COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs are intended for current International Students. For information about housing, dining, and other general student concerns, please visit the COVID-19 FAQs page. For general information and/or updates on COVID-19, visit the JSU Coronavirus website.

Please check the website and your JSU email frequently for updates; JSU leadership is monitoring this quickly changing situation and taking appropriate actions to adapt in ways to protect the University community.  

Fall 2021 Guidance for Returning International Students

Since JSU is re-opening in the fall and will be adopting a hybrid model, i.e., a mixture of online and in-person classes, all international students will be required to return to campus in Fall 2021.

You will need to maintain full-time hours and maintain a physical presence on campus. 

For undergraduates 9 of the 12 credit hours must be hybrid/in-person. For graduates 6 of the 9 credit hours must be hybrid/in-person. The remaining courses can be 100% online.

When you purchase your flight ticket to return home in December, we strongly recommend that you select flexible options so that you are able to return home earlier, in case the university must close its normal operation in Fall 2021, if there is a resurgence of COVID-19.

Students are required to return to campus before the start of classes, which is August 18, 2021. If you are a new student, you must arrive on campus before August 12, 2021, in order to participate in the mandatory, Gamecock Orientation.  

You will need to maintain full time hours and maintain a physical presence on campus. 

For undergraduates 9 of the 12 credit hours must be hybrid/in-person. 

For graduates 6 of the 9 credit hours must be hybrid/in-person. The remaining courses can be 100% online.

When you purchase your flight ticket to return home in December, we strongly recommend that you select flexible options so that you are able to return home earlier, in case the university must shift to entirely online classes in Fall 2021, if there is a resurgence of COVID-19.

If you are unable to travel back to JSU by the start date of Fall 2021, you must enroll in the correct number of hybrid/in-person credits and work with your instructors to see if you can arrive late. You must arrive no later than August 24, 2021.

For undergraduates 9 of the 12 credit hours must be hybrid/in-person. For graduates 6 of the 9 credit hours must be hybrid/in-person. The remaining courses can be 100% online.

You will need a letter from our office approving your late arrival.  We will need approval by signature from each instructor of your fall classes, permitting you to arrive late, before we can issue the letter. 

If you are unable to travel back to JSU for in-person classes, you may enroll in online classes. As long as you are maintaining full time course-load of online classes this Fall 2021, your SEVIS (I-20) record will stay active.

Please complete the form to let us know your decision.

If you are unable to travel back to JSU for in-person classes, and you are unable to enroll in online classes. Your I-20 will be terminated for a semester break. When you are ready to return in Spring 2022, you will have two options:

Option 1. Reactivate your current I-20: You will need to make a request for reactivation by emailing us at enichols@jsu.edu and providing a copy of your return flight ticket. Our office will then make a request to the SEVP center to reactivate the I-20. It will take 15 -30 days for the SEVP center to process the request. Sometimes it may take longer. You will need to receive your I-20 with a new date and travel signature on it to travel. 

Option 2.  Issuance of new I-20: If reactivation is not approved in time, we can issue a new I-20. You will need to provide us with your current bank statement and scholarship letter. You will need to pay a SEVIS fee on the new I-20.

If you would rather not wait for reactivation and want a new I-20, you will need to email us at intlprog@jsu.edu  and provide us with your current bank statement and scholarship letter. 

Please complete the form to let us know that you will not be returning to campus this Fall 2021.

  • Please note that issuance of a new I-20 will reset your status to that of a new student. This could impact your ability to pursue OPT and CPT right away. You could be subjected to completion of 1 academic year requirement to pursue OPT and CPT opportunities.

  • If you have a scholarship and/or assistantship, please check with your department on how your decision will impact your eligibility to continue your scholarship and/or assistantship. 

  • If you have a scholarship from your government/embassy, please check with them on how your decision will impact your eligibility to continue your scholarship. 

Immigration

Starting the in Fall 2021 semester, JSU will be returning to regular enrollment regulations. 

For undergraduates 9 of the 12 credit hours must be hybrid/in-person. For graduates 6 of the 9 credit hours must be hybrid/in-person. The remaining courses can be 100% online.

If the university decides to go all online, we will amend the requirement based on SEVP guidance. 

If you plan on enrolling in online classes this fall, while you are residing in your country (outside of the United States), you will need to notify us. 

Please complete the form to let us know your decision.

If you leave the US before completing your degree, you would not be eligible to apply for OPT outside the United States. Therefore, if this is your graduating semester and to keep your I-20 active, you must remain in the United States to be eligible for an OPT application.

Our office does not advise OPT students to travel unless they have job offer letter and Employment Authorization card. Please be aware of the risks that are involved with traveling while your OPT is pending after your I-20 ends. Refer to the OPT information on your portal for travel information. 

You cannot return to the U.S. on an expired I-20 or DS-2019. You must apply for extension before your departure and make sure to take extended I-20 or DS-2019 before you leave the country.

If you leave the U.S. and your visa will have expired by the date you wish to re-enter the U.S., then you will need to obtain a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you can re-enter the U.S. 

No, you will not be able to return to the U.S. on an expired visa. You will have to either wait for the U.S. Embassy in your country to resume its operation or you will need to travel to another country where the U.S. Embassy may be in operation.

You can go to the website and check their operation hours or any closing notice. If you are not able to find information on their webpage, you can send them an email. Emails are generally listed on their website. https://www.usembassy.gov/

If you leave the U.S. and your visa will have expired by the date you wish to re-enter the U.S., then you will need to obtain a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you can re-enter the U.S.

If you are not able to return in fall, you can enroll in all online classes or take leave of absence. Leave of absence will result in issuance of new initial I20. This means you may need to complete two semesters after your return in order to qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). You are recommended to contact our office for further guidance if needed. 

Immigration regulations clarify that students may reenter the U.S. after a temporary absence of no more than five months. An exception to this rule exists for students who are enrolled in approved full-time study abroad. An exception to this rule also exists for students who will be taking full time course-load of online classes this Fall 2021 with permission from our office. Please contact our office if you are planning on being out of the country for and extended period of time. 

If your visa has expired, you may stay in the U.S. provided your I-20 or DS-2019 is still valid and you are maintaining your status as a student. 

You have three options:

1)     Remain in the U.S. and apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) (for F-1 students) or Academic Training (for J-1 students).

2)     Remain in the U.S. during the grace period after your program end date (which you can find on your I-20 or DS-2019). The grace period is 60 days for F-1 students and 30 days for J-1 students.

3)     Pursue another degree in the JSU campus and/or transfer (if eligible) your SEVIS record to another institution. 

Yes, all international students, scholars, and their families are required to report any change of residential address in the U.S., within 10 days. Please report address changes to the Office of International House & Programs within 10 days. You need to use international student portal to report your new address.  

Travel

All JSU sponsored international travel is cancelled until further notice. Personal travel is not affected by this notice. If you plan on travelling back to your home country, we ask that  international students carefully consider the potential impact of international travel over the break.  If you do choose to travel, please ensure that you have an up-to-date travel signature and that you keep up-to-date on travel advisories and warnings. Here are some links you can refer to:

www.cdc.gov

www.dhs.gov

https://www.state.gov/

Grace Period

  • You have 60 days to remain in the US after OPT ends.
  • You may not work during the grace period. 

If your field of study is one that DHS considers to be science, technology, engineering or mathematics you may be eligible for OPT STEM extension.

To find out if your field of study is listed as a STEM Designated Degree Program, please review the STEM Designated Degree Program List.

If your field of study does not qualify for extension (STEM), your options after Post completion OPT are as follow:

Option 1: Change of Status

  • You may file for change of status any time during OPT.
  • Change of status must be completed before the end of 60 days grace period

Option 2: Transfer

  • SEVIS record must be transferred before the end of 60 days grace period.
  • Must follow transfer out process with JSU.
  • OPT ends as soon as SEVIS record is transferred

Option 3: Change of Level

  • Must be admitted by JSU Admissions, submit a new financial document. New I-20 must be created before the end of 60 days grace period.

Option 4: Return to your home country

  • If you do not plan on pursuing any of the options above, you must make proper arrangements to return to your home country and depart the U.S. by the end of your 60 days Grace Period.
  • SEVP recognizes that some students may find it difficult to return home during the COVID-19 emergency because of diminished travel options. Students in this situation are encouraged to assess options for alternative study arrangements during this time. You should also report any material information related to your inability to leave the country due to COVID-19 to our office. Please report information to ckhadka@jsu.edu
  • Reference: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/2020/04/covid-19-resources-update-to-faqs-0

In an abundance of caution, our office is suggesting that international students carefully consider the potential impact of international travel over the break.  If you do choose to travel, please ensure that you have an up-to-date travel signature and that you keep up-to-date on travel advisories and warnings. Here are some links you can refer to: 

www.cdc.gov

www.dhs.gov

https://www.state.gov/

If you decide to travel, please continually evaluate local conditions at your intended destination. Because the situation is fluid, there is a possibility that any country you visit may decide to implement new or different restrictions while you are outside the U.S.  Additionally, there may be flight cancellations and additional quarantine measures or restricted re-entry on the date you intend to return to the U.S.

While international students are currently able to depart the U.S., the current suspension of visa services and travel restrictions for certain countries may create a situation in which some students cannot return to the U.S. as expected. If a travel restriction limits your ability to continue full-time enrollment in a future semester, this may have an impact on your SEVIS record and your continued lawful status. Feel free to contact our office to discuss your specific situation for any questions related to online registration, maintaining continued status, or requesting a leave of absence (if needed). We can work together with your academic department to resolve these matters. 

As of now, airport pick-up shuttle schedule for November and December has not been cancelled. If any cancellation occurs, we will notify you. Given the circumstances, we recommend you to have a contingency plan to get to the campus.

Other

If your employer is planning to register or has already registered you for the H-1B lottery, please consult your employer and their immigration counsel before you make any international travel plans. The Office of International House & Programs cannot answer travel related questions regarding your H-1B petition sponsored by your employer.

If you applied to become Lawful permanent resident status in the U.S., consult an immigration attorney regarding international travel.

You should first check JSU’s COVID-19 Information page (http://www.jsu.edu/coronavirus/index.html).  

Please report to the Student Health Center immediately (http://www.jsu.edu/studenthealth/).

Study Abroad

All international study abroad programs have been canceled until further notice.  All domestic study away programs must be re-evaluated.  If you planned to go on a domestic study away program, please contact the faculty leader or sponsoring department for further information.