Questions from International Employees & Exchange Visitors

For questions about how COVID-19 may impact your employment at OSU or your exchange visitor (J-1 scholar) program, please contact: J-1 Exchange Visitor Scholars or International Employees.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for International Students

These FAQs are intended to address questions that international students, scholars or faculty may have. These FAQs are informational and do not constitute legal advice. Each individual’s situation is different, and the best course of action for each individual may vary depending on that person’s particular situation. Be aware that as federal developments related to immigration occur, the information provided below may change.

Resources listed on this page are also provided for informational purposes only. Linking to a website or document does not indicate endorsement of the content, or the organization hosting the content.

Additional Resources & Support

If you have questions regarding these FAQs, please contact the Office of International Services @ (541) 737-6310 or ois.student@oregonstate.edu

If your questions are beyond the scope of our office, we may recommend you speak with an immigration attorney. Anyone with legal questions is strongly encouraged to seek qualified legal advice for their specific personal and family circumstances. For information about what to expect when working with a lawyer, please read the information from the Oregon State Bar. Resources to find an immigration attorney include:

  • OSU ASOSU Legal Services (a student fee-funded resource) provides free attorney consultations directly to any Oregon State University student, regardless of where the student is located. ASOSU Legal Services can be reached at 541-737-4165 or online
  • The Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service can be reached at 800-452-7636 or online.
  • The American Immigration Lawyers Association Immigration Lawyer Search provides referrals to immigration attorneys throughout the United States.

Course Registration FAQs

Updated May 14, 2020

Remote teaching delivery is when a faculty member facilitates the delivery of their in-person course instruction from a different location by using tools such as Canvas and Zoom. There are online and telephone resources readily available to help students navigate all aspect of online delivery, including Zoom, on the Keep Learning website. Remote teaching delivery is not the same as offering a course online through Ecampus. The remote facilitation may occur at regularly scheduled Pacific Time (PT) just as if the class was being taught in a regular classroom.

Updated May 14, 2020

Ecampus online courses are typically pre-recorded and accessible at time any of the day. While Ecampus classes may be allowed for immigration purposes the Ecampus schedule of courses is limited both in variety and in class-size capacity. Therefore, unless you are already enrolled in Ecampus classes, it may be challenging to find a full-time course load of all Ecampus courses.

Updated July 31, 2020

On March 13, 2020, the U.S. federal government announced that U.S. institutions can temporarily allow remote delivery of course material, Ecampus online courses or a combination of both course delivery options for international students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 emergency, the U.S. government will temporarily suspend the online class restrictions for international students during this emergency.

On July 24, 2020, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provided both a broadcast message and answers to clarifying questions for the fall 2020 term based on the Student and Exchange Visitor Program’s (SEVP) March spring guidance broadcast. Below is our understanding of this guidance. If you are a sponsored student, please also follow the guidance of your sponsor regarding online course registration.

Updated May 14, 2020

You may be able to register for and take remotely delivered courses or Ecampus online courses from outside of the U.S. However, some courses may be delivered in person in later summer sessions and fall 2020. In addition, as we resume to on-site learning, some courses may not have a remote delivery option. It is highly recommended that you please continue to monitor OSU’s resumption planning website for updates and check with course instructors and academic advisors directly with questions. Please also consider that the OSU Ecampus schedule of courses is limited both in variety and in class-size capacity. In addition, access to Ecampus online courses or remote delivery of courses may vary depending on global time differences, U.S. export control laws, local laws and restrictions in the student’s home country, access to reliable internet and a reliable computer. Instructors will deliver courses remotely at their scheduled Pacific Time (PT). Be sure that you will have access to Canvas, Zoom, VPN and other software supported by OSU.

Updated July 31, 2020

Current international students with active SEVIS records as of March 9, 2020, can take classes in various modes: in-person, hybrid, remote or Ecampus online from inside or outside of the U.S. There will be no effect on your SEVIS record if you continue to meet your full-time enrollment requirements, or have an approved alternate enrollment, reduced course load or vacation term approval, and have no other violations of status.  While Ecampus classes may be allowed for immigration purposes, they may not be allowed by certain sponsors, and OSU’s Ecampus schedule of courses is limited both in variety and in class-size capacity. Therefore, unless you are already registered in Ecampus classes, it may be challenging to find a full-time course load with all Ecampus courses. Work with your academic advisor to register for classes.

Updated July 31, 2020

  • New international students who plan to study from outside the U.S. in fall 2020, may take classes 100% online while they remain outside of the U.S. These students should request a deferral of their I-20. To defer your I-20, please contact Undergraduate International Admissions or Graduate Admissions.
  • New international students with an initial SEVIS I-20 may not enter the United States to take 100% online classes.
  • New international students with an initial SEVIS I-20 who plan to enter and study from inside the U.S. must take at least one in-person course. This could be a 100% in-person course, or a hybrid course (Ecampus online and in-person), or research credits or a remotely delivered course with some in-person components.

All students should work with their academic advisor to register for classes. Once you are enrolled in classes, please work with the Office of International Services to determine next steps with your I-20 or DS-2019.

Updated July 31, 2020

Transfer students with active SEVIS records as of March 9, 2020, can take classes in various modes: in-person, hybrid, remote or Ecampus online from inside or outside of the U.S. Our understanding is that there will be no effect on your SEVIS record if you continue to meet your full-time enrollment requirements or have an approved alternate enrollment, or reduced course load and have no other violations of status. Work with your academic advisor to register for classes.  Once you are enrolled in classes, please work with OIS to determine next steps with your I-20 or DS-2019.

Updated July 31, 2020

Students who are starting a new program, or changing levels in fall 2020, with active SEVIS records as of March 9, 2020, can take classes in various modes: in-person, hybrid, remote or Ecampus online from inside or outside of the U.S. Our understanding is that there will be no effect on your SEVIS record if you continue to meet your full-time enrollment requirements, or have an approved alternate enrollment, reduced course load including vacation term approvals, and have no other violations of status.  Work with your academic advisor to register for classes. Once you are enrolled in classes, please work with OIS to determine next steps with your I-20 or DS-2019.

Updated July 31, 2020

The July 24, 2020, federal guidance states that students studying from inside the U.S. for the fall 2020 school term will be able to continue studying from within the U.S. if a university changes its mode of instruction to fully online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students are required to continue meeting their full-time enrollment requirements or have an approved alternate enrollment, reduced course load or vacation term approval, and have no other violations of status.

OSU is currently planning for a return to campus for combined on-site and remote learning options to maintain appropriate physical distancing requirements.

Because there may be changes in how some courses are offered between now and the start of fall term, please continue to monitor OSU’s COVID-19 Safety & Success website for updates and check with academic advisors in your program or course instructors directly with questions. While Ecampus classes may be allowed for immigration purposes, they may not be allowed by certain sponsors, and OSU’s Ecampus schedule of courses is limited both in variety and in class-size capacity. Therefore, unless you are already registered in Ecampus classes, it may be challenging to find a full-time course load with all Ecampus courses.

Travel FAQs

Updated June 11, 2020

Restrictions on entering the U.S. for international travelers due to COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website and include:

  • No entry to any foreign nationals who have been in mainland China, Iran, Brazil and other specified European countries within the previous 14 days prior to their arrival to the U.S.
  • The specified European countries are: 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. As of March 16, 2020, the following countries are also included: United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe, and the Republic of Ireland.
  • This prohibition does not apply to U.S. citizens and permanent residents and other individuals who are identified in the presidential proclamation.  

The length of the travel restrictions is currently unknown. For all international travel, be aware that countries are implementing both international and internal movement restrictions, enforcing curfews, and commercial air travel options are very limited in certain places. The best resources for inquiries about flight availability are the individual air carriers serving each specific country.

If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return. OSU is continually monitoring the travel restrictions; please contact the Office of International Services for the most up-to-date information.

Updated August 10, 2020

U.S. and international travel restrictions remain largely in place and may change without notice. We encourage travelers to monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel restrictions and the U.S. Department of State warning levels for COVID-19 risk when making decisions about travel.

There is ongoing transmission of novel coronavirus within the United States and in countries throughout the world. As a precaution, because you may have been exposed during your travels (domestic or international) please follow the CDC After You Travel guidance to keep your destination community safe. If you get sick with fever, cough, or other symptoms of COVID-19, call Student Health Services (SHS) or a local medical clinic for further guidance before you visit the clinic.

Updated May 14, 2020

U.S. and international travel restrictions remain largely in place and may change without notice. We encourage travelers to monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel restrictions and the U.S. Department of State warning levels for COVID-19 risk when making decisions about travel. Travelers should follow these precautions and advice:

  • Review required & recommended travel documentation on the OIS website
  • Check with airlines and avoid layovers and transfers when possible.
  • For students inside the U.S., check with your home country embassy in the U.S. or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your home country.
  • For students outside the U.S, check with your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate for more information if you need to renew your visa in order to return to the U.S. If your current visa is still valid, you do not need to get a new one.
  • Talk with an International Student Advisor if you are experiencing issues with departure plans or visa delays.
  • The Oregon Health Authority recommends that all travelers returning from an area where COVID-19 is widespread in the community should stay home for 14 days after travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing. If you have questions or concerns about your health contact Student Health Services. Students living on campus in University Housing should contact UHDS for self-isolation guidance.

Updated May 14, 2020

We do not recommend returning home if you plan to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT). If current travel restrictions remain in place, your return to the U.S., may be delayed beyond the program end date on your I-20/DS-2019. It is not recommended to apply for OPT or AT while outside the U.S. since you need to show valid immigration status with your current I-94 record at the time of application. If you have questions, please consult with an international student advisor before you travel.

Updated May 14, 2020

Every individual’s situation is different. We understand your concern about the current situation, which is very fluid and dynamic. It is important to understand the impact taking time off may have on your immigration status or immigration benefits.

  • If you are on an approved vacation term, approved reduced course load, or enrolled full-time, OSU can maintain your immigration status by keeping your SEVIS record active.
  • If you decide to take the term off or register less than full-time, it is highly recommended that you contact an international student advisor in OIS to discuss your personal situation. 
  • Travel is not recommended if you are close to graduating and planning to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT) as this may impact your eligibility for these programs.

Updated March 23, 2020

If your current visa is still valid, you are typically not required to renew it prior to your return. You should prepare for additional questions upon re-entry regarding any extended absences from the U.S. We recommend seeking legal advice for complex situations. If you need a new visa, contact a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply.

Updated May 14, 2020

You can stay in the United States on an expired F-1/J-1 visa as long as you maintain your immigration status by being in possession of a valid I-20/DS-2019 and an I-94 Arrival/Departure record, and by meeting normal enrollment requirements.

On March 20, 2020, the Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. While emergency and mission critical visa services may still be available, it is not clear whether F-1/J-1 visas would be issued during these times. You are required to have a valid visa to reenter the U.S. so we do not recommend travel outside the U.S. if your visa has expired as this could result in an unexpected lengthy stay while awaiting consular visa services to resume.

We are aware that some visa appointments have been scheduled successfully. Please check with your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate for more information.

Updated May 28, 2020

You do not need a travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019 before your departure, but you will need one to return to the U.S. Please complete the Travel Signature Request form in IP Connect under ‘I-20/DS-2019 Updates’ in the menu.

  • F-1 & F-2 students: You may use an electronically signed I-20 for travel and re-entry purposes. If you prefer to have your original document, you can sign up for express shipping to have it mailed to you.
  • J-1 & J-2 students: You will need an original document for travel and other formal purposes. Please sign up for express shipping to have your document mailed to you.

Updated May 28, 2020

In consultation with U.S. Department of State and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released policy guidance allowing Forms I-20 to be signed and transmitted electronically for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. Digitally signed I-20s will be valid for purposes of travel, visa renewal, re-entry to the U.S., CPT & OPT, and verification of your current program. In alignment with this guidance, OIS is allowed to issue documents in the following manner:

  • I-20s may be transmitted only to the student email addresses listed in SEVIS; OSU requires official communication be sent to your ONID email address for current students
  • Digitally signed I-20s will contain a digitally reproduced copy of a physical signature issued only by an approved principal designated school official (PDSO) or DSO
  • I-20s issued electronically or with electronic signatures — as permitted during the COVID-19 emergency — will remain valid until students have a need for an updated Form I-20
  • An electronic or digital travel signature will be valid for the same duration as an ink signature (12 months for students; 6 months recommended for OPT/STEM OPT students)

At this time, digitally signed Forms DS-2019 for J-1 and J-2 visa holders can be used for purposes of demonstrating your current program and for your personal records, however, the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) still requires an original DS-2019 for all official purposes such as travel, visa renewal, and re-entry to the U.S.

To request an original I-20 or DS-2019, log into IP Connect and submit a Travel Signature Request under ‘I-20/DS-2019 Updates’ in the menu. You may sign up for express shipping to have your document mailed to you if you need it urgently. If you can wait until our office resumes normal services, you will also be able to request to pick up an original from University Plaza at that time.

Updated May 14, 2020

Higher education institutions are largely operating under the guidance of the state governors and local health authorities. Resumption of operations such as in-person instruction at OSU will be in alignment with guidance from Gov. Kate Brown, the Oregon Health Authority and local county health officials. Students should seek to return to the United States within 30 days of the next available session start date. We recommend that you stay up to date with OSU’s resumption planning.

Updated May 14, 2020

OSU has postponed the 2020 Commencement. Please continue to monitor OSU’s resumption planning website for updates. Once the university has made a decision about the Commencement dates, please work with the Office of International Services to understand your options.

Employment & Legal FAQs

Updated May 14, 2020

Students are still eligible to work on campus or remotely where possible. You may need to contact your supervisor with any questions or concerns about work hours, location from where you will be working, and other modifications related to COVID-19. Please remember students are still restricted to 20 hours per week for on-campus work during the regular term even if classes are now offered remotely or online. 

Check with OIS about any changes to your Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT).

Updated May 14, 2020

When seeking employment, you will work with OIS to get the correct documents to apply for a SSN. For those students working on campus at OSU, OIS and the OSU Office of Human Resources will provide further guidance.

If you are applying for a SSN based on CPT, OPT, or AT for off-campus employment, you may be able to request for an appointment at the SSA office by calling the toll free number and requesting a call back from the national line. The national line will contact your local office to contact you about setting up an appointment for you to visit with your documents in a manner that adheres to the social distancing rules set by the state.

Updated May 14, 2020

If you have a pending OPT application: Continue monitoring your mail and email for updates regarding the status of your application from USCIS. We do not recommend students travel internationally when their Post-Completion OPT application is pending with USCIS. We always recommend students remain in the U.S. until their application has been approved since the immigration service could request information from you during the process, and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card is required when returning to the U.S. after program completion.

If you have received your EAD card but no job offer: Fast-changing travel restrictions may make travel during this time challenging. If you must travel please speak with an international student advisor prior to departure. It is advisable to have proof of your employment search and financial documentation with you. Keep in mind that you are allowed only 90 days of unemployment while on OPT.

If you have received your EAD card and you have a job offer: Please work directly with your employer if you have questions or concerns related to your employment and COVID-19

Updated May 14, 2020

Students currently participating in OPT, including STEM OPT, may work remotely if approved by the employer and the employer can effectively assess the students’ engagement using electronic means. Students participating in STEM OPT do not need to submit an updated Form I-983 to report remote work. However, requirements to submit an updated Form I-983 for all other changes remain in effect.

May 14, 2020

You can continue working to maintain your immigration status. The U.S. federal government has announced that for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week will be considered as fully engaged in OPT. Please keep good documentation of your hours during this COVID period.

Updated May 14, 2020

First, it is important to determine if you are being laid off or if you are being placed on a "temporary leave in accordance with your company's leave policies." Being laid off means that you do not have a job to come back to without reapplying. If you are placed on leave – whether paid or unpaid – this means that your workplace is temporarily suspending services, but will keep your position and expect you to return when the company resumes services. If you are not sure, please ask these question directly of your boss or your Human Resources office, as this is a very important distinction. 

If you are being placed on leave in accordance with an official policy, then the days you are not working will not count as unemployment and will not count against your 90-day maximum period of unemployment (your "unemployment clock"). If you are being laid off, however, you are required to report to OIS this end in employment within 10 days. These days will count against your 90-day unemployment clock. It is recommended that you also seek legal opinion from an immigration attorney to better understand the risks and range of options available.

It is important to note that the international community has asked SEVP and USCIS to issue guidance on this issue and consider a temporary halt in counting of unemployment days – if any update is released (and we hope it will be) we will share it with you. In the meantime, we have to operate under the existing rules. If you are not clear on how many days you have left of your 90-day unemployment clock, please contact OIS for an update.