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Information for International Students Regarding Covid-19

Please note that due to the changing  nature of US immigration policy, and the rapidly evolving COVID-19  situation and its impact on global travel should be carefully evaluated. 

New FAQ for international students for the Fall 2020 semester -Rescinded

New options for those unable to return to the US who would like to attend classes in their country.

The below information is regarding Spring and Summer information for International Students. 

The decision whether to return to your home country is a personal one,  in consultation with family when possible. We want you to be where you will feel most comfortable and safe in the coming weeks.

Please keep in mind that international travel is in a fluid state, and new travel restrictions could be imposed at any time.

Swarthmore Sponsored Travel Policy

Will online instruction affect my visa status?


The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has confirmed that international students may temporarily take their classes online during a college’s period of modified instructional format, either from within the United States or outside the country.

If a student chooses to fulfill the online coursework from outside the United States, they should consider the following:

  • Students may be unable to re-enter the United States to resume in-person classes due to travel restrictions.

  • Visa offices may be shutdown or experience delays due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Will traveling out of the country before the semester ends cause any issues with my status?

Normally, if an F-1 student will be outside the United States for more than five months, a new I-20 would be required. Recently SEVP has updated that the 5-month rule guidance,  is NOT applicable to students that remain active in SEVIS while pursuing online classes remotely. This is a temporary adjustment and will remain in place for a limited time.

IF I am Leaving campus who should I notify?

One important piece of information that must be kept up to date in SEVIS is your address. If you move to a new residence and your address changes, you must report this to the ISC within 10 days of the change. Once you do, we will input the new information in your SEVIS record. Please fill out this form every time your address changes, and that includes moving to different residence halls.

Will I be able to come back to the U.S.?

Please check the travel and visa restrictions that may be in place at the time you are planning to travel.. If you are currently outside the U.S. or plan to travel outside the U.S., we recommend that you continue to monitor travel updates by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). As of March 18, 2020 routine U.S. visa issuance has been suspended worldwide and daily restrictions on travel are being implemented. The ISC is carefully monitoring updates from the CDC, SEVP, USCIS, and the US Department of State, as well as updates from NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the leading professional organization dedicated to international education and exchange, which is providing comprehensive and up-to-date information relevant to travel, consulates, and visas.

My visa is expiring, and I am unable to travel to my home country currently. What should I do?

You may stay in the U.S. on an expired F-1 or J-1 visa as long as you maintain your immigration status by being in possession of a valid I-20 or DS-2019 and by meeting normal enrollment requirements. (Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S.)

My visa is expiring/has expired. If I leave the U.S. now, but must come back after the expiration date of my visa, will I need a new visa, or can I re-enter on an expired visa?

If you leave the U.S. and your visa will have expired by the date you wish to re-enter the U.S., then you will need to obtain a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you can re-enter the U.S. (Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S.) but will need a valid 1-20, etc. The U.S. State Department announced on March 18th that routine U.S. visa issuance has been suspended indefinitely worldwide.

SEVP Clarifies Telework OK to Continue On-Campus Positions. 

(April 6, 2020) On-Campus Employment. Many students' on-campus employment opportunities are now being conducted remotely while campuses are closed or students are able to perform their work duties from home. Can F students engage in remote work for on-campus employment? A. If the current on-campus employment opportunity has transitioned to remote work or the employment can be done through remote means, students may continue to engage in on-campus employment remotely. Schools should be able to explain how the students are providing services associated with the employment while not at the location of the employer."