Spring 2021 Immigration FAQ

Spring 2021 Immigration FAQ

Questions about Practical Training (CPT and OPT)

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I will graduate in June 2021 and cannot return to campus for the Spring 2021 term. Can I apply for OPT?

Currently, students must maintain F‑1 status and be present in the US to apply for OPT. SEVP has maintained that F-1 students cannot apply for OPT from abroad.

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I am as junior. How will taking online courses outside of the US, or remote courses inside of the US, affect my eligibility for OPT?

An F-1 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 Class of 2024 students do if they still cannot obtain an F 1 visa for the Spring 2021 semester?

We encourage those who cannot obtain F‑1 status to enroll in online classes for the Spring.

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What if I want to take a Leave of Absence?

Students wishing to take a leave of absence need to speak to their Class Dean for further instructions.

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I am a first-year student and my I-20 says it has a start date of Feb 1 or Feb 8, but the semester will be starting on Feb 15. Will Slater be issuing new Forms I-20?

Slater has issued new Forms I-20 with the Feb 15 start date to your college email address. Please check your email for an email from slatercenter@wellesley.edu. If you cannot find your digitally-issued Form I-20, please contact Slater.

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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 be open in Spring 2021?

Slater International Center has sent each first year international student a letter via email that 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 Spring 2021.

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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 Spring 2021, 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.

SEVP and ICE have not yet confirmed that this guidance will continue into the Spring 2021 semester. While we expect the guidance will remain the same, we have not yet heard official word from the government.

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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 guidance for the Fall 2020 stating 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.

SEVP and ICE have not yet confirmed that this guidance will continue into the Spring semester. While we expect the guidance will remain the same, we have not yet heard official word from the government.