COVID-19 FAQs for International Students
Frequently Asked Questions
Due to COVID-19, the U.S. government has agreed to continue the March 9, 2020 policy directive issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement through the academic year 2020/21.
The following Frequently Asked Questions document follows the March 9, 2020 policies as well as guidance that was issued on July 24, 2020 which provides further clarification about online course eligibility for new initial students, and incoming students in F-1 status entering the U.S. for fall 2020. We will continue to update our COVID-19 information and will send follow up emails to all F-1 students if needed.
Please refer to this page often as updates will be made if additional policies are released.
- I am currently in active F-1 student at SPU. If all my classes are online, do I need to return to my home country, or can I stay at SPU and take online classes this fall?
Based on the U.S. government’s agreement, nonimmigrant students may remain in the United States to engage in a full course of study online if they have not otherwise violated the terms of their nonimmigrant status since March 9, 2020.
- How will SPU deliver courses this fall?
SPU will be delivering courses in multiple ways this academic year. Some classes will be in-person, others will be online, and others will be some combination of in-person and online — otherwise known as “hybrid.”
- When will I know if my classes will be taught in an online, hybrid, or in-person format?
SPU lists the format of instruction for most classes when class schedules are released. You will be able to see this information in the time schedule.
- Will I be able to take all my classes online and remain in the U.S.?
Based on the U.S. government’s agreement for the academic year 2020/21, continuing students will be allowed to take all their courses online or to take a combination of in-person, online, and hybrid courses. Current international students can register for courses, even if they are all online, and remain in the U.S. and study at SPU. Note: if you are sponsored by your government or a third party, please check with them regarding restrictions to online study inside or outside the U.S. and how that could impact your scholarship.
- What if I need to make a change to my schedule due to the format of instruction?
If you need to make a change in your schedule, you will work directly with your academic counselor to make any necessary changes to your schedule. You can find academic counselor contact information here.
- What if a class I need to take is offered in a format of instruction that does not work for me?
You will need to work with your academic counselor to determine what options may be available to you. Depending on your major and any college-level credits you have already completed, your academic counselor can help you identify alternative class options when possible.
- What happens if all my classes are online?
Based on the U.S. government’s modifications put out by SEVP in March 2019, nonimmigrant students in active F-1 status may take a fully online course load and remain in status for the 2020/21 academic year.
- Will I be able to take online SPU courses from my home country?
If you are not currently in F-1 status (for new students only), you may register for a full or partial course load this year.
If you plan to obtain a visa and come to the United States, you will not be able to pursue a full course of study that will be conducted 100% online. You must enroll in hybrid/in-person courses. You may also enroll in some online courses.
If you are currently in F-1 status (transfer students/current SPU students), you may register for a fully online course load and take those courses online from your home country if the courses you register for are available through an online format.
If you are a continuing student who has maintained your F-1 status and you have an active SEVIS record, your SEVIS record will remain active. (NOTE: You must report to the ISS office prior to the first day of the quarter (Spring: March 29, 2021) if you plan to register full time and remain outside the U.S. for the fall quarter.)
- Will a new or initial status nonimmigrant student be able to enroll in a full course of study that is 100% online and enter the U.S.?
A nonimmigrant student in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the U.S. to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the Spring Quarter to pursue a full course of study that is 100% online.
New or Initial status nonimmigrant students will be able to enter the U.S. to enroll in a SEVIS-approved U.S. school for the Spring Quarter to pursue a full course of study that includes in-person, hybrid, and online courses.
- What are my options if I am out of the country and cannot renew my visa to reenter the U.S. for the Autumn Quarter?
If you are not yet in the U.S. you may register for online classes at SPU and study remotely. Note: You must be available for all class meeting times (Pacific Standard Time) and have strong internet access as well as access to tools such as Canvas and Zoom. Not attending class due to time zone differences or lack of internet access is not sufficient reason and will impact your grade negatively. If you would prefer to start your SPU education on campus and in person, you may defer your admission until a later quarter. Please contact Undergraduate International Admissions or Graduate International Admissions for more information.
If you are a returning student or are transferring to SPU and are inside the U.S. and are in F-1 status, you may register for online courses at SPU and study remotely.
- Do I need to self-quarantine if I return to the United States from my home country?
If you are entering from outside the U.S. we suggest you follow the current CDC recommendations and self-quarantine.
* If you plan to live on campus, notify Residence Life (firstname.lastname@example.org) of your arrival date, and they will share quarantine protocols with you.
* Contact Ruth Adams (email@example.com) in Student Academic Services to make plans for any missed classes.
Check the CDC website for more information.
- How long will I need to self-quarantine?
We recommend you follow the current CDC guidelines.
- What if I cannot find online courses toward completion of my degree or do not have strong internet access?
If students in F-1 status cannot engage in online study due to insufficient online access or if the school is not offering enough online courses to meet a full course load, students may enroll in less than a full course of study and remain in F-1 status. You must contact the ISS office prior to the first day of the quarter (March 29, 2021, Spring Quarter) for details.
- If I am staying in the U.S. and taking a combination of in-person, hybrid, and online classes, can I take more than one class/5 quarter credits online?
Yes. ICE is allowing international students to take more than one class/5 quarter credits online. This is allowed for the 2020/21 academic year.
- What happens if the COVID-19 cases spike and SPU must change to a completely remote/online format?
During the COVID pandemic, international students are currently allowed to take a full course load online so this would not impact their immigration status.
- If I am in my home country taking online classes this year, will I need to apply for a new visa and/or start a new SEVIS record to return to the U.S. for Winter Quarter?
You must notify International Student Services if you plan to remain in your home country for the Autumn, Winter, or Spring Quarter. If your current U.S. visa is unexpired, you will not need to apply to renew your visa. If you continue to register for courses at SPU, you will remain in active F-1 status.
- Can I take a reduced course load due to impacts from COVID-19?
A medical reduced course load may be appropriate for students who contract an illness due to COVID-19 or another condition and cannot maintain a full course load. Additionally, students may take a temporary absence if they do not want to participate in their school’s alternative educational plans as provided in the school’s operational change plan. Contact the ISS office for more details.
- Do I need an updated 1-20 to return to the U.S. to study?
If you are in Active F-1 status (you are a current SPU nonimmigrant student or you are transferring to SPU and are in active F-1 status) and you are continuing a full course of study (12+ credits for undergraduate students or 6+ credits for graduate students), you will need an updated 1-20 indicating you studied or are studying outside the U.S. due to COVID-19. Note: You must notify the ISS office immediately (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you fit into one of the following scenarios – indicate which scenario describes your situation:
- You studied full time in Spring 2020 outside the U.S.
- You plan to study full time in Autumn 2020 outside the U.S.
- You studied full time in Spring 2020 and plan to study full time in Autumn 2020 outside the U.S.
If you are a new initial student and are not in active F-1 status, you will not need an updated 1-20 and may use the 1-20 issued to you by the SPU International Admissions office.