On this page . . .
- Fall 2021 & Spring 2022 Immigration Guidance
- COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Exceptions
- USCIS Lockbox Delays
- COVID-19 Testing Required for U.S. Entry
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Electronic I-20 Issuance
- Previous Updates
Fall 2021 & Spring 2022 Immigration Guidance
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has extended the guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the 2021-22 academic year. Click here to read the updated COVID-19 FAQ guidance (issued April 26, 2021).
The minimum number of units required for full-time enrollment for F-1 and J-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.
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, however, the university plans to return most courses at our Main Campus to fully in-person formats in the fall. If you plan to enroll remotely, contact your academic advisor to ask about Live Online and iCourse options in your program.
To report your location outside the U.S. for the fall semester, submit the Outside the US for COVID-19 e-form in MyGlobal (under Remote Students). You must submit the e-form if you will be outside the U.S. for the fall semester, even if you already submitted it for a previous semester. If not already updated, we will add the following comment to the remarks field of your I-20: “Outside the United States due to COVID-19.”
After submitting the e-form, submit the Exemption Request form by September 7 to Campus Health to be exempted from the Student Health Insurance Plan.
Visas & Entry to the US
Students with new initial I-20s may be issued a visa to study inside the United States if your program of study has some in-person learning requirement.
You should print the following items to carry with your passport when you enter 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 2021 semester.
COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Exceptions
Currently there are four presidential proclamations that suspend entry into the United States of all noncitizens who were physically present in any of 33 countries during the 14-day period before entry into the United States:
The Secretary of State has made a national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions to the 14-day travel restrictions. If you are otherwise subject to the proclamations due to your presence in a restricted country, you may qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE):
Students with valid F-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program, including OPT, commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. You may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of your academic studies.
Students seeking to apply for new F-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.
J-1 exchange students should consult with the website of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for instructions on applying for an NIE (includes J-1 exchange students transiting through a restricted country).
USCIS is offering filing flexibilities to provide relief to certain applicants affected by delays at a USCIS Lockbox. For more information, please see Lockbox Delays. If you have questions, please meet with an ISS advisor.
COVID-19 Testing Required for U.S. Entry
Effective January 26, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. Airlines must confirm the negative test result or proof of recovery for all passengers two years of age and over prior to boarding. Airlines must deny boarding of passengers who do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery.
Please see CDC’s FAQ for answers to questions about the new requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The information below is subject to change pending updated guidance from SEVP.
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 11/10/2020 If you change to Arizona Online or Global Direct, 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.
Updated 4/30/2021There are several COVID-19-related notices and proclamations that limit travel to the United States. Countries with current travel restrictions include:
- European Schengan Area
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
This list is subject to change. For the latest information and details, review the NAFSA COVID-19 Restrictions on U.S. Visas and Entry page.
On April 26, 2021, the Secretary of State made a national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions to the 14-day travel restrictions (Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, and 10143). Learn More.
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.
Updated 12/1/2020 As far as we are aware, as long as your F-1 visa is unexpired, you can use it with a new I-20, even if the SEVIS numbers do not match. You can read more about visa validity on the U.S. State Department website.
It is important to know that having a valid visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S. Even with valid documents, entry is always at the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the port-of-entry.
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.
We are only able to include information that we can confirm from the university or your SEVIS immigration record, such as the start date of the spring semester, your admission term or SEVIS number.
Updated 12/8/20You must complete the following online check-in requirements by January 11:
If you do not complete the check-in requirements by the deadline, a hold will be placed on your account blocking registration changes.
Updated 12/8/20Submit the Document Review e-form in MyGlobal by January 11. Your I-20 will be cancelled. If you would like to come to the U.S. for a future semester, you must request a new I-20 in MyGlobal.
Updated 1/28/21For the Spring 2021 semester, the University of Arizona will continue to offer four course formats, in-person, flex in-person, live online and iCourse.
Adjusted reentry stage classifications and ramp-up plan for Spring 2021 are as follows.
- Stage 1: In-person instruction limited to classes designated as Essential In-Person.
- Stage 2: In-person instruction expanded to include In-Person and Flex In-Person classes with projected classroom capacities of no more than 50 people. The attendance schedule will be designed so that no more than 50 people (including instructors and course assistants) will be present in person at each meeting time.
- Stage 3: In-person instruction expanded to include In-person and Flex In-person classes with projected classroom capacities of up to 100 people. The attendance schedule will be designed so that no more than 100 people (including instructors and course assistants) will be present in person at each meeting time.
- Classes with attendance of more than 100 people will be delivered remotely in either the Live Online or iCourse format for the entire semester.
You can find more information about course formats and class capacity at the Office of the Registrar Spring 2021 information page.
Updated 11/10/2020 For the spring 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 1/28/21The 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 7/24/20 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 Direct 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 1/28/21 Spring Break 2021 has been replaced by a number of Reading Days:
- Thursday, February 25, 2021
- Tuesday, March 9, 2021
- Wednesday, March 10, 2021
- Friday, April 2, 2021
- Wednesday, April 21, 2021
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.
Updated 10/7/20 If at any time someone’s actions towards you or another seem threatening or driven by bias, you can report it using the Dean of Students’ Incident Report Referral Form.
The Asian Pacific American Student Affairs Student Resource Center is providing student support and information virtually and continuing efforts to build a warm, supportive Wildcat community for Asian and Pacific American students.
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 11/10/2020 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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Spring 2021 Immigration Guidance (January 28, 2021)
Mandatory Testing for Spring 2021 (January 7, 2021)
Fall 2020 Immigration Guidance (August 14, 2020)
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)