Fall 2020 Immigration FAQ

Fall 2020 Immigration FAQ

Thank you for your patience as we continue to create this FAQ. We understand how difficult and frustrating this time is and hope the below is helpful. We are also waiting for the Department of Homeland Security to update all U.S. colleges and universities with new immigration guidance for fall 2020. We anticipate this new fall guidance will be released by the Student Exchange Visitor Program by the end of next week. Without such guidance, it is difficult to advise our international community appropriately.

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?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to issue guidance on how any changes to course delivery methods during the fall semester in response to COVID-19 will affect our students' eligibility to maintain F‑1 status or qualify for practical training (CPT or OPT). Colleges and universities across the country await guidance from SEVP so that we can advise our students on fall enrollment.

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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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?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to issue guidance on how any changes to course delivery methods during the fall semester in response to COVID-19 will affect our students' eligibility to maintain F‑1 status or qualify for practical training (CPT or OPT). Colleges and universities across the country await guidance from SEVP so that we can advise our students on fall enrollment.

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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?

We are still waiting for SEVP to release guidance for this Fall term on if remote learning will be permitted for F‑1 student status maintenance. Once we learn about this, we can advise you more about this question.

Since the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to issue guidance on how any changes to course delivery methods during the fall semester in response to COVID-19 will affect our students' eligibility to maintain F‑1 status, we will be able to provide more guidance after we learn from SEVP’s updated guidance.

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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?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to issue guidance on how any changes to course delivery methods during the fall semester in response to COVID-19 will affect our students' eligibility to maintain F‑1 status or qualify for practical training (CPT or OPT). Colleges and universities across the country await guidance from SEVP so that we can advise our students on fall enrollment. The 5-month rule did not apply for international students in active immigration status in spring 2020 due to the pandemic. We are uncertain if the new guidance will be as flexible.

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?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to issue guidance on how any changes to course delivery methods during the fall semester in response to COVID-19 will affect our students' eligibility to maintain F‑1 status or qualify for practical training (CPT or OPT). Colleges and universities across the country await guidance from SEVP so that we can advise our students on fall enrollment.

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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.