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ISSC updates and information related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

The ISSC wishes to provide support during this uncertain time, and answer questions related to traveling as ASU responds to COVID-19. We understand the uncertainty of the situation and respect the unease it may cause, and we aim to give as much advice as we can based on the available information. Due to the rapidly changing nature of this situation, please continue to check for updates on ASU’s response to COVID-19.  

With regards to traveling internationally at this time, here are some frequently asked questions we have received. We hope you find this information helpful as you make important decisions for yourself and your family.  

The information provided on this page is intended as general guidelines and updates. We still strongly encourage students and scholars to talk with ISSC staff about their individual situations. The ISSC is open and available to meet with students and scholars by phone, email or zoom. Please email issc@asu.edu with any questions or concerns.

Presidential Proclamation

The March 14 Presidential Proclamation updated previous travel restrictions. It suspends entry into the U.S. for all non-U.S. citizens who were physically present in the following locations during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into 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, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City).
  • United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe.
  • Republic of Ireland.

ASU travel guidelines:

All ASU employees and students who are coming back from high-risk areas are required to self-monitor. High-risk areas are defined as the following:

  • Travel by cruise ships.
  • Any air travel, domestic or international.
  • Travel by any means to Washington State, New York City, California, Florida or London.

If you become symptomatic, you are required to self-isolate and should contact your health care provider.

General frequently asked questions

Is the ISSC open at this time?

The International Students Scholars Center staff is working remotely at this time. The staff will continue to produce visa documents, respond to phone calls and emails, and will be available via email and phone for advising needs. We encourage you to email issc@asu.edu or call 480-727-4776 if you need assistance or have questions. You may also use the new live chat feature on the ISSC website. The live chat is located on all ISSC webpages and can be accessed Monday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m. (Arizona time). We will continue to provide you with the most up-to-date information.

What is the status of ASU’s classes?

President Michael Crow announced on Thursday, April 30 that ASU is planning to resume in-person classes for the fall semester, scheduled to begin on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020.

Will there be plans in place for students who may not be able to get back to ASU when the fall semester begins because of international travel bans?

The university is planning for all scenarios and will have options available for students who may not be able to return to campus or attend classes in person due to circumstances related to COVID-19. For specific international questions, please reach out to us at 480-727-4776 or issc@asu.edu.

I am currently in the U.S. but was planning to travel outside of the U.S. soon. What should I do?

As the situation is constantly changing, we cannot predict how long certain travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to current restrictions in place.

If you decide to travel, be prepared, and know 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.

Please review our website on traveling to ensure you have all of the necessary documents to return to the U.S.

What happens if I decide not to return for in-person instruction for the fall 2020 semester?

Students who choose to remain home will be unable to participate in remote study and their SEVIS record and I-20 will be closed. They may return at the term of their choice with a new I-20 upon request.

If you are unable to return to the U.S., you will need to contact your academic department to determine your options. You will then need to notify the ISSC of your current situation and plan for future advisement and document issuance. For undergraduate students, please review admission.asu.edu/undergrad/readmission.

My visa is expiring, and I am unable to travel to my home country currently. What should I do?

You may stay in the U.S. on an expired F-1 or J-1 visa as long as you maintain your immigration status by being in possession of a valid I-20 or DS-2019 and meeting normal enrollment requirements. If you decide to depart the U.S., you will not be eligible to return until you renew your visa.

My passport is set to expire soon or has already expired. What do I need to do to renew it?

In this situation, you should contact your country’s embassy or consulate to identify options for passport extension or renewal. If you decide to depart the U.S., you will not be eligible to return until you renew your passport.

Can I travel within the U.S.?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported in all states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease.Therefore, we do not recommend you travel within the U.S. during this time. Additional information about travel can be found here.

Additionally, please email the ISSC at issc@asu.edu if you are unable to travel home so that we can work with you directly by providing you resources to help you put together a plan for your time here.

Will ISSC events still happen?

Many of our events have transitioned to Zoom. Please be sure to read ISSC’s weekly event emails for those updates. The following ISSC events have been canceled until further notice:

  • International Women’s Circle.

  • Leadership Society of Arizona workshops.

If I need emotional support regarding COVID-19, what resources are available to me?

If you are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns for family or friends, please contact ASU Counseling Services at 480-965-6146 to speak with a counselor, or visit eoss.asu.edu/counseling.

F-1 and J-1 student FAQ:

Am I still considered enrolled full time even though classes are moved to remote instruction for the spring and summer semesters?

Yes, you should not fall below the full-time enrollment requirement unless you have been permitted to do so either through a Reduced Course Load (RCL) or Leave of Absence (LOA) approval by ISSC.

Your attendance in remote, digital classes temporarily fulfills the requirements of full-time enrollment, according to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

However, please note that ASU has begun planning to resume in-person classes for the fall semester, scheduled to begin on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. As such, students will be expected to be in the U.S. in order to maintain their immigration status.

Can I travel outside the U.S. and would I be able to get back into the U.S.?

Your decision to stay on campus or travel outside the U.S. or back home is a personal decision that you should make after speaking with your family. Staying on campus ensures that you can continue your studies uninterrupted, and ASU will continue to provide on-campus services if you decide to stay. If you plan to travel home, we advise you to discuss this with each of your professors, as your studies may be interrupted while you travel. Alerting them to your plans may help you stay on track. While preparing to travel, please make sure that you have a valid travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019 before departing the U.S. If your visa will expire by the time you plan to return to campus, please make sure you renew your visa before returning to the U.S.

How do I continue my courses online if I decide to return home?

If you plan to travel home, we advise you to discuss this with each of your professors, as your studies may be interrupted while you travel. Informing them about your plans may help you stay on track. In addition, you should review the technology you have available so that you can continue your studies from home. Digital learning requires internet access, VPN, Zoom and access to My ASU. We recommend reviewing the information on these links to help you make an informed decision.

What if I go to my home country and then I can’t get back to the U.S. for the fall 2020 semester?

Attending classes remotely via Zoom or Canvas temporarily fulfills the federal regulation stating that students with nonimmigrant visas must be enrolled in a full course of study. However, please note that ASU has begun planning to resume in-person classes for the fall semester, scheduled to begin on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. As such, students will be expected to be in the U.S. in order to maintain their immigration status.

If you are unable to return to the U.S., you will need to contact your academic department to determine your options. You will then need to notify the ISSC of your current situation and plan for future advisement and document issuance.

If I return home for spring and summer semesters, how will this affect my student visa status?

If you maintain your full-time enrollment for the spring 2020 semester and plan to return to ASU for the fall 2020 semester, your immigration record will be active.

Will my F-1/J-1 visa and I-20/DS-2019 remain valid if I choose to complete my program online outside the U.S.?

Please note that ASU has begun planning to resume in-person classes for the fall semester, scheduled to begin on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. As such, students will be expected to be in the U.S. in order to maintain their immigration status. If you decide to complete your program online permanently, contact ISSC on how this will impact your immigration status.

Can I use an electronic or digitally signed I-20? How long is an electronic or digitally signed travel signature valid?

Yes, beginning May 11, 2020, the ISSC will begin issuing digitally signed I-20s, which are permitted by SEVP for use during the COVID-19 pandemic and will remain valid until you are in need of an updated I-20. Ink or digital travel signatures are valid for the same period of time — 12 months for current students and six months for students on Post-OPT and STEM-OPT.

I am having academic difficulty in the online learning platform. Am I allowed to drop a class?

Unfortunately there are no immigration exceptions to the full time requirement that is being made at this time. Students are expected to maintain their full course of study. Please contact your academic department if you are having difficulty with your online classes. We also recommend reaching out to ASU Tutoring for assistance.

Am I allowed to work remotely from my home country for my student worker position?

Unfortunately, SEVP has not released any guidance regarding remote work for student worker positions. Therefore, please consult with your hiring manager to see if they will allow you to work remotely.

I am having financial difficulty due to bank closures in my home country. What should I do?

Contact Student Business Services for further advice on payment options. Please email the ISSC as well.

I am nearing program completion and planned to return to my home country. If I prefer to stay in the U.S. now, what are my options?

Because each student’s situation varies, please contact the ISSC for further advisement. In addition, see Completing Your Degree Program to review your options after graduation.

Can I extend my graduation date due to COVID-19 even if I have met all my degree requirements?

No, extension is not allowed to accommodate graduation ceremonies. Please note that the spring 2020 commencement will be moved to a virtual, online ceremony.

What happens if I am close to the end of my 60-day grace period after my program completion date?

Students are expected to depart the U.S. by the end of their grace period. If you wish to remain in the U.S., you should discuss your options with an ISSC advisor immediately. Your options may include quickly gaining admission to a new degree program at ASU or another U.S. school, updating or transferring your I-20, requesting a change of status with USCIS, seeking admission to another country other than your home country, or returning to your home country.

If you are having difficulty finding flights home, please be sure to contact your embassy. Complete this eForm if you are unable to find an appropriate flight home to your country due to flight restrictions or cancellations. You will need to provide appropriate documentation regarding your situation.

What if my address changes during this time?

As a reminder, immigration regulations state that F-1 and J-1 students must update their local or SEVIS address within 10 days of moving. If you need to update your addresses, please do so on My ASU.

What should I do if I am a sponsored student?

If you are a sponsored student and have concerns about your stay in the U.S. or at ASU, please consult your sponsor and an ISSC immigration advisor at sponsored@asu.edu.

Does ASU Aetna Student Health cover the coronavirus testing fee and treatment?

Aetna will waive the copay for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This policy will cover the testing kit for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing, which can be done in any approved laboratory location. Aetna will waive the member costs associated with diagnostic testing at any authorized location for all Commercial, Medicare and Medicaid lines of business.

Is this type of emergency covered by the ASU Student Health Plan?

At this time, aside from COVID-19 testing, services will be covered in accordance with plan benefits and coverage. The ASU Aetna Student Health policy has a $200 copay for emergency room visits.

Employment: Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training FAQ

I am currently in Curricular Practical Training. Can I participate in remote practical training?

Yes. You can participate remotely in practical training by working with your employer to review available options.

What if my CPT employer requires employees to self-quarantine?

Remote work is allowed while on CPT and would not in itself require any special permission or a new authorization request, as long as the work continues and there is continued supervision and oversight through various technological means. Students would inform the ISSC via email of the new remote work address and expected duration of quarantine period so that we can update the student’s record. If the employer terminates the internship for any reason, the student will need to notify the ISSC immediately so that the CPT authorization can be adjusted to reflect the new end date.

What happens if my current internship is shortened due to the coronavirus?

Please contact the ISSC and we will modify your CPT authorization if necessary.

Can I apply for CPT for my summer internship from outside the U.S.?

Yes, the ISSC will continue processing CPT applications as usual. 

Can I apply for Optional Practical Training if I am abroad?

No. You must be physically present in the U.S. at the time you mail your Optional Practical Training application to USCIS. 

If I have applied for OPT, can I leave the U.S.?

We do not recommend leaving due to widespread and rapidly changing travel restrictions. If there are any issues and your application is denied or rejected, you will not be able to return to the U.S. or fix the application.

Will the suspension of U.S. visa issuance affect the processing of OPT?

No. The U.S Department of State announcement on March 18 of temporary suspension of U.S. visa issuance will not affect the adjudication of your OPT application. USCIS continues processing certain applications, including OPT.

However, if you are out of the country while your OPT application is pending, it is not guaranteed you will be able to re-enter the U.S., especially if you plan to renew your visa.

 

What happens if I am close to the end of my 60-day grace period?

Unfortunately, there is no regulatory relief available to students in this situation, and such individuals are expected to depart the U.S. by the end of the grace period. Discuss your limited options with an ISSC advisor immediately, which may include quickly gaining admission to a new degree program at ASU or another U.S. school, and updating or transferring your I-20, requesting a change of status with USCIS, seeking admission to another country other than your home country, or returning to your home country. If you are having difficulty finding flights home, please be sure to contact your embassy.  Complete this eForm if you are unable to find an appropriate flight home to your country due to flight restrictions or cancellations. You will need to provide appropriate documentation regarding your situation.

I am in post-OPT and I just lost my job due to COVID-19. What should I do?

To avoid a 90-day unemployment period while in post-OPT, we highly encourage you to find a temporary volunteer or intern position directly related to your field of study for at least 20 hours a week. You are able to report the employment information through the SEVP portal. Volunteering is NOT allowed on STEM-OPT. 

Does COVID-19 affect my pending OPT application?

COVID-19 does not affect your pending OPT application. The ISSC and USCIS are operating as normal to process your I-20 and adjudicate your OPT authorization. 

Will the temporary closure of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field offices and suspension of USCIS in-person services affect my OPT application?

USCIS temporarily closed its domestic field offices and has suspended routine in-person services until at least June 4 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. However, USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. OPT applications are adjudicated at the USCIS Service Centers, not at the field offices. In addition, OPT adjudications do not involve any contact with the public. For these reasons, we do not anticipate your OPT application being affected by this recent closure of USCIS field offices. More than 500 students from ASU have already had their OPT applications approved. 

Am I allowed to work remotely for my company while on post-OPT? 

Many of you are finding yourselves working remotely due to stay orders. The question then becomes, “Do I report my home address as a new work location”? If you are currently working from home, do not change your work location address through the SEVP Portal at this time. You also do not need to update Form I-983 with your remote location. You may report this change by submitting the OPT/STEM Remote Work Location Reporting eForm, which can be found through the self-service portal under F-1 Practical Training.

 

I am reaching the end of my 90-day unemployment grace period, but can’t get a flight out of the country. Is it possible to extend my grace period?

Please note that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is evaluating these issues and may issue additional guidance. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services adjudicates OPT employment authorization and status requests for F-1 students and has yet to issue official guidance. Please contact your embassy if you are having difficulty finding a flight.

Can I still apply for post-OPT considering the current situation? Will they process my application?

Yes, you can apply for OPT if you meet all the eligibility requirements. The ISSC will issue you a new OPT I-20 and provide options for you to obtain your OPT package, along with instructions to mail your OPT application to USCIS.

My employer changed the start date of my job offer due to COVID-19. Is it possible to extend my unemployment grace period? Or can my employer hire me on the initial date but put me on unpaid leave? 

If your employer has pushed your start date back, we encourage you to secure a position as a  volunteer or an unpaid intern for at least 20 hours a week and directly related to your field of study. You are able to report your employment information through the SEVP Portal which will prevent you from accumulating your unemployment period. Volunteer work is not allowed for students on their STEM extension.

 

I am being required by my employer to self-quarantine or work remotely. What does this mean for my OPT?

If your employer allows you to work remotely, there is no impact on your OPT due to self-quarantine. Similarly, if you are able to take leave (sick leave, vacation days, etc.), there is no impact on your OPT. 

I am unemployed due to COVID-19. Can I apply for unemployment benefits? 

Students who are unemployed due to COVID-19 should contact their local or state employment agency for more information.

 

J-1 scholar FAQ

I have been invited to start a program at ASU soon. What should I do?

You should reach out to the host department that invited you for more guidance. The ISSC is able to amend your program start and end dates as soon as your host department agrees and confirms your new dates.

My J-1 program is active, but I am currently outside the U.S. and cannot return. What should I do?

Please make sure you reach out to your faculty supervisor on options to continue your program remotely at this time. If you are engaging in teaching activities, visit provost.asu.edu/remote/faculty.

I am close to my program end date. Are there options for me to stay in the U.S.?

Yes, if you are under the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category, the maximum duration is up to five years. Please reach out to your host department on options to extend your stay. The ISSC will process your extension request as soon as we receive the request from your department contact.

The U.S. Department of State has announced a two-month extension on exchange visitors whose program end dates are between April 1 and May 31, 2020. Please reach out to the ISSC to obtain a new DS-2019 if you have not received one.

What should I do if I want to return to my country but my flights are canceled and my country is currently prohibiting all inbound travel?

The U.S. Department of State recommends exchange visitors proactively reach out to their respective embassies if they are unable to book return flights home. A growing number of embassies are posting special communications on their websites and social media for their exchange visitors in order to make contact with them. The Exchange Visitor Program published information regarding embassy contacts due to repatriation assistance.

If I choose to return to my home country during this time, can my J-1 status remain active?

At this time, we highly recommend you do not travel outside of the U.S. Please contact your ISSC scholar advisor for further information. If you or your family members have discussed returning home, we encourage you to contact the ISSC before you make any final travel plans.

My J-2 dependent child’s school is closed. Am I able to engage my program objective remotely?

We recognize that conditions in the broader community — school closures, child care disruptions, ill family members — are likely to impact regular work schedules for some individuals. Employees should work directly with their supervisors on flexible work plans to ensure operations continue.

ASU Faculty and staff FAQ

What do we advise students if they want to postpone their graduation?

Students who have completed their degree requirements cannot postpone their graduation due to COVID-19. They should seek other options, which include pursuing Optional Practical Training, applying to a new degree program, transferring to another institution or changing their visa status. For a summary of these options, please review our website

If students cannot complete their degree requirements due to COVID-19, what are their options?

Students who cannot complete their degree requirements by the expiration date on their I-20 or DS-2019 must request an extension

Can our student workers work remotely due to COVID-19? Would this affect their visa status?

Yes, if the current on-campus employment opportunity has transitioned to remote work or the employment can be done through remote means, students may continue to engage in on-campus employment. This will not impact their visa status. Please note that ASU has begun planning to resume in-person classes for the fall semester, scheduled to begin on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. As such, students will be expected to be in the U.S. in order to maintain their immigration status. Students may be able to resume on-campus employment.

Can students on CPT engage in internships abroad?

Yes, students may engage in CPT abroad or at their home country, as long as they are enrolled in a program of study of which the CPT is an integral component of their degree requirements.

How can we assist graduating and recently graduated students who are having difficulty finding jobs due to COVID-19?

Students on Post-OPT can find a volunteer or unpaid internship position directly related to their field of study and at least 20 hours per week. The volunteer activity can be a form of research or other projects, if faculty are willing to engage students in such activity while they continue searching for a paid position. Students are also encouraged to reach out to Career and Professional Development Services for additional resources.

What happens if a student receives an “I” or “Z” grade in one of the classes required for completing their degree? 

Unless a student has to enroll in another course for the subsequent semester to complete their degree requirements, an “I” or “Z” grade is not sufficient for delaying degree completion.  Students must be enrolled in a course for the next semester or be authorized to work via Post-OPT in order to maintain their immigration status. If a student needs to enroll in a course to complete their degree requirements, they may consider applying for a reduced course load.