are a continuing student it does not matter the course format you are enrolled into. If you have an initial I-20 for the Spring 2020 semester then you must be enrolled in at least 3 credits of in-person or hybrid.

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 Spring 2021 semester and do not wish to enroll in any classes in the Spring, we encourage you to apply for a Leave of Absence.

If you choose to take a Leave of Absence for the Spring 2021 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 Summer or Fall 2021 semester.

Students will need to complete the Continuing Students Initial I-20 E-form in UAtlas in order to request a new I-20 to enter the U.S. for the semester they wish to return from their Leave of Absence.

In addition, students will need to complete the mandatory “Report Spring 2021 Status” E-form in UAtlas once plans for the spring 2021 semester are confirmed.

We do not recommend for new first semester students to enter the U.S. in the middle of the Spring 2021 semester. For new students, your I-20 document has a start date listed on it, which is the first day of Spring 2021 classes (Tuesday, January 19, 2021). 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 Spring 2021 semester.

If you plan to arrive in the U.S. after the start date listed on your I-20 document, but before the last day to add or drop classes (January 29), 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 cannot 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 January 29, 2021 for the Spring 2020 semester.

Please contact us with your specific situation if you plan to enter the U.S. after January 29th, but please consider that the longer you wait into the Spring 2021 semester to enter the U.S., the riskier your entry. If you are issued your visa mid-semester, please plan to wait until the Summer 2021 semester to arrive on campus. 

ISSS has created an E-form that you may submit to request documentation for your late arrival. If you will be arriving in the U.S. between January 19, 2021 and January 29, 2021, please submit the “Late Arrival Letter Request” E-form on UAtlas.

Please Note: This E-form will request that you input a contact from your academic department so they may confirm that they are aware of your late arrival and approve your plan to enter the U.S. after the semester begins. It is extremely important that you are in contact with your academic advisor and professor(s) prior to submitting your Late Arrival Letter Request E-form to ensure that they are aware of your situation and plans to arrive late.

Prior to the pandemic, if you were out of the U.S. for longer than 5-months than we would need to close your SEVIS record. However, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance that stated continuing F-1 students may remain in Active SEVIS status while studying full-time online, outside of the U.S. This means that you can remain abroad for longer than 5-months and still maintain an active SEVIS record if you continue to be enrolled in full-time classes. Once you plan to reenter the U.S. then you will need to receive an updated travel signature and we recommend that you review the question “What documents do I need to enter the U.S. at this time?” to confirm you have the appropriate documentation to enter the U.S.

If you are a continuing student who took less than full-time classes from abroad, or were on a Leave of Absence taking less than full-time classes from abroad, then your SEVIS record would be closed. Please complete the “Report Spring 2021 Status” e-form for further instructions on receiving your new I-20 to enter the U.S. for the Spring semester.

Please note-The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not confirmed a continuation of the Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance through the Spring 2021 semester for students on F-1 & J-1 visas. Once we have further information from DHS for Spring 2021, ISSS will email all students and update this webpage.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not confirmed a continuation of the Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance through the Spring 2021 semester for students on F-1 & J-1 visas. Once we have further information from DHS for Spring 2021 ISSS will email all students and update this webpage. The current guidance for the Fall 2020 states the following, and could be subject to change:

Students taking all online classes from their home country can maintain their active F1 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. 

ISSS has created an E-form that you may submit to request documentation for your late arrival. If you will be arriving in the U.S. between January 19, 2021 and January 29, 2021, please submit the “Late Arrival Letter Request” E-form on UAtlas. Further information on arriving late may be be found in the following question “If I receive my visa during the Spring 2021 semester, can I enter the U.S. immediately, or should I wait until Summer 2021 to enter? (Late Arrival)”. 

Please contact us with your specific situation if you plan to enter the U.S. after January 29th, but please consider that the longer you wait into the Spring 2021 semester to enter the U.S., the riskier your entry. If you are issued your visa mid-semester, please plan to wait until the Summer 2021 semester to arrive on campus. 

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.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not confirmed a continuation of the Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance through the Spring 2021 semester for students on F-1 & J-1 visas. Once we have further information from DHS for Spring 2021 ISSS will email all students and update this webpage. Review the question “What does the Fall 2020 SEVP Guidance mean?” for further information on the most current Fall 2020 guidance. 

The University of Utah carefully follows United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations in regards to protocols for COVID-19. Currently, the CDC strongly recommends that students traveling from an international destination plan to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival before attending classes and participating in other activities. 

If you will be living on campus, you will be tested upon arrival. After you have been tested, please remain in your room as much as possible until you receive your test results back. Test results are expected to be returned within 24-48 hours. If your test results indicate that you are negative for COVID-19, you will NOT need to self-isolate.  

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. 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 Spring 2021 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 guide for 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 and Spring 2021 semester. Although the guidance indicates 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.

If you would like to schedule a phone or Zoom 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 U.S. phone number 
  • Your preference for a phone or Zoom appointment
  • 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) 

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 is a main University of Utah webpage that contains additional resources related to COVID-19 for students. This includes travel advisories, current phase of return on campus, and details on mandatory wearing of face coverings on campus. This is found on COVID-19 Central @TheU.

Please contact the residence halls in regards to housing requirements. The residence halls and dining room are open during the Fall semester and will also be open for the Spring 2021 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 is a main University of Utah webpage that contains additional resources related to COVID-19 for students. This includes travel advisories, current phase of return on campus, and details on mandatory wearing of face coverings on campus. This is found on COVID-19 Central @TheU.
  • 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 us at 801-581-8876 for an appointment with an international student advisor.
  • 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. after a temporary absence. To request a Temporary Absence, submit the "Temporary Out of Country Absence" E-form through UAtlas
  • 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 U.S. 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 throughUAtlas. Although you can still pursue your program objective while abroad, you will not be able to return to the U.S. on your current J-1 visa. 

Extensions will be considered as usual, and as long as the eligibility requirements are met, an 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: 12/1/20