COVID-19 FAQ for Students
Please note: This page will be updated as more information is provided. Please check back often for updates. *Last updated: June 22, 2020
What are the plans for fall 2020 classes?
KU intends to reopen for in-person classes with on-campus housing options in Fall 2020 with hybrid and online enrollment options for students whose travel is restricted by COVID-19. KU is committed to ensuring the majority of students, if they choose, have the majority of their courses with in-person instruction in whole or in part. KU is trying to provide as flexible options as possible to meet students wherever they are so students can continue to make progress on their degrees.
We know that not every student will be able to come to Lawrence in time for the start of the semester. KU is working on offering hybrid courses and online classes which can be started from abroad, to allow extra time for arrival.
Even though students may need to arrive late, they should enroll full-time before classes begin August 24. At least one class needs to be in-person or hybrid. The course schedule will be available August 3 once all the instructional formats are updated.
All in-person and hybrid courses are allowed. Hybrid classes include a combination of in-person and online instruction.
July 6 the government announced students with a degree I-20 attending schools with a hybrid model “will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online” for fall 2020.
Note, if you are studying ESL at the Applied English Center or through AAP, the exception above does NOT apply to you.
Look at the “Education Level” under PROGRAM OF STUDY on your I-20 to know online limits for your program.
- LANGUAGE TRAINING and OTHER: PATHWAY PROGRAM I-20s
- You must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours in-person or hybrid. You cannot count online hours toward the minimum 12 credit hours required for full-time enrollment.
- ALL DEGREE I-20s (e.g. Bachelor, Masters, Doctorate)
- Normally, by regulation, one 3-hour online class is the most you can count toward your minimum full-time enrollment requirement. July 6, the government announced you can “take more than one class” online. The announcement also is requiring ISS to print on every I-20 that you are “taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress” in your degree. The announcement did not provide any more details. We are expecting clarification and details in the future.
KU is working on providing more hybrid and online options for the fall so students can continue to make progress toward your degree even if they cannot attend classes in person on campus. The schedule with updated course formats will be available August 3, 2020.
It is still not clear if students can maintain their F-1 status if enrolling online from abroad. The government’s own messages seem to be contradictory. We are awaiting further clarification. KU is considered a hybrid school, not an online only school.
SEVP Broadcast Message (dated July 6)
Under Forms I-20 Requirements and Maintaining Student Records for the Fall 2020 Semester 4th paragraph:
“For the fall 2020 semester, continuing F and M students outside of the United States, whose schools of enrollment are only offering online classes, may remain in Active status in SEVIS if they are taking online courses and are able to meet the normal full course of study requirements or the requirements for a reduced course of study. Only students enrolled at a school that is only offering online coursework can engage in remote learning from their home country.” [emphasis added]
Page 3. Question #2: Can continuing F and M students study online outside the United States and remain in Active status in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)? Are designated school officials (DSOs) responsible for maintaining these records?
A: Yes, continuing F and M students may remain in Active SEVIS status while studying online, outside the United States. As these students remain Active in SEVIS, DSOs are responsible for maintaining these student records.
There are limited options for remaining in the U.S. as an F-1 student after completion of your academic program. Possibilities, depending upon your personal situation, are described below. If you have questions or would like to explore any of these in greater detail please contact ISS to schedule a time to speak with one of our advisors.
- You automatically have a 60-day grace period to remain in the U.S. following the completion of your academic program. This time is allowed for you to prepare to depart the U.S. During this period you may also pursue one of the following three options. If you do not take action on one of these options within this 60-day grace period then you must exit the U.S. before the end of the grace period.
- Apply for post completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). See http://iss.ku.edu/opt for details.
- Apply for and be admitted into a new academic program (non-degree may even be an option). The new program must have a start date within 5 months of the end of your current program. If the new program is at a school other than KU you will need to request ISS to transfer your SEVIS record to the new school. Information about the transfer process can be found at http://iss.ku.edu/leaving-ku-1.
- Apply for a change of status to B-2 (tourist) or another status for which you may be eligible. This application can take 6 months or more to process, but you will likely be legal to stay in the U.S. while your application is pending. See http://iss.ku.edu/change-status#changeinside for more information.
Please note that F-1 students are not eligible to extend their stay except in one of the situations described above. Information on the USCIS webpage is a bit misleading and could be misunderstood to imply that it is possible to extend status by filing an application for an extension of stay This is not correct. Filing Form I-539 is not an option for extending F-1 status.
My visa expires this summer. Is it okay if I stay in the U.S. after it expires?
Yes, it is okay for your visa (in your passport) to expire while you are in the U.S. It was issued by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate and only needs to be valid when you enter the U.S. Other documents such as your passport, I-20, or DS-2019 should remain valid while you are in the U.S.
Can I apply to get a new visa in the U.S.?
No, unfortunately you cannot apply for or renew a U.S. visa from within the U.S. You must apply at a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate abroad. Note: ALL U.S. Embassies and Consulates have suspended non-immigrant visa services as of March 20, 2020. Also, it doesn’t matter if your U.S. visa (in your passport) expires while you are in the U.S.
What opportunities are there for me to stay engaged and connected with the KU community during the COVID-19 pandemic?
ISS Programs have moved online for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the ISS programs calendar to get involved and follow us on social media. In addition, many companies are offering adjusted services or online services for free. Examples of such services may be found on our Support Services Webpage.
What do I need to consider if I am planning to travel outside the U.S. for the summer?
Factors you should consider before traveling summer 2020:
- Return Flight
- Many airlines have significantly reduced flight options, especially internationally. You may have trouble getting a return flight.
- Travel Restrictions to Enter the U.S. or Leave Country In
- Not only may your destination country have restrictions prohibiting you from leaving, the U.S. may prevent you from re-entering. Do diligent research. We are including a few government websites for starters.
- CDC’s List of Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the United States
- US/Canada Restrictions: US Government Info and Canadian Government Info
- Quarantine Upon Return
- Expect to spend at least 14 days in self-isolation after your return. In other words you need to return at least 14 days before classes start.
- CDC’s Suggestions on Returning from International Travel
- Expired Visa
- If your visa is expired you will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. As of March 20 the U.S. Dept. of State suspended routine visa services at ALL U.S. Embassies. When the Embassies reopen, significant delays are expected.
- COVID-19 Testing
- We have heard some reports of negative tests results for COVID19 being required before travel is being allowed.
How do I get a travel signature on my I-20 or DS-2019?
ISS created an eform in iHawk to request a travel signature.
- Submit the appropriate eform in iHawk
- F-1 Student Services
- COVID-19 Travel Signature I-20 Request
- J-1 Student Services
- COVID-19 Travel Signature DS-2019 Request
- F-1 Student Services
Is your question not listed here? Email ISS with your question.