COVID-19 Information for International IUPUI

Helping international students and scholars plan for fall 2020 and beyond

Page last updated: August 12, 2020
Includes updated guidance for F-1 students 

IUPUI is preparing for a mix of in-person and online classes for fall 2020. Below is our guidance for continuing international students based on IUPUI's plans and regulations from the U.S. government.  

Contact us if you have any questions about how these changes will relate to your specific situation.

Summary of the most important information

The U.S. government clarified its guidance for fall 2020. Continuing students can remain in the U.S. and do not have to enroll in in-person classes. This is true even if IUPUI has to transition to fully online later in the fall.

If you are outside the U.S. and unable/not planning to return to Indianapolis
  • IUPUI will work with you to continue your degree online.
  • Your SEVIS record will remain active as long as you enroll in a full course of study.
If you are outside the U.S. and can return to Indianapolis
  • If you do not obtain a pre-arrival COVID-19 test, you will need to quarantine unless you receive a COVID-19 test after arrival and the result is negative. Read more in the COVID-19 testing and quarantine questions below.
  • There are no in-person enrollment requirements for continuing students, so you can take the most appropriate courses for your degree program as long as you maintain a full course of study (or have an approved reduced course load).
If you are inside the U.S.
  • There are no in-person enrollment requirements for continuing students, so you can take the most appropriate courses for your degree program as long as you maintain a full course of study (or have an approved reduced course load).

Obtaining a visa

The U.S. Department of State announced on July 16 that it will resume routine visa services on a post-by-post basis in a phased-in process based on local conditions. You will need to check with the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you to find out more about their plans and about your options for scheduling an appointment for a visa interview. In some cases, the option to schedule a visa interview through “expedited processing” may still be available.  

Review the entry restrictions

Make sure you review the entry restrictions the U.S. has imposed related to COVID-19. These restrictions may remain in place indefinitely, so you should plan your fall travel with this in mind.

Learn more

Visas, immigration and travel 

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. 

  • Will my immigration status be impacted if I participate in classes from another country?

    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 at least the fall 2020 semester.

  • 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 classes for fall 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.

    In fact, if you stayed in the U.S. after classes transitioned online, you should remain in the U.S. now because of the difficulties you would experience trying to return.

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

    If you are a continuing student or scholar currently in the U.S., we recommend remaining in the U.S. now because of the difficulties you would experience trying to return.

    If you leave, you need to take the following:

    • Signed I-20 (F-1 students), DS-2019 (J-1 students or scholars), or I-797 form (H-1B, E-3, TN, or O-1 employees)
    • 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)
  • 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. 

    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).

    At this time, 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 can't return to Indianapolis because of travel or visa issues; what should I do?

    If you are a continuing student and you are unable to return to Indianapolis, IUPUI will help you continue your degree online to the greatest extent possible—some exceptions may include courses with clinical or laboratory components.

    In all cases, you should work with your academic unit for guidance on how to continue making progress toward your degree.

    We do not fully know how this may impact your ability to apply for future benefits, like work authorization. We are awaiting guidance from the U.S. government and will provide more details as soon as we can.

  • 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.
  • I want to enter the U.S.; what do I need to know?

    For continuing students, the U.S. government has indicated that you can enter the U.S. even if you are enrolled in only online classes.

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

    Review entry restrictions

    The U.S. has entry restrictions if you are traveling from or have visited certain countries in the 14 days prior to your entry to the U.S.

    Learn more

    Documents to carry with you

    You will need to carry certain documents with you (i.e., do not put these in checked luggage) when you enter the U.S.

    • Signed I-20 (F-1 students), DS-2019 (J-1 students or scholars), or I-797 form (H-1B, E-3, TN, or O-1 employees)
    • Passport (valid for at least six months from the date you plan to enter the U.S.)
    • Valid visa stamp

    Additional information for current students or scholars

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

    • Your most 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

    If you are being asked to produce a letter confirming that you are eligible to return to campus in order to secure travel arrangements,  you should complete the Letter of Good Standing Request in Atlas and include any important details about your request in the notes section. 

    COVID-19 testing and self-quarantine

    If you are arriving from a location outside the U.S., you will be required to self-quarantine upon arrival unless you have submitted a pre-arrival test, conducted within the 10 days prior to arrival, showing a negative result. The self-quarantine, if required, will last for 14 days or until you submit evidence of a negative test for COVID-19 - whichever comes first.

    Report your pre-arrival test results

    Learn more about additional COVID-19 testing and screening on the Fall 2020 FAQ.

  • Am I required to get tested for COVID-19?

    Pre-arrival testing is strongly encouraged for all students. If you obtain a pre-arrival COVID-19 test within 10 days before coming to Indianapolis, and the test result is negative, you do not need to quarantine when you arrive.

    If you do not obtain a pre-arrival COVID-19 test, you will need to self-quarantine for 14 days unless you take an on-arrival COVID-19 test and the result is negative. For students living on campus, your COVID-19 test is part of the housing check-in process and will happen before you move in to your residence. For students living off campus, you need to schedule your on-arrival COVID-19 test and self-quarantine until you receive a negative test result.

    Off-campus residents may experience delays in accessing a testing option; therefore, pre-arrival testing is strongly recommended.

    Report your pre-arrival test results

    Learn more about additional COVID-19 testing and screening on the Fall 2020 FAQ.

  • Do I need to quarantine if I arrive in Indianapolis?

    If you are arriving from a location outside the U.S., you will be required to self-quarantine upon arrival unless you have submitted a pre-arrival test, conducted within the 10 days prior to arrival, showing a negative result. The self-quarantine, if required, will last for 14 days or until you submit evidence of a negative test for COVID-19 - whichever comes first.

    Report your pre-arrival test results

  • Is COVID-19 testing available on campus?

    • For students living on campus, you will receive a COVID-19 test as part of the housing check-in process that will happen before you move in to your residence this semester.
    • If you will be returning to Indianapolis from outside the U.S. this fall and will live off campus, you can find the latest information about COVID-19 screening and testing on the Fall 2020 FAQs webpage.
    •  
  • 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.

  • I want to return home, but I am having problems making arrangements. What should I do?

    If you are a continuing student currently in the U.S., we recommend remaining in the U.S. now because of the difficulties you would experience trying to return.

    However, if you leave, we suggest you contact your nearest embassy/consulate in the U.S. They may have information to help you find a way back home, even if you cannot find a commercial flight.

  • 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 was an IUPUI student in spring or summer 2020 and am beginning a new program at IUPUI in fall 2020, what do I need to know?

    We are working to determine the impact of the U.S. government's guidance on students outside the U.S. who have a change of level I-20 (new degree program). We will post updated guidance as soon as possible.

 Housing and dining

  • 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 in, moving out, storing items, etc.

    Learn more about Housing

  • 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.

  • Will I be able to eat on campus?

    Yes, IUPUI Dining Services will provide options for on-campus dining. Find more information on IUPUI Dining Services' website.

 Academics and classroom

Many questions about academics will need to be addressed by your professors or academic department. We will continue to provide information shared by the campus or university, but always look to guidance from these other sources. 

  • I can't travel back to Indianapolis in August, what should I do about classes?

    IUPUI will help you continue your degree online to the greatest extent possible—some exceptions may include courses with clinical or laboratory components.

    In all cases, you should work with your academic unit for guidance on how to continue making progress toward your degree.

  • 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.

 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.