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This page includes updates and FAQs relevant to future and current international students.
The U.S. administration has recalled its July 6 Guidance that prevents F-1 students from being present in the United States if they enroll in schools that are planning online-only instruction for Fall 2020. This recall signals a huge victory for both international students and international education alike. It also underscores the value U.S. higher education places on the presence and diversity of international students.
According to the July 24 Guidance issued by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), new students will need to have at least one in-person class on campus. The guidance does not permit new F-1 students to enroll exclusively in remote courses. Continuing students with an Active F-1 Record may participate in courses remotely so long as they maintain a full course load as usual.
Learn more about the Fall 2020 Academic Implementation Plan for Columbia Campus.
View more information about the Fall 2020 Academic Implementation Plan for Columbia College Global Locations.
No. According to the July 24 Guidance issued by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), international students who are already in the U.S. would retain their F-1 status so long as they maintain full-time enrollment.
It depends. Students can stay in the U.S. with an expired visa so long as their passport and I-20 have not expired. If outside of the U.S., students will need a valid visa to enter the country (exception: Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S.). Due to U.S. consulate and embassy closures and limited staffing in some areas affected by COVID-19, it may be difficult to obtain a new visa. Students should continue to check their local U.S. embassy or consulate website to confirm operating status and find information about appointment rescheduling and/or emergency services.
As the current global situation evolves, we recommend students check the travel updates by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as well as resources from their own country’s governmental agencies when planning travel to the U.S. The International Center is carefully monitoring updates from the CDC, SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program), USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), and Department of State, and will communicate changes to students as we receive new information.
For new international students who are unable to be physically present for in-person classes due to various reasons (travel constraints, health/safety, etc.), the International Center recommends deferring their form I-20 start date to Spring or Fall 2021. Contact InternationalCenter@CCIS.edu for help with this process. Another option is to participate in classes remotely (students do not need F-1 status to take online classes), though international students should note that their I-20 start date will still be deferred to the semester start date they arrive and start classes in person. Contact Admissions@CCIS.edu for help with this process.
International students who are unable to be physically present for in-person classes due to various reasons (travel constraints, health/safety, etc.) may be able to participate in fall classes remotely from their home country. As long as students enroll full-time, they will retain their F-1 status. Another option is to take a temporary leave of absence (in other words, “a break from studies”), with the intent to return to campus in Spring or Fall 2021. Before making a final decision, contact the International Center to discuss the immigration implications of a leave of absence.
There are several ways applicants can provide proof of English proficiency for admission review. Testing centers (like TOEFL, IELTS, etc.) are offering alternative forms of testing for students, including in-home testing in some countries. One test in particular is a great option for applicants – Duolingo English Test. More information about this test option and all options for English proficiency can be found on our English Proficiency page.
We encourage students to get to know their airline’s waiver and refund policies as well as to purchase flight insurance that offers maximum flexibility should tickets need to be changed or canceled. For information about current travel restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak, refer to the International Air Transport Association.
No. As communicated by President Dalrymple, all students are being asked to move out of the residence halls on Sunday, November 22 by 12 pm – or within 48 hours if an announcement is made to move to virtual learning prior to that date – so there can be a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of campus before the Spring Semester begins. While we understand that this expectation creates a hardship, it is one of many steps campus leadership is taking to maximize the health and safety of the entire Columbia College community in the COVID-19 environment. Student Athletes should direct any questions or concerns regarding athletic participation during this time to Athletics.
If students can return to their home countries for this 7-week period between semesters, we encourage them to do so. Students whose circumstances prevent them from returning home are responsible for securing off-campus housing at their own expense. We will communicate with students about options for temporary off-campus housing once we know more.
We want to make expectations clear. This coming semester will not be a traditional fall semester on campus in any respect. This past spring serves as a reminder that students should be prepared to vacate campus at any time in the event that we can no longer safely support in-person instruction. We ask that you be flexible and adaptable. It is essential that you have a plan in place for quickly relocating off-campus at any time.
In light of the global pandemic, we are working on a revised orientation plan. Most sessions will be virtual and available to you by mid August. International Student Welcome is tentatively planned for the afternoon of Friday, August 28. As campus leadership continues to define suitable guidelines for transitioning campus back to face-to-face activities, we will adapt orientation plans accordingly.
From an immigration perspective, international travel is very unpredictable at the moment. There are travel restrictions for certain countries, and we do not know how long they will last and which additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place. With the growing number of cases now in the U.S., restrictions could be implemented in the U.S. without much notice. If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and know that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time. It is important to note, too, that you will be expected to complete a 14-day quarantine after arriving in the U.S. and before being allowed back on campus.
For travel inquiries and up-to-date information on travel restrictions bans, please visit the US Department of State's COVID-19 Country Specific Information page and CDC's country-specific health information and travel recommendations by country.
Yes; students returning from abroad are expected to self-quarantine. Columbia College defers to the guidance from the government and best practices across the country. Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, travelers are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival in the U.S. from abroad.
Beginning two weeks prior to their assigned arrival day, students must complete a 14-day quarantine in an off-campus location. Once the 14-day quarantine period is complete and approval has been granted, students may travel to campus. Please note that students are responsible for covering off-campus housing costs during this quarantine period.
In the event a student has COVID-19 symptoms, known exposure to COVID-19, and/or a positive COVID-19 test result, they will be relocated to other housing as appropriate while being monitored by trained staff who will initiate contact tracing.
*Students whose circumstances might prevent them from arriving on/before August 13 will be subject to the same quarantine guidelines and expectations.
Instructions and resources for quarantine can be found here. Anyone returning to campus must receive approval to do so. At this time, we anticipate verifying date of U.S. entry on I-94 Forms. We will have more details in the weeks ahead about the return to campus check-in process and will share information as it becomes available.
The International Center cannot advise on travel to countries other than the U.S. It is unclear how long the travel bans and other global travel restrictions will remain in effect for re-entry to the U.S. However, if you are considering traveling to another country before entering the U.S., do your research: Review travel restrictions for that country before making travel plans. Know that you must remain physically present outside of the country impacted by travel restrictions for 14 days or more before being permitted to enter the U.S. Finally, keep in mind that upon arrival in the U.S., you will be expected to complete a 14-day quarantine before being allowed back on campus.
We understand you may have concerns about this proclamation, but it does not impact student visa categories.
This proclamation is aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus coming into the United States from Brazil, a country with some of the highest cases worldwide according to Johns Hopkins University. In short, it prohibits foreign nationals, which includes international students with F-1 visas, entering the United States if they have been physically present in Brazil within 14 days before their attempted entry.
This proclamation follows prior presidential orders temporarily barring the admission of foreign nationals who were physically present in the UK, Ireland, the European Schengen Area, China, and Iran. The restrictions remain in effect until terminated by the President.
This order bars the entry of certain graduate students and researchers who are affiliated with universities that have ties to the Chinese military. This proclamation does not affect Chinese undergraduate students nor Chinese graduate students in non-sensitive fields.
This order, which extends through December 31, 2020, does not impose new restrictions on OPT, a program that permits international students to work in the U.S. after graduating while staying on their F student visas.
The United States is in the midst of a difficult time as we grapple with violence by police against Black Americans and the protests in response. Many of us are mourning George Floyd, a Black man who was killed under police custody on May 25. Below we respond to concerns we have heard from international students.
Special thanks to the Office of International Students and Scholars at Washington University in St. Louis for sharing many of the resources and materials included here.
It is OK to feel confused, overwhelmed, sad, angry and/or scared. There are protests in Columbia and around the world right now. Most protests are peaceful. Protesters are asking for: justice for Black men, women and children that have been killed, reforms to police tactics and training, and an end to racial discrimination. Protesting is a protected right in the U.S. and has been a primary way that Americans have stood up against injustice and unfair treatment since the country’s founding.
As international students, it can be confusing and emotional to watch these events unfold. It may also be difficult to put current events into the historical context of the U.S. Some of our international students have become very knowledgeable about race in the U.S. and have even become advocates for racial change in the U.S. However, most students have not had the time to learn about the Black experience and their long struggle for racial justice and equity in the U.S.
We understand that you, like us, are experiencing the stress of both a pandemic as well as political upheaval in the same space and time. Please know that we are here and available to discuss your feelings and concerns during this difficult time.
Everyone in the U.S. has the right under the U.S. Constitution to free speech and freedom of assembly. This includes citizens and foreign nationals. That being said, international students potentially have more to lose if they have an altercation with the police during a protest. For example, if the police say that everyone needs to disperse and instead you stay and get arrested, your arrest could lead to serious immigration consequences. The consequence would depend on the charge; in some cases, your student visa could be revoked or you could be permanently barred from coming to the U.S.
It is up to you whether to take part in the current protests. If you decide to do so, it would be prudent to think about safety. Have a plan on how to get there and how to get home. If you sense any escalation or threat of arrests, you should leave. (And don’t forget about the global pandemic as well – wear your mask).
An ally is someone who stands up for others. An ally recognizes that though they are not a member of a marginalized group(s) they support, they make a concerted effort to better understand the struggle. Because an ally might have more privilege, they are powerful voices alongside marginalized ones. There are many ways to be an ally. It’s important to find a way that feels safe and appropriate for you.
Get your news from a variety of sources, including Black-owned newspapers and minority
Editorially independent radio and podcasts:
No. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will allow students to temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the limits stated in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G), even if they have left the United States and are taking online classes elsewhere.
Options are as follows:
No. While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, students are deemed to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. For that reason, the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in Active status. However, keep in mind that students will need a valid, unexpired visa to re-enter the United States.
Yes. You are required to report changes of address to the International Center within 10 days of moving.
If a student leaves the United States and their visa will have expired by the date they wish to re-enter the United States, then they will need to obtain a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before they can re-enter the United States (Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the United States). The U.S. State Department announced on March 18 that routine U.S. visa services have been suspended indefinitely worldwide. The International Center staff is monitoring this situation closely and will send updates as they become available.
It depends. As long as students maintain the same SEVIS record, there is no need to transfer the I-901 SEVIS fee payment. Students who are unable to enroll in the next session may defer enrollment for a future date.
Yes. LewerMark Health Insurance covers COVID-19.
Coverage for Academic Year 2020-2021 begins August 5, 2020. Please note that LewerMark Health Insurance provides coverage in the United States and all countries except your home country.
No. Current immigration regulations require that the application be filed in the United States.
No. To date, SEVP has not provided additional guidance related to the rules for unemployment while on OPT.
It is impossible to predict USCIS response times. Students should check the USCIS website for updates or visit the USCIS COVID-19 response page. As of March 18, in-person services have been suspended, but this does not include F-1 OPT which is a mail-in application requiring no interview or in-person appointment.
Students may still be authorized for CPT. Depending on individual circumstances, they may be eligible for economic hardship employment. Please contact the International Center at InternationalCenter@CCIS.edu for more information.
The International Center staff are sensitive to international students’ possible financial difficulties and the stress it may cause. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an option for students to work during the summer – full or part time – as long as the student meets eligibility requirements and is enrolled in a CPT-related course during the summer. Employment must be directly related to the student’s current degree of study.
It depends. Individuals who are classified as non-residents for tax purposes will not receive the government stimulus payment. Individuals who filed taxes in 2018 and/or 2019 and were considered residents for tax purposes may be eligible for the stimulus payment.
In general, international students in F status who have been in the United States for 5 years or less are nonresidents for tax purposes; and do not qualify for the U.S. government’s stimulus payment.
Columbia College provides tax software (Sprintax) for nonresidents to use to prepare their federal and state income tax returns. Sprintax can be accessed from inside or outside the United States. However, if Sprintax determines an individual to be a nonresident for tax purposes, they cannot e-file. They will be required to mail their tax return to the IRS. If a refund is expected, students should not close their U.S. bank accounts until after the refund is deposited.
If you are in need of financial assistance, please send an email to DeanForStudentAffairs@CCIS.edu. In the email, explain why you are requesting financial assistance and provide information about your personal situation. Title your email "CC Cares Emergency Funding Request".
While the physical office is closed and staff are working from remote locations, the International Center will continue to process requests and offer immigration advising during our regular business hours (Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm) through phone, email, and Zoom.
Yes. Graduating seniors will be invited to walk in the December 19, 2020 commencement ceremonies in Columbia, Missouri. CCG graduates may choose to walk in their specific location commencements in 2021. More information will be provided as those dates near.
Last updated July 9, 2020.