Disclaimer: The information and resources listed on this page should not be taken as legal advice.  If you have further questions after visiting United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)’ website, you may want to contact a licensed, legal professional knowledgeable in immigration law.

 

Winter Break International Travel & Spring 2021 Considerations

 

As Fall semester is coming to an end, many of you may really want to visit home during winter break! However, please take into consideration the following points as you plan:

Spring 2021 Online/On-site Enrollment Rules for F-1/J-1 students

  • As of November 15, 2020, SEVP (the U.S. government agency) has not issued any Spring 2021 COVID-related guidance regarding online vs on-site enrollment.  We are not sure if the current guidance that offers flexibility to F-1 students’ enrollment in Fall 2020 will be extended.
  • Many of you may feel anxious about the uncertainty, and the OIP is here to support you and will bring you the updates as soon as they are released. The guidance will be posted on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ICE COVID-19 resource page, as well as this page.

Travel

  • International travel remains uncertain as the global health situation on COVID-19 continues to evolve.  Currently, there are still restrictions for entry to the U.S. from  several countries (lower right side of page). Here are the exemptions.  This is not a final list and can change any time.  Please check the CDC and State Department sites for updates on travel restrictions and travel advisories.
  • The University requires anyone who returns from an international destination to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus.  If you still decide to travel abroad, please make sure you plan your return dates accordingly so you won’t be missing classes. (Spring 2021 classes start on Jan 25)
  • If your F-1 visa is expired, you may find it difficult to renew your visa while you are abroad as many consulates are still closed or have long processing times.

Visit this page for general international traveling reminders, including how to get a travel signature for your I-20.

The OIP urges you to consider your international travel carefully.   Please don’t hesitate to contact Janice Lin or Andrew Knox if you want to discuss your concerns about international travel plans.  We look forward to seeing you again in 2021!

If you are a current student who is outside the U.S. and will not return to Valparaiso:

  • Your SEVIS record will remain active as long as you enroll in a full course of study.
  • If you do not plan to enroll in a full course of study online (12 credits for undergrad, 9 for grad students), you must contact an International Programs staff member to discuss your options.

If you are a current or new student outside the U.S. and can return or come to Valparaiso:

  • You will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus.
  • There are no in-person enrollment requirements for current/continuing students.  You must maintain a full course of study (12 for undergraduate and 9 for graduate students).  If this is your last semester and you need fewer credits to reach graduation requirements, you can seek an exception to the full-time credit requirement.  You must file the reduced course load request on iValpo.
  • For new F-1 students coming from overseas, you will need to enroll in at least one class that has an in-person component.
  • For new J-1 students from overseas – you will NOT be allowed to come and start your new program.
  • U.S. government’s guidance on students outside the U.S. who have a change of level I-20 for new degree program is still unclear.  We will post the updates as soon as we hear of them.  ​

If you are already inside the U.S. as a current student:

  • There are no in-person enrollment requirements for current students during  Fall 2020.  You must maintain a full course of study (12 for undergraduate and 9 for graduate students).  If this is your last semester and you need fewer credits to reach graduation requirements, you can seek an exception to the full-time credit requirement.  You must file the reduced course load request on iValpo.

Clicked here for a related FAQ.

July 24, 2020

Last week we reported that the U.S. government has agreed to cancel the policy guidance released July 6-7, 2020 regarding online classes for F-1 students. Government guidance will return to the previous policy guidance issued on March 9 and 13, respectively. This March guidance was created to help schools during the Spring 2020 semester due to the pandemic in the U.S., and it assumed at that time that all course delivery was online.  Therefore, since many schools (including Valpo) are now using hybrid (in-person & online) class methods, there are currently major gaps in the guidance with regard to how it should be applied to the Fall 2020 semester.   We have been waiting for further clarification on these gaps.  Unfortunately, as of today, no update has been issued.

Based on this situation and the spirit of the regular F-1 regulations, we encourage students to make every effort to take at least one course in Fall 2020 that has an in-person component.  However, we understand this may not be possible due to limited in-person class availability.  If hybrid or in-person courses are not available to F-1 international students, or if there is a concern of health, safety, and well being, then students may take a full online course load.    

Also, please know that if the University moves to online instructions mid semester like we did in March, students will be able to continue to stay in the U.S. to complete their classes online.  In that case, you will not be asked to leave the U.S. and you will continue to have a valid F-1 student visa status.

Clicked here for a related FAQ.

 

July 15, 2020

We are pleased to report that the U.S. government has agreed to rescind the policy directive and FAQs released July 6-7, 2020, regarding Fall 2020 international enrollment in U.S. institutions of higher education.

Government guidance will return to the previous policy guidance and addendum issued on March 9 and 13, respectively.

 

Spring-Summer 2020

Click here for the latest updates on the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for reopening in August 2020 for the Fall semester.

 

February 4, 2020

Effective February 21, 2020, the new travel ban (Travel Ban 4.0) will expand visa and entry restrictions on travelers from six additional countries: Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.   However, it will not impact acquisition of nonimmigrant visas such like F, J, and H and it will not impact admission to the U.S. under those visa categories.  Travel Ban 3.0 continues in effect on certain citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia.

 

August 12, 2019

USCIS announces a final rule that clearly defines long-standing public charge inadmissibility law to better ensure that foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in the U.S. are self-sufficient and rely on their own resources of family members, sponsors, and private organizations rather than on public resources.

 

July 24, 2019

SEVP has begun conducting on-site inspections of F-1 STEM OPT employment.   The site visit will verify employer compliance with STEM OPT regulations and with Form I-983 training plans.  Companies with F-1 students on STEM OPT should be prepared for a potential site visit.

 

 

May 28, 2019 

  • The SEVIS fees which all F-1 & J-1 student & scholars must pay upon receiving a new I-20/DS-2019 record will go up on June 24, 2019.  For F-1 students with an I-20, the fee will increase from $200 to $350, and for J-1 students or scholars, from $180 to $220.
  • See this link for the official update from the Department of Homeland Security.