Fall 2020 Immigration Guidance
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program has released new guidance for the Fall 2020 semester. These are the main takeaways from the guidance.
Enrollment in Online Units
There is no restriction on the number of online classes that count toward full-time enrollment for maintaining Active SEVIS status. Students on Main Campus can enroll in 100 percent online coursework and maintain Active status in SEVIS, however, students who intend to enroll in 100 percent online coursework may face difficulties obtaining an F-1 visa or entering the U.S. for the fall semester. Be prepared to show a class schedule to demonstrate that you do not intend to enroll in 100 percent online coursework.
Continuing Students on Main Campus Outside the US
Continuing students can enroll on Main Campus from outside the U.S. and maintain Active SEVIS status. We will need to update your I-20 with the following comment in the remarks field: “Outside the United States due to COVID-19.” To request an updated I-20, submit the Outside the US for COVID-19 e-form in MyGlobal (under Remote Students).
Visas & Entry to the US
Students who intend to enroll in 100 percent online coursework may face difficulties obtaining an F-1 visa or entering the U.S. for the fall semester. Be prepared to show a class schedule to demonstrate that you do not intend to enroll in 100 percent online coursework.
You should print the following items to carry with your passport when you reenter the U.S.:
Form I-20 (don't forget to sign!)
UAccess class schedule showing full-time enrollment, including at least one in-person or flex in-person class.
We will continue to update our Frequently Asked Questions below with information regarding the Fall 2020 semester.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The information below is subject to change pending updated guidance from SEVP.
Updated 7/17/20 The July 6th guidance from SEVP was rescinded on July 14. As a result, we are no longer required to update I-20s with remarks confirming the university's hybrid model for the fall semester.
If you need an I-20 with updated remarks for a visa appointment or travel to the US, submit the Update Remarks Request in MyGlobal (under Travel).
Updated 8/10/20 You should print the following items to carry with your passport when you reenter the U.S.:
Form I-20 (don't forget to sign!)
UAccess class schedule showing full-time enrollment, including at least one in-person or flex in-person class.
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.
Updated 7/17/20 If you are unable to return, then you may be able to enroll in online classes from home. We are still waiting for updated guidance from SEVP about whether you will be able to keep your status Active if you enroll in only online units on Main Campus. If you change to Arizona Online or Global Campus, or you decide to do a Leave of Absence from the university, your record will be terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal. To return to Tucson for a future semester, you will need to submit a request for a new I-20 in MyGlobal.
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.
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.
Updated 8/9/20 National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland (effective July 16, 2020) – “Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 […] visas, do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel. Students from those areas who are traveling on a J-1 may contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate a National Interest Exception.” We recommend printing and carrying the July 24, 2020 Information Sheet from CBP's Carrier Liaison Program when traveling. Entry to the U.S. is always at the discretion of the Port of Entry officials.
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.
Updated 7/17/20 SEVP has stated that "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' (read the FAQ here).
If you are outside the US for more than five months and your record has been terminated, your visa may still technically be valid, however, entry is at the discretion of the Port of Entry.
Updated 7/17/20 The Department of State suspended routine visa services worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As global conditions evolve, U.S. Embassies and Consulates are beginning a phased resumption of routine visa services. 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 (hybrid model) 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.
Updated 7/24/20 The minimum number of units required for full-time enrollment for F-1 students still apply. There is no restriction on the number of online classes that count toward full-time enrollment for maintaining Active SEVIS status. Students on Main Campus can enroll in 100 percent online coursework and maintain Active status in SEVIS, however, students who intend to enroll in 100 percent online coursework may face difficulties obtaining an F-1 visa or entering the U.S. for the fall semester. Be prepared to show a class schedule to demonstrate that you do not intend to enroll in 100 percent online coursework.
Updated 7/17/20 For the fall semester, the University of Arizona will offer four types of courses.
Flex In Person refers to a hybrid format. Live Online is considered an online class.
These types of units are considered in-person: thesis, dissertation, independent study, directed research (most 900s), recitals, internship, and most practica.
To check the course modality, view Class Detail or Class Notes for your course in your UAccess Student Center.
Updated 7/24/20 Continuing students on Main Campus can enroll in 100 percent online coursework and maintain Active status in SEVIS. There is no restriction on the number of online classes that count toward full-time enrollment.
You can enroll on Main Campus from outside the U.S. We will need to update your I-20 with the following comment in the remarks field: “Outside the United States due to COVID-19.” To request an updated I-20, submit the Outside the US for COVID-19 e-form in MyGlobal (under Remote Students).
If you change to Arizona Online or Global Campus, we will not be able to keep your record in Active status, and your record will be terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal. To return to Tucson for a future semester, you will need to submit a request for a new I-20 in MyGlobal.
Updated 7/23/20 Since you will remain enrolled in in-person or hybrid units, you will still be considered to be maintaining your status. Housing will remain open throughout the duration of the fall semester. For more information, please see: Fall 2020: UA Going Online After Thanksgiving
Updated 8/13/20 The Social Security Administration (SSA) has limited appointments available for students with employment offers. Please call 1-866-331-7693 and provide the operator with your status (F-1 or J-1) and employment start date. They will work with you to schedule an in-person appointment.
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.
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.
Updated 7/22/20 Applications for OPT are still being processed. In June 2020, USCIS reduced its capacity to issue secure documents, including Employment Authorization Documents, or EAD cards. USCIS expects backlogs on card issuance to continue for the foreseeable future. Read the notice here.
The Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman is assisting individuals whose applications have been approved but whose cards have not yet been produced, by sending weekly spreadsheets to USCIS to verify card requests are in line to be processed. If you are experiencing a delay in receiving your EAD card, you may submit a request for case assistance with the Ombudsman here.
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.
If you are currently participating in OPT, including STEM OPT, you may work remotely if your employer has an office outside of the United States or your employer can assess your engagement using electronic means. Students participating in STEM OPT do not need to submit an updated Form I-983 to report remote work. However, you are still required to submit an updated Form I-983 for other changes to your employment.
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.
Updated 8/27/20 We are available Monday-Thursday from 8 AM to 5 PM via phone, email and Zoom advising, and Fridays from 8 AM to 5 PM via phone. The ISS lobby will be staffed Monday-Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM for general questions and referrals only. We will continue to mail I-20s for OPT/status-related processing.
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.
Updated 8/13/2020 First you should submit the Outside the US for COVID-19 e-form in MyGlobal to confirm you will be outside the US and request an updated I-20. Next, request an exemption by sending the completed Health Coverage Agreement to email@example.com(link sends e-mail) by September 8.
Previous SEVP Updates
SEVP Guidance Withdrawn (July 14, 2020)
Lawsuit Challenging ICE's Recent Order on International Students (July 13, 2020)
- Immigration Updates for Fall 2020 Semester (97.6 KB)
– email from Brent White, Vice Provost, Global Affairs (July 6, 2020)
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.
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.