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Information for Students Who Will Study In Person

ISSS COVID-19 FAQ

Remote Study

Leave of Absence

Information on this page has been updated as of March 13, 2021. Please note that at this time, guidance for the summer 2021 and fall 2021 terms has not been released.

  • When will U.S. Embassies and Consulates reopen and resume routine visa services?
    • In March 2020, the Department of State (DOS) suspended routine visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide due to the impact of COVID-19. On July 14, 2020, DOS announced a phased reopening of Embassies and Consulates along with several FAQs. There is no set, universal date for a mass reopening of visa services and timelines will vary from post to post. Students should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where they will apply for more information.
    • Visit the Department of State resumption of routine visa services page for additional information.
  • What if my visa is not approved before the start of classes? Can I arrive late?
    • F-1 regulations apply a limit to how late a student can arrive after the start of a semester. Students who might not arrive until after the start of the term should contact ISSS with the details of their specific situation or schedule a virtual appointment to discuss their situation in more detail. Students should also remain in contact with their school or program. Permission from your school or program will be required for late arrivals.
  • I have an unexpired visa stamp in my passport, but I am still trying to make travel arrangements. Can I arrive after the start of classes?
    • There are limits to how late a student can arrive after the start of classes. Students who might be delayed in their arrival to campus should contact ISSS directly with the details of their situation or schedule a virtual appointment to discuss their situation with an ISSS advisor. Students should also remain in contact with their advisors and/or school. Permission from your school or program is required for late arrivals.
  • I am currently in Canada. / I am currently in Mexico. Will the U.S.-Canada/U.S.-Mexico border closures prevent me from returning?
    • The restrictions on entry to the U.S. from Canadian and Mexican land ports has been extended to March 21, 2021, with exemptions for essential travel. At this time, the border closure does not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel between [the United States and Canada and the United States and Mexico], but it does apply to passenger rail and ferry travel between the [the United States and Canada and the United States and Mexico]. The Canada and Mexico land port of entry restrictions include as coming for essential travel, “Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions.” It is unclear whether “traveling to attend” also covers students who are studying online under their school’s COVID-19 policy and who wish to travel through land ports of entry.
  • I am currently in the Schengen Area, the UK or Ireland. Are the entry restrictions to the U.S. still in place?
    • Proclamation 10143 (January 25, 2021) extends the limitation on direct travel to the U.S. by persons who were physically present in a covered country in the 14 days prior to their planned entry to the U.S. The countries listed below are covered by the current restrictions.
      • Brazil
      • China
      • Iran
      • Ireland
      • 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, and Switzerland)
      • United Kingdom
      • South Africa
    • National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for F-1 students and others.
      • On July 16, 2020, the Department of State  announced national interest exceptions for certain travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom and Ireland. This page has been updated as of March 2, 2021 and continues to use the same wording as previous updates that continues the “blanket” NIE determination for F-1 students who are traveling from the indicated countries. The requirement for “academics, J-1 students, and journalists” to apply individually for an NIE exception remains in place.
  • Can I take some courses online, or must all my courses be in person?
    • Under the current guidance, students have temporary permission to exceed the online education limits specified in the regulations. Guidance for the upcoming academic year has not been released.
  • Do I need to live in Nashville, or can I be in another U.S. city?
    • The current guidance from SEVP affirms that continuing students who are engaged in online study may remain in the U.S. The guidance does not require continuing students to remain in the location of the SEVP-certified school that they are attending.
    • F-1 students in the U.S. are required to report any changes to their local address to ISSS within 10 calendar days of the change as a part of maintaining their F-1 status. Students will need to update their Local (mailing) address in YES to update the address that is reported to SEVIS as the local address.
  • This is my last term and I only need one course. Can that course be online?
    • Further clarification is needed to fully answer this question. SEVP has not addressed this directly in their current guidance, however pre-existing guidance establishes that if a student has only one course remaining, that course cannot be taken online.
  • I am in the thesis or dissertation phase of my program. All of my coursework is complete and I will be full-time engaged in research this semester. Can I remain in the U.S.?
    • Under the current guidance from SEVP, continuing students in this situation may remain in the U.S. and will not be required to be located in Nashville if the nature of your research allows for remote participation.
    • J-1 Exchange Visitors in a College and University student category (e.g. Student Bachelor’s, Student Master’s, Student Doctorate), who have already begun their Exchange Visitor program in the U.S., have continued permission from the Department of State to employ remote and online means to maintain their program objectives.
  • If campus closes mid-semester due to COVID-19 developments, can I remain in the U.S. and finish the semester remotely?
    • On July 14, 2020, DHS agreed to rescind SEVP’s fall 2020 guidance that prohibited students from remaining in US in the event of a campus transition to fully online instruction. They also agreed to extend the spring 2020 guidance, which allows students to remain in the U.S. during remote study, to the fall semester. This guidance remains in effect for the spring 2021 term.
  • Some of the classes I need are not offered this semester. Can I take less than a full-time load of courses?
    • Based on the current guidance from SEVP, students must make normal progress in their course of study to the extent allowed by their institution’s alternate educational plans. Students who are in their last term and need less than a full-time load to complete their program should submit a Reduced Course Load application in the ISSS portal.
    • Students who are not graduating in the current term and are having difficulty identifying a full-time course load should contact ISSS directly.
  • Will I need a new I-20?
    • The July 6, 2020 SEVP fall 2020 guidance that directed schools to issue an updated I-20 to all students who will attend courses in person has been rescinded.
    • Students who plan to travel internationally should make sure they have an up to date I-20 with a valid travel signature prior to their departure.