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.

Travel restrictions

The April 30, 2021, Presidential Proclamation has 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.
  • Brazil 
  • 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.
    • Students with a valid F-1 visa from the Schengen area, the U.K. or the Republic of Ireland now qualify for a National Interest Exception under previously announced Presidential Proclamations that limited travel into the U.S. from certain countries. 
  • India
  • South Africa

COVID-19 test requirements for travel

As of Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require all travelers flying into the U.S. from abroad to submit a negative COVID-19 test prior to being permitted to travel into the U.S. The viral test will need to be taken within three days prior to your flight departure date. If you do not provide proof of a negative test or documentation of recovery, you will be denied boarding onto your flight.

Please refer to the CDC website for more detailed information and updates related to COVID-19.

National Interest Exception

The Secretary of State has determined that the entry of certain travelers is in the national interest for purposes of exceptions to the geographic COVID Presidential Proclamations. Students subject to these geographic COVID proclamations due to their presence in India, China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa may qualify for a National Interest Exception only if their academic program, including optional practical training (OPT), begins August 1, 2021 or later. Regardless of when your program at ASU started, students from India, China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa are permitted to travel back to the U.S. no earlier than July 20, 2021.

Students from India, China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program, including OPT, beginning August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual National Interest Exception to travel. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel.

Students subject to these geographic COVID proclamations due to their presence in the Schengen Area, Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom may travel to the U.S. at any time and do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual National Interest Exception to travel. Students with an Initial I-20 are still only permitted to travel to the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the Program start date on their I-20.

General frequently asked questions

Is the ISSC open at this time?

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

What is the status of ASU’s classes? 

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. For select courses, instruction will also be available to students digitally through ASU Sync and iCourses.

Will there be plans in place for students who may not be able to return to campus when the fall semester begins due to international travel bans?

If you are not able to return to the U.S. physically to meet full time enrollment requirements for the Fall 2021 semester, then 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 fall 2021 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.

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 2021 semester? 

If you cannot return to campus by Aug. 19 for the fall 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 Fall 2021 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.  


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. 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.

Can I travel within the U.S.?

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.

Will ISSC events still happen? 

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 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:

How can I meet full-time enrollment requirements for the fall 2021 semester if I am outside the U.S.? 

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 Fall 2021 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 Fall 2021 semester with an Initial I-20 or Transfer-Pending I-20 and will be studying outside the U.S. for the fall 2021 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 Fall 2021 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. 


Can I enroll exclusively in iCourses for all of the fall 2021 semester if I am currently in the U.S.?

No, students with active immigration records inside the U.S. must maintain full-time enrollment which includes in-person classes in order to keep their immigration record active

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. To ensure you are able to return to the U.S., please review any travel restrictions put in place via presidential proclamations.

How do I continue my courses remotely if I decide to remain home?

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 Fall 2021 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.  


What if I go to my home country and then I can’t get back to the U.S. for the fall 2021 semester?

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 Fall 2021 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.  

If I return home for the fall semester, how will this affect my student visa?

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

Will my F-1/J-1 visa and I-20/DS-2019 remain valid if I choose to complete the final semester of my degree program remotely from outside the U.S. in fall 2021?

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.

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 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.

I am having academic difficulty with the remote learning platforms. Am I allowed to drop a class?

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.

 

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

Please see the financial aid options for international students. You may also contact Student Business Services and the ISSC for further advice on payment options. 

I completed my degree program and I prefer to stay in the U.S. rather than return to my home country. What are my options? 

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

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

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

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. 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.

What if my address changes during this time? 

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 fall 2021 semester, do not update your local U.S. address on My ASU. Your last known U.S. address should remain listed.

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?

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.

Are international students required to be enrolled in the ASU Aetna Student Health Insurance (Open Choice Network)?

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.

Where can I receive health care with my ASU Aetna Student Health Plan (Open Choice Network)?

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.

Who can I contact for more information about my ASU Aetna Student Health Plan?

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

If I take classes remotely from outside the U.S. for the fall 2021 semester and meet full-time requirements, will the time count toward the requirement for CPT or OPT eligibility?

You will accrue eligibility in fall 2021 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 Fall 2021 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.  Upon your return you will need to complete two academic semesters before you meet the CPT/OPT eligibility requirements. 


If I am a new student starting in fall 2021 and I am not able to arrive in the U.S. by the start of the fall 2021 semester, how will this impact my eligibility for CPT/OPT?

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 Fall 2021 semester then you will need to complete at least the Spring 2022 and Fall 2022 semesters before you meet those eligibility requirements. Please contact the ISSC for more information.

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/fall 2021 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 outside the U.S.?

No. You must be physically present in the U.S. at the time you file 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 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.

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

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. 

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

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.

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. 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.

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.

Is SEVP allowing any flexibility in the required hours worked while on OPT?

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.

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.  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

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. 

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.

My J-2 dependent child’s school may resume in-person or hybrid instruction and there are some possible options for my child to receive instruction from home. To accommodate this, am I able to engage in my program remotely?

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?

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.

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. 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.

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