COVID-19 Travel & Immigration Guidance
Immigration Updates for Fall 2020 Semester
July 6, 2020
Dear International Students and Concerned Colleagues:
You have probably heard the news today that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a rule that international students will not be able to take only online courses and remain in the US this fall.
We have developed a range of learning modalities to provide on-campus, in person courses for all students in the Fall 2020 semester, under modified conditions as necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19.
We are working to provide safe on-campus, in person courses for international students that will comply with Student Exchange and Visitor Information System requirements, so that you may remain in country.
Further details will be forthcoming, but we wanted you to know that we are working to ensure that you have a quality in-person educational experience this fall.
We understand that these are stressful times, but please know you are welcome here. We value you and the richness that you bring to our Wildcat community as international students. We are here to support you. ISS will also host multiple question and answer sessions on the topic on Wednesday, July 15th. Registration is available on the ISS Programs and Events page. Updated 7/8/20
Vice Provost, Global Affairs
Updated ISS Business Hours
Effective May 17, 2020, International Student Services and all Arizona Global offices will maintain business hours on Monday-Thursday from 8 am-5 pm and will not be open for services or appointments on Fridays until further notice. Additionally, following the University of Arizona's precautions taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, all staff continue to work remotely and in-office services are suspended. Despite the change in business hours, ISS will maintain the same processing times for immigration requests. As a reminder, we remain fully available during business hours via email and Zoom advising.
We hope that you stay safe and healthy during this uncertain time. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us.
Electronic I-20 Issuance
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recently made some procedural changes regarding I-20 issuance due to the impact of COVID-19 on SEVP-certified schools and F students. On March 26, 2020, SEVP announced that Designated School Officials (DSOs) may digitally sign and electronically send Forms I-20s to students at the e-mail address listed in SEVIS. In the case of minor students, the e-mail address may belong to their parent or legal guardian. Only approved principal designated school officials (PDSOs) and DSOs may physically sign or input their own digital signature to the Form I-20.
Effective April 24, ISS will begin issuing digitally signed I-20s to all students with approved requests in MyGlobal, except those who need a printed I-20 with an ink signature for an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (for example, students applying for OPT, reinstatement or change of status).
For students receiving a digitally signed I-20, we will send the document to your university e-mail (for students on OPT, we will email your personal email, if that is what you are using to access the SEVP Portal).
Policies and procedures may be subject to change. If you have questions about your digitally signed I-20, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
We strongly recommend against any non-essential travel at this time, both within the U.S. and internationally. However, if you have concerns about your safety and welfare and want to return to your home country, you are free to do so.
If you decide to leave the U.S. and return, you should weigh several factors, including current travel restrictions, whether or not your visa has expired, availability and cost of return airfare, and possible quarantine in your country or upon return to the United States. One of the items required for entry to the U.S. is a valid visa and some U.S. consulates and embassies have temporarily stopped processing visa applications. Please keep these factors in mind before deciding to leave the U.S.
If you decide to leave the U.S., remember you do not need a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 to leave, only to reenter.
No. While the University is taking precautionary measures on campus, you may remain in the U.S. if you choose. International students who are currently in the residence halls are welcome to remain in the residence halls. Check the University of Arizona’s official COVID-19 Information page for updates on university operations during this time.
There are several COVID-19-related notices and proclamations that limit travel to the United States:
China Travel Proclamation (effective February 2, 2020) - Proclamation 9984 of January 31, 2020 suspends entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the People's Republic of China, excluding the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
Iran Travel Proclamation (effective March 2, 2020) - Proclamation 9992 of February 29, 2020 suspends entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
European Schengen Area Proclamation (effective March 13, 2020) - Proclamation 9993 of March 11, 2020 suspends entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Ireland and United Kingdom Proclamation (effective March 16, 2020) - Presidential Proclamation of March 14, 2020 suspends entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe, or the Republic of Ireland during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
Canada and Mexico Federal Notices on “Essential Travel” (effective March 24, 2020) have temporarily restricted entry to the United States through land ports of entry from Canada and Mexico to "essential travel" only. The notices include "traveling to attend educational institutions" as essential, but it is unclear how this will be applied to students entering during school breaks or who are enrolled in all online classes. The restrictions have been extended three times, and are currently in effect through July 21, 2020:
- Brazil Proclamation (effective May 26, 2020) - Proclamation of May 24, 2020 suspends entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non-U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the Federative Republic of Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The effective date was changed from May 28, 2020 to May 26, 2020 by the May 25, 2020 amendment to the proclamation.
If you are an active F-1 or J-1 international student affected by these proclamations, please send an email to ISS using this link and we will follow-up with you.
We strongly recommend against any non-essential travel at this time, both within the U.S. and internationally. If you decide to travel within the U.S. please pay attention to any domestic travel advisories. You must update your UA Street Address to reflect any change of address, even if temporary.
If you enroll full-time for the Spring 2020 semester and make normal progress in your course of study, your record will remain in Active status and the five-month temporary absence rule will not apply. We cannot predict, but do not anticipate visa cancellations if you are outside the U.S. for more than 5 months.
The Department of State has temporarily suspended routine visa services at some U.S. Embassies and Consulates. They are unable to provide a specific date when they will resume services at this time. Please continue to check the Department of State website for updates.
You can stay in the United States with an expired visa as long as you maintain your student status and your I-20 or DS-2019 has not expired. If you are outside the U.S., you must have a valid visa to return to the United States. It is not possible to renew your visa from inside the U.S.
We recommend reaching out to your country’s embassy or consulate. Many embassies have information on their websites and social media for exchange visitors and students.
F-1 Students: If you are completing your degree and unable to find a return flight home, you may be able to apply for OPT to extend your stay in the U.S. You can learn more about OPT eligibility and application requirements here, or schedule an appointment with an international student advisor for more information. We recommend applying at least 3 weeks before the end of your 60-day grace period to allow for time for us to issue the OPT I-20 and you to mail your application to USCIS.
You can request a travel signature now for future travel plans. Each signature is valid for 1 year from the date signed (6 months for students on OPT). Submit the Travel Signature Pre-Approval e-form in MyGlobal.
Once ready, we will send the digitally signed I-20 to your University of Arizona e-mail, following guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
Please allow 5 business days for Travel Signature Pre-Approval.
The University of Arizona has announced the following:
Plans to resume in-person classes for Fall 2020 have been announced.
Students will be allowed to continue their semester at home following the Thanksgiving break. All finals review and testing will be delivered in an online modality. Professors will discuss the specifics with their classes at the beginning of the semester.
The university's decision to reopen in the fall heavily relies on the 'Test, Trace, Treat' strategy, part of the overarching Campus Reentry Plan.
The Re-entry teams are developing plans with these guiding principles.
Please check the main University COVID-19 page for additional information and updates.
Yes. For Spring 2020 term, any course may be graded on a pass/fail basis at the discretion of the individual student. Courses graded for pass/fail count towards full-time enrollment for immigration purposes. If you wish to change to the pass/fail option, you must update the grading basis through UAccess Student by May 6, 2020 (please review the help guide to make a change or a video walking through the steps). We recommend that you consult with your academic advisor before making this change.
The university has updated our policies to allow for some flexibility with grading during the Spring 2020 semester. If you receive a pass/fail grade, passing credits will count toward the overall cumulative unit requirement needed for the renewal of your merit tuition scholarship. However, pass/fail grades will not impact your GPA this semester.
You can review the terms and conditions of your scholarship to see all the qualifying units that will count towards your renewal requirements. If you have any questions regarding how switching your courses to pass/fail will impact your overall career progression and GPA, please contact your academic advisor. For more information on updated academic policies, visit the Registrar's website.
We will automatically extend your I-20 end date to July 15, 2020 to accommodate updated Spring 2020 Graduate College deadlines and to allow departments to finalize funding decisions for students who are continuing for the next academic year.
You do not need to take any action to have your I-20 extended to July 15, 2020. Your I-20 will be extended and emailed to your university e-mail account. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) updated the coronavirus (COVID 19) FAQs on ICE website to allow electronic Form I-20 issuance.
If you are a doctoral student, the deadline to complete your dissertation defense is May 15 if you want to be considered a Spring 2020 graduate. If you complete your dissertation after May 15, but complete all degree requirements by July 15, you do not need to take action, even if your degree is not awarded until August 2020.
If you have applied for post-completion OPT with USCIS, you will not have your I-20 end date extended. Master’s and Doctoral students with only thesis or dissertation remaining are eligible to work under OPT.
If you will complete all of your degree requirements sooner than July 15, ISS will need to shorten your I-20 end date. If you plan to apply for post-completion OPT, we will shorten your I-20 end date to your actual completion date when we process your request. If you will not apply for OPT, please submit the Shorten Program End Date e-form in MyGlobal.
If you need more time beyond July 15, you must apply for a program extension in MyGlobal at least 3 weeks before your I-20 expires.
If you have questions, please schedule a Zoom appointment with an ISS advisor.
ISS is following procedures established by SEVP and there will be no negative impact to your immigration status. Remember you cannot apply for OPT from outside the U.S.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Security Administration (SSA) has suspended face-to-face service to the public in offices nationwide until further notice. Students applying for a SSN on the basis of on-campus employment or CPT will be unable to proceed until further notice. Students applying for OPT will still be able to request an SSN on the I-765 application for USCIS.
If you have an on-campus job or are in an approved period of CPT or OPT, you are not required to have a Social Security number before you start work. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires employers to report wages using a Social Security number.
For students with on-campus employment, the Payroll office will still release checks without the SSN. For students with off-campus employment authorization, we recommending talking to your employer before beginning work to determine whether they will be able to provide payment. Your employers can find more information at this SSA Employer page.
Per university policy, all credit-bearing experiential learning placements in Summer 2020 must be a 100% work-from-home arrangement (read the original announcement here).
Email email@example.com to inform us if:
- Your CPT has changed to a remote work arrangement (include details about how you will complete your work remotely and the method & frequency of communication with your supervisor).
- Your employment has been cancelled or shortened.
CPT authorization is only required for work in the United States. If you were approved for CPT and have departed the U.S., you may continue your CPT while outside the country as long as your employer has an office outside the United States, or your employer is able to assess student engagement and attainment of learning objectives electronically.
If your OPT is approved while you are outside the country, you will need a valid EAD to reenter. Make sure you have arranged for a way to receive your EAD from your U.S. mailing address.
SEVP encourages such students to consult with their employer to seek alternative ways to maintain employment, such as teleworking or other arrangements. If you are required to work remotely, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with this information so that we can document this in your student file. If your employment has ended, submit the End OPT employer e-form in MyGlobal within 10 days of the change.
Students who are unemployed due to COVID-19 should contact their local or state employment agency for more information.
For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT.
Student Engagement and Career Development has many resources to support your internship and job search. You can attend online events and programs, schedule online appointments with a peer or career educator, and use their online resources such as Design your Search. Graduate students can also find more information about job search and preparation on the Graduate Center webpage.
The University of Arizona has a Student Emergency Fund to support those who are in danger of withdrawing due to an unexpected, temporary financial hardship as a result of illness, family crisis, natural disaster, or other emergency or crisis situation. If you are a graduate student receiving departmental funding, your department is the best resource for options and questions but may not know about funding at this time.
You can find more information about online learning resources, food, health and wellness and more on the Student Success webpage.
ISS staff will continue to work full-time and remain available during business hours via email and Zoom advising. Effective May 17, 2020, International Student Services and all Arizona Global offices will maintain business hours on Monday-Thursday from 8 am-5 pm and will not be open for services or appointments on Fridays until further notice. Despite the change in business hours, ISS will maintain the same processing times for immigration requests.
CPT and OPT workshops are now available via Zoom.
We will be adding a Zoom speaker series featuring different departments across campus, including Career Development, Campus Health Insurance, and Counseling and Psychological Services. The Programs and Events page will be updated soon with this information.
Most international students are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes so do not qualify for an Economic Impact Payment. See the full list of eligibility criteria on this IRS webpage.
If you receive payments from the university (employment or taxable scholarship), you can view your tax residency information in GLACIER.
If you do not receive payments from the university and would like to determine your tax residency, refer to this IRS Substantial Presence webpage.
You will need to file an amended tax return. You can find instructions on how to amend an incorrectly Form 1040 in GLACIER Tax Prep by selecting “FAQ” from the menu. You should not spend the erroneously received stimulus payment. Read this IRS webpage for detailed information about how to return the incorrectly received stimulus payment to the IRS.
Campus Health remains open, but please call before you come in to be connected with a medical or mental health provider. Going forward, many appointments will be done via phone or Zoom Health (HIPAA compliant). All non-essential/routine healthcare services are suspended until further notice due to COVID-19. Please check the Campus Health Alerts page for more information.
Medical: (520) 621-9202
After Hours: (520) 570-7898
CAPS 24/7: (520) 621-3334
CAPS remains open, but please call before you come in. Appointments are being shifted to telephone or HIPAA-compliant video conference sessions.
CAPS Main phone: (520) 621-3334
CAPS 24/7: (520) 621-3334
You can find resources to help you manage stress and anxiety on the CAPS webpage.
Travel Ban 3.0
Updated March 2, 2020
On January 31, 2020, President Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation that expands Travel Ban 3.0 to certain nationals from six new countries: Myanmar (also known as Burma), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. There is no expiration date on this travel ban.