COVID-19 Information for International IUPUI
Information for international students and scholars
Page last updated: March 31, 2020
IUPUI is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. This page lists information specific for international students and scholars at IUPUI based on the most recent guidance from IU.
We understand this is a difficult time. Your safety and well-being remain our top priority. We hope these answers help you make decisions regarding travel, but please contact us if you have any questions.
Students, tell us your plans
Visas and Immigration
Our office is your primary resource on campus for immigration- and visa-related questions. We are dedicated to assisting you with these types of questions.
Will my immigration be status be impacted if I leave the U.S.?
No. On March 13, the U.S. government announced that as long as you maintain full-time enrollment online during the COVID-19 emergency, there will be no negative impact on your immigration status, even if you depart the United States and take your IUPUI classes online from elsewhere. This temporary provision is in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
What about the "5 month rule"?The 5-month rule does not apply in this situation. As long as you maintain full time enrollment with your IUPUI online classes for spring 2020, you are considered in valid status.
Do I have to leave the U.S. or Indianapolis?
No, you are not required to leave the U.S. or Indianapolis.
Anyone who chooses to stay in the United States now may find it difficult to return home, or to travel elsewhere internationally, for an indeterminate period of time. As recent events have made clear, more and more governments are implementing entry restrictions, and other restrictions on air travel must be expected. These measures are often put in place with little or no advance warning.
If you live in IUPUI housing
Students who do not have another residence, or cannot return there due to travel or other restrictions, will be permitted to petition to remain in IUPUI housing. Review the information from Housing and Residence Life.
Remember that anytime you move, you need to update your address in One.IU within 10 calendar days.
Should I leave the U.S. or Indianapolis?
We strongly advise that students (with a couple of exceptions) return to their permanent residence, or if preferable, to a location elsewhere in the U.S. where you have family support.
If you want to apply for OPT
Federal regulations require you to apply for OPT from within the U.S. and to do so shortly after graduation. Because of this, if you want to apply for OPT, you should remain in the U.S.
If you are a graduate student
If you are a graduate student involved in on-going research or teaching assistantships or specialized activities requiring physical presence on campus, you should be in touch with your academic department for advisement. While such situations present unique considerations, every attempt should be made to ensure you are able to return to your permanent residence or to socially distance in off-campus housing as soon as possible. We urge graduate students to contact their program advisors for guidance.
If I leave the U.S., what documents do I need to take with me?
Make sure you:
- Bring your I-20, DS-2019, or I-797 forms
- Have your passport
- Print and keep a copy of your most recent I-94
- Save evidence of your departure from the U.S. (boarding passes, copies of stamps in your passport)
Travel signatures on your I-20 or DS-2019 are only required for reentry to the U.S. Thus, do not worry about obtaining a travel signature right now. We will provide further guidance on this later.
What if my visa is expired and I need a new visa?
Look to be sure that your visa stamp is truly expired. This is the sticker in your passport, given you to by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is only possible to get a new visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. If you are outside of the U.S., and your visa stamp is expired, you will need to apply for a new visa stamp at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate when they re-open for visa issuance.
On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced it is suspending routine visa services in most countries worldwide. Department of State did not provide a date when services would return to normal. Check the website for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to see its current status.
If the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country is not currently issuing visa stamps, please continue to monitor their website for changes.
You do not need to leave the U.S. if your visa stamp is expired. The visa stamp in your passport only needs to be valid to seek re-entry to the U.S. If you are in the U.S. and remain in the U.S. with an expired visa stamp, you do not need to take any action to get a new visa. You may do so on a future trip outside of the U.S.
If I choose to take a semester off, will I be able to travel back to the U.S.?
Contact our office to discuss taking a semester off. There are multiple things to consider, and we can help you work through that process.
If I am approved for reduced course load, can I remain in status by taking online classes?
If spring 2020 is your final semester, and you have already been approved for a Reduced Course Load, you are considered to be a full-time student—even if you are enrolled in fewer courses than is typically considered full-time. The university moving to online instruction does not change your permission to complete your studies in the spring semester 2020. If you have concerns about your enrollment, please contact your academic advisor and the OIA.
If I become ill and am unable to participate in class or attend work, what should I do?
If you are ill for several days and unable to work (scholars) or participate in online class (students), contact us to discuss the immigration options you have. International students may have an option to withdraw for a medical reason, and we would be able to assist you with that process.
If you are on an IU-sponsored medical insurance plan, you will not have to pay any out-of-pocket expenses for the focused test used to diagnose COVID-19. Any treatment related to the illness would have the same coverage that is currently available for any emergency or non-emergency illness (subject to the normal deductible, copay, or out-of-pocket amounts associated with your medical plan). Review the Anthem plan details for specific information or contact the IU Student Health Insurance Coordinator if you have questions about your coverage.
I live in IUPUI housing; what do I need to know?
Housing and Residence Life has the information you need about petitioning to stay in IUPUI housing, moving out, storing items, etc.
Do I have to break my lease in my non-IUPUI housing?
No, you are not required to leave the U.S. or Indianapolis, and thus, are not required to break your lease with a non-IUPUI housing provider.
Academics and Classes
Many questions about academics will need to be addressed by your professors, academic department, or IUPUI generally. We've provided some information, but always look to guidance from these other sources.
I'm concerned about access if I return to my home country, what should I do?
All students should have recieved a survey about internet connection. Follow any guidance you receive from IUPUI or your academic department.
Can IUPUI provide a VPN?
Yes, all IUPUI students have access to the IU VPN.
Depending on your country, you are able to access many campus resources (Canvas, One.IU, etc.) without a VPN. Zoom has some restrictions in China, but there is a workaround so you can access Zoom from China. Further, all professors will be recording their classes, so you will be able to watch them later in Canvas, Kaltura, etc. If you have questions or concerns, contact your professors for further assistance.
Will professors record lectures for those in other time zones?
Professors have been encouraged to record all lectures and share them with their classes so you can watch it anytime. However, make sure you follow all guidelines from your professors regarding "attendance" and what that means in online classes.
Your professor will be sharing information with you before classes resume.
Summer and Fall Semester Plans
Will summer or fall classes be offered online?
IUPUI decided to host all summer classes online. Look to your academic units for more information on the details.
At this time no decision has been made for the fall semester. When a decision has been made, that will be communicated to all students.
I'm an admitted student; what do I need to know?
We are diligently working to ensure you will have access to an IUPUI education this fall. There are many ideas under consideration, and we will share those as soon as we know.
In the meantime, we continue to process immigration documents (I-20s and DS-2019s) as needed.
Definition of Common Terms
F-1 visa stamp
The F-1 visa stamp in your passport is just a stamp that you show at the U.S. border to ask to enter the U.S. in F-1 status. It has no purpose again unless you choose to travel outside the U.S. and want to apply again to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status. It is not required to be valid to remain inside the U.S. in F-1 status; you do need a valid F-1 visa stamp to enter the U.S.
Please note some U.S. embassy and consulates around the world may be closed or offering limited services as the COVID-19 challenges are global and not limited to the U.S., and an F-1 visa stamp can only be obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside of the U.S.
Your F-1 status is what allows you to remain legally inside the U.S. and continue to remain in the U.S. even with an expired F-1 visa stamp. Your F-1 status is shown by your I-94 that indicates you’ve been granted F-1 status and you are admitted in F-1 status for “D/S”. “D/S” means duration of status. That means you can continue to remain inside the U.S. in F-1 status for as long as you have a valid I-20 and you are continuing to meet all of the F-1 status requirements.
Otherwise, your F-1 status stay in the U.S. only ends once you’ve completed your study for the degree listed on your I-20 or until your OPT authorization ends. As you are on OPT, your F-1 status would remain valid as long as you continue to meet the F-1 status OPT requirements including working full-time in your field of study and reporting that employment.
This is a record in the U.S. government’s SEVIS database. To maintain the SEVIS record, an F-1 student has to be maintaining all of the U.S. government’s F-1 status requirements, including the enrollment requirements.
Please note the F-1 status requirements are not the requirements of the OIA or of IUPUI. They are the requirements of the U.S. government directly to each F-1 student in the U.S. If the F-1 status requirements cannot be maintained, this is a SEVIS violation and the SEVIS record has to be ended.
If the SEVIS record is ended while an F-1 student is inside the U.S., this reflects that there is a problem with the student’s F-1 status in the U.S. If the SEVIS record is ended while the student is outside the U.S., a new SEVIS record has to be created before the student can return to the U.S. again in F-1 student status.
The document created by the university’s Designated School Officials in the U.S. government’s SEVIS database. A valid I-20 is required to: apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for an F-1 visa stamp; enter the U.S.; and to maintain F-1 status while inside the U.S.
The I-20 is issued for a specific program of study for a specific length of time for study in that program. If a student is maintaining F-1 status requirements, the I-20 ends on the date the student completes the final academic requirements for the degree program listed on the I-20, even if that is earlier than the estimated program end date printed on the I-20. If a SEVIS record is ended, that also ends the validity of the I-20.