Impact of COVID-19 on VISA
Trust you are staying safe during these challenging times. While you may have ushered in the new decade with the excitement of graduating in due course, currently, you must be coming to terms with the: global lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has brought upon a sense of indefiniteness in your otherwise smooth academic journey.
While you may be in different stages of your graduation, the prospect of completing your studies under such trying circumstances may seem challenging to you at this juncture. It is obvious that you may be filled with hysteria and insecurity, and, as a result, be extremely concerned over the road ahead towards completing your graduation.
We would like you to know that as study abroad counselors we at Collegepond are in this together with you.
Through this FAQ, we intend to help, guide and assist you in sustaining your academic progress by making the most of the alternative opportunities that are available.
COVID-19 PROCEDURAL CHANGES (EXISTING STUDENTS)
What happens to my Student and Exchange Visitor Information Record (SEVIS) status in the wake of COVID-19?
In case you decide to pursue your subsequent terms online, your SEVIS record will continue to remain ACTIVE. The general five-month rule of temporary absence provision shall not be applicable as part of COVID-19 induced temporary measures.
Will I be able to continue my studies by pursuing subsequent terms online (remotely) if the situation warrants?
Once you are duly accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) school, you are entitled to pursue your subsequent terms online, either by staying back in the US or returning to your country of origin. You can do this towards your full course of study, as long as your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record denotes an ACTIVE status. It is important to note that this would be a temporary measure that may be revised in accordance to the COVID-19 developments.
What options do I have to continue my studies if I am asked to move out of the university campus?
You can either stay back in the US or return home and continue to study online. If there are no online classes, you can try to find alternate accommodation to live and return to class whenever the school opens.
What happens to my existing F-1 visa during a lockdown?
The US is relaxing visa regulations to accommodate online learning. But,still you need to follow up with your school and international student office for exact details.
What happens if my F-1 visa expires during a lockdown?
Awaiting clarity on this from the concerned authorities.
What happens if my passport expires while I continue to live in the US?
You need to immediately get in touch with the local embassy office for information on passport extension or renewal.
What will be the impact of online learning on my overall program outcome?
You will be exempted from meeting your full course study requirements if there is no provision for online learning of a given course.
Can I apply for curricular practical training (CPT) under the prevailing COVID-19 circumstances?
You are eligible to apply for CPT online under the prevailing circumstances if the CPT is integral to your study or your DSO has authorized in advance.
How can I apply for OPT if I were in my last semester and told to leave and switch over to distance learning?
Firstly, you need to abide by the guidelines and move to your country of origin. Subsequently, you can resume your studies online, subject to your courses being available in the online mode. Currently, the issue of OPT application is under evaluation by the US Department of Homeland Training (DHS). Awaiting clarity on this from the concerned authorities.
Can I apply for OPT post-course completion?
It is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) that adjudicates this. Awaiting clarity on this from the concerned authorities.
Will I be able to resume studies in the US post-COVID-19?
Yes, you can resume your studies in the US. You may refer to their local embassy’s website for updates on the changing scenario.
Is it possible for me to return to the US after my spring break or if my classes have moved to online mode due to COVID-19?
You need to follow up with your home country’s travel restrictions and also check with your DSO about your school’s operational status.
Can I attend the graduation ceremony after coming to the reminder of my program online?
You can do so only if you are able to return to the US prior to your program end date as specified in your i20 and attend the graduation during the 60 day grace period.
Will my online credits count towards graduation requirements?
SEVP has temporarily consented to count online classes toward your full course of study in excess of the stated limits.
What happens to my SEVIS status in the event of leaving the US to complete my current term online?
Your SEVIS record will be ACTIVE and the existing five-month temporary absence provision will not be applied.
Can I return to the US post-graduation to find jobs?
These are challenging times when most of the organizations have implemented a work-from-home policy. You can try to establish social media presence to connect with companies you would like to work with. Your job search may take longer than expected.