UMD: A Globally Connected University

Pre-Arrival FAQ During COVID-19

Pre-Arrival FAQ During COVID-19

Last Updated 10/9/2020

The University of Maryland and our world are confronting an unprecedented challenge. We are weighing the needs of our international students and scholars in all our decisions. UMD faculty and staff members are working to make decisions to support you. Our top priority is protecting your health and well-being as we support your academic objectives. We must be flexible and responsive as the coronavirus situation unfolds, but we know that this sometimes leaves you with questions that do not have easy answers.

As more information becomes available in the coming days and weeks, we will continue to keep you informed. Please check back as this page will be updated as information is made available.

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CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL (CDC) RESOURCE:
COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Country 

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No guidance for Spring 2021 has been released at this time.  Please find the 10/09/202 response from SEVP regarding Spring 2021 COVID guidance: 
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has not issued guidance to international students and schools for the Spring 2021 semester. We understand international students and schools have questions, and SEVP is actively working to issue guidance. In the meantime, the temporary procedural adaptations that permit international students to engage in remote learning are still in place through the fall session. As soon as SEVP finalizes guidance for the spring term, the academic community will be updated. Stakeholders will receive information through a variety of communication channels, and information will be updated on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) COVID-19 resource page under the Nonimmigrant Students and SEVP-Certified Schools section. 

 

Fall 2020 SEVP Guidance

We are pleased to report that the U.S. government has agreed to rescind the policy directive and FAQs released July 6-7, 2020, regarding Fall 2020 international enrollment in U.S. institutions of higher education. The government also has agreed to rescind any implementation of the directive.

Government guidance will return to the previous status quo established by the policy directive and addendum issued on March 9 and 13, respectively. ISSS will update its FAQs accordingly, and advisors are available to support UMD’s international community with any remaining questions.

The University of Maryland stands with international students and scholars, and we are thrilled to see the needs of this vital community prevail over this policy.

Where can I find the FAQs from Homeland Security (SEVP) regarding the Fall 2020 guidance?

Pre-Arrival Questions

What will the fall semester course delivery look like?

On June 15, UMD’s President Loh issued the following announcement giving an update on the Fall 2020 semester. Learning and teaching this fall will involve a mix of in-person, online, and blended education formats; however, students should expect that many of their classes will be virtual in the fall term.

As a newly admitted F1/J1 student will I need an in-person/blended course in order to be eligible to enter the US?

In order to be eligible for entry into the U.S., both F1 and J1 newly admitted students should not have a fully online course load. Students who are enrolled in fully online course delivery should remain outside the U.S. and may start their program outside the U.S. without activating their F-1  or J1 status. (See option 2 and 3 below).

If I plan to enter the U.S. for Fall 2020, will my I-20 be updated with a notation?

Students planning to enter into the U.S. for fall 2020 (option 3) will certify they are enrolled in a face to face or blended course for fall 2020. After receiving your Fall 2020 intent form and certification, ISSS will place the following notation on your I-20 “The university of Maryland is not fully online for fall 2020 and this student is enrolled in a blended or face to face course.” This notation will help avoid any confusion at the US consulate or port of entry for your reason for fall 2020 entry.

How will I know the modality of my course delivery?

On July 15th the Office of Registrar released the full list of courses indicating if they delivered in-person, blended or completely online. Newly admitted F1 and J1 students coming to the U.S. must enroll in at least one hybrid OR in-person course in order to be eligible for entry.

  1. Go to https://testudo.umd.edu/
  2. Click on Schedule of Classes
  3. Select the particular class you are interested in taking
    • If a building location is listed for the section, then it will be completed in person or face-to-face (no icon is used to represent these courses in Testudo).
    • If you see a computer icon, the course is 100% online.
    • If the icon includes both a computer and a person, it is a hybrid course (also known as a blended learning course).

I am a transfer student (or a program level change student) and I’m currently inside the US, will I need an in-person or blended course to have my SEVIS record activated?

On July 24th Homeland security provided Clarifying questions for fall 2020 based on the Spring guidance that schools are to follow for the COVID emergency.

Your requirement to enroll in an in person course depends on your current location and fall 2020 plans. 

If you are a transfer or program level change student outside the U.S. and plan to enter; you must have a face to face or blended course.  Through your "Fall 2020 intent form"  we ask your department to confirm you have an  in person experience;  once this form is submitted to our office we will make an update to your I-20.  ISSS will send you an electronic copy of your I-2o with a notation that indicates you do have an in-person requirement for fall 2020.  This notation may be useful for your visa appointment, airline reservation or port of entry. 

If you are outside the U.S. and do not plan to enter the US for fall 2020, you would remain outside for fall 2020 and enroll fully online.  In this scenario your I-20 will not be activated.  You indicate on your Fall 2020 intent form that you plan to remain outside the US and enroll fully online. ISSS will work with SEVP to adjust your start dates in the SEVIS system and a new I-20 will be provided to you 30 days prior to your re-entry to the U.S. for spring semester.

For transfer and program level change students who remain inside the U.S. in active status and are starting a new program of study you can enroll in any delivery mode of instruction.  Transfer students must attend the required ISSS orientation. After attending and completing documents check, your I-2o will be activated and an electronic copy of your I-20 showing the completed transfer will be emailed to you.  Program level change students are not required to attend orientation.  Your I-20 will be activated once you are registered full time and the fall semester begins.

 

How will I inform ISSS of my Fall 2020 plans?

On July 1, 2020, ISSS will launch a new form in iTerp called the “Fall 2020 Enrollment Intent Form.” This form will go to any student who has an active Fall 2020 iTerp checklist, and it will be a requirement to inform our office of your plans for Fall 2020. You will have one month to submit the form, which is due by July 31. The form will require your department (graduate students) or Undergraduate Admissions (undergraduate students) to confirm your plan. This confirmation ensures that necessary departments are aware of your fall plans and that these plans can be accommodated.

If you have already canceled your fall admission and no longer have an active checklist in iTerp, you do not need to complete this form as ISSS doesn’t have an immigration document for you that needs updating. If you have deferred to a future semester, you will be asked to complete another checklist five months prior to the start of your new program admission date.

What are my options for Fall 2020?

This section will explore what options you have as a newly admitted F-1/J-1 student. It will also cover how ISSS will be notified of your choices so that we can make any necessary adjustments to your immigration documents. This section also covers other important considerations.

Click an Option to Learn More

Option 1

Enroll Online for Fall 2020
from Outside the U.S.

 

Option 2

Defer Admission

 

Option 3

Attend UMD in Fall 2020
inside the U.S.

  

Are you expecting processing delays for the I-20 issuance?

ISSS is processing and distributing I-20s within our standard timelines. We continue to request two weeks of processing time after receipt of a complete application packet. We will inform you via email when your I-20 is ready and send  you an electronic copy of the Form I-20.. 

Can I receive my I-20 electronically due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

 Yes, due to COVID-19, DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS.  ISSS will be signing your Form I-20 using a digitally reproduced copy of a physical signature and emailing you a copy.

Can transfer students or program level change students travel overseas before their UMD program starts this Fall 2020?

Spring semester SEVP provided guidance states any student in initial status is not permitted entry to the US. SEVP indicated “ If Initial students have not arrived in the United States, they should remain in their home country.” As a transfer student or program level change student your new I-20 from UMD indicates that “initial attendance” meaning you are considered initial students starting a new program. Isss does not recommend travel outside the U.S. if you are a transfer or program level change student as it’s unlikely that you would be permitted to return.

Travel

Has visa issuance resumed?

On July 14, the U.S Department of State confirmed plans for a Phased Resumption of Routine Visa Services.

“The resumption of routine visa services will occur on a post-by-post basis, in coordination with the Department’s Diplomacy Strong framework for safely returning our workforce to Department facilities. U.S. Embassies and Consulates have continued to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services since March and will continue to do so as they are able. As post-specific conditions improve, our missions will begin providing additional services, culminating eventually in a complete resumption of routine visa services.”

What are the travel related proclamations?

The five geographical COVID-19 Proclamations (P.P. 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996, 10041) and the two COVID-19 Labor Market Proclamations suspending the entry of certain aliens (P.P. 10014 and 10052) remain in effect. The resumption of visa services does not impact these.

Currently foreign nationals who have been in any of the following countries during the past 14 days may not enter the United States. (View details on Travel-Related Proclamations Affecting Entry from Certain Countries)

  • China
  • Iran
  • European Schengen area  (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, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
  • United Kingdom
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Brazil

Please visit the CDC site that lists travelers prohibited from entry to the U.S.

These proclamations still apply however, information has been shared that it appears that students and scholars can be considered for national interest exceptions.

Official guidance was posted on 07/15 that now allows travel for students from the Schengen area, United Kingdom and Ireland.

Students from the other restricted regions who need a visa or wish to travel should reach out to the U.S. embassies to see what process they should follow to request a national interest exception as a student.  

Do the various Presidential Proclamations/travel restrictions still apply, or are those lifting with the resumption of visa services?

Yes, The five geographical COVID-19 Proclamations (P.P. 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996, 10041) and the two COVID-19 Labor Market Proclamations suspending the entry of certain aliens (P.P. 10014 and 10052) remain in effect.

Students are advised to monitor the websites of their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to determine when appointments are available and when the consulates are reopening.

 

I-20 Issues

Are you expecting processing delays for the I-20 issuance?

ISSS is processing and distributing I-20s within our standard timelines. We continue to request  two weeks of processing time after receipt of a complete application packet. We will inform you via email when your I-20 is ready and send you an electronic copy of the form I-20.

Can I receive my I-20 electronically due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

Yes, due to COVID-19, DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS. ISSS will be signing your From I-20 using a digitally reproduced copy of a physical signature and emailing you a copy.