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International Student FAQ

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) reflect current university policies and immigration regulations. This page is designed to provide AU international students with up-to-date answers to help navigate their immigration status.

Last updated on October 26, 2020. 

SPRING 2021

VISA SERVICES :

  • Are U.S. embassies and consulates resuming routine visa services?    
    Please refer to usembassy.gov for more information on embassies’ operating status.  
  • If I have a visa appointment, will I need to present a new I-20 with updated remarks about American University’s mode of learning for Spring 2021?  
    If you have an in-person class, you will receive a letter from your academic department confirming your enrollment in at least one in-person class. You can use your AU I-20 to apply for a visa.    

PORT OF ENTRY : 

  • Is there any new documentation that I need to have with me to the Port of Entry when entering the U.S. in spring?  
    In addition to a valid I-20, passport, F-1 visa, and SEVIS fee receipt, you should also travel with the letter from your academic department confirming your enrollment in at least one in-person class. ISSS also recommends that students print out a copy of their unofficial transcript and/or course registration showing Spring 2021 classes.  

CLASS ENROLLMENT : 

  • How do I know if my classes are online, in-person, or hybrid?    
    Students should discuss with their academic advisor any questions related to their classes and how they appear on the class schedule in Eagle Service.  
  • I have a scholarship through the university and have questions about it.Who should I talk to?   
    All questions regarding scholarships should go through your admission contact at AU.

HEALTH INSURANCE : 

  • Do I still need to pay for the AU health insurance for the Spring 2021 semester if I remain in my home country?  
    If you are not in the U.S. during the spring semester, you will not have to pay for AU health insurance. Please contact shc@american.edu with further questions.   

IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS : 

  • I transferred to American University in Fall 2020 but remained outside. If I plan to return to the U.S. to start studies at AU in Spring 2021, is my SEVIS record still valid?   
    You need a new I-20 to return, Please follow up with ISSS to request a new I-20 by emailing isssdocuments@american.edu. 
  • I am transferring to American University in Spring 2021 and plan to be in the United States for the semester. How do I maintain my immigration status?  
    To maintain a valid immigration status, you must enroll in at least one in-person class for the spring semester while you are in the United States.  
  • I am a transfer student that has been outside U.S. for more than five-months. Is my SEVIS record still valid?   
    Yes, it is still valid if you have been enrolled in full course of study up until your SEVIS record was transferred to AU. This is a temporary flexibility provided to students due to COVID-19 situation.  
  • I am aninitial F-1 student starting my first semester at AU in Spring 2021. Can I come to the U.S. in Spring 2021? 
    Per the DHS fall guidance, you must enroll in a minimum of one in person class to apply for a visa.  
  • I received an electronicallysigned I-20, do I need to receive a paper one later?   
    No, your electronic I-20 is valid until further notice.

VISA : 

  • My F-1 visa expired while I was outside the United States. How can I renew my visa? 
    You can only renew your visa if you enroll in one in-person class for the spring semester.  Please check with the U.S. consulate for additional requirements. 
  • If I defer my admission to Fall 2021, do I need a new immigration document? Do I need to pay the SEVIS and visa interview fees again?    
    If you defer your admission, ISSS will create a new I-20 for you for the new semester. You will need to submit new financial documents for ISSS to be able to issue you a new I-20 for Fall 2021.  If your SEVIS number remains the same, you don’t need to pay the SEVIS fee again. You can transfer your SEVIS fee if your SEVIS number has changed. Please go HERE for more information. You will receive a receipt after paying the visa application fee. This receipt is valid for one year from the date of payment and allows you to schedule your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You must schedule your interview while the receipt is valid, which means your interview must be booked within one year of paying your fee.   
  • How will my future off-campus employment benefits (CPT and OPT) be impacted if I defer to Fall 2021 or take the Spring 2021 semester online from my home county and plan to enter the United States on an F-1 visa in Fall 2021?    
    To become eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT), students must have had both a valid immigration status and full-time enrollment in a degree-seeking program for at least one academic year (spring and fall semesters). If you remain outside the U.S. for the spring 2021 semester, the spring semester will not count toward your one year of full-time enrollment.   

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS : 

  • What if I am unable to leave the U.S. before the end of my grace period due to the lack of available commercial flights or other travel restrictions?   
    Students should assess options for alternative study arrangements during this time. Students should also contact ISSS to report their inability to leave the country due to COVID 19.   
  • Spring 2021 is my final semester and I will be taking classes from outside the U.S. Can I return to the U.S. to attend graduation?   
    1. Students can return to the United States prior to the program end date on the Form I-20 and attend their graduation during the 60-day grace period.    
    2. Students who intend to continue their study in the United States can return with a pending change of educational level or transfer Form I-20.    
    3. Students can return to the United States on another visa classification (i.e., B-2 visitor visa).   

IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS : 

  • Can I stay in the United States with an expired passport?   
    Students who are in the U.S. with an expiring passport should contact their country’s embassy or consulate to identify options for passport extension or renewal.   
  • Can I stay in the United States with an expired F-1 visa?   
    Yes, provided that you have a valid I-20 and valid passport and you are making normal progress towards degree completion or you are pursuing Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).  
  • Can I renew my F-1 visa in a third country?   
    Students are recommended applying for a new F-1 visa in their home countries to avoid delays and minimize the risk of denials.    
  • I have been outside the United States for more than 5 months, can I return to the U.S. using my unexpired student visa?    
    Students who maintained their full-time student status in Fall 2020 can use the unexpired visa in their passport to return to the U.S. in Spring 2021 as long as they have a valid I-20 and are making normal progress towards degree completion. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at the U.S. port of entry ultimately make the decision to admit people into the country, not Department of State. Therefore, a valid visa does not always guarantee entrance into the U.S.  

CLASS ENROLLMENT : 

  • Will F-1 students be able to return to the United States if they are continuing their studies outside of the country as a result of COVID-19?
    Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the United States. However, because of the changing array of travel restrictions, students should refer to their local embassy’s website through the U.S. Department of State for any updates about visa issuance. Also, DHS and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) websites provide information about current travel restrictions to the United States.   
  • Will I be able to take online classes outside the United States and keep my immigration status active?  Y
    es. Please discuss class enrollment with your academic advisor. For immigration purposes, you will need to maintain full-time enrollment unless you are authorized for a reduced course load.     
  • Will I be able to take online classes in Spring 2021 semester while inside the U.S?   
    Yes, current students in the U.S. can enroll in more than one online class to maintain full time enrollment.  
  • I am an undergraduate student approved for study abroad in Spring 2021. What is the impact of study abroad on my immigration status?  
    Current students on authorized study abroad can keep their immigration status active in spring 2021.  
  • I am a PhD student authorized for field research abroad. What are my options?   
    Current PhD students who are authorized for field research abroad or outside the DMV area can keep their immigration status active in spring 2021.  
  • I am an ESL student or have ESL classes. What are my options?  
    There is no specific provision in the updated DHS guidance against ESL courses or pathway courses.  Therefore, ESL students can enroll in more than one online class.  

REDUCED COURSE LOAD, TEMPORARY LEAVE, ETC. :

  • How can I maintain my immigration status in spring 2021 if I do not have full course of study left in my last semester?   
    If spring is your final semester and you have only partial credits left to complete the program, please make sure to submit reduced course load (RCL) authorization request to ISSS. To submit the RCL e-Form, please to login to iEagle, click Current Student, and click Reduced Course Load (RCL). If you are an Accelerator student, you have to enroll in full course of study.   
  • If I decide to take the spring semester off as a current student, what are my options?   
    Please consult with your academic advisor for advice about temporary leave. Students on approved temporary leave will have their immigration record terminated and will need to apply to a new initial I-20 to return to AU in Fall 2021. Current students should also contact ISSS at isss@american.edu to discuss the immigration implications of academic options before finalizing their academic decision.  
  • How does retroactive withdrawal affect international students?   
    International students should not withdraw from classes retroactively as this action will cause loss of immigration status from the beginning of the past semester. This loss of immigration status will have multiple implications for their futures.   

OTHER :

  • I am facing financial challenges and seeking assistance from the university for the spring. Are there any scholarships for international students?    
    AU offers scholarships at the time of admissions and notifies students with the admission decision. You may find more information and sources of external funding opportunities on ISSS' Scholarship page.    
  • I am outside the U.S. and there is a significant time difference between my location and AU. Will my classes only be available during the regularly scheduled time or will there be other options?    
    Online coursework can be completed anytime within a set period as opposed to at a set class time, allowing flexibility for students in different time zones and environments. Once your faculty instructors have provided information about how your class will be conducted, please follow up with them directly to discuss specific questions about time and schedules.    

EMPLOYMENT :

  • Can I continue my on-campus employment remotely?   
    If the current on-campus employment opportunity has transitioned to remote work or the employment can be done through remote means, students may continue to engage in on-campus employment remotely.  
  • Can I do remote/telework inside the U.S. to fulfill my internship requirements for credit internships?   
    Students may engage in CPT inside the U.S., provided they are:   
    • Enrolled in a program of study in which CPT is integral to the program of study;   and 
    •ISSS authorized CPT in advance of the CPT start date. 
  • Do I need CPT authorization if I am outside the U.S. in Spring 2021?  
    You do not need CPT authorization if you are not physically in the U.S. and your internship will start and end outside the U.S. If you enter the U.S. to continue your internship without CPT authorization, you would be in violation of your immigration status. 
  • If I am authorized for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for spring 2021, can I work virtually to fulfill my employment requirement?   
    Students currently participating in OPT, including STEM OPT, may work remotely if their employer has an office outside of the United States or the employer can assess student engagement using electronic means. Students participating in STEM OPT do not need to submit an updated Form I-983 to report remote work.   
  • I am an international student with authorized off-campus employment for an internship or practical training. Is there any guidance from Department of Homeland Security for situations like this?     
    Students with authorized practical training off-campus are encouraged to consult with their employer to seek alternative ways to maintain employment, such as teleworking or other arrangements. If working remotely, students must ensure that the employer either has an office outside the United States or the employer can assess student engagement and attainment of learning objectives electronically.   
  • If I am graduating in May 2021, could I apply for post-completion optional practical training (OPT) from outside of the U.S.?   
    Current federal regulations affecting F-1 students do not allow for OPT applications from outside of the U.S.. ISSS will provide an update if DHS introduces any flexibility to these regulations.   
  • How will ISSS assist international students who are graduating and are currently in the U.S. with optional practical training (OPT) applications?   
    ISSS has made OPT workshops and intake process fully online. Academic Advisors will be able to verify program completion through an E-form initiated by students. For more information please, visit ISSS's OPT page.   
  • Does time spent studying outside of the U.S. during the COVID-19 emergency count toward the one-year requirement for CPT and OPT?    
    Yes. F-1 students who maintain normal academic progress while outside of the U.S. will accrue eligibility for practical training whether they are inside or outside of the U.S.    
  • Can I maintain my OPT if due to the COVID-19 emergency I cannot work for at least 20 hours/week?   
    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 engaged in OPT.   
  • Will there be an increase in the allowed period of unemployment for OPT or STEM OPT due to COVID-19?    
    At this time, no change has been made to the current federal regulations on unemployment during OPT and STEM OPT.  

TRAVEL:

  • Can I stay in the United States with an expired passport?  
    Students who are in the U.S. with an expiring passport should contact their country’s embassy or consulate to identify options for passport extension or renewal.  
  • Can I stay in the United States with an expired J-1 visa?  
    Yes, provided that you have a valid DS-2019 and valid passport and you are making normal progress towards degree completion or you are pursuing Post-completion Academic Training. 
  • Can I renew my J-1 visa in a third country?  
    Students are recommended applying for a new J-1 visa in their home countries to avoid delays and minimize the risk of denials.   
  • I am a current J-1 student, and I travelled home during the fall. Do I need to return to the U.S. for spring?  
    AU offers hybrid modality in spring 2021. Therefore, you can try to return to AU to continue in your education as a J-1 exchange visitor. If you are graduating in May and will not be returning to the U.S. for spring, we will shorten your program end date and close your immigration record. You may continue your education fully online.  

COURSE ENROLLMENT:

  • Can current J-1 students take online courses if some of their courses are not offered in-person?
    Yes. 
  • Are new J-1 students able to start in the spring?  
    New J-1 students have to enroll in no more than one online class unless they cannot be full time in which case we are certifying their enrollment as "absolute minimum online required for good academic progress.”  
  • Can I take entirely online classes if all of my required courses are not offered in-person?  
    No, because AU offers plenty of options for students to enroll for in person classes with minimum online options.  
  • I am a newly admitted J-1 student beginning my program in spring 2021. If I can’t obtain a visa and enter the U.S. before my program start date, can I enter the U.S. after the start date of classes once I have obtained the visa?  
    Please contact ISSS immediately if you know you will not be able to enter the U.S. on or before your program start date. We may be able to postpone the start date on your DS-2019 so that you can enter the U.S. after you obtain your visa. In such cases, a new DS-2019 with the updated start date will be mailed to you.    

Fall 2020

TRAVEL:

  • Will I be able to enter the U.S. as a new student for fully online education?
    If you were not enrolled at any U.S. institution in spring 2020 semester, you will not be able to obtain a visa or enter the U.S. for fully online education, based on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State fall guidance. If we issued an immigration document with Fall 2020 semester start date, we will be in touch with you shortly. American University will offer fully online education in fall 2020, for which you can enroll from outside the U.S. If you are already inside the U.S., you must report to ISSS virtually within 15 days of the AU program start date, August 24, 2020.If you are an immigration transfer with previous enrollment at any U.S. institution in spring 2020, please see the questions below this section.

IMMIGRATION TRANSFERS:

  • I am an immigration transfer to AU and would like to return to DC to continue my education. Is my I-20 valid?
    Yes, you can use your transfer pending I-20 issued by AU and your valid visa in your passport to return. If you need to renew your visa, you must apply for a visa renewal with AU I-20. Please be aware that there may be additional challenges at the visa interview and/or U.S. port of entry, which we have no control over. 
  • I am an immigration transfer to AU and plan to continue online education from my home country. Is my Transfer-in I-20 still valid? 
    We will update your I-20 when you are ready to return to the U.S. Until then, you can enroll for full course of online study from outside the U.S.Immigration transfer students inside the U.S. must report to ISSS virtually within 15 days of the AU program start date, August 24, 2020.
  • I am not planning to enroll for fall semester as a new immigration transfer student. Do I need a new I-20 or DS-2019 for Spring 2021?  
    You will need a new I-20 or DS-2019 when you are ready to resume your studies.  
  • I am an immigration transfer to AU and have been outside the U.S. for more than five months. Is my SEVIS record still valid?  
    Yes, it is still valid if you have been enrolled in full course of study up until your SEVIS record was transferred to AU. This is a temporary flexibility provided to students due to COVID-19 situation. 

COURSE ENROLLMENT:

  • I expect to be in the U.S. for Fall 2020. What are my immigration options? 
    American University will offer fully online education in fall 2020.  Based on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State fall guidance, you will not be able to obtain a visa or enter the U.S. for fully online education. If we issued an immigration document with Fall 2020 semester start date, we will be in touch with you shortly.If you are already inside the U.S. , you must report to ISSS virtually within 15 days of the AU program start date, August 24, 2020.
  • I intend to remain in my home country for Fall 2020. What are my enrollment options? 
    Academically, American University is prepared to offer fully online education for students outside the U.S.  
  • If I defer my admission to Spring 2021, do I need a new immigration document? Do I need to pay the SEVIS and visa interview fees again?   
    If you defer your admission, ISSS will create a new I-20 for you. You will need to submit new financial documents for ISSS to be able to issue you a new I-20 for Spring 2021.  If your SEVIS number remains the same, you don’t need to pay the SEVIS fee again. You can transfer your SEVIS fee if your SEVIS number has changed. Please go HERE for more information.You will receive a receipt after paying the visa application fee. This receipt is valid for one year from the date of payment and allows you to schedule your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You must schedule your interview while the receipt is valid, which means your interview must be booked within one year of paying your fee.  

TRAVEL:

  • The U.S. has travel restrictions for my country. Could I enter the U.S. through a third country?   
    At the moment, there are travel restrictions for certain countries. You may be able to stay in a third (“travel through”) country that may or may not be on the list for travel restrictions prior to trying to enter the United States (U.S.). Please check to make sure you understand the requirements and regulations pertaining to the third (“travel through”) country prior to leaving your home country.The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advises students currently outside of the U.S. and looking to enter the country to check on any travel restrictions their country might have regarding international travel, including restrictions applicable to countries they may travel through.  For other travel inquiries and up-to-date information on travel bans, please visit the US Department of State's COVID-19 Country Specific Information page.  
  • As an international student, will I be required to quarantine upon entry into the U.S.?  
    The university continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and follow guidance from global, national and local health and government officials, including travel advisories and requirements. We recommend also reviewing the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance here and here
  • How does the May 2020 Presidential Proclamation suspending Chinese students and scholars’ entry to the U.S. affect me?  
    The recent proclamation does not affect undergraduate students. Suspension applies to only graduate students and in fields involving information that would contribute to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “military-civil fusion strategy". Students pursuing undergraduate study and other individuals "studying or conducting research in a field involving information that would not contribute to the PRC’s military civil fusion strategy", (as determined by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the appropriate executive departments and agencies) are exempted.    How it will impact graduate students and scholars are yet to be seen. You may read the proclamation for more information.  
  • What if I am unable to depart from the U.S. during the grace period following my degree or OPT completion because of flights restrictions?Students should assess options for alternative study arrangements during this time. Students should also contact ISSS to report their inability to leave the country due to COVID-19.  
  • I will be taking classes from outside the U.S. in my final semester this fall. Can I return to the U.S. to attend graduation?  
    1. You can only return to the U.S. as an F-1 student prior to the semester end date to attend your graduation.
    2. If you are changing level to study in another program, or transferring your immigration status to another school, you may also return as an F-1 student with a pending change of educational level or transfer Form I-20.  
     3. You may always return to the U.S. on another visa classification (i.e. B-2 visitor visa). 

VISA SERVICES:

  • Are U.S. embassies and consulates resuming routine visa services? 
    U.S. embassies and consulates are beginning to resume routine visa services. The dates for each embassy or consulate will depend on local conditions. Please refer to usembassy.gov for more information on embassies’ operating status. 
  • Will I need to present a new I-20 with updated remarks about American University’s mode of learning for Fall 2020 for visa renewal?   
    No, I-20 remarks are not needed. AU is fully online this fall and as a current student you should be able to renew your visa to return.  
  • Will ISSS provide a letter certifying American University’s class modality and my enrollment status? 
    No. You are encouraged to have a printout of your transcript with Fall 2020 enrollment for visa renewal and port of entry arrival. 
  • What do I need to present at the U.S. Port of Entry as a returning student?
    At the Port of Entry, you should have a current I-20 with a valid travel signature or ISSS travel letter, a valid passport, and a valid visa. It is also recommended to have a printout of your unofficial transcript and/or course registration showing Fall 2020 classes. Students with change of level I-20s do not need a travel signature letter.
  • Do I still need to pay for the AU health insurance for Fall 2020 if I remain in my home country?   
    Please contact shc@american.edu for the university policy on health insurance.
  • Can I stay in the U.S. with an expired passport?  
    You should never let your passport expire while in the U.S. Please contact your country’s embassy or consulate in the U.S. to identify options for passport extension or renewal.  
  • Can I stay in the U.S. with an expired F-1 visa?  
    Yes, provided that you have a valid I-20 and valid passport and you are making normal progress towards degree completion or you are pursuing Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). 
  • Can I renew my F-1 visa in a third country?  
    Applying for a new F-1 visa outside your home country increases the visa process time and the risk of visa denial.
  • I have been outside the U.S. for more than 5 months, can I return to the U.S. using my unexpired student visa?   
    Yes, if you have maintained full-time student status in Spring 2020 and are making normal progress towards degree completion. Please make sure you have an unexpired I-20 and visa in your passport to return. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at the U.S. Port of Entry ultimately make the decision to admit people into the country, not the U.S. Department of State. Therefore, a valid visa does not always guarantee entrance into the U.S. 
  • Could I return to the U.S. to continue my education fully online?
    Yes, as long as you have a valid visa and full course of study remaining or you are authorized for a reduced course load . Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the U. S. However, if you need to renew your visa, you must refer to the U.S. embassy’s website in your country for updates. Also, DHS and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) websites provide information about current travel restrictions to the U.S.  
  • Will I be able to take online classes outside the U.S. and keep my immigration status active? 
    Yes. Please discuss class enrollment with your academic advisor. For immigration purposes, you will need to maintain full-time enrollment unless you are authorized for a reduced course load.   
  • I am outside the U.S. and there is a significant time difference between my location and AU. Will my classes only be available during the regularly scheduled time or will there be other options?   
    Online coursework can be completed anytime within a set period as opposed to at a set class time, allowing flexibility for students in different time zones and environments. Once your faculty instructors have provided information about how your class will be conducted, please follow up with them directly to discuss specific questions about time and schedules.   
  • I am a student in a country that doesn’t support Google and Blackboard. Is there another way for me to access online resources through AU?   
    Students in countries where Google and Blackboard are not supported can use the AU Virtual Private Network (VPN). We have added user licenses to expand our VPN capacity. Students can either go to help.american.edu and search “VPN” or enroll your mobile device with the Duo two-factor authentication app. See theHow to Enroll in 2-Factor Authentication video on Youtube; then access the VPN following the steps for your device.  
  • How do I know if my classes are online, in-person, or hybrid?   
    AU is offering fully online education in fall 2020. As a current student, you are temporarily allowed to be enrolled in fully online education and keep your immigration status while the COVID-19 situation continues.   
  • Is there a time frame for when students are expected to return to theU. S. once the COVID-19 emergency is over and schools have resumed normal operations? 
    Dependent on their school’s return to normal operations and any continuing travel restrictions, students should seek to return to the U. S. within 30 days of the next available session start date. ISSS will inform AU students of additional SEVP guidance after the COVID-19 emergency ends regarding a school’s return to normal operations. 
  • I am an undergraduate student approved for study abroad in fall 2020. What is the impact of study abroad on my immigration status? 
    Current students on authorized study abroad can keep their immigration status active in fall 2020. 
  • I am a PhD student authorized for field research abroad. What are my immigration options?   
    Current PhD students who are authorized for field research abroad can keep their immigration status active in fall 2020. 
  • I am an ESL student or have ESL classes. What are my enrollment options? 
    There is no specific provision in the updated DHS guidance against ESL courses or pathway courses. Therefore, ESL students can enroll in more than one online class. 
  • Fall 2020 is my last semester and I do not have full course of study left to complete my degree. What are my options?
    If fall is your final semester and you have only partial credits left to complete the program, please make sure to submit reduced course load (RCL) authorization request to ISSS. Under the circumstances we wanted to make it easier for you and created an E-form for this purpose. To submit the RCL e-Form, please to login to iEagle, click Current Student, and click Reduced Course Load (RCL). If you are an Accelerator student, you have to enroll in full course of study.  
  • If I take temporary leave in fall 2020, what are my immigration options?  
    Please consult with your academic advisor for advice about temporary leave. Students on approved temporary cannot stay in the U.S. as their immigration records are terminated.  
  • May I retroactively withdraw from the previous semester?
    You must not withdraw from classes retroactively as this action will cause loss of immigration status from the beginning of the past semester. This loss of immigration status will have multiple immigration implications for your return to the U.S. in the future.

EMPLOYMENT:

  • Can I continue my on-campus employment remotely?  
    If the current on-campus employment opportunity has transitioned to remote work or the employment can be done through remote means, you may continue to engage in on-campus employment remotely.   
  • Can I do remote/telework inside the U.S. to fulfill my internship requirements for credit internships?  
    Students may engage in CPT inside the U.S., provided they are:  
    • Enrolled in a program of study in which CPT is integral to the program of study;   and
    • ISSS authorized CPT in advance of the CPT start date.
  • Do I need CPT authorization if I am outside the U.S. in Fall 2020? 
    You do not need CPT authorization if you are not physically in the U.S. and your internship will start and end outside the U.S. If you enter the U.S. to continue your internship without CPT authorization, you would be in violation of your immigration status.  
  • If I am authorized for Optional Practical Training (OPT), can I work virtually to fulfil my employment requirement?  
    Students currently participating in OPT, including STEM OPT, may work remotely if their employer has an office outside of the U.S. or the employer can assess student engagement using electronic means. Students participating in STEM OPT do not need to submit an updated Form I-983 to report remote work.  
  • If I am graduating in August or December 2020, could I apply for Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) from outside of the U.S.?  
    Current federal regulations affecting F-1 students do not allow for OPT applications from outside of the U.S.
  • How will ISSS assist me with Optional Practical Training (OPT) applications?  
    ISSS has made OPT workshops and intake process fully online. Academic Advisors will be able to verify program completion through an E-form initiated by students. For more information please, visit ISSS's OPT page.  
  • Does time spent studying outside of the U.S. during the COVID-19 emergency count toward the one-year requirement for CPT and OPT?   
    Yes. Current F-1 students who maintain normal academic progress while outside of the U.S. will accrue eligibility for practical training whether they are inside or outside of the U.S.   
  • Will there be an increase in the allowed period of unemployment for OPT or STEM OPT due to COVID-19?   
    At this time, no change has been made to the current federal regulations on unemployment during OPT and STEM OPT. 
  • I am on Post-completion OPT, can I apply for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19?
    Students who are unemployed due to COVID-19 should contact their local or state employment agency for more information.
  • If I cannot work more than 20 hours per week while on Post-completion OPT due to COVID-19, can I maintain my OPT?  
    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 engaged in OPT.  

TRAVEL:

  • The U.S. has travel restrictions for my country. Could I enter the U.S. through a third country?   
    At the moment, there are travel restrictions for certain countries. You may be able to stay in a third (“travel through”) country that may or may not be on the list for travel restrictions prior to trying to enter the United States (U.S.). Please check to make sure you understand the requirements and regulations pertaining to the third (“travel through”) country prior to leaving your home country.The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advises students currently outside of the U.S. and looking to enter the country to check on any travel restrictions their country might have regarding international travel, including restrictions applicable to countries they may travel through.  For other travel inquiries and up-to-date information on travel bans, please visit the US Department of State's COVID-19 Country Specific Information page.  
  • As an international student, will I be required to quarantine upon entry into the U.S.?  
    The university continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and follow guidance from global, national and local health and government officials, including travel advisories and requirements. We recommend also reviewing the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance here and here
  • How does the May 2020 Presidential Proclamation suspending Chinese students and scholars’ entry to the U.S. affect me?  
    The recent proclamation does not affect undergraduate students. Suspension applies to only graduate students and in fields involving information that would contribute to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “military-civil fusion strategy". Students pursuing undergraduate study and other individuals "studying or conducting research in a field involving information that would not contribute to the PRC’s military civil fusion strategy", (as determined by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the appropriate executive departments and agencies) are exempted.    How it will impact graduate students and scholars are yet to be seen. You may read the proclamation for more information. 
  • What if I am unable to depart from the U.S. during grace period following my degree or AT completion because of flights restrictions?Students should assess options for alternative study arrangements during this time. Students should also contact ISSS to report their inability to leave the country due to COVID-19.  
  • I will be taking classes from outside the U.S. in my final semester this fall. Can I return to the U.S. to attend graduation?  
    1. You can only return to the U.S. as a J-1 student prior to the semester end date to attend your graduation.
    2. If you are changing level to study in another program, or transferring your immigration status to another school, you may also return as a J-1 student with a pending change of educational level or transfer Form DS-2019.   
    3. You may always return to the U.S. on another visa classification (i.e. B-2 visitor visa).  

VISA SERVICES:

  • Are U.S. embassies and consulates resuming routine visa services? 
    U.S. embassies and consulates are beginning to resume routine visa services. The dates for each embassy or consulate will depend on local conditions. Please refer to usembassy.gov for more information on embassies’ operating status. 
  • Will I need to present a new DS-2019 with updated remarks about American University’s mode of learning for Fall 2020 for visa renewal?   
    No, DS-2019 remarks are not needed. AU is fully online this fall and as a current student you should be able to renew your visa to return.  
  • Will ISSS provide a letter certifying American University’s class modality and my enrollment status? 
    No. You are encouraged to have a printout of your transcript with Fall 2020 enrollment for visa renewal and port of entry arrival. 

PORT OF ENTRY:

  • What do I need to present to the U.S. Port of Entry as a returning student?
    At the Port of Entry, you should have a current DS-2019 with a valid travel signature or ISSS travel letter, a valid passport, and a valid visa. It is also recommended to have a printout of your unofficial transcript and/or course registration showing Fall 2020 classes. 

HEALTH INSURANCE:

  • Do I still need to pay for the AU health insurance for the Fall 2020 if I remain in my home country?   
    J-1 students and their dependents must maintain a valid health insurance during exchange visitor program participation.

COURSE ENROLLMENT:

  • Can I take online courses in the U.S. this fall? 
    Yes. The Department of State confirmed on July 29, 2020 that they will continue to accept online coursework for college and university J-1 nonimmigrant exchange visitors that remain in active SEVIS status. 
  • What will happen to my immigration status if I pursue online study while outside the U.S.?
    The Department of State confirmed on July 29, 2020 that we may keep an exchange visitor’s SEVIS record “active” until the exchange visitor is able to return to the U.S. to continue with their original program objectives.  Exchange visitors should be mindful of the validity dates of their J-1 visas; they may need to renew their visas before they return to the U.S.   
  • Could I return to the U.S. to continue my education fully online?
    Yes, as long as you have a valid visa and full course of study remaining. Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the U. S. However, if you need to renew your visa, you must refer to the U.S. embassy’s website in your country for updates. Also, DHS and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) websites provide information about current travel restrictions to the U.S.   
  • I am outside the U.S. and there is a significant time difference between my location and AU. Will my classes only be available during the regularly scheduled time or will there be other options?   
    Online coursework can be completed anytime within a set period as opposed to at a set class time, allowing flexibility for students in different time zones and environments. Once your faculty instructors have provided information about how your class will be conducted, please follow up with them directly to discuss specific questions about time and schedules.   
  • I am a student in a country that doesn’t support Google and Blackboard. Is there another way for me to access online resources through AU?   
    Students in countries where Google and Blackboard are not supported can use the AU Virtual Private Network (VPN). We have added user licenses to expand our VPN capacity. Students can either go to help.american.edu and search “VPN” or enroll your mobile device with the Duo two-factor authentication app. See the How to Enroll in 2-Factor Authentication video on YouTube; then access the VPN following the steps for your device.   
  • Fall 2020 is my last semester and I do not have full course of study left to complete my degree. What are my options?
    If fall is your final semester and you have only partial credits left to complete the program, please make sure to submit reduced course load (RCL) authorization request to ISSS. Under the circumstances we wanted to make it easier for you and created an E-form for this purpose. To submit the RCL e-Form, please to login to iEagle, click Current Student, and click Reduced Course Load (RCL). If you are an Accelerator student, you have to enroll in full course of study.  

OTHER:

  • I am facing financial challenges and seeking assistance from the university for the fall. Are there any scholarships for international students?   
    AU offers scholarships at the time of admissions and notifies students with the admission decision. You may find more information and sources of external funding opportunities on ISSS' Scholarship page.