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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.

Please note this information is subject to change depending on guidance from the Student Exchange Visitor Program.

COVID-19 vaccination and test requirements for travel

As of Monday, Oct. 25, the White House announced that beginning 12:01 a.m. EST on Nov. 8, 2021, entry into the U.S. by air travel of noncitizens who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is suspended and limited. Students planning to travel during the semester break and/or travel to the U.S. after Nov. 8, 2021, should make plans to be fully vaccinated in order to be allowed entry into the U.S. 

Any ASU student not yet vaccinated can receive vaccines for free on campus at any ASU Health Services location. ASU Health Services has locations on all four campuses, and you may make an appointment through the patient health portal or walk in. 

All travelers coming into the U.S. are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 24 hours before traveling to the U.S.

Please review the CDC’s website for a list of acceptable vaccines and other important information.

General frequently asked questions

The International Students Scholars Center remains open at this time. Our office is located in the Student Services Building on the Tempe campus in Suite 170.  Our hours of operation are Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. excluding university holidays. The staff will continue to produce immigration 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, 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. (Arizona time). We will continue to provide you with the most up-to-date information. If you would like to speak with a staff member, you can also make an appointment

Executive President and University Provost Mark S. Searle and Provost Pro Tempore Nancy A. Gonzales announced on Feb. 15, 2021 that ASU is set to continue on-campus, in-person instruction on Aug. 19, 2021 for the fall 2021 semester. This learning mode will also be in place for the spring 2022 semester For select courses, instruction will also be available to students digitally through ASU Sync and iCourses.

If you are not able to return to the U.S. physically to meet full time enrollment requirements for the Spring 2022 semester, your immigration status will be closed.  When you are able to physically return to ASU in-person, please review our website to request a new initial I-20.  Please review ASU’s webpage for all of the options available to students so that they may continue their education. For specific immigration questions, please reach out to us at 480-727-4776 or issc@asu.edu.

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.

If you cannot return to campus by Jan. 10 for the spring semester, we encourage you to speak with your academic advisor so that you can continue your studies. If you do not physically return to the U.S. to meet full time enrollment requirements for the spring 2022 semester, then your immigration record will be closed.  When you decide to physically return to ASU in-person, please review our website to request a new initial I-20.  

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.

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. Once you have received your new passport, you can submit a copy of it via our F-1 Demographic Update eForm in our eForms Portal.

If you wish to travel within the U.S., please make sure you take precaution when traveling to/from Arizona.  Please review our website for documentation we recommend carrying with you during your travels within the U.S.

The ISSC continues to hold events in both virtual and in-person formats.  Please be sure to follow us on social media for program updates. You can also find ISSC events listed here

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.

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

Students who are outside of the U.S. will not be able to maintain their immigration record so full-time enrollment requirements will not apply.  

If you are a current student with an active immigration record and wish to remain outside the U.S. for the spring 2022 semester, your immigration status will be closed.  Please note your F-1 visa will remain valid until the date it expires regardless if your immigration record is closed.   When you decide to physically return to ASU in-person, please review our website to request a new initial I-20.  

If you are a new student with ASU for the spring 2022 semester with an Initial I-20 or Transfer-Pending I-20 and will be studying outside the U.S. for the spring 2022 semester and will need to defer your I-20 to the next available academic session, please contact ASU Admission Services to have your I-20 deferred. Please email ASU Admission Services with your full name, ASU ID number and reason for your deferral request. Undergraduate students or advisors may email fg@asu.edu. Graduate students or advisors may contact GradI20@asu.edu.

If you are a current student previously enrolled in ASU classes with plans to arrive to ASU for the first time for spring 2022 semester with an Initial I-20 or Transfer-Pending I-20 and will need to defer your I-20 to the next available academic session, please contact the ISSC to have your I-20 deferred. 

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. To ensure you are able to return to the U.S., please review the CDC guidelines for information about travel to the U.S.

If you plan to remain in your home country, we advise you to discuss this with your academic advisor. 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. If you do not return to the U.S. physically to meet full time enrollment requirements for the spring 2022 semester, then your immigration record will be closed.  When you decide to physically return to ASU in-person, please review our website to request a new initial I-20.  

If you are unable to return to the U.S., you will need to contact your academic advisor and academic department to determine your course options. In order to maintain your immigration status, all continuing students with an active immigration record are required to enroll in the minimum number of in-person credits in order to meet full-time enrollment requirements. If you cannot return to the U.S. physically to meet full time enrollment requirements for the spring 2022 semester, then your immigration record will be closed.  When you are able to physically return to ASU in-person, please review our website to request a new initial I-20.  

Your F-1/J-1 visa will remain valid until the date it expires regardless of your time spent outside the U.S.

Please contact your academic advisor to ensure you continue fulfilling your degree requirements by enrolling in classes while outside the U.S. Please contact the ISSC for further advising regarding your immigration record.

Yes, beginning May 11, 2020, the ISSC began 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 6 months for students on Post-OPT and STEM-OPT.

Unfortunately there are no immigration exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement due to challenges with remote learning. Students are expected to maintain a full course of study while in F-1 or J-1 status.. Please contact your academic department if you are having difficulty with your remote classes. We also recommend reaching out to ASU Tutoring for assistance.

Because each student’s situation varies, please contact the ISSC for further advisement. In addition, see this webpage for options after completing your degree.

If you have completed all of your degree requirements, you cannot delay your graduation.

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, applying for Post-OPT, requesting a change of status with USCIS, seeking admission to another country other than your home country, or returning to your home country. Please see this webpage for options after completing your degree.

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. Please note this eForm is not an extension request for your grace period.

As a reminder, USCIS regulations state that F-1 and J-1 students must update their local U.S. or SEVIS address within 10 days of moving. If you need to update your addresses, please do so on My ASU. If you will be outside the U.S. for the spring 2022 semester, do not update your local U.S. address on My ASU. Your last known U.S. address should remain listed.

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

Yes, COVID-19 testing and treatment are covered under the health plan.

Note: COVID-19 testing and the associated office visit would be covered at no cost-share. Any COVID-19 treatment would be subject to the health plan cost-share, including medical emergencies. Please visit the ASU Aetna Student Health webpage https://www.aetnastudenthealth.com/ for important details regarding your policy benefits coverage, out of pocket expenses and COVID-19 updates.

Yes, ASU student health insurance is required for all F-1/J-1 international students and will automatically be charged to your ASU student account each semester, this excludes approved sponsored students. Please visit the ASU Health Services International Student webpage at https://eoss.asu.edu/health/resources/international for more details.

ASU Health Services and ASU Counseling on campus are your primary-care providers and your first stop. Please visit https://eoss.asu.edu/health and https://eoss.asu.edu/counseling for more details. If you need to see an off-campus specialist (within 50 miles of ASU) you must first obtain a referral from an ASU Health Services/ASU Counseling provider which is valid for the policy year and must use an in-network provider. Please visit https://www.aetnastudenthealth.com/ for policy benefits coverage, out of pocket expenses and a list of in-network providers.

In case ASU Health Services is closed you should visit an in-network urgent care clinic for non-emergency care.  In case of an emergency you should dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

You can visit the Aetna Student Health website at www.aetnastudenthealth.com or contact Aetna Student Health directly at 1-866-378-0178. You may also visit the ASU Health Services website https://eoss.asu.edu/health/resources/coverage or contact the ASU Health Services Student Health Insurance Department at insurance@asu.edu or (480) 965-2411.


Employment: Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training FAQ

You will accrue eligibility in spring 2022 for OPT or CPT as long as your immigration record is active and you meet full-time enrollment requirements. If you do not return to the U.S. physically to meet full time enrollment requirements for the spring 2022 semester, then your immigration record will be closed.  When you decide to physically return to ASU in-person, please review our website to request a new initial I-20.

You cannot accrue eligibility for CPT/OPT until you arrive in the U.S. and complete SEVIS New Student Check-in.  If you cannot arrive in the U.S. for the spring 2022 semester then you will need to complete at least the fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters before you meet those eligibility requirements. Please contact the ISSC for more information.

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

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 the 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.

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

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

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

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. to reapply.

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 applying for OPT, 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. Please note this eForm is not an extension request for your grace period.

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. You are also encouraged to reach out to Career and Professional Development Services for additional resources.

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. 

Many of you are finding yourselves working remotely due to your company’s policies. 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.

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. Complete this eForm if you are unable to find a flight home. Please note this eForm is not an extension request for your unemployment grace period.

Yes, you can apply for post-OPT if you meet all the eligibility requirements. The ISSC will issue you a new OPT I-20 along with instructions on how to submit your application to USCIS.

If your employer has pushed your start date back, we encourage you to secure a position directly related to your field of study as a volunteer or an unpaid intern for at least 20 hours a week. 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.

For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in 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. 

Students who are unemployed due to COVID-19 should contact their local or state employment agency for more information.  ISSC cannot advise on your eligibility of unemployment benefits.  Please read the information and contact the appropriate state office for questions.


J-1 scholar FAQ

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.

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

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 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.


ASU Faculty and staff FAQ

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

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

If the current on-campus employment opportunity has transitioned to remote work or can be done through remote means, students may continue to engage in on-campus employment. This will not impact their visa. New students may not be able to work on campus, even in remote positions, until they have arrived to the U.S. and completed their SEVIS New Student Check-in. Students who receive TA or RA appointments should consult with their academic departments regarding eligibility of remote work.

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.

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. Faculty members should review our website on how to support volunteer positions for students on Post-OPT. Students are also encouraged to reach out to Career and Professional Development Services for additional resources.

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