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COVID-19

Important Disclaimer: As an international student, the maintenance of your legal status is ultimately your responsibility. It is your responsibility to understand and follow the rules and regulations that govern your status and visa (e.g., 8 CFR § 214.2(f)). The Office of Global Engagement (“GE”) and International Student & Scholar Services provide support and information related to U.S. immigration laws and regulations related to F and J status at Utah State University but are not ultimately responsible for your status and visa. GE and ISSS staff are not attorneys and any information provided by GE and ISSS should not be construed as legal advice. Individuals are welcome to consult a qualified immigration attorney for specific legal advice, particularly in complicated cases.

Helpful Resources
  • SNAC – Student Nutrition Access Center (Visit the website for details and procedures)
    • Hours: Tuesday through Thursday: 1:00-5:00 PM. Friday: 12:00-5:00 PM.
    • In person changes include: one person in the pantry at a time, asking volunteers to grab items, wiping down cans, etc.
    • Order online for pick-up or delivery: https://form.jotform.com/200786504000039
      • Pick-up orders in the University Inn parking lot. Parking is free.
      • Deliveries usually made within 24 hours of your order.
  • Reporting Discrimination or Harassment
    • We do not tolerate hostility or harassment on our campus. If you or someone you know may be experiencing incidents of bigotry or discrimination because of your ethnicity during this COVID-19 pandemic, contact President Cockett and/or Michelle Bogdan-Holt, Inclusion Center Director.
    • President Cockett sent an email directly to international students, check your email for “Message from President Cockett.” 
  • Global Engagement Hours
    • Our office will be open from 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM Monday through Friday for document pick-up and drop-off.
Other Helpful Resources

Travel

The November 26, 2021 Presidential Proclamation suspends entry into the USA  of noncitizens who were physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their attempted entry: 
  • Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe
  • There are no National Interest Exceptions for students traveling from/ through these countries. 

“The White House announced that vaccines will be required for international travelers coming into the United States, with an effective date of November 8, 2021. For purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines." More information is available here.
 
The CDC requires all travelers flying to or transiting through the U.S. from international destinations, including U.S. citizens, to provide proof of either a negative COVID-19 test within the last three days or documentation of recovery from COVID-19. Visit the CDC website for more information.



Are you thinking of traveling?

We strongly encourage you schedule an appointment with your immigration advisor to discuss the possible ramifications of travel at this time. Any travel undertaken at this juncture is done so at your own risk and the risk of your status as COVID-19 continues to impact travel restrictions and return flights.
  • Check the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory webpage for travel advisories for the destination countries. Enter the name of the country for information. Be sure to read the full travel advisory, which has links to the CDC Health Notice.
    • We strongly recommend following the link to the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for the latest on entry/exit/in-country restrictions, advisories, required testing (and fees), etc.
  • Check with your home country government or the airlines to determine what restrictions may be in place.
  • Be sure the embassy is open and has available appointments if you intend to renew your visa. There are limited services at this time. 
  • Visit the Embassy of the destination country in the U.S. for more information on COVID-19  for arriving and departing passengers.
  • Review the CDC international travel webpage
  • Make sure the travel signature on your Form I-20, DS-2019 is valid. Submit the “Request Travel Signature” form in the ISSS Portal if it needs to be updated. 
    • Also, carry a printed copy of your class schedule.
Refer to these resources before arranging travel plans.
·       Travel restrictions into the USA (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html)
·       U.S. Department of State (https://travel.state.gov)https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html
·       Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices)
·       U.S. Customs and Border Protection (https://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-gohttps://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry;                      https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/coronavirus) for travel restrictions and health notices, as well as specific port-of-entry screening processes

 
Assure you have the following before you travel: 
  • A travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 
  • Print out the email from your DSO regarding your electronic Form I-20 and the Form I-20 if you are traveling with this document
  • Less than one year by the time you re-enter the U.S.A., or less than 6 months if you are on Optional Practical Training (OPT)  
    • Need a new travel signature? Request this through the ISSS Portal. Be sure to request the travel signature in advance 
  • Program end date on I-20 or DS-2019 is a future date 
    • Refer to Employment Authorization Document end date if on OPT 
  • Your SEVIS record needs to be active regardless of the dates on these documents 
  • Passport and visa with end date beyond the time you will re-enter the U.S.A. 
    • Assure the visa has “M” marked under “Entries” as this allows for multiple entries 
      • “S” indicates a single (one-time) entry on the visa 
  •  A printed copy of your class schedule. The Customs and Border Patrol agency informed us border patrol officials do not want to see images on a phone or other electronic device.

Be sure to hand-carry these items and not put them in your checked baggage. 
 
Download your new I-94 form and share it with us once you return to assure you are admitted in the correct visa status (do not email to protect personally identifiable information). 
 

I want to return to my home country. Is there anything I should do before I leave?
  • Be sure to communicate with all of your professors before you decide to leave the country. There may be some instances which maintain face-to-face interaction e.g. labs.
  • Verify the travel signature is dated < 1 year from the time you intend to return to the USA.
    • Complete the form on the ISSS Portal if need new travel signature.
  • Assure your visa is valid beyond your intended return date. Check to be sure the embassy is open and has available appointments if you intend to renew your visa as there are limited services at this time. 
  • Students out of the country for > 5 months will need to be able to explain to the border patrol office why they were outside of the country for an extended period (in this case, classes were moved to online format due to COVID-19 concerns).
    • "CBP looks at the totality of an application, which includes but is not limited to the institution the students are attending (semester vs. quarter), the length of absence from the US, the reason for the leave, and other documents the students present. There would not be an automatic determination of inadmissibility just because the students have been outside of the US for more than 5 months. Again, CBP looks at the big picture. Of course, the SEVIS record must be up-to-date, the I-20 must be signed, and the student’s visa must still be valid. However, as long as student’s documents are in order, they should be able to reenter the US. If such students do have a new visa, it may facilitate entry because it would indicate the students have passed the scrutiny by a sister agency before the application for admission to the US. But CBP does not require them to apply for and receive a new visa if the one that they have is still valid."

What if I am unable to leave the USA during the grace period after my program end date due to cancellation of flights or closure of the borders to inbound flights for my home country?
  • Contact your government embassy in the USA to determine what assistance they are offering to its citizens.
  • Document any inability to return to your home country. Schedule a meeting with your primary immigration adviser to explore alternate options to maintain status while in the USA e.g. apply for Optional Practical Training.


Will I be able to return to the USA?

  • Travel restrictions to the USA are noted on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html
  • Additionally, your home country may have restrictions on individuals departing the country. Check with your home country government or the airlines to determine what restrictions may be in place. We are seeing an increase in testing requirements, check with your airline.


I left the country and am unable to return for the next semester. What happens now?
If you are unable to return for the next semester:

  • Complete the Departure record if you continue to enroll in classes at USU while outside the USA. 
  • Complete the Leave of Absence record if you do not intend to enroll in classes. We will terminate your program for authorized early withdrawal. We can provide you a new I-20 to continue your program in another semester. This will have a new SEVIS ID number, and you will need to pay a new I-901 fee. This will also limit your Optional Practical Training period if you do not enroll for at least 2 academic semesters upon return to USU.

Registration


Spring 2022 Enrollment

Students must return to the USU campus for the Spring 2022 semester.
  • We will have to terminate SEVIS records for authorized early withdrawal for those who do not return to study courses face to face.
  • Students with a terminated SEVIS record should contact internationalstudents@usu.edu when they are ready to return to the USU campus.
  • Remember, your SEVIS record must be active for at least a full academic year to be eligible to apply for OPT. 
Students can only count 3 credits of online/ web broadcast courses towards the full course of study requirement.
  • Undergraduate students need to enroll in at least 12 credits (of which 3 can be online)
  • Graduate students need to enroll in at least 9 credits (of which 3 can be online)
    • Graduate students with an assistantship need to enroll in at least 6 credits (of which 3 can be online)
    • Graduate students who have completed all coursework (except for thesis or dissertation credits) or are in their defense semester should submit the Full Time at 3 Credits form if they are not registering for the credit loads indicated in the previous bullet points

OPT

OPT Is the U.S. government making accommodations for students on OPT who are unable to work remotely?
  • Students on OPT who have a job and cannot work remotely continue to be counted as employed as long as similarly situated U.S. workers in the area of employment are also not working due to COVID-19. Any additional days you take off after the emergency will count toward unemployment.
  • Federal regulations indicate you must work at least 20 hours/ week to meet the employment requirement: "A student may not engage in practical training for less than 20 hours per week, excluding time off taken consistent with leave-related policies applicable to the employer’s similarly situated U.S. workers in the area of employment."
Can I extend the unemployment period due to the COVID-19 crisis? I’m approaching the end of my 90-day unemployment period and still haven’t found a job.
  • There is no mechanism to stop the unemployment clock at this point.
  • Our professional organization sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asking for further accommodations, including not counting unemployment days during the current crisis. We can only hope DHS responds soon approving these recommendations. 
Can the validity period of my OPT be extended due to COVID-19? Currently I am working from home due to the threat from the virus. Is there anything I need to do update my SEVIS record?
  • Report on any changes to your Optional Practical Training due to disruptions related to COVID-19. If you are working from home due to COVID-19, request electronic communication from your employer authorizing your need to remote/telework from home to document your request. Any changes must be reported within 10 business days    
    • You can report these updates using this form.
      • In this application you will submit the required documentation needed to support your telework authorization. When submitted, our team will review your request and make the proper notations on your record in the SEVIS, Student Exchange Visitor Information System. 

Housing


On Campus Housing

On campus housing questions? Email info@housing.usu.edu

Off Campus Housing

Students will need to make their own arrangements

Lodging and local info can be found at the Cache Valley Tourism Bureau.  Alternative options may be available through AirBnB.

Travel Guidelines


Upon Return from Travel Guidelines

In accordance with CDC guidance, we will not require those traveling from international destinations to quarantine upon arrival. However, students will need to be tested once they arrived on campus within the first 10 days of the semester. For more information visit: https://www.usu.edu/today/story/usu-to-test-students-returning-to-campus-for-spring-semester

All travelers should monitor their health on a daily basis for COVID-19 symptoms for at least 14 days after returning from travel. If the traveler comes into close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, they must quarantine for 14 days If the traveler begins to show symptoms of the virus, they must stay home and away from others. Anyone showing symptoms should be be tested. In either case, the traveler should immediately submit a COVID-19 Questionnaire.