COVID-19 INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Helping you plan for Fall 2022

Page last updated: August 17, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact international student mobility. The U.S. government has indicated that the flexibility for online classes will continue for the fall 2022, spring 2023, and summer 2023 terms.

F-1 students

Most classes will be in-person, but some academic programs may offer hybrid or online course enrollment. Thus, F-1 students at IUPUI continue to fall under the Department of Homeland Security's immigration guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This means that if you arrived on campus for Spring 2022 or earlier, you are permitted to enroll in only online courses for Fall 2022 from a regulatory perspective. However, your academic program determines what course types are available for your enrollment, and you need to work with them to determine if you have an option for online study.

If you are a new student for fall 2022, you need to enroll in at least one in-person class (coded as P, HY, IN, or IS on class schedules).

Regardless of whether you are online or in-person, you need to meet all appropriate immigration status requirements. Our office is available to help in case you have any visa- or travel-related questions. You should direct other questions to your department.

J-1 students

J-1 students need to enroll in at least one in-person class (coded as P, HY, IN, or IS on class schedules), but be prepared to adjust to a pre-pandemic, standard enrollment if Department of State changes its guidance.

 

Planning for fall 2023 and beyond

We expect the flexibility the U.S. government has provided so far to end after summer 2023. So, you should plan for a return to normal immigration regulations regarding online enrollment in Fall 2023 and beyond.

 

Travel

  • Can I travel outside the U.S.?

    If you are currently in the U.S. and want to travel outside the country, you should carefully consider your return travel. Will you be able to travel back to the U.S. in time for any in-person class requirements? Are you fully vaccinated against COVID-19? Do you need a new visa to return to the U.S. (appointment backlogs at U.S. embassies and consulates continue to be an issue)? And of course, you’d need to follow any travel/quarantine guidance for the countries you plan to visit.

    Make sure you review the other questions in this Travel section.

  • If I leave the U.S., what documents do I need to take with me?

    • Signed I-20 (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students)
    • 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)

    Additional information for current students 

    You need to submit a Travel Signature Request eform in Atlas if one of these is true for you:

    • The most recent travel signature (endorsement) on your I-20 or DS-2019 is going to be older than 12 months from the date you plan to reenter the U.S. in the same program of study
    • You are an undergraduate student with a new major
  • I want to enter the U.S.; what do I need to know?

    For new students in Fall 2022, you will need to enroll in at least one class that has an in-person component.

    Effective November 8, 2021, all nonimmigrant, non-citizen individuals entering the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. There are some very limited exceptions.

    Review the vaccine/testing requirement

    Documents to carry with you

    We recommend you carry the following documents with you, and present them to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent.

    • I-20 or DS-2019 (for F-1 or J-1 students), with a valid travel signature
    • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp
    • Passport valid for at least six months from your planned entry date

    We recommend that you carry the following with you in your carry-on luggage but only present them to the CBP agent if requested.

    • A copy of your current or next semester class schedule

    Additional information for current students

    You need to submit a Travel Signature Request eform in Atlas if one of these is true for you:

    • Themost recent travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 is going to be older than 12 months from the date you plan to reenter the U.S. in the same program of study
    • You are an undergraduate student with a new major

    After you arrive in the U.S.

    Find your I-94 record and upload it to Atlas. You need to do this every time you enter the U.S.

Visas and Immigration

Our office is your primary resource for these questions. The advice we provide one student doesn't always apply to the next student. So you need to contact us if you have questions about your situation instead of following advice from a friend or something you found on social media. 

  • Do I have to remain in Indianapolis or the U.S. while I'm taking classes?

    Yes, if you are a new F-1 student in the U.S. for fall 2022 OR a new or continuing J-1 student

    This means that you are arriving for in-person classes for the first time in Fall 2022.

    You need to remain in Bloomington and participate in at least one in-person class (coded as P, HY, IN, or IS on your class schedule).

    Otherwise, it is up to your academic department, and you should contact them with any questions.

  • What about the "5-month rule"?

    The 5-month rule does not apply in this situation. As long as you maintain full time enrollment in your IUPUI classes, you are considered in valid status.
  • 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 to you 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.

    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.

  • Can I extend my F-1 or J-1 student status?

    You may have heard that you can file Form I-539 to extend your stay in the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student, but that is generally not true for F-1 and J-1 students at IUPUI. It is always best to contact our office with any questions related to your immigration status instead of relying on information you’ve heard from others.

    Generally speaking, your F-1 or J-1 student status is valid (as long as you follow applicable rules for F-1 students and J-1 students) until you complete your program end date (plus the additional time for your grace period, which is 60 days for F-1 students and 30 days for J-1 students). If you wish to extend your stay in the U.S. beyond the end of your grace period, you only have a few options (learn more for F-1 students and J-1 students).

    The U.S. government has not provided any additional grace period benefits because of COVID-19. If you are unable to leave the U.S. or extend your stay through employment authorization or further academic study by the end of your grace period, you need to speak to an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your options. An attorney may be able to identify a non-student immigration status that you can apply for. You can find an immigration lawyer through the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Our office cannot assist you with an application to change to a non-student status.

  • I heard that you can send my I-20 or DS-2019 by email; is that true?

    Yes, we can provide an electronic copy of your signed I-20. Effective Fall 2021, we will only be providing electronic I-20s unless you specifically request a printed I-20.

    It is not an option for the DS-2019 because the Department of State's Exchange Visitor Program, which governs the J-1 program, has stated that an electronic Form DS-2019 is not permissible.

  • If I choose to take a semester off, what should I know?

    Contact our office to discuss taking a semester off. There are multiple things to consider, and we can help you work through that process.

    Immigration considerations

    Review our leave of absence website for F-1 students and J-1 students.

    If you choose to not enroll in classes for a semester, we would need to end your current SEVIS record, which has some important consequences.

    • You would have to leave the U.S. (if you are in the country).
    • You would not be able to reenter the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student until you have a new I-20 or DS-2019 and have paid the SEVIS fee (currently $350 USD for F-1 students and $220 USD for J-1 students) again.
    • You would not be eligible for off-campus work authorization (CPT or OPT) until you have completed a full academic year in the U.S.
      • For example, if you returned in fall 2021, you would not be able to hold an off-campus internship until the fall 2022 semester.
    • If you only need one semester to complete your program, you would not be eligible for CPT or OPT for that degree program.

    If you choose to do so, complete the Notification of Complete Withdrawal from Classes eform in Atlas before the first day of classes. Then, you need to contact us at least three months before the semester you plan to return to IUPUI.

  • If I am approved for a reduced course load, can I remain in status by taking online classes?

    If 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 update to the academic calendar does not change your approval.

    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, what should I do?

    If you are ill for several days and unable to participate in online class, contact us to discuss the immigration options you have. You 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.

  • If I can't return to Indianapolis; what should I do?

    You should contact your academic department for help.

  • When will I be eligible for CPT/OPT because of COVID-19?

    The U.S. government has not updated the regulations related to Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) due to COVID-19.

Insurance

  • Do I have to have health insurance if I'm outside the U.S.?

    The IU International Plan provides coverage anywhere in the world, so you can remain on it if you wish.

    F-1 Students: If you are in F-1 status and enrolled in IUPUI classes while outside the U.S., you will automatically be enrolled in the IU plan, but you are not required to keep it or have alternate health insurance coverage. Complete the Health Insurance Exemption Request in Atlas to indicate that you do not want insurance. When you return to the U.S.—even if it is in the middle of the semester—you need to have health insurance. Contact OIA to purchase special pro-rated coverage under the IU International Plan. 

    J-1 Students: If you are maintaining your J-1 status while outside the U.S., you will be automatically enrolled in the IU plan.  You and your dependents are required by the U.S. Department of State to have health insurance that meets minimum coverage levels:

    • $100,000 for each sickness or illness (including maternity/pregnancy care)
    • $100,000 for each accident or injury
    • $50,000 for medical evacuation
    • $25,000 for repatriation
    • $500 deductible or less

    If you do not want the IU International Plan, submit proof of your alternate health insurance coverage in the Health Insurance Exemption Request in Atlas.

  • Do I have to pay the same fees if I am enrolled online outside of Indianapolis?

    The cost of tuition and fees are the same no matter where you live or what mode of instruction the classes are (online or in-person).

Academics and classroom

Most questions about academics will need to be addressed by your professors or academic department.

IUPUI provides a VPN to all students but you will likely have access to 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.

If you have questions or concerns, contact IU's University Information Technology Services (UITS)

Housing and dining

Questions about on-campus housing and dining should be directed to those offices for the most up-to-date information.

Housing   Dining 

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.

  • F-1 status

    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.

  • SEVIS record

    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.

  • I-20

    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.