ISSS COVID-19 FAQ

Travel Questions

1. What are current restrictions on travel to the United States, related to COVID-19?

Travel from Brazil, China and Iran

Most foreign nationals in Brazil, China, and Iran are currently not permitted entry to the United States if you were present in those countries within 14 days before your arrival.

Travel from Schengen Area of Europe, United Kingdom, Ireland

There is also an entry restriction for travelers who arrive from the Schengen Area of Europe, Ireland and the UK, however, F-1 and J-1 students are eligible for a National Interest Exception and may travel to the U.S. with a valid visa, without advance permission. J-1 visiting scholars, however,  must request a written national interest exception from the U.S. embassy where you are located before you travel to the U.S. If you are applying for the J-1 visa, this National Interest Exception will presumably be granted with your visa. If you already have a valid visa, you should email the U.S. embassy or consulate where you are located to request the National Interest Exception for travel.

Travel from Canada and Mexico (Land/Sea borders)

U.S./Canada/Mexico land and sea border crossings: only essential travel is permitted between U.S. and Canada, or U.S. and Mexico border crossings. Travel to attend an educational institution or to work is considered essential travel under the proclamation. More information on entering the U.S. from Canada. More information on entering U.S. from Mexico. This restriction does not currently apply to air travel, though it does apply to travel by train or ferry.

More information can be found on the webpages for the U.S. Embassies and Consulates located in these countries, as well as the U.S. Center for Disease Control webpage, information for travelers from specific countries.

2. What if I am traveling from a country not subject to entry restriction, and my flight transits a country that is subject to entry restrictions?

 If your flight transits through Brazil, China, Iran, a country that is part of the Schengen Area of Europe, United Kingdom, or Ireland, then ISSS recommends that you send an email to the U.S. embassy or consulate where you are located, to ask if a National Interest Exception is required to transit through that country. Provide your visa type (F-1 or F-2 student/dependent, or J-1/J-2 exchange visitor/dependent) and the flight date and itinerary in your email. Most embassies list an email address or a contact form on their website.

 

3. I’m traveling to Connecticut from another U.S. state, or internationally. What are my quarantine requirements? What should I expect at the airport?

The University requires all students living on campus to follow University quarantine rules. Students who live off campus must follow university rules for testing before you come to campus.

Quarantine and arrival rules are established by individual U.S. states. Check the latest rules for travelers to Connecticut on this webpage, and be sure to check again before you depart, as requirements change frequently. Travelers who arrive from Affected States and Affected Countries  (those considered to be high risk for COVID-19)  must complete a travel form, and must either quarantine for 14 days after arrival or submit proof of negative COVID test within that 14 day period to break quarantine early. You may also submit proof of a negative test taken in the 72 hours before travel. The required travel form can be completed online.

Note that question #21 in the FAQ on this webpage pertains to international students traveling to campus from outside the U.S. Affected countries are defined as those countries designated as Level 3 or higher by the Center for Disease control. The full list of Level 3 countries can be found here. Question #7 in the FAQ defines quarantine expectations for the state of Connecticut (where you can and cannot go during quarantine). Remember, if you live on campus, you will also be subject to campus quarantine requirements.

4. Can I fulfill my Connecticut quarantine requirements in another U.S. state?

Unless you are specifically mandated to quarantine in your arrival state, we suggest that you travel on to Connecticut directly from your airport before starting your quarantine, if arriving at an airport out-of-state.

If you decide to quarantine in a different U.S. state before coming to Connecticut, then you would still be subject to Connecticut's quarantine requirement after arriving in Connecticut, if that state is on the current list of Affected States.  Even if the state where you are located is not currently on Connecticut's Affected State list, it could be added to Connecticut's list while you are there.  This is a risk that you must be comfortable with, if you decide to stay first in another U.S. state before traveling to Connecticut. Also, if you will stay in another state first, you will need to learn that state's arrival/quarantine requirements.

 

 

5. Do I have to quarantine in a special facility?

No, the state of Connecticut allows you to quarantine at your own residence. There is no mandated place or government facility where arrived travelers must quarantine.

 

 

6. Where can I learn about the University’s reopening plan and campus health requirements?

Learn about the University's Reopening Plan, as well as information specific to academics and living on-campus, here.

Students who will live on-campus can refer to the University's Res Life FAQ for Spring 2021, and contact livingoncampus@uconn.edu with any questions.

More resources and information on University testing and quarantine can also be found on the  Student Health and Wellness website for COVID-19.

 

 

7. I will soon leave the U.S., or have already left the U.S. How do I get a travel signature to return?

All current students, OPT participants and Academic Training participants: submit a Travel Information Record to ISSS to request your travel signature and report your international travel. Do not bring your paper I-20 form or DS-2019 to ISSS, just submit the request through the online portal.

F-1 and F-2 students: You will receive an email from ISSS with travel advising. You will also receive a second email notifying you that your form is ready to download from the ISSS Portal. After you retrieve your I-20 form with travel signature, you can print it and sign it. The travel signature issued electronically by your Designated School Official will be valid for your return for up to 12 months.

J-1 and J-2 students: Form DS-2019s must still be issued as paper documents with wet signatures. You will receive an email from ISSS when your document is ready for pick-up or mailing.  

Visiting Scholars: Submit a Travel Signature request through the Scholar/Employee Portal. Login with your email address and password (do not use your NetID to login). More information here. Form DS-2019s must still be issued as paper documents with wet signatures. You will receive an email from ISSS when your document is ready for pick-up or mailing.  

 

8. What documents will I need to come back to the U.S.?

You need a Form I-20 (F visa holders), or a Form DS-2019 (J visa holders), with a valid travel signature. A travel signature must have been issued on your form by an ISSS staff member within the 12 months before your return to the U.S. For example, if you are returning to the U.S. on January 1, 2021, your travel signature must have been issued no earlier than January 1, 2020. If you are on post-completion OPT, your travel signature should not be older than 6 months when you return.

You also need an unexpired F or J visa (unless you are from Canada) and a passport valid at least 6 months into the future. 

Your SEVIS record must be in ACTIVE status to return. You will receive an email from ISSS if your SEVIS record is not in active status. If you are following all visa rules and studying on a full time basis (even online), your SEVIS status should remain active.

In addition, you may not have been present in any of the countries subject to current entry restrictions to the U.S. in the 14 days prior to arriving in the U.S. These include Brazil, China, Iran, UK and Ireland, and Schengen area countries of Europe, unless you have a national interest exception. F-1 students are automatically considered eligible for a national interest exception, as long as you have a valid visa, to travel from Schengen area countries of Europe, the UK and Ireland. J-1 exchange visitors need to apply for a national interest exception from the consulate, even with a valid visa.  

9. My visa will expire before I return to the U.S. Will I be able to renew it?

At this time, visa services are very limited. The U.S. Department of State has announced a phased reopening of visa services.  

If it is not clear from the website whether visas are being processed, you can email or call the embassy/consulate, or you might try to set up an appointment after completing your DS-160 visa application form (beware-even if you schedule an appointment, it may be cancelled in the future). 

You can find U.S. visa processing information by country in the website https://www.ustraveldocs.com/ , or by visiting the website for the embassy/consulate nearest you: https://www.usembassy.gov/ .

You can also check on the current wait time for visa appointments, by consular post: Visa Appointment Wait Times.

Getting Help and Documents from ISSS

1. Is the ISSS office open?

 ISSS in Storrs reopened on a part time basis for Fall 2020 semester. We are open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9 am-12 pm, and 1 pm-4 pm.  Even though we are open, most advising services are still conducted remotely. You can meet with your advisor for appointments through video chat.  Our "drop in" advising is provided virtually through web chat, Monday-Friday from 1:30 - 3:30 pm. Our front desk is open for document pick-up and procedural questions.  Advising staff will not be present in the office to answer questions - please use the virtual services to connect with an ISSS advisor.

ISSS offices at other campuses are closed for Fall 2020 semester.

You can request most immigration updates through the ISSS website. The government is still allowing schools to issue I-20 documents with electronic signatures, and we plan to continue issuing most documents electronically. We are still issuing paper forms for documents that accompany applications reviewed by USCIS, like I-20s for OPT, Change of Status, or Reinstatement applications, and all J-1 DS-2019 forms.  These forms are mailed to students, or can be picked up at ISSS in Storrs.

2. How can I get text message alerts from ISSS?

F and J visa students (not scholars) who would like to receive text alerts from ISSS on their U.S. phone number should update the SMS Text Number field in your ISSS Portal profile. We do not have this option for visiting scholars at this time.

 Visit https://isssportal.uconn.edu/

Click “Login” in the upper right corner

Select “F-1/J-1 NetID Login” and Login with your NetID and PW.

On your User Homepage, Click on the “Edit Profile” button in the Profile Section with your SEVIS ID and Photo.

Enter “SMS (mobile text) Phone Number” and select mobile carrier. 

Click “Update”

3. How can I talk to an ISSS advisor?

By email: Send your questions to international@uconn.edu and they will be routed to your ISSS advisor for response.  

By appointment: Advisors are available to meet with their assigned students/scholars by video-chat or phone appointments. Schedule your appointment by following these instructions. Not sure who your advisor is? Check this list.

By Chat/Messenger: ISSS advisors are available Monday - Friday afternoons, EST between 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm.  Visit isss.uconn.edu and click on the blue and yellow "Let's Chat" icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.    The "Let's Chat" icon will only be available during ISSS Chat Advising hours. 

4. How can I review my scanned immigration documents in the ISSS Portal?

F-1/J-1 Students: Visit isssportal.uconn.edu and click "Log In".  Students should log in with your NetID and password. 

 

From your user home page, click on your "Academic Objective" on the left-hand side.  

 

Scroll down to "Attached Documents". You can see copies of all the documents issued by ISSS in your academic objective within 1-2 weeks after we have processed your update.

 

J-1 Visiting Scholars: Visit the UConn Scholar/Employee Portal.  

Log in with your email and Scholar Portal password (NOT your UConn NetID).  

 

Click on the "Documents" tab on the top of the page. Click on "Other" on the left hand side.

 

You can see copies of all the documents issued by ISSS in the SEVIS Profile within 1-2 weeks after we have processed your update. 

General Resources

1. How can I get food or groceries delivered to my room/apartment?

Many restaurants are offering home delivery of food. The Hartford Courant maintains a searchable list of restaurants that are now offering takeout and delivery. In the UConn Storrs area, this webpage lists dining to go/delivery options from downtown Storrs.  Restaurant/takeout delivery services like Yamifun, Ubereats, Hungrybutton, DoorDash and Grubhub are other options.

Some grocery stores also offer delivery options, either through their own delivery service such as Stop n Shop Peapod, or by partnering with Instacart. Students and scholars can also create an Instacart account for grocery delivery through any of the partnering stores. In the Storrs area, Instacart offers free delivery from Aldi, Big Y, Stop & Shop, Price Chopper, Staples (school supplies), and CVS Pharmacy (toiletries, personal care). You can input your zipcode to the website/app for delivery options outside of Storrs.

2. Why do fewer people in the United States wear face masks when protect themselves from getting sick or spreading illness?

You may have noticed that it is not very common in the U.S. for people to wear a face mask in public. This has changed significantly since COVID-19 emerged here, and mask-wearing became the rule in many public settings. Some in U.S. culture though are still resistant to mask-wearing, for a variety of reasons.

One reason for this is the U.S. government has not promoted face masks to the general public as a way to reduce the spread of illness. Face masks have traditionally been worn only within the medical environment, in part to ensure hospitals have adequate supply, or by those who are ill. Different countries worldwide have very different cultural approaches to public health, and although it may not be common here, it is very common in other countries. If you want to wear a mask to protect yourself from illness, please know that you have every right to wear one, and try not to let social or cultural pressure prevent you from doing so.

3. How can I file my U.S. and state tax return?

The deadline to file your U.S. federal tax return and CT state tax return on income earned in 2019 was July 15. If you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes, you can request an access code to use the web based Sprintax software to prepare your federal tax return for free. Email international@uconn.edu to request your tax code. Please wait at least one week to receive your code. You can also use Sprintax to prepare any required state tax forms, at a cost. 

Visit the ISSS webpage on tax resources  to learn more about your tax forms and filing options.  

4. Are international students and scholars eligible for a stimulus check through the CARES Act?

Some international students and scholars may be eligible to receive the payment. It depends on your tax filing status - whether you are a resident alien for tax purposes, or a nonresident alien.  UConn has a resource to determine your tax filing status, here.

The IRS has published guidance on who is eligible to receive the stimulus check, and what to do if you received it in error. According to the IRS, resident aliens for tax purposes may receive the stimulus payment.

Q. Does someone who is a resident alien qualify for the payment? (Added May 6,2020)

A person who is a non-resident alien in 2020 is not eligible for the Payment. A person who is a qualifying resident alien with a valid SSN is eligible for the Payment only if he or she is a qualifying resident alien in 2020 and could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer for 2020. Aliens who received a Payment but are not qualifying resident aliens for 2020 should return the Payment to the IRS.

If you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes, you are not eligible to receive the stimulus check, and you should follow the steps below to return the check or payment if you received it in error:

Q. What should I do to return an Economic Impact Payment (EIP)? (Added May 6, 2020)

You should return the payment as described below.

 

If the payment was a paper check:

1.       Write "Void" in the endorsement section on the back of the check.

2.       Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.

3.       Don't staple, bend, or paper clip the check.

4.       Include a note stating the reason for returning the check. 

 

If the payment was a paper check and you have cashed it, or if the payment was a direct deposit:

1.       Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.

2.       Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (social security number, or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.

3.       Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the EIP.

Addresses for mailing the paper check can be found on this website, under the question about returning the payment. 

More information can also be found on the Sprintax blog.

5. Who do I contact with financial questions?

For questions about your fee bill, contact bursar@uconn.edu.

Information for Current and Continuing Students

1. Can I take all online classes if I’m in the United States?

At this time, most active students are permitted to take your classes fully online, fully in-person, or through a mixture of online and in-person classes, and maintain your visa status, as long as you are a full-time student.

UCAELI students however must take the full in-person UCAELI curriculum, if you are in the United States. Also, if you are funded by a non-UConn scholarship, you should check with your scholarship provider if there is a limit on how many online courses they will pay for.

Full time for undergraduate students is at least 12 credits.

Full time for graduate students is at least 9 credits (or 6 credits if you have a Graduate Assistantship, or a 3 credit GRAD course defined as full time).

Full time for JD students is at least 12 credits.

If you are approved by ISSS to take a Reduced Course Load, you can be a part-time student and maintain your active visa status.

  

2. Can I take all online courses from my home country?

Yes, if the courses you want to take are offered online, this option is possible.

Classes listed as Online as the instruction mode are offered asynchronous, meaning you can participate at any time of day. Courses listed as Distance Learning are also taught online, but require real-time participation in the course.

ISSS will keep your I-20 active as long as you enroll on a full time basis. If you prefer to study part-time, we will terminate your SEVIS record, which means you are no longer restricted by student visa rules. You must request a new I-20 to return, which will have a new program start date and new SEVIS number, in order to return. Submit the I-20 Request form for Current/Returning Students on this web page (Option 2).

If you will study part-time and you qualify for Reduced Course Load authorization, ISSS can give you authorization to study on a part-time basis, AND keep your SEVIS record/I-20 active. Contact ISSS for more information.

 

3. Can I study part time if I am not in the United States?

If you prefer to study on a part-time basis while outside the U.S., please notify ISSS at international@uconn.edu. We will terminate your SEVIS record, which means you are no longer restricted by student visa rules. You must request a new I-20 to return, which will have a new program start date and new SEVIS number, in order to return. Submit the I-20 Request form for Current/Returning Students on this web page (Option 2).

If you will study part-time and you qualify for Reduced Course Load authorization, ISSS can give you authorization to study on a part-time basis, AND keep your SEVIS record/I-20 active. Contact ISSS for more information.

 

4. I will finish my program from my home country. How will this impact my visa?

ISSS plans to keep your SEVIS record active if fall is your last semester, and you will study outside the U.S. This will give you more flexibility in case you need to extend your I-20, in case you don't finish as planned, or transfer your SEVIS record if you will begin a new program at a U.S. school after graduating.

Even though ISSS will keep your SEVIS record active, you may not return to the U.S. with your I-20 after you have met all your program requirements. You will also not be able to return to the U.S. after completing to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), and you cannot apply for OPT from outside the U.S.

If you will finish your degree from your home country, please submit to ISSS the Program Update - Complete/Shorten record.

 

 

5. Can international students take classes on a pass/fail basis?

Yes, international students may take courses on a Pass/Fail basis.

6. I’m an international student and will study abroad in my home country through a UConn partner institution. Will my I-20 stay active?

Yes, as long as the government guidance permits, and you study on a full time basis, ISSS will keep your SEVIS record active while you enroll as UConn students at a UConn partner institution. In Spring 2021, we will not issue updated I-20 forms to students who enroll at a UConn partner institution, like we did for Fall 2020. If you need an updated travel signature to return to the U.S., you must request that a few months before your return, by submitting a Travel Information Record to ISSS.

 

 

7. Will I have problems returning to the U.S. if I leave for more than 5 months? (5 month rule)

At this time, the "5 month rule" does not apply to students who are outside the U.S. for more than 5 months and continue to study full time each semester.  If you left in Spring or Summer, you may return using an I-20 form associated with your current SEVIS number as long as you continue to enroll full-time in fall,  and make normal progress toward degree completion.  You may use your same visa to return, as long as you return before it expires.

8. Where can I store my belongings while in my home country?

The UConn Off Campus and Commuter Student Services office website lists local storage facilities where you can rent storage space.  Some storage companies offer pick-up services as well. 

 

9. I’m interested to take a temporary break from my studies. Where can I find more information on this?

 Undergraduate Students: Refer to the Leaving UConn webpage for information about canceling or withdrawing from the University. This includes temporary leaves, which can be recorded as a Leave of Absence if you meet certain eligibility criteria.

Graduate Students: Refer to the Voluntary Separation webpage for information on the academic leave of absence process.

Leave of Absence and your I-20/DS-2019: Generally, international students cannot stay in the U.S. while on a Leave of Absence. If you will take a leave of absence, we will terminate your I-20 or end your DS-2019, and you must request a new form a few months before you will return, using the online I-20 request form for current and returning students.

 

10. I’m a graduate student working only on my dissertation. Can I return to my home country to complete my degree? Do I need to maintain my full time enrollment?

If you are returning home due to the pandemic, and you are in your final semester, we will maintain an active SEVIS record for you until your program is completed. Submit the Program Update - Complete/Shorten record to notify ISSS of your plans.

When international graduate students have more than one semester remaining and return home to complete their degree, we usually cannot keep the SEVIS record active unless you plan to enroll full time while abroad. If you will enroll part time or in a 0 credit continuous registration status, your SEVIS record is terminated for the reason of "Authorized Early Withdrawal", meaning you are ending your F-1 visa program early, although your are still an active student. This means you are no longer bound to the student visa rules.

Because you are no longer maintaining your student visa status, you will lose your U.S. OPT benefit. Also, if you need to return to campus for any academic activity tied to your UConn degree, you will need to come on a student visa, not a visitor visa. ISSS will work with you and your academic program to secure the necessary documentation for this travel.

 

 

11. I departed the U.S. What are my options if I can’t return for my next semester due to travel restrictions?

Students who are unable to return for fall semester may enroll in online courses offered by UConn.  Some undergraduate students have the opportunity to pursue home country study abroad at a UConn partner institution (contact the Education Abroad office at abroad@uconn.edu). 

If taking courses online is not a good option for you,  you may also request to take a leave of absence from your program (a temporary break). ISSS will likely not be able to keep your SEVIS record active during a Leave of Absence term.

You will need to request a new I-20, selecting the option for Current or Returning Students, at least a few months before you will return. Undergraduate students should work with the Dean of Students office to request a temporary leave of absence, and graduate students should work with the Graduate School to request a temporary Leave of Absence. Graduate students may also have the option to enroll in a continuous registration course to maintain your active academic status, but again, ISSS cannot keep your SEVIS record active for this option.  

 

12. I have an on-campus job that is authorized under F-1 On Campus Employment Authorization. Am I allowed to work from home during the pandemic? This is not “on-campus”.

Yes. The current guidelines for international students on F-1 visas permit international students who would normally work on-campus in their school employment to perform this work remotely, instead of on-campus, during the pandemic.

However, there are University restrictions on student employment performed outside the United States. Contact ISSS if you have questions about this, and we will re-direct your concern to the correct office.

 

13. I am a student who started my program online in my home country in Fall. Am I considered a new student or a current student for this FAQ?

Even though you are a current, active UConn student for academic purposes, if you have not yet arrived in the U.S. to begin your program of study, you are considered a new student for ISSS purposes. The questions in the New Student section of this FAQ are most relevant to your situation.

Information for New Students and Exchange Visitors

1. If I will come to the U.S. to begin my program in Spring 2021, what are my course enrollment requirements?

New students must enroll on a full-time basis, and at least one of those courses must be in-person or hybrid. Check the course modality listing in Student Admin when you are reviewing your course options.  Do not attempt to travel to the U.S. with your new I-20 to attend a fully online course of study.

Even with at least one in-person course, it is not guaranteed that new students will be granted visas or allowed entry for spring 2021 semester.

ISSS will not update Form I-20s to note in-person enrollment unless instructed to do so by the government. You can however print this Spring 2021 Travel Letter to bring with you to your visa appointment, and carry with you when traveling.

 

2. I have decided to begin my program online, and I have not yet requested my I-20 yet. Should I request my I-20 for the Spring 2021 or Fall 2021 term?

If you have not yet requested your Form I-20, you should request it based on the term that you plan to arrive for in-person classes. If you will do online courses from your home country, or study at a UConn partner institution (when possible) please request your I-20 for record term Fall 2021 when you log into the I-20/DS-2019 request form, assuming that you will try to arrive for Fall 2021, if circumstances allow.

The sooner your I-20 form is issued, the sooner your contact information will be added to the ISSS Listserv to receive important communications for international students.

3. I have already received my I-20 with Spring 2021 start date, but I will delay my arrival to a later term. How do I request a new I-20?

Complete this form, if you received a Form I-20/DS-2019 for Spring 2021 semester, but you will delay your arrival to UConn to a later term:  SEVIS Defer - Request to Change I-20/DS-2019 Start Date 

ISSS will issue an updated Form I-20 or DS-2019 for you with your new expected arrival date.

You will need to provide updated funding documents with this request.  Be sure to bring the updated I-20 form to your visa appointment, not the old form with inaccurate dates.

If you are an undergraduate student, please complete this form by December 7. If you are a conditionally admitted undergraduate and you are currently studying at UCAELI, you may wait until your fall plans are fully confirmed before you complete this form.

Graduate students - if you know that you will not arrive for Spring 2021, please complete this form by December 19. If you are still unsure, you can submit the form after December 19, but no later than January 19.

 

 

4. Will I be able to arrive by my program start date?

At this time, only a few U.S. consular posts and embassies worldwide are processing routine U.S. visa appointments. Also, entry restrictions are still in place for F-1 and J-1 students who are traveling from China, Iran and Brazil. 

ISSS will do our best to support you by providing you with up to date information and advice for securing a visa appointment. It is important that you maintain communications about your plans with ISSS so that we can support you.

5. I was able to book a visa appointment, but it is scheduled too late to arrive on time for Spring 21 semester. What can I do?

After you have scheduled a visa appointment, it may be possible to request an expedited appointment through the visa appointment scheduling website. The exact process is different for each consulate/embassy, so you must look at the information specific to your consular post to learn the process. You will likely need to show proof that your visa appointment date is too late for you to arrive on time for your program (for example, show your I-20 or DS-2019 form or your offer letter, if you are a Graduate Assistant). 

If your expedited visa appointment request is denied, we advise you to check the visa appointment scheduling website daily, in case new appointments open that better fit your travel schedule. 

If the embassy where you will apply for your visa is not currently scheduling any visa appointments, you will likely need to defer your arrival to a later semester.

6. By what date must I arrive for Spring semester?

New students are expected to arrive by the program start date listed on the Form I-20/DS-2019. You may also have other commitments that require you to arrive earlier than the program start date on your I-20, such as a Graduate Assistantship start date, or your scheduled on-campus move-in date. Students may arrive up to 30 days before program start date listed on the Form I-20 or DS-2019.

Some graduate students who, due to unforeseen circumstances, cannot arrive by the start date on the I-20 may request approval to arrive late. These requests will be reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis. More information can be found on the Graduate School Covid-19 FAQ for admitted students

Students who cannot arrive on time, or do not get approval to arrive late, have the following options at this time: 

-Request to defer enrollment to a later start date (contact your admission office about this)

-If your program and course offerings permit, you may be able to start courses remotely from home, and arrive to begin in-person courses the next available term. 

 

7. How does the Spring 2021 academic calendar impact my arrival?

The first two weeks of spring semester 2021 will be entirely online. This is even the case for courses that are held in-person, or on a hybrid basis. You are still required to arrive by the program start date listed on your I-20 form, or in some cases earlier, to meet other commitments.

In the first two weeks of the semester, courses will be held entirely online to allow students who live on-campus  to attend classes while completing the required two week quarantine. This also allows students who live off-campus, and who arrive just before classes begin, to start classes online while quarantining in your residence. This does not change your requirement to arrive by the program start date listed on your Form I-20 or DS-2019.

7. If I start my program remotely from outside the U.S., will this term count toward meeting my one academic year requirement toward CPT/OPT eligility?

At this time, only students who are in active SEVIS status may count their enrollment abroad toward meeting their one academic year requirement to be eligible for practical training (CPT or OPT).   

9. I’m a student who is transferring in from another U.S. school and will keep the same SEVIS number. Do I need to take at least one in person class? Can I live somewhere else in the United States and study fully online?

We do not yet know the study rules for Spring semester.  At this time, we recommend that you register for courses based on your course preferences, and consider modalities after the rules are published (you can change your schedule).

You still must take steps to report to the school by your I-20 session start date of January 19 - follow these steps to complete your reporting after you arrive to UConn. If you wish to live elsewhere in the U.S. and take a fully online course load, you still must report to the school by following these steps, and you must report your physical address to ISSS.

9. I’m a transfer-in student and I have decided to complete my first semester outside the United States. Do I need an updated Form I-20?

Yes, please submit the SEVIS Defer- Request Update to I-20/DS-2019 Start Date to request your new form.  ISSS will initially need to terminate your current SEVIS record because you will not attend UConn physically in the United States for fall semester as originally planned. This means that the transfer-pending I-20 that UConn has already sent you will not be valid for use during this time - do not take this I-20 to a visa appointment, or try to enter the U.S. with the I-20 issued for "Transfer Pending" purposes with the Fall 2020 arrival term.

After Spring semester begins, ISSS will issue for you a new, initial I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number. You will no longer be considered a SEVIS transfer-in student. Because you will be arriving on a new initial I-20 again,  after you receive the new I-20 form you will need to pay a new SEVIS fee. ISSS recommends that you apply for a new visa from the U.S. embassy/consulate in your country before returning, unless the school listed on your prior, unexpired visa is University of Connecticut. You may also contact the U.S. embassy/consulate for their guidance on whether a new visa is needed.

10. How can I apply for a Social Security Number?

If you have on-campus employment, such as a Graduate Assistantship, and you do not yet have a Social Security Number, you will need to apply for one. At this time some Social Security Administration offices are open on an appointment basis. Updated application instructions are on our website: https://isss.uconn.edu/social-security-itin-2/

We may also arrange for a group appointment at SSA in the Spring semester, after the quarantine period ends.

 

 

 

Information for Graduating Students

1. I’m graduating, and not planning to stay in the U.S. for future work or study. What if I can’t depart the U.S. by the end of my grace period due to travel restrictions?

All F-1 students have a 60-day grace period to remain in the U.S. following completion of your program,  and J-1 students have a 30-day grace period following completion of your program.  During the grace period, you could take action to continue or change your nonimmigrant visa status. If you plan to begin study in a new U.S. degree program, we can transfer your SEVIS record to the new school if there is less than 5 months between your last date of study, and the first day at your new school. You can obtain an I-20 for your new program and maintain your F-1 status.

If you do not plan to continue your studies in the U.S., another option may be to file a Form I-539 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to request a change of status to a different visa status (for example, a visitor, or a dependent of a spouse who maintains another U.S. visa status).  More information can be found on the USCIS webpage.  ISSS cannot actively advise on this process. We recommend that you work with an immigration attorney if you need assistance to file this application.

USCIS addresses this issue indirectly in a new statement on their webpage, issued April 13, 2020.  Please note that F-1 and J-1 visa holders cannot apply to USCIS for the extension of status presented in this statement, only a change of status. J-1 visa holders or past J-1 visa holders who are subject to 212(e) home residency requirement are not generally eligible to apply for a change of status.

If you do not file for a change of status or obtain a new I-20 for a new program, we recommend that you keep documentation that you tried to depart by the end of  your grace period, but you were unable to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you search for flights online, save print-outs that flights are either unavailable, or prohibitively expensive. Save websites that document any entry restrictions for transit or destination countries. This way you can demonstrate in the future that you made your best attempt to depart the U.S. before exceeding your grace period.

2. I’m finishing my program from outside the U.S. What do I need to do? What will happen to my SEVIS record?

Please submit the Spring 2021 Student Check In Form (Active Students) to tell us where you will complete your academic work. ISSS will keep your SEVIS record active for the rest of the semester, which will make your process easier if you need a program extension or will transfer your SEVIS record to a new school.  However, you may not use your UConn I-20 to return to the United States after you have completed your program, and you may not apply for post-completion OPT while inside the U.S. Therefore if you hope to use the OPT benefit, you must return to the United States before you finish your program.   

If Spring 2021 is your final semester, and you will take fewer credits than full time, because this is all you need to graduate, you must complete a Last Semester Reduced Course Load application before January 19. Make sure that your academic advisor knows your plans to graduate, as they will be asked to confirm your credit load and graduation date as part of this application.

3. Can I apply for post-completion OPT?

You may apply for OPT that starts after you finish your program (post-completion OPT) in the 90  days before you complete, and in the 60 days after you complete. You must be physically present in the United States to apply for OPT. If you departed the U.S. already, and it is your final semester, you will likely not be eligible to apply for OPT. 

 

If you have not departed the U.S., you may still apply for OPT. Please read the ISSS OPT webpage for full application details. ISSS must issue for you a new Form I-20 for your OPT application, and you must mail the OPT I-20 to US Citizenship and Immigration Services along with other supporting documents. Because ISSS is not open, it may not be possible to mail you the paper I-20. However, we can issue you a scanned I-20 that you may print and sign and submit as part of your OPT package. USCIS is temporarily accepting scanned copies of wet signatures on documents that would normally require a signature. At this time, you must have access to a printer to be able to prepare the documents for your OPT packet. If you do not have access to a printer, you should tell ISSS to wait and process your OPT until you do have access. USCIS must receive your OPT application within 30 days after we process your OPT, so you must be able to mail it soon after we process the new Form I-20.

4. I plan to attend another school or program next semester. What should I do?

If you are accepted to begin a new program in the United States for next semester, then you can work with ISSS to get a new I-20 form for your new program. You must request your new I-20 form no later than 30 days after you complete your UConn program, to ensure that your request is processed by the end of your 60 day grace period.  J-1 students must request the new document BEFORE your finish your UConn program.

If you will start a new program at UConn, request the new I-20 form no later than 30 days after you finish your UConn program by completing the Current/Returning Student I-20 Request Form (Option 2) from the I-20 Request page. 

If you will start a new program at a different U.S. school, submit a Transfer Out record no later 30 days after you finish your UConn program, along with a copy of your admission letter to the new school. J-1 students should use this transfer out form

You are not required to depart the U.S. between programs. You may work on-campus during the summer, provided you already have the new I-20 form for your new program, and you work for the new program school (if going to a different school), but not the old program school.

Remember, if you depart the U.S. between programs, you will  need a valid F-1 visa and passport for return, along with your new program Form I-20, AND any travel restrictions must have been lifted for countries you have traveled from.

5. If Commencement is held at a later date, can I return for it?

If the University decides to hold commencement at a date in the future, and you are no longer in the United States, you can apply for a visitor visa (a B-2 visa, or come through the Visa Waiver Program if you are from an eligible country).

Information for OPT Applicants/Participants

1. Is USCIS still processing OPT applications?

Yes,  USCIS is still processing applications. Up to now, OPT processing times do not seem negatively affected by the pandemic and work at home measures. Anticipated USCIS furloughs have been cancelled, for now. 

2. I already applied for post-completion OPT. What should I know? Can I leave the U.S.?

If you applied for OPT already, it is important that USCIS has your accurate mailing address so that documents related to your OPT application can be mailed to you. If you are remaining in the U.S. but have moved, or will move, you must update your mailing address on the USCIS website

 

If you have already filed for OPT, but would now like to depart the U.S. due to Covid-19, bring with you any documents that you have related to your OPT application, such as your receipt notice. You must identify a mailing address where you can receive your documents from USCIS, and if needed, update your mailing address on the USCIS website. You must have someone who can check that mailbox and send to you copies of any documents that you receive related to your OPT application. Because international travel is so difficult at this time, we do not recommend that you depart the U.S. if you wish to return for your OPT. 

 

If you are returning to the U.S. after your I-20 end date, it is important that you have at least your receipt notice with you, along with your I-20, passport and valid visa. If your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) has already been issued, you are supposed to have that with you as well (someone may need to mail it to you). If your visa has expired, you may need the approved EAD for your visa renewal. If you are unable to return for employment by 90 days after your OPT begins, then your OPT will no longer be valid and you must notify ISSS.  

3. I’m already working on OPT and my employer wants me to work from home. Is this OK?

Yes, the government has indicated that if employers move to remote work, it is OK for students on OPT and STEM OPT to work remotely as well. At this time, ISSS is NOT updating your SEVIS record to indicate your change in employment location, and you do not need to submit an updated I-983 or OPT Employment Update, if your work from home arrangement is temporary. 

4. What if I lose my job or change jobs during this time? What do I do?

You must report any job loss or change of job to ISSS by submitting the OPT Employment Update record. OPT participants are still subject to the normal 90 day/150 day unemployment rules for standard 12-month OPT and 24-month STEM OPT.

5. I have been furloughed by my employer. Does this count as unemployment time?

At this time, the government has not provided specific guidance to Designated School Officials (ISSS Staff) about whether furloughed time counts toward your 90/150 days of allowed unemployment, so we look to your active or inactive relationship with your employer to determine what to list in SEVIS as active employment. If you have been furloughed by your employer, yet still remain an employee of your company, ISSS will continue to report you as actively employed in your SEVIS record. If you do not remain an active employee of your company during your furlough period, then you should report this to ISSS as unemployment, and ISSS will report in your SEVIS record that you are not employed.

6. I submitted an OPT Employment Update to ISSS to report an employment change. Will you mail me my I-20?

ISSS will issue for you an electronically signed I-20 form. You will receive an email when this is ready to download from your ISSS Portal.   

7. My OPT will soon end. When do I need to leave the U.S.? What if I cannot leave due to the pandemic?

All F-1 students have a 60-day grace period to remain in the U.S. following completion of OPT, assuming you did not accrue more than 90 days of unemployment.  During this 60-day grace period, you could take action to continue or change your nonimmigrant visa status. If you plan to begin study in a new U.S. degree program, we can transfer your SEVIS record to the new school, if there is less than 5 months between your last date of employment, and the first day at your new school. You can then get an I-20 for your new program.

If you do not plan to continue your studies in the U.S., another option may be to file a Form I-539 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to request a change of status to a different visa status (for example, a visitor, or a dependent of a spouse who maintains another U.S. visa status).  More information can be found on the USCIS webpage.  ISSS cannot actively advise on this process. We recommend that you work with an immigration attorney if you need assistance to file this application.

USCIS addresses this issue indirectly in a statement on their webpage, issued April 13, 2020.  Please note that F-1 and J-1 visa holders cannot apply to USCIS for the extension of status presented in this statement, only a change of status. J-1 visa holders who are subject to 212(e) home residency requirement are not generally eligible to apply for a change of status, though it is unclear if this rule is still in effect during the pandemic.

If you do not file for a change of status or obtain a new I-20 for a new program, we recommend that you keep documentation that you tried to depart by the end of  your grace period, but you were unable to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you search for flights online, save print-outs that flights are either unavailable, or prohibitively expensive. Save websites that document any entry restrictions for transit or destination countries. This way you can demonstrate in the future that you made your best attempt to depart the U.S. before exceeding your grace period.

8. I am approaching 90 (or 150, if STEM) days of unemployment, but I can’t get a flight home. What do I do?

The government has not yet provided any sort of guidance or flexibility on this issue. ISSS does not terminate your SEVIS record for exceeding allowed unemployment days. Therefore, your SEVIS record will remain active beyond 90/150 days of unemployment. However, because the regulations say that you cannot exceed 90/150 days of unemployment, having unemployment days in excess of these limits could cause future problems.  Therefore, one option is to file a Change of Status application with the U.S. government to request a change of status to a different visa status (for example, a visitor).  More information can be found on the USCIS webpage. ISSS cannot actively advise on this process. We recommend that you work with an immigration attorney if you need assistance to file this application.

Or, if you are planning to begin study in a new degree program, we may be able to transfer your SEVIS record to the new school, if there is less than 5 months between your last date of employment, and the first day at your new school. You can then get an I-20 for your new program.

USCIS addresses this issue indirectly in a new statement on their webpage, issued April 13, 2020.  Please note that F-1 and J-1 visa holders cannot apply to USCIS for the extension of status presented in this statement, only a change of status. J-1 visa holders who are subject to 212(e) home residency requirement are not generally eligible to apply for a change of status.

If you do not file for a change of status or obtain a new I-20 for a new program, we recommend that you keep documentation that you tried to depart by your 91st (or 151st) day of unemployment, but you were unable to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you search for flights online, save print-outs that flights are either unavailable, or prohibitively expensive. Save websites that document any entry restrictions for transit or destination countries. This way you can demonstrate in the future that you made your best attempt to depart the U.S. before exceeding unemployment limits.

Information for Academic Training Applicants/Participants (J-1 Students)

1. My program is ending this spring, and I want to apply for Academic Training. What do I do?

You should reach out to your ISSS advisor to let them know you are planning to apply. To apply for post-completion Academic Training, you must have an internship in your field of study that will begin no later than 30 days after you complete your academic program, and we must approve it no later than your program end date on your DS-2019. 

Application instructions can be found on our Academic Training webpage. However, you should still write to your ISSS advisor so that we  anticipate your application.

Information for Visiting Scholars

1. My hosting department at UConn has moved to remote-only work. Is this OK for my J-1 visa?

Temporarily, yes.  However for new visiting scholars, we will require that your exchange program take place on-campus. 

2. I want to end my program at UConn early due to COVID-19 and return home. Is this OK? What do I need to do?

Submit an End Program request through the Scholar/Employee Portal. Login with your email address and password (do not use your NetID to login). Make sure that your UConn hosting department is also aware of your plans. 

3. I would like to return home temporarily due to COVID-19. Can I come back with my DS-2019 and J-1 visa?

If you travel home due to concerns over Covid-19, the U.S. Department of State has indicated that we may maintain an active SEVIS record for you while you are out of the country, provided you will return to resume your exchange program after the situation calms.

We will temporarily waive the 30-day travel rule for visiting scholars that would normally limit personal travel to 30 days or less. Submit a Travel Signature request through the Scholar/Employee Portal. Login with your email address and password (do not use your NetID to login). More information here.

4. My DS-2019 will soon expire, and I cannot return home due to Covid-19. What should I do?

In the best situation, your UConn hosting academic department can submit a request to ISSS to extend your current exchange program at UConn. They should follow the details outlined on this webpage to submit a scholar extension.  Remember, you are also allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 30 days after your UConn program ends, during the time known as your grace period. 

Information for Academic Programs and Departments

1. Which international students in my program are required to have in-person classes?

Students who are traveling to the United States to begin their program of study must be coming here for in-person study. Your student should have at least one in-person or hybrid course as part of their full-time course schedule. Even with at lease one in-person course, we cannot guarantee that your student will be granted a visa or admitted to the United States by Customs and Border Protection.

This course requirement applies to students who are arriving to begin a new program, as well as students who began their program from their home country in Fall 2020, and are arriving for the first time to study in the U.S.

2. Will ISSS sponsor J-1 visas for visiting scholars during this time?

Currently ISSS will only sponsor a new J-1 visa for visiting scholars who are coming to UConn for paid appointments, and whose responsibilities will be conducted at least partially on-campus (not remote work).

We are not accepting J-1 visa sponsorship requests for gratis appointments whose appointments begin during Spring semester. You may still submit a J-1 visa sponsorship request now for gratis appointments that will begin after May 10, but if the University extends its policy to restrict gratis visitors then we will need to delay your scholar's visit.