Fall 2020 Immigration FAQ

Fall 2020 Immigration FAQ

You can download a PDF version of this FAQ here.

 

Questions about Practical Training (CPT and OPT)

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I will graduate in December 2020 and cannot return to campus for the Fall 2020 term. Can I apply for OPT?

Currently, students must maintain F‑1 status and be present in the US to apply for OPT. We await further guidance from SEVP and USCIS to see if they will be flexible on this point due to COVID-19.

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I am as rising junior / rising senior, how will taking online courses outside of the US, or remote courses inside of the US, affect my eligibility for OPT?

An F1 student accrues eligibility for practical training whether they are inside or outside of the United States during the COVID-19 emergency if the student is in Active status in SEVIS and meets the requirements of their school’s procedural change plans submitted to SEVP.

Questions about Travel

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What travel restrictions are currently in place?

A number of travel restrictions currently prohibit the entry through land ports from Canada or Mexico, as well as anyone who has recently traveled in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, European Schengen Area, Iran, Brazil or the People’s Republic of China. Updates about travel restrictions will be posted on the NAFSA website, as well as on the CDC Travel Restriction Page. The travel bans are constantly changing based on the health situation at the time in a particular country. The President has issued five COVID-19-related proclamations to limit travel to the United States. These proclamations will remain in effect until terminated by the President. The proclamations state that the "Secretary of Health and Human Services shall recommend that the President continue, modify, or terminate" the proclamations. There is currently a China travel proclamation, Iran travel proclamation, European Schengen area travel proclamation, Ireland and United Kingdom proclamation, and a Brazilian proclamation.

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Due to the current Presidential Proclamations restricting travel for certain individuals, I may not be able to come back to the US to study at Wellesley. How long will the Proclamation last?

We encourage our students to review travel guidance from their home countries as well as monitor restrictions on entry the US is currently maintaining. You can find great information on the NAFSA page, as well as the websites for CBP and the White House.

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What if I cannot secure a visa appointment before courses begin?

If you cannot secure a visa appointment in time for the start of the semester, you should reserve the earliest date available and inquire with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate about their emergency appointment procedure. In some cases, they will not book emergency appointments until they reopen.

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When will I be able to apply for a visa?
  • On March 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced a general suspension of regular nonimmigrant visa services at all U.S. Embassy locations worldwide due to concerns related to COVID-19. As of today, most regular nonimmigrant visa services remain suspended, although many students have reported securing visa appointments for a future date. We encourage you to check for updates on the website of the local US Embassy location in your country. Contact information can be found on the U.S. Embassy website.
  • In most cases, you will need the information on your I-20 (F visa) or DS-2019 (J visa) in order to secure your visa appointment. Please complete the Certification of Finances form as soon as possible if you have not done so already and submit it via the Workday Checklist. Slater will process your immigration form as quickly as possible and mail it by express mail. We will also email you with your SEVIS ID and Wellesley College's school code so you can pay the SEVIS Fee and schedule a visa appointment as soon as possible.
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I have not been able to get an F 1 visa, but I have a B Visitor visa, or my country is part of the visa waiver program (ESTA). Can I come to the U.S. and study using that?

The B visa category and ESTA do not allow for study. Studying while on the B Visitor visa/ESTA constitutes a violation of immigration status and can have serious immigration consequences.

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What should incoming class of 2024 students do if they cannot obtain an F 1 visa?

We encourage those who cannot obtain F‑1 status to enroll in online classes for the Fall. Incoming first years will be given priority for housing after seniors and juniors in the Spring semester if they cannot attend classes in the Fall.

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What if I want to defer my admission?

New students wishing to defer their admission need to speak to the admissions office for further instructions.

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I am a first-year student and my I-20 says it has a start date of Sept 8, but the semester will be starting on August 31. Will Slater be issuing new Forms I-20?

For students who have already received their Form I-20, we will be issuing a corrected I-20 digitally and sending it to students via their Wellesley email address. Please print out this Form I-20 and use it for entry to the U.S. along with your F‑1 visa. Please also carry the originally issued Form I-20.

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Some embassies are requiring letters to prove that schools will reopen. Will Slater be issuing a letter confirming that Wellesley will reopen in August?

You can print and use President Johnson's email as proof that the College will reopen on August 31. Additionally, Slater International Center has sent each first year international student and continuing student a letter, via email, you may print and use at the visa appointment or the port-of-entry for proof of Wellesley’s hybrid model and educational plans for Fall 2020.

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What happens if I cannot leave the United States before my grace period ends due to travel restrictions?
  • Keep records to document that you could not leave the U.S due to COVID-19 related disruptions. This could include cancelled flight records, travel restriction updates, etc.
  • You may also apply for a change of status to B1/B2 tourist status. This costs money and may be the safest option if there is a significant delay returning home.
  • Contact your country’s Embassy in the US to see what advice your Embassy can provide its citizens.
  • Consult the Slater with any questions or concerns.

Status Maintenance

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If I enroll in online classes in Fall 2020, can I maintain my F 1 status?

All new initial attendance international students and those returning from a leave of absence may not take 100% online courses per the latest ICE policy guidance. Continuing students, in active immigration status, per the ICE policy guidance, may register for a fully online course load.

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I am a continuing student and may be taking all my courses online. Can I still maintain status if I am taking full-time online courses abroad or in the U.S?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued recent guidance confirming that nonimmigrant students may remain in the United States or abroad to engage in full course of study online if they have not otherwise violated the terms of their nonimmigrant status. If an Active F student is outside the United States, their SEVIS record can remain in Active status and not be terminated. 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 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in Active status.

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If I am out of the country in Fall 2020, will I lose my visa due to the 5-month rule?

Per the most recent ICE guidance, the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in Active status.

SEVIS Transfer Students

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I am in the US now and will transfer my SEVIS record to Wellesley to begin courses this fall. Can I maintain F 1 status?

Yes, as long as you are inside the US and are able to transfer the record to Wellesley in a timely manner and enroll at Wellesley in Fall 2020.

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If I am a SEVIS transfer student, and I choose not to enroll in courses in Fall 2020, can I remain in the US and maintain my F-1 status?

No, F‑1 students are required to be enrolled full time each semester in order to maintain F‑1 status. Slater has a 15-day reporting period for SEVIS registration for SEVIS transfer records. We can only activate your SEVIS record with proof that you are in the United States in F‑1 status, a full-time course load, and an address in the United States. Please note we are still awaiting guidance from SEVP on how students engaged in remote learning can maintain their F­‑1 status this fall.