ISSS COVID-19 FAQ

Information for All

1. I’m on an F-1 or J-1 visa. Are there any forms I need to fill out with ISSS?

Yes, all students, scholars and OPT participants must complete the Remote Learning-ISSS Check In form so that we know what you are doing this semester. Fill out the form here, and submit a new form any time the information in your form changes while the University is operating remotely. 

2. If I am departing the U.S., what do I need to do?

Students: Submit a Travel Information Record to ISSS with your planned departure and return dates. 

You do not need to submit a current Full Time Enrollment Verification with the request. Depart the U.S. with your current I-20/DS-2019, even if it does NOT have a travel signature on it valid for your return.

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.

3. What documents do 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 August 1, 2020, your travel signature must have been issued no earlier than August 2, 2019. If you are on post-completion OPT, your travel signature should not be older than 6 months old 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 will not be in active status. If you are following all visa rules, your SEVIS status should remain active.

4. Can I get my I-20 or DS-2019 before I leave?

Effective May 14, ISSS is issuing travel signatures electronically. The government has provided guidance that travel with an electronically signed Form I-20 is allowed during the emergency period, and the electronic travel signature is valid for 12 months. You will receive an email when your electronic travel signature has been processed, and a second email when your electronically signed I-20 is ready to view in the ISSS Portal. From the ISSS Portal, you can download, print and sign page 1 of the form for your return. This will be considered a valid I-20 and will not be reprinted until you have an update that requires reprinting.   

Form DS-2019s will still be issued as paper documents with wet signatures, and will be mailed to you in the U.S. or abroad within 1-2 weeks after issuance.

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

At this time, the U.S. Department of State has announced a worldwide suspension of U.S. visa appointments and processing. Individual embassies and consulates might still be operating, but you will need to check the website for the embassy/consular post nearest you for updates on U.S. visa processing.

If it is not clear from the website whether visas are still being processed, you can 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/ .

6. 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 has been extended to 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. Note that the VITA program is no longer being offered in person, although they are exploring virtual options to assist you.

7. What if I didn’t have income in 2019. Do I need to complete a tax form?

Yes - if you are a nonresident alien for tax purposes, you must complete, print and mail the Form 8843 to the IRS before June 15. These instructions tell you how to fill it out.

8. 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 "SEVIS Profile" 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. 

9. 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”

10. 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. 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.

11. How can I get food 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.

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.

12. How can I talk to an ISSS advisor?

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.

ISSS also offers messenger/chat advising through Office 365 weekday afternoons, EST between 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm.  ISSS advisors will be available to chat on the following schedule:  

Monday:              Sarah Manning, Lulu Dong   

Tuesday:              Neena Kapoor, Rae Alexander   

Wednesday:      Jennifer King, Arthur Galinat   

Thursday:            Leslie Lawrence, Amina Kader  

Friday:                  Annie Casarella, Nadine Boudissa

  • Go to https://email.uconn.edu/office-365/ 
  • Click on Launch Office 365 (on right side).
  • Use your UConn email and password to login. 
  • Click on Microsoft Teams.
  • Once in Teams, click on the Chat icon on the left.
  • Click on the new chat icon at the top of the screen (looks like a pen on a paper).
  • In the new chat window type the name of the ISSS Advisor on duty for the day you are chatting and type your message.  There may be many other students chatting at the same time, and it may take several minutes to get a response.You are not required to contact your normally assigned advisor. 

 

You can also email your questions to international@uconn.edu.  

13. 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.

Information for Continuing Students

1. I’m normally not allowed to take all online classes. Is it ok for me to be on my student visa and take online classes?

Yes. ISSS will keep the SEVIS record active for students engaged in full time online coursework. We will keep your SEVIS record active for online courses that you complete both inside and outside the U.S.  

 

The government has said that students may temporarily take online courses and maintain their student visa status during these emergency circumstances only. When the University resumes in-person courses, this exception will end. 

2. I’m want to finish the semester from my home country. Will I be able to return in the fall?

This depends on many factors. If you are returning to continue your studies, if your SEVIS record remains active, if you have a valid visa for return, if there are no entry restrictions for you coming to the U.S., and if your country does not restrict travel to the U.S., then returning to the U.S. is possible. 

However, your return could be delayed if you are unable to renew an expired visa on time, if entry restrictions are still in place, or if your SEVIS record is not active and you fail to obtain a new I-20/DS-2019 for return.  Therefore there is risk for you, if you choose to complete Spring semester from home. 

3. Can I drop a course?

This depends on if you are completing the semester in the United States or outside the United States,  whether withdrawing from the course will make you a part-time student, and your reasons for dropping the course.  If you are considering to drop a course, and dropping that course will put you below the minimum required credits for your program, you should email your ISSS International Advisor to determine next steps.

 

Students in the U.S.: If withdrawing from a course will mean that your total credits will be less than 12 (for undergraduates and JD students) or less than 9 (for graduate students) then you must have ISSS permission to drop below full time status. More information on applying for Reduced Course Load permission can be found here

 

Students outside the U.S.: If your course enrollment falls below full time, and you do not have permission from ISSS to take a Reduced Course Load, your SEVIS record will be terminated. You must request a new Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 to return to the U.S. by completing the Returning Student I-20/DS-2019 Request form. Alternatively, you could request Reduced Course Load permission following the steps here, and if approved, you can keep an active SEVIS record. 

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

Yes. 

5. Who do I contact about financial questions?

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

6. I’m an international student and I was studying abroad, or was supposed to be studying abroad this semester. Can I use my I-20 form for return to the U.S.? Can my SEVIS record stay active?

UConn maintained the active SEVIS record for all students who were studying abroad in Spring 2020 semester and had chosen to keep their SEVIS records active during the study abroad period. Even if you were required to change to online courses, or cancel your study abroad plans, you should be able to use your current I-20 to return to UConn, unless you have been notified otherwise. Please check your I-20 to make sure you have a travel signature less than 12-months old from your expected return date,  and if you want to make sure that your SEVIS record is still active, you can contact international@uconn.edu.

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

The U.S. government has confirmed that they do not consider the 5 month rule to apply for the current COVID-19 situation. If you return home, or leave the U.S., to complete your semester, and continue to complete your full time coursework while abroad, you will not be penalized for returning to the U.S.  after an absence of more than 5 months. You may return using an I-20 form associated with your current SEVIS number as long as you continue to enroll full time in UConn online coursework,  and make normal progress toward degree completion.

8. My I-20 or DS-2019 has a program end date in May 2020, but I’m not going to finish my program as planned. What should I do?

Submit a program extension request to ISSS as soon as possible. Your reason for extension must be based on either unexpected academic or medical circumstances. You must upload evidence that you have sufficient funding to support you during the extension period. You must submit the program extension request BEFORE your I-20/DS-2019 end date.

9. Where can I store my belongings for the summer?

The UConn  Off Campus and Commuter Student Services office website lists local storage facilities where you can rent storage space. 

 

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 status?

When international graduate students elect to complete their degree from the home country, they are generally not bound to student visa requirements to maintain full time enrollment 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.

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. ISSS will work with you and your academic program to secure the necessary documentation for this travel.

 

 

11. If classes are held online in Fall semester, will I be able to stay in the U.S. on my student visa?

The government has not yet published rules for maintaining active visa status during fall semester. If the current government guidance remains the same for Fall semester, we anticipate that active students will be able to remain in the U.S. to take their coursework online and maintain an active SEVIS record/I-20,  if that is how the University will offer coursework and if you enroll on a full-time basis.   

12. I departed the U.S. in Spring or Summer. What are my options if I can’t return for fall semester due to travel restrictions. What are my options?

Students who are unable to return for fall semester may enroll in online courses offered by UConn.  We are still awaiting guidance from the government about remote learning for Fall semester and keeping your SEVIS record active. If the current active guidance is extended to Fall, ISSS will be able to keep your SEVIS record/I-20 active based on online coursework, provided you enroll on a full time basis: 12 credits for undergraduates or 9 credits for graduate students. If you choose to study on a part-time basis, then we cannot keep your SEVIS record active, and you will need to request a Returning Student Form I-20 or DS-2019 to return to UConn.  

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 Returning Student Form I-20 or DS-2019 to 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.  

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?

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 Remote Learning -ISSS Check In form to tell us where you will complete your academic work, and your planned date of departure. In the comment section of the form, please tell us that this is your last semester and you plan to finish from home. ISSS will keep your SEVIS record active for the rest of the semester. Once you finish the semester, ISSS will shorten the I-20 to list your real program completion date, if it  has not already been updated to May 10, 2020. You may not use the I-20/F-1 visa to return to the U.S. after the semester has ended.

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 in the fall? What should I do?

If you are accepted to begin a new program in the United States for fall semester, then you can work with ISSS to get a new I-20 form for your new program. You must obtain the I-20 form for your new program no later than 60 days after the last semester ends at UConn. 

If you will start a new program at UConn in the fall at the same campus, request the new I-20 form no later than June 9 by completing the Change Education Level record. If you are starting a new program at UConn but that program is at a different UConn campus, submit an Internal Campus Transfer record no later than June 9. 

If you will start a new program at a different U.S. school, submit a Transfer Out record no later than June 9, 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, it is our understanding that USCIS is still processing applications. They are not providing in-person services, but the I-765 application for OPT does not require in-person services. We do not know if processing times will be affected by COVID-19, but you should anticipate processing delays, considering the circumstances. 

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.

 

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, but rather noting it in your internal file. Please submit the Remote Learning-ISSS Check In form to confirm your work location to ISSS.

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?

At this time, no. However you may view the updated I-20 (unsigned) in the ISSS Portal in the Documents tab of your Academic Objective record. (See instructions in first part of FAQ). We will print, sign and mail you the updated I-20 when normal ISSS operations resume.

7. My employer has filed an H-1B petition on my behalf. Can ISSS look up my SEVIS record to tell me if my petetion was selected for processing?

No, unfortunately we cannot. This is a courtesy that we do not have the ability to assist students with. You need to communicate with your employer about the status of your H-1B petition selection.

8. 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 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 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.

9. 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.

2. I am currently authorized for Academic Training, and my employer has moved to remote work due to COVID-19. What do I need to do with ISSS?

Please submit the Remote Learning-ISSS Check In form to confirm your work location to ISSS.  We will not update your Academic Training information in SEVIS, but we will note your remote employment in your ISSS record. 

Information for New or Incoming Students and Exchange Visitors

1. I am an admitted student, and I submitted a request for an I-20 or DS-2019 for fall. Will it be processed?

ISSS is actively processing Form I-20s and DS-2019s for new students admitted to Fall programs.  Effective May 14, we began to issue I-20 forms on an electronic basis, since the government has indicated that consular services will accept an I-20 form issued with e-signature. When your Form has been processed, ISSS will send you an email with important pre-arrival information, along with your SEVIS ID number. You will also receive an email confirming the electronic issuance of your Form I-20, and directions on how to retrieve the form from your ISSS Portal, and finally, you should receive an auto-email notification when your Form is available to view in the ISSS Portal. 

Form DS-2019s will still be issued as paper documents with wet signatures, and will be mailed to you in the U.S. or abroad within 1-2 weeks after issuance. Please watch for an email from international@uconn.edu that will contain mailing instructions. If you are unsure of your plans, and would like to wait before having your document mailed to you, do not submit payment for a shipping label.

With your SEVIS ID number, you will be able to pay your SEVIS I-901 fee, complete your DS-160 visa application, and schedule your visa appointment.  Please be sure to review the pre-arrival information we send you by email, as well as the new student information on the ISSS website. While not all U.S. consulates are booking visa appointments at this time, some are. Please notify ISSS of your confirmed visa appointment date by completing a Visa Confirmation Form

2. When will I get my Form I-20/DS-2019?

For incoming students: When operations resume, ISSS will print your form and send you an email with shipping instructions.

For incoming scholars: When operations resume, most likely your hosting academic department will mail you your Form.

Currently, U.S. visa services are suspended worldwide. However, when U.S. visa services resume, please notify ISSS of your scheduled visa appointment date. We will do our best to make sure you receive the form in time for your appointment. You must communicate your visa appointment date to the ISSS staff member who issued your Form I-20/DS-2019. 

3. Will I be able to arrive for my program start date?

At this time, U.S. consular posts and embassies worldwide are not processing routine U.S. visa appointments. When services resume, it could be that there is high demand for appointments, and appointments book far into the future. We also do not know what types of restrictions will be in place for travel to the U.S. in the coming months.

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.

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

After you have scheduled a visa appointment, it may be possible to request an expedited appointment through a link on the webpage where you scheduled your appointment. This process is different for each consulate/embassy, so you must look at the information specific to our visa appointment page to learn the process. You will likely need to show proof that your visa appointment, as currently scheduled, will not allow you to arrive on time for your program (for example, your I-20 or DS-2019 form, showing the program start date). 

 

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. 

5. By when must I arrive for Fall 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. 

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. 

6. 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?

We do not know. ISSS is still awaiting government guidance on this question. 

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.  Please submit the Remote Learning-ISSS Check In form to confirm your program location to ISSS. We will not update your Academic Training information in SEVIS, but we will note your remote work in your ISSS record. 

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.