ISSS COVID-19 FAQ

Travel and Health

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

COVID-19 Test Requirement

All travelers are required to submit proof of negative COVID-19 test or proof of recent recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the U.S.  Read more here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html 

Travel from Brazil, China, India, Iran and South Africa

Students and exchange visitors on F and J visas who are traveling from these countries are subject to an entry restriction that prevents entry to the U.S.  if you were present in these countries within 14 days of arrival to the United States. However, there is a National Interest Exception that exempts you from this entry restriction under certain conditions.

National Interest Exception for F-1 students:

Students who will begin or resume their program after August 1, 2021 and will travel to the U.S. on an F-1 visa are eligible for a national interest exception (NIE) and are not subject to the geographic entry restriction. If you need an F-1 visa, your NIE will be granted as part of the F-1 visa approval. If you already have a valid F-1 visa, you may travel to the U.S. under the NIE without seeking further approval from the U.S. Embassy, but you are still subject to the date restrictions mentioned above.

Students who have a program start date on their Form I-20 of August 1, 2021 or later, may travel to the U.S. under the NIE up to 30 days before the program start date.

It is currently uncertain whether students who have I-20s with program start dates before 8/1/2021 will be allowed entry under the NIE. We are still awaiting clarification on this issue. However, we would not advise current students with active I-20 forms and valid U.S. visas to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before fall semester begins (July 31 at the earliest).

National Interest Exception for J-1 Exchange Visitors (students and scholars)

J-1 Exchange Visitors who will travel from these countries may also qualify for the NIE, if the program will begin after August 1, 2021. For exchange visitors who need a visa to travel here, the NIE will be considered and awarded as part of the visa process. If you already have a valid J-1 visa, you must email the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you to request the NIE in writing. If approved, they will send you an email confirming your NIE eligibility, which will be valid for travel to the U.S. for up to 30 days.

Issues with the NIE process for F and J visa holders located in Brazil, China, India, Iran, South Africa

  • It is unclear whether the NIE will apply to F-1 students on OPT or dependents traveling without the F-1/J-1 visa holder.
  • It is unclear how this will apply to active students and visiting scholars whose programs are already underway, because your I-20/DS-2019 documents do not list a program start date after 8/1/2021.
  • The NIE clears one important hurdle for travel, but if you need a visa, your ability to travel here still depends on the ability to obtain a visa on time.

Travel from Schengen Area countries of Europe, Ireland, United Kingdom

There is also an entry restriction for travelers who arrive from the Schengen Area of Europe, Ireland and the UK.  F-1 students however are eligible for a National Interest Exception to travel here, despite the entry restriction. There is no August 1 start-date restriction for NIE travel from these countries. For students who need the visa, the NIE will be awarded as part of the F-1 visa process. For students who already have a valid F visa, you may travel here without special permission from the U.S. embassy or consulate, provided you are otherwise eligible for travel.

For J-1 exchange visitors, your NIE eligibility will be considered as part of your visa application. If you already have a valid J-1 visa, you must obtain a written NIE from the U.S. embassy or consulate before you travel to the U.S.  Send an email to the U.S. embassy or consulate where you are located to request the national interest exception for travel. The national interest exception, once granted, is only valid for 30 days. Therefore you should submit your request about 30 days before you plan to 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.

Updated 5/11/2021

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, South Africa, or 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.

Updated 3/17/21

3. Do I need to quarantine after traveling to Connecticut or the U.S.? What should I expect at the airport?

Students traveling to Connecticut from another state or country must consider University testing/quarantine rules, State of Connecticut testing/quarantine rules, and U.S. testing/quarantine rules.

Connecticut and U.S. arrival requirements:

Connecticut now follows U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for returning from international and out of state travel. These can be found here: Domestic Travel During COVID-19 (for travel within the United States) and International Travel During COVID-19.  Please note that the travel guidelines are categorized with recommendations for fully vaccinated travelers, and unvaccinated travelers. To follow the fully vaccinated travel guidelines, your vaccine should be an FDA approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson), or a vaccine that has been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO).  Until this point is clarified further, if you are vaccinated with a non-FDA or WHO authorized vaccine, we recommend that you follow the guidelines for non-vaccinated travelers.

University rules for testing and quarantine (if you will be on-campus):

Full details for all categories of students, and various campuses, related to pre-arrival testing, arrival testing and rules for coming to campus can be found here.

 What to expect at the airport upon arrival:

4. 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 location or government facility where arrived travelers must quarantine.

 

 

5. Where do I submit proof of COVID test results?

If you travel to Connecticut from an affected state or from outside the U.S., and you take a COVID-19 test to exempt yourself from the state's self-quarantine requirement, you should submit a copy of your negative test result to DPH.COVID-Travel@ct.gov, in addition to completing the State of Connecticut travel form.

You should also submit documentation of your COVID-19 test result to your UConn health portal, at myhealth.uconn.edu.

Updated 3/17/21

 

 

6. Am I required to be vaccinated to travel to the United States from another country? Does UConn require that I be vaccinated?

No, at this time COVID-19 vaccination is not required by the United States to travel here from another country (proof of negative COVID-19 test is required for travel though). The CDC has updated their post-international travel recommendations to provide different post-travel recommendations based on vaccination status. They do refer to FDA-approved vaccines on this web page. We are unsure if this guidance will be expanded to include reference to non-FDA approved vaccinations.

Also, at this time, UConn does not require students to be vaccinated to attend. Please check this webpage for latest updates from Student Health and Wellness regarding COVID-19, vaccinations, and the University.

Updated 4/19/21.

7. Does UConn “accept” the vaccination I receive in my home country? Should I wait to be vaccinated upon arrival?

At this time, UConn does not have a vaccination requirement and therefore will not require students to be vaccinated by a particular type of vaccine. We encourage all students who have the opportunity to be vaccinated to do so. We do not encourage students to wait until arrival in the U.S. to be vaccinated, if you have access to the vaccine in your home country. Please upload proof of your vaccination to your UConn Health Portal, at myhealth.uconn.edu.

Updated 5/11/21.

8. Where should I submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination?

If you are an enrolled UConn student and you have received a COVID-19 vaccination, please upload your documentation to your UConn student health portal, myhealth.uconn.edu.

9. I am an international student or scholar currently in the U.S. Am I eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination?

In the U.S. , vaccination distribution and policies are made at the state level. In the state of Connecticut, vaccination eligibility is based on living or working in Connecticut, not visa status. This means that international students and scholars who work or live in Connecticut will also be eligible for vaccination, once they meet the other age/eligibility criteria.

Updated 3/18/21.

10. By what date must I arrive for Fall 2021 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. 

ISSS will soon update information for students who cannot arrive for Fall 2021 semester as planned.

Updated 3/17/21.

11. 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 Fall 2021, and contact livingoncampus@uconn.edu with any questions.

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

 

 

12. 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.  

 

13. 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 have received 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.

You can find more recommendations for travel, including supplementary recommended documents, on the ISSS travel webpage.

Updated 5/11/21

14. 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 embassy 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).  DS-160 fees are valid for 12 months after payment. 

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.

15. I have an unexpired F-1 visa in my passport, but I’m not sure if I can use it. How do I know if my visa is still valid?

This is a gray area, and is subject to interpretation by multiple government agencies. Generally, an unexpired visa has been considered valid for use unless it has been cancelled by the Department of State. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program addressed this topic on the Study in the States website in 2017.

However, ISSS recommends that students who enter the U.S. on an initial attendance I-20 form to attend UConn obtain a new visa, if the current visa does not list UConn as their school of attendance. Also, out of an abundance of caution, we recommend students to obtain a new visa if they have had a break in studies of more than 5 months.

Updated 5/11/21.

16. Where can I learn about local COVID-19 related conditions and policies?

State of Connecticut

The state of Connecticut lists up to date information regarding COVID-19 on the Connecticut COVID-19 Response webpage.  View latest guidance and COVID-19 data by town.

Federal (U.S.)

The Center for Disease Control publishes health guidelines and policies for vaccinated and unvaccinated indviduals.  This includes international and domestic travel guidelines.

Updated 5/14/21.

Getting Help and Documents from ISSS

1. Is the ISSS office open?

 ISSS in Storrs is open on a part time basis: 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: find your advisor,  and follow the prompts to schedule an appointment.  Our "drop in" advising is provided virtually through web chat, Monday-Friday from 9-10 am and 2-3 pm. Our front desk is open for document pick-up and procedural questions.  Advising staff are not 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 since Fall 2020 semester.

You can request most immigration updates through the ISSS website. The government temporarily allows 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.

Updated 05/11/21

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 Webex. 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 9-10 am and 2-3 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.  Updated 5/11/21.

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.  Your Academic Objective will be listed under the semester and year that you started, or will start, your program in the U.S.  (it matches your I-20 or DS-2019 start term). 

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

Updated 3/18/21

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. 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 2020 is May 17, 2021. 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  required state tax forms, at a cost. 

UConn also offers a free VITA program where trained volunteers will prepare nonresident alien and resident alien tax returns for free.  Learn more here. In 2021, the VITA program is conducted through virtual appointments.

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

Updated 3/18/21.

3. 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.

Information on second stimulus payment (Winter 2021)

Sprintax has published a blog post with helpful information for international students and visiting scholars regarding the second stimulus check through the Cares Act (winter 2021):

http://blog.sprintax.com/second-stimulus-check-guide-nonresidents/ 

Information on first stimulus payment (Spring 2020)

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)?  

Follow the instructions on the IRS webpage to return an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) that you received in error: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/returning-an-economic-impact-payment

More information can also be found on the Sprintax blog.

Updated 3/18/21

5. Who do I contact with questions about my fee bill?

For most questions about your fee bill, please contact bursar@uconn.edu. If your question is about the Visa Compliance Fee, please contact international@uconn.edu.  

6. I’m studying in my home country and I don’t need the University’s health insurance because I am covered at home. How do I get this charge removed from my fee bill?

ISSS will soon announce a process regarding Fall 2021 insurance removal for students who will remain outside the U.S. for their studies.

05/11/2021

Information for Current and Continuing Students

1. What are my study options for Fall 2021 semester?

Most UConn courses will be held through in-person and hybrid course modalities in Fall 2021 semester. A smaller percentage of courses will be entirely online. You should review the course modality listed in StudentAdmin when selecting your courses. Therefore students who will come to the United States in person for Fall 2021 will likely be taking in-person courses.

Students who cannot come to the United States for fall semester have two options:

  1. Undergraduates may apply to enroll in a UConn Experiential Global Learning program in China or the United Kingdom (application deadline was 5/10 but you may check with Experiential Global Learning to see if applications will still be accepted).
  2. Enroll in online courses, based on the limited courses available through fully online course modalities.

All international students are asked to submit their Fall 2021 Study Plan by June 15 , to let us know your intended plan to either come to the U.S. or remain outside the U.S.  Complete that form here. If your plans change from what you originally submitted, simply re-submit an updated plan.

 

Updated 04/05/21.

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

Special guidance for F-1 and J-1 students has been extended through Fall 2021 and Spring 2021 semester.

For Fall 2021 Semester:

Students who were enrolled on an F-1 visa in the U.S. as of March 9, 2020 and have maintained the same SEVIS number: You are permitted to take your classes fully online, although due to the limited available availability of online courses, this may not be a common situation.

Students who enrolled and arrived in the U.S. after March 9, 2020: You must take at least one in-person course as part of your full-time course load.

Summer 2021: 

Nearly all classes will be online in summer.  If Summer 2021 is a vacation term for you (you started your program before Summer 2021 and you intend to enroll in the fall) then you may study fully online in summer, regardless of when you arrived in the U.S. for study.

 

Updated 05/11/21

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

Yes, if you are able to find enough online courses available, you may study online from your home country. Students from Iran though must discuss this plan with ISSS before starting any courses online outside the United States.  As long as you are enrolled on a full time basis, we may keep your SEVIS record active. If you enroll on a part-time basis, and you are not otherwise eligible for a full time reduced course load, we cannot keep your SEVIS record in active status.

If you are unable to come to the United States, and the courses you need to progress toward graduation are only offered in-person, please complete the Fall 2021 Study Plan, selecting Option 5. https://isss.uconn.edu/fall-2021-study-plan/ We will provide the Registrar office a list of students in this situation at the end of May, to help resolve individual student situations.

Updated 5/11/21

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

Students with ACTIVE SEVIS Records/I-20 Forms: 

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 are eligible for a Reduced Course Load, we may be able to authorize you to continue part-time study while outside the United States. Please read more about reduced course load eligibility here: https://isss.uconn.edu/part-time-study/

Students with Initial Status I-20 Forms who have not yet entered the U.S.:

If you started your program from abroad and you have not yet entered the United States using your UConn I-20, you may study on a part-time basis from outside the U.S. with no negative consequence on your F-1 visa or SEVIS record. You do not yet have F-1 status, and therefore you are not required to follow F-1 visa rules for full-time study.

Updated 5/11/21.

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

ISSS plans to keep your SEVIS record active if Summer 2021 or Fall 2021 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 because you do not finish as planned,  or to 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 your degree to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Also, you cannot apply for OPT from outside the U.S.

If you will finish your degree from your home country and will not return before completing your program, please submit to ISSS the Program Update - Complete/Shorten record so that we can note your completion from abroad.

Updated 5/11/21.

 

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

Yes, international students may take courses on a Pass/Fail basis. However, you should discuss any implications of taking courses on a pass/fail basis with your academic advisor as it relates to your degree completion. You are still required to complete your degree by the program end-date listed on your I-20, so you should make sure that you are still on track to finish on time. 

7. 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 you are studying on a full-time basis,  ISSS will keep your SEVIS record active while you enroll as UConn students at a UConn partner institution. Remember to submit your Fall 2021 study plan to ISSS, and select option 3. https://isss.uconn.edu/fall-2021-study-plan/  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.

 

 

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

Student and Exchange Visitor Program, under DHS has waived the "5 month rule" due to COVID-19, as long as you maintain full time academically engaged each semester.  This allows ISSS to keep your SEVIS record and I-20 form active while you are abroad and enrolled full-time.

Updated 5/11/2021

9. 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. There are also services like Dorm Room Movers, where they will pick up your items and bring them to the storage facility for you. 

Updated 4/5/21

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 completion 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 should contact both ISSS and your academic program to discuss options. If online courses are available, this may be an option for some students. 

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 during Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. 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 Fall 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 offered in-person. The rest of your courses can be a mix of in-person, hybrid or online course modalities. 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.

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

Please remember to submit your Fall 2021 Study Plan to ISSS by June 15 so that we know you are planning to come to UConn in-person.

Updated 5/11/21

2. I have decided to begin my program from outside the U.S., and I have not yet requested my I-20 yet. Should I request my I-20 for the Fall 2021 or Spring 2022 term??

If you have not yet requested your Form I-20, you should request it now. It is probably safest to request your I-20 form based on the Fall 2021 semester, and we can update the form if you decide to study from your home country, or defer your admission term.

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.

Request your I-20 form here: https://isss.uconn.edu/students/newstudents/new-students-i-20ds-2019-online-request-form/

Students who will begin their studies in the future should select option 1 when requesting their form, and students who already began their programs from outside the U.S. should select option 2.

Updated 5/11/21

3. My current I-20 lists a Fall 2021 program start date, but I won’t arrive until Spring 2022. How do I get my I-20 updated?

All students should submit a Fall 2021 study plan to tell us if you will try to arrive for in-person courses this fall, or if you will pursue a different option outside the United States. Here is a link to the form: https://isss.uconn.edu/fall-2021-study-plan/

If you select one of the options outside the United States, ISSS will update your I-20 form to Spring 2022 semester. For students who tell us they will study online or study at a UConn partner institution, ISSS will wait to process your form update until after July 1. For students who will defer admission to another term, we will process your form update after your admission deferral has been approved by your program and admission office.

Updated 5/11/21

 

 

4. How do I defer my admission term?

If you are admitted for Fall 2021, and you would like to delay your program start to a future term, you must request this from your admitting department.

Graduate students: Follow these instructions to request a deferral of your admission term.

Undergraduate students: Email beahusky@uconn.edu to request deferral of admission term.

Law students: Contact your JD or LLM/Exchange admission office.

Exchange students (Storrs): Contact Gabriella Santoro Pires at UConn Experiential Global Learning (gabriella.santoro@uconn.edu)

After your admission has been approved for deferral, please also submit to ISSS your Fall 2021 study plan, choosing option 6. This will notify ISSS that we need to update your I-20 form to list a later arrival term.

Updated 5/13/21

5. I was able to book a visa appointment, but it is scheduled too late to arrive on time for Fall 2021 term. 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. What is my required arrival date to UConn?

This depends on a number of factors that are still being determined.

While all students should plan to arrive no later than the I-20 or DS-2019 program start date, your actual arrival date may be impacted by University and U.S. quarantine guidelines and or requirements. Your academic program or department may also have activities planned for you, which impact your arrival date.

For students who are living on campus, the University will determine a schedule for new student move-in.

ISSS is also considering whether we can offer any sort of in-person orientation activities for newly arrived international students, including students who started their programs from overseas, which would compliment the online orientation program.

More information on arrival dates will be released to students, as we know them.

7. If I start my program remotely from outside the U.S., will this term (or these terms) 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 terms enrolled abroad toward meeting their one academic year requirement to be eligible for practical training (CPT or OPT).   

8. 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.  All students who have an offer of on-campus employment must apply first for a letter from the ISSS office before going to the Social Security Office. You also need to have completed the New Student Arrival Checklist, including Submitting Arrival Documents, with ISSS at least 10 days before you go to the Social Security office. At this time some Social Security Administration offices are open on an appointment basis. Full 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 Fall semester. We will provide more information on this once planned.

 

 

 

9. I am an undergraduate student starting my program from my home country this fall. Do I need to complete undergraduate orientation?

Yes. All new undergraduate students, whether starting their program in the U.S. or outside the U.S., must participate in the UConn orientation program for new undergraduate students. More information on online orientation for undergraduate students is here: https://orientation.storrs.uconn.edu/first-year-students/

 

 

 

 

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 COVID-19?

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. in Fall 2021. What do I need to do? What will happen to my SEVIS record?

Please submit the Fall 2021 Study Plan 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 SEVIS process easier if you need a program extension or 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 Fall 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 August 30. 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.  

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 not work at UConn through on-campus employment beyond your last day of study.

Updated 5/11/21

Information for OPT Applicants/Participants

1. 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.  

2. 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.  We look to your active or inactive relationship with your employer to determine whether such employment can be listed 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.

9. My hours have been reduced to part-time. Does this affect my unemployment days?

While the March 9, 2020 guidance is in effect, students who are employed in an OPT appropriate position on a part-time basis are considered to be actively employed for OPT purposes. You will not accrue days of unemployment, but should report your part-time employment to ISSS as you normally would.

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

1. My program is ending 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, if you will remain working in the United States.  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. 

5. I will be a new visiting scholar working on campus. Does UConn require me to quarantine before starting my work?

Visiting scholars who are arriving to Connnecticut from out of state or international destinations are advised to follow the UConn Human Resources domestic and international travel policy, which can be found here, before reporting to work in person. These protocols can be found for different scenarios under the April 13th update: https://hr.uconn.edu/employee-domestic-travel-storrs-regionals/

In addition, we  advise that you follow the CDC International Travel recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Remember that visiting scholars may enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your Form DS-2019. Arriving early gives you time to settle in to your new living accommodations and complete any necessary COVID-19 testing or quarantine requirements.

 

6. I will not be able to arrive in time for my employment or program start date. Can I start my work from abroad?

Unfortunately we cannot permit visiting scholars to begin their employment from abroad. You will need to work with your program to adjust your start date to a later day. ISSS will adjust your DS-2019 program start date accordingly.

Information for Academic Programs and Departments

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

Students who arrived to begin their program after March 9, 2020 must be engaged in 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. ISSS interprets courses that are listed as in-person, hybrid/blended, by arrangement, or split to meet this requirement.

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 accepting J-1 visa sponsorship requests for gratis appointments whose appointments begin after August 15. If the University extends its policy to restrict gratis visitors then we will need to delay your scholar's visit.

In addition, visiting scholars who will travel from Brazil, China, India, Iran and South Africa must have a program commencing after August 1, 2021.

3. What can I do to help international students who are studying onilne in their home countries?

ISSS would like to share some tips for working with international students through online learning. These tips were shared by Jodi Simek, International Student and Scholars, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the Global Ambassadors at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, with added suggestions offered by current UConn international students from the ISSS Student Advisory Board, ISSS staff and CETL. 

Tips for Online Instruction with International Students 

While international students are required to take a certain number of in-person courses, the federal authorities are allowing institutions a temporary change in mode of instruction due to COVID-19.   This means that you may have international students taking your class from UConn residence halls and the local community, other parts of the United States, or from their home country. Below are a few thoughts compiled from international students to help you prepare for online instruction:

  1. International students who went home would rather be in your class.  Their families, governments, or exchange programs are recalling them. They are experiencing culture shock and returning to a home very different than the one they left.  For many, it is a dream cut short.
  2. They may be in forced home or governmental quarantine for a period of time where they may not have access to the internet.
  3. Many students are joining UConn for the first time and are unfamiliar with how to access online course content. Consider sending an email to your students to introduce them to the Husky CT learning platform, or direct them to where and when they should access your course content.
  4. They may be joining your course or advising appointments in the middle of the night, where they may share space with family who are sleeping.  Consider being as flexible as possible with assessments and their timely administration for international students, recording your synchronous class sessions so that students can view the content in their local time and refer back to the content for additional review. If instructors are considering holding tests at multiple times, we have found that 8 am EST works well for many other time zones.
  5. If the mode of instruction will increase spontaneous written response in online discussion, they may be writing with an accent without the opportunity to check their own writing.  As we typically allow people to speak with an accent, consider that in spontaneous writing. Similarly, if you have time, please consider close captioning your recorded lectures. CETL offers workshops on how to do this using Kaltura machine-generated captioning and additional information can be found at https://ecampus.uconn.edu/keep-teaching-strategies/  Research suggests closed captioning enhances retention for all students including ESL students. 
  6. Some websites are not readily available in China but may be accessed through VPN, such as google products, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.  WeChat works. We have told students that they need to anticipate these challenges, but they may reach out to you about their concerns and technology limitations for their courses. We should not and cannot advise or require to student to access content through VPN, because the VPN may not be legal to use where they are located. Most students are aware of the need to access content through a VPN themselves.
  7. Students who are graduate assistants are still fulfilling their GA duties remotely. It is really challenging to balance this along with online courses. Added to this mental stress, students are considering that their plans to travel or visit family will not be possible as the pandemic persists worldwide. Once this is all over, many students will appreciate a break to get away or see their families.  
  8. Students appreciate having extra study guides to supplement the course content, especially for content-heavy courses. This is especially helpful for students who cannot participate in online office-hours due to time differences.
  9. Students in other countries may not be able to access required textbooks for their courses. Please consider alternate methods of providing course reading materials, if they cannot access textbooks where they are.
  10. The students are anxious. There is a lot of pressure on them to do well. We continuously remind them to reach out to you to talk about their concerns and limitations, and they really appreciate faculty checking in on them to see if they need anything or have any questions.