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The Impact of COVID-19 on New International Students

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Effective August 19th, 2020, new undergraduate students are no longer eligible to enter the US* with a Drexel I-20/DS-2019 and F-1/J-1 visa sticker to study on campus in the fall quarter. You are automatically enrolled into 100% remote fall instruction. ISSS will work as quickly as possible to re-issue your I-20/DS-2019 with your new Program Start Date (which will be the first day of the term you plan to arrive on campus, currently planned to be the first day of winter quarter). We will email a copy of this I-20 to you as soon as it is ready and mail the I-20/DS-2019 to you as soon as possible. If you have not already obtained an F-1/J-1 visa stamp, you will need to use the updated I-20/DS-2019 for your visa interview at the US Embassy/Consulate.

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Please work with your academic department to determine if you should still plan to arrive on campus for in-person/hybrid instruction. If you do not need to be on campus or would prefer not to be on campus in fall term, please discuss your eligibility for the “Remote Fall 2020 Option” or request your start date be deferred through the Office of Admissions at enroll@drexel.edu. Both of these options must be discussed with your academic department first. If you choose one of these options and your department approves, ISSS can update your I-20's Program Start Date.

*SEVIS Transfer and Change of Education Level students in 100% remote programs

If you are already inside the US, you may remain inside the US for the fall term and continue with your I-20/DS-2019 with a Fall 2020 Program Start Date. If you are outside the US, you may not enter the US with your fall term I-20/DS-2019. If you will not be inside the US for the fall, or you choose to defer your enrollment, please contact ISSS immediately so that we may make changes to your I-20/DS-2019 and SEVIS record.

 

Fall 2020 Frequently Asked Questions

Student Visa Application and Visa Status

Can I obtain a visa to study at Drexel?

While the decision about visa eligibility is made by the US Department of State (DoS), students planning to enroll at institutions offering hybrid and face-to-face classes in the fall term should be eligible to receive an F-1/J-1 visa. Please note that your ability to obtain a visa will depend on the availability of US consular services in your current country of residence.

If your program is 100% remote in the fall quarter: you will need to have your updated I-20/DS-2019 with a future term Program Start Date. Reach out to the US Embassy/Consulate where your interview is scheduled to determine if you can attend your appointment with an I-20/DS-2019 that is updated and emailed to you, or if they recommend rescheduling for a later date when you will have the physical original I-20/DS-2019 in hand. Due to delays in mailing services and large volume of requests, we cannot provide an estimate of when you will receive the original hard copy.

If I already received an F-1 visa sticker for the fall term, do I need to apply for a new F-1 visa for the winter? Do I need to pay the SEVIS fee again?

You do not need to apply for a new F-1 visa for the winter quarter. You will use the F-1 visa sticker that you have already received (assuming it is not expired and you do not have a limited entry window that ends before January), along with the new I-20 and other required travel documents, to enter the US for the winter quarter. Additionally, you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again because it is the same SEVIS record that we originally created for you; we change the program dates on the SEVIS record for which you’ve already paid the fee.

If my graduate program is offering some face-to-face or hybrid courses and I would like to enter the US to attend these courses, what do I need on my course schedule in order to follow F-1 regulations?

You must enroll in a minimum of 9 credits total, including at least one course that is face-to-face (FTF) or hybrid (HYB)* or includes a required in-person component. Any additional credits may be SYN or ASY.

* You MUST be sure that the HYB course that you are registered for REQUIRES in-person class attendance. As a new student entering the US, registering for a course schedule with no required in-person attendance would be a violation of F-1 status.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected ISSS I-20/DS-2019 processing times?

We are able to process your completed I-20/DS-2019 application within 2-3 business days and email your I-20/DS-2019 to you as soon as it is generated by SEVIS. However, mailing processing times are delayed due to limited access to physical offices while we practice safe social distancing. Once your application is processed, you will receive a confirmation email with a welcome letter, next steps, and an electronic copy of your I-20/DS-2019 which you can use to make an interview appointment at your local consulate. You can check the status of your application in Drexel One.

When should I apply for my I-20 or DS-2019?

If you believe that you can get a visa appointment at a US Embassy/Consulate but haven’t applied for your I-20/DS-2019, we urge you that you do so as soon as possible. The ISSS processing time for I-20/DS-2019 issuance is dependent on the receipt of complete and accurate application materials. Due to the large volume of applications and inquiries at this time, we are unable to offer expedited processing.

Will I encounter delays or difficulties getting a visa appointment?

The US Department of State temporarily suspended all routine visa services at all US Embassies and Consulates, but some Embassies/Consulates are reopening if local conditions allow it. There is very limited visa appointment availability. Please continue to check with your local embassy/consulate for updates about its operating procedures.

What if my program or Drexel delays the start date of in-person classes?

If you were originally planning to arrive to Drexel in-person in the fall term, ISSS will need to defer your start date to the next quarter/semester when your program will resume in-person courses. Once this is done, we will reissue a new form I-20 or DS-2019 so that you may enter the US before the next term.

What if I am currently in another immigration status and wish to apply for a change of status (CoS) to F-1 or J-1 and not travel to get a new visa to return?

This process can take several months and, unless you are currently in an appropriate immigration status that would allow you to study full-time in the US, you will not be able to start your program at Drexel before your CoS is approved by the USCIS. F-1/J-1 rules/regulations apply to you only if your CoS application is approved before/on the first day of the fall term.

If your CoS application is not approved before/on the first day of fall term, your I-20/DS-2019 Program Start Date will be deferred to the following term (winter quarter or spring semester). You will remain in your current visa status (and adhere to the regulations governing your current status) for the duration of fall term, even if your CoS to F-1/J-1 is approved while the term is in session. Please consult your current visa’s sponsor or an immigration attorney for guidance regarding your fall term enrollment if your CoS application is not yet approved.

How do I show the visa officer at the US Embassy/Consulate that my graduate program is operating in a hybrid model in the fall?

Graduate students can reach out to isss@drexel.edu to obtain a letter stating that you are enrolled in a face-to-face or hybrid course with required in-person attendance. You may also download/print a copy of your course schedule from DrexelOne.

Alongside the letter, it is advisable that you carry a printout of your course registration schedule (which can be downloaded from DrexelOne) showing that you will be enrolled in at least one course that is face-to-face (FTF) or hybrid (HYB)* or includes a required in-person component.

* You MUST be sure that the HYB course that you are registered for REQUIRES in-person class attendance. As a new student entering the US, registering for a course schedule with no required in-person attendance would be a violation of F-1 status.

Will I be allowed to stay in the US if my graduate program switches from hybrid to fully remote instruction after my arrival?

Yes, you will be allowed to remain in the US if your graduate program switches from hybrid to entirely remote as long as you continue being enrolled for at least 9 credits.

Drexel plans to change to remote instruction after Thanksgiving break. Does this affect my status? Will I have to leave campus?

If you are present in the US for a graduate program offering courses with a required in-person component, your visa status will not be affected by Drexel's plan to change to 100% remote instruction after Thanksgiving break.

Do I need to get a new I-20 to show I will be taking a mix of in-person and online classes?

No, an updated I-20 is not required.

Travel to the United States (US)

Will I encounter difficulties getting to the US?

It is crucial that you stay up to date on the list of countries whose citizens may face difficulties entering the US; these restrictions are constantly changing as the situation develops. Before you make any travel plans, it is your responsibility to confirm that neither your destination nor any transit countries have put in place restrictions that could affect your itinerary.

What is the latest date I can arrive to start my program if I am delayed by visa issues and/or continuing travel restrictions?

You are expected to arrive in the US by the program start date listed on your I-20 (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students). If you are not able to arrive by your I-20/DS-2019 start date, please contact your academic department and consider alternate enrollment options by consulting your designated Admissions counselor. While you may be able to receive permission from your academic department to arrive later, entry into the US after your I-20/DS-2019 start date is at the discretion of the immigration officer at the US port of entry and may be denied. It is generally not a good idea to arrive more than one week after classes start. If you still plan to arrive after classes start, make sure that you have a late arrival permission letter from your department and proof of fall enrollment.

What if I cannot arrive in time to start my program? Will I have the option to take courses online from outside the US if I cannot arrive in time?

If you cannot arrive on time for the fall term, remote study in the fall 2020 term may be an option for you. You may also consider deferring the start of your studies to a future term. Please contact your academic department and/or Graduate Admissions counselor to discuss these options.

What documents do I need to have when entering the US?

Students traveling to the US on a new I-20 and F-1 visa should carry the following:

  • Valid passport (passport must be valid for at least 6 months from date of intended entry).
  • Valid (unexpired) F-1 visa sticker (page) in your passport (except for Canadian and Bermudan citizens).
  • Valid I-20 form. If you only received an I-20 from ISSS via email, include the digital I- 20 support letter that was provided to you. If you received one via mail (UPS, DHL, etc.), carry this original "wet-ink" copy.
  • Evidence of funding; bring a copy of whatever funding is mentioned on your I-20.
  • A copy of your acceptance letter; you can print this from Discover Drexel.

There have been reports of the CBP agents requesting that students produce additional documentation. In addition to the above, you may choose to travel with the following:

  • Print your course schedule from DrexelOne; make sure it includes at least one course that is face-to-face (FTF) or hybrid (HYB)* or includes a required in-person component.
  • Students traveling from Europe/UK/Ireland: a printout of this webpage.
  • You may email isss@drexel.edu for a letter stating that you are enrolled in a graduate program with a required in-person component.

If you experience any trouble when attempting to enter the US, it is within your right to ask CBP to contact Drexel Public Safety at 215.895.2822 and connect to the ISSS emergency contact.

How do I show an immigration officer at the US port of entry that my graduate program is operating in a hybrid model in the fall?

Graduate students can reach out to isss@drexel.edu to obtain a letter stating that you are enrolled in a face-to-face or hybrid course with required in-person attendance. You may also download/print a copy of your course schedule from DrexelOne.

Alongside the letter, it is advisable that you carry a printout of your course registration schedule (which can be downloaded from DrexelOne) showing that you will be enrolled in at least one course that is face-to-face (FTF) or hybrid (HYB)* or includes a required in-person component.

* You MUST be sure that the HYB course that you are registered for REQUIRES in-person class attendance. As a new student entering the US, registering for a course schedule with no required in-person attendance would be a violation of F-1 status.

Will I be required to quarantine myself when I arrive to the US?

Drexel is not enforcing a quarantine of students arriving to campus. View the Frequently Asked Questions on Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus for more information. However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you self-isolate for 14 days following travel to areas that are experiencing high levels of COVID-19, including destinations with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice. You can check the Travel Health Notices for recommendations for places you have traveled, including foreign countries and US territories. You can also check states to determine if these areas are experiencing high levels of COVID-19.

Will I be allowed to enter the US if my graduate program switches from hybrid to fully remote instruction before I arrive?

No. New F-1 students will ONLY be allowed to enter the US to start their programs if they can show at the ports of entry that their schools will be operating either entirely in-person or providing hybrid instruction with a required in-person component.

SEVIS Transfer Students

I transferred my SEVIS record to Drexel and am currently in the US. Can I remain in the US?

Yes, you can remain in the US You will be able to maintain your F-1 status as long as you enroll for at least 12 credits (undergraduate students) or 9 credits (graduate students) in the fall term. Those credits can be a combination of any of the five available methods of instructions.

I transferred my SEVIS record to Drexel. I am currently outside the US. Can I travel back to the US?

If you are enrolled in 100% remote coursework, you may NOT enter the US. Some graduate students may be enrolled in some face-to-face coursework; you will only be eligible to enter the US and attend your program if you enroll in at least one course that is face-to-face (FTF) or hybrid (HYB)* or includes a required in-person component.

* You MUST be sure that the HYB course that you are registered for REQUIRES in-person class attendance. As a new student entering the US, registering for a course schedule with no required in-person attendance would be a violation of F-1 status.

If you are a graduate student and do not wish to return to the US and would prefer to start your program remotely, you may choose to opt-in for the fall 2020 remote option available to both undergraduate and graduate students. Please visit the FAQ for Graduate Students to learn more and how to sign up. It is important that you also notify ISSS at isss@drexel.edu as soon as you know that you will not be able to return to the US for the fall 2020 term.

I transferred my SEVIS record to Drexel but am currently outside the US. What will happen if I am unable to return to the US, but will start my program remotely?

The ISSS will work with SEVIS to defer your I-20 start date into the next available program start date. It is important that you notify ISSS at isss@drexel.edu as soon as you know that you will not be able to return to the US for the fall 2020 term. Please be aware that we may not be able to provide your updated I-20 with a January start date until later in the fall quarter. We will communicate a timeline/instructions as soon as we have more information.

I transferred my SEVIS record to Drexel but am currently outside the US. What will happen if I am unable to return to the US, and wish to defer my program start date?

If the time gap between your previous program and the start of your new program at Drexel will be greater than 5 months, ISSS will need to terminate your existing SEVIS record and create a new initial SEVIS record and I-20 for you. Please be aware that this will affect your eligibility for CPT for co-op (undergraduate students), it may affect your eligibility for OPT if you have fewer than 3 quarters/2 semesters remaining to graduate, and you will have to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee for the new SEVIS record. Depending on how long it has been since you submitted your I-20 application documents, ISSS may require updated documents in order to create a new SEVIS record for you.

If the gap between your previous program and the start of your new program (after deferral) will be fewer than 5 months, the ISSS will work with SEVIS to defer your I-20 start date into the next available program start date.

Other Information and Campus Resources

What is Drexel University doing to support its international students?

We continue to provide the necessary access, support, and opportunity to international students because we truly value the unique perspectives and contributions you bring to our community! Read Drexel University President John Fry’s message sent on July 10, Drexel Stands in Support With Our International Students. Drexel is one of 180 institutions of higher education that signed the Amicus Brief submitted in support of legislation challenging the ICE/SEVP guidance. Please rest assured that the ISSS has a dedicated team of international student advisors who will continue to support you throughout this time.

What is Drexel's plan to re-open campus?

The University has made the decision that undergraduate courses will continue remotely for the fall quarter and University housing will remain closed to undergraduates during the fall term. Graduate students will continue in the currently planned hybrid modality for the fall term, with some limited activities and with strict health and safety protocols in place that adhere to city and state guidelines. Drexel’s Return Oversight Committee, with guidance from the Fall 2020 Covid-19 Task Force, developed plans to stage a gradual return to campus, but the shifting nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on other colleges and universities has necessitated a change of course for Drexel. The work of the Return Oversight Committee will continue as the University strives to provide the safest, most beneficial and inclusive path to welcome the entire Drexel community to campus. Click here to read more.

How do President Trump's executive orders and/or proclamations affect me?

Over the past few months, President Trump has signed several Proclamations and Executive Orders limiting immigration. The ISSS will continue to closely monitor the development of this situation and will communicate when additional and appropriate information is available. Please review our Notice to Drexel Community: US Immigration Policy Changes for a summary of who is affected by policy changes and any future updates.

I am outside the US and I am enrolled in Remote Synchronous courses, but the time zone difference will make this difficult. What can I do?

Please reach out to your Academic Advisor to discuss alternative options, like Remote Asynchronous (ASY) or Online (ONL) sections of courses, or other Remote Synchronous (SYN) sections of courses at more convenient times of day. You can schedule an appointment with your Academic Advisor in Drexel One under My Success Team.

Can I apply for emergency on-campus housing?

Students can submit an appeal for housing accommodations by clicking here (the deadline has passed, but late appeals are being reviewed on a rolling basis). As a reminder, all first-year students living in the Drexel Residence Halls will be required to have a dining plan. Further information regarding dining will be sent separately. Please note that you will be asked to sign off on a Housing Addendum in order to submit your appeal form.

Please reach out to the Office of Housing and Residence Life with any additional questions or concerns.

Who do I contact if I have questions/concerns about health insurance requirements?

Please reach out to the Office of Health Insurance and Immunizations if you have questions about health insurance requirements while studying remotely or for on-campus study.

If I need more information about the campus resources available to me, where can I go?