At Eastern Illinois University, we care about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our local and global communities, and most especially, for our international students. Please check back frequently for updates.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, schools should continue to abide by SEVP guidance originally issued in March 2020. However, OISS staff is currently reviewing this page (1/27/21) and will publish updates soon.
ICE-issued guidance regarding Fall 2020 here.
As you are all aware, the DHS has recently published new guidance for the fall 2020 semester. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), all international students on F-1 status and schools should abide by the guidance originally issued in March 2020, which allows some distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the public health emergency generated by COVID-19. Accordingly, we have updated our FAQ below to assist you.
As always, we welcome you to continue reaching out to us at our general office email: email@example.com for support and guidance. We appreciate your patience and perseverance and hope that you continue to stay healthy and in good spirits.
As follow up to President Glassman email of July 25th, 2020 on Plans to Return for the fall 2020 semester, EIU will resume the fall 2020 semester face-to-face by maintaining social distancing to prevent the spread of the COVID 19. Accordingly, we encourage all international students currently in the United States to attend school face-to-face.
If you are currently outside the United States, and not able to reenter because US borders are closed, you can take your classes online. However, if you are currently in the United States, you may not enroll for classes online, because EIU method of instruction will be delivered face-to-face which will limit you to only one online class during the fall and spring semester in accordance to the federal regulation under 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) that utters: “ For F-1 students enrolled in classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted if taken on-line or through distance education in a course that does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class. An on-line or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio, or computer transmission including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, or satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing”. Please be advised that under the new DHS guidance, international students on F-1 or M-1 status can take online classes only if their schools switches from traditional in-person or hybrid instruction to fully online instruction. In addition, the new DHS requires school requires school to report their methods of instructions to the DHS, and international students must be abide to the instruction method.
Yes. According to the DHS, Nonimmigrant students may remain in the United States in a hybrid program of study, which consists of both in-person and online components beyond the limitations at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G). Students will not face enforcement action or loss of their nonimmigrant status based on engaging in hybrid programs. If a student violates U.S. laws or regulations, they could potentially be subject to removal. Hybrid classes are not considered online.
According to the DHS new guidance, you are allowed to take classes online outside the United States. However, you will also need a valid I-20 and visa in order to reenter the United States. We encourage students to contact the OISS for further advising in regards to reentry in the United States.
You will need to reapply for your on-campus employment. Unless if the Department or Unit on campus that you previously worked for allows you to continue your employment without reapplying since you had to stop working with them due to the COVID 19.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “USCIS makes case-by-case decisions for off-campus employment for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond their control have created severe economic hardship. These may include the following: - Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment (if the student is not at fault) - Large increases in tuition or living costs - Substantial decrease in the relative value of currency the student depends upon to pay expenses - Unexpected changes in the financial conditions for a student's sources of financial support - Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance - Other substantial, unexpected expenses An F-1 student must have remained enrolled for at least one academic year, in status and in good academic standing before USCIS will authorize off-campus employment. The F-1 student must be unable to get on-campus employment, or the pay from available on-campus employment must be insufficient to meet financial needs. For each request approval, a DSO must provide the F-1 student with a Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," endorsed to that effect. The F-1 student must file a Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization," and pay a fee to USCIS. The student should file within 30 days of the day the DSO endorses the Form I-20. If USCIS approves the application, the student will receive a Form I-766, "Employment Authorization Document," (EAD) from USCIS and can begin working. Approval for off-campus employment is good for one year. If the F-1 student needs to continue working off-campus, the student must re-apply” (DHS/ICE).
Since March 2020, the US Department of State suspended all routine visa services at US Embassies and Consulates worldwide to in response to the COVID 19. If the current situation with the Coronavirus does not improve, you may not be able to renew your visa. We advise you to check the following US Department of State website to see if the near Consulate accepts visa applications: https://www.usembassy.gov/
We will inform you about the graduation ceremony during the fall 2020 semester.
If you are travelling straight from a country that is not on the DHS travel ban list, you may be able to reenter the United States. However, if you are coming from a country that is on travel ban list, or if your flight has a transit in any DHS travel ban country, you might not be able to reenter the United States.
Effective January 26, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. Airlines must confirm the negative test result or proof of recovery for all passengers two years of age and over prior to boarding. Airlines must deny boarding of passengers who do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery.
A travel ban currently suspends entry into the United States of all aliens (except immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and others excluded in section 2 of the proclamations) who were physically present within:
b. United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe) or Ireland
c. the 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).
d. Iran or
e. China (excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau) during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
Effective through July 21, 2020 according to a U.S.-Canada Border Federal Register Notice and a U.S.-Mexico Border Federal Register Notice, entry is only allowed to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S. Mexico borders for “essential travel” only. “Essential travel” includes “Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions; Individuals traveling to work in the United States."
Based on the current guidelines, in general, travelers are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days after their arrival to the U.S. from abroad. If you have specific questions regarding self-quarantine practices, please contact the EIU Medical Clinic. Eastern Illinois University will continue to defer to the guidance from the government and best practices across the country, but the hope is that if international students who are on-campus residents are expected to self-quarantine when they return to campus, EIU Housing & Dining will do their best to allow that to happen on-campus.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), students on F-1 status must be physically present in the United States in order to apply for OPT. Accordingly, if you depart the United States without applying for OPT after completing your program of studies, you are no longer eligible to apply for OPT.
According to the DHS, Yes, “but traveling during this time should be undertaken with caution. USCIS may send you a request for evidence while you are away, however, so you would want to make sure you have provided a correct U.S. address both to your DSO and on the application and would be able to send in requested documents. Also, if USCIS approves your OPT application, you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States. Like a request for further information, USCIS can only send the EAD to your U.S. address”.
Yes. As of March 18, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended routine in-person services until at least April 1 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. They will also continue to receive applications and process them.
Yes. As long as you meet the eligibility for CPT, and you are able to find an employment that is related to your field of studies.
No. You are not required to complete the I-983 form as long as you are still working with the same company, and report to the same supervisor mentioned on your previous I-983.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “USCIS makes case-by-case decisions for off-campus employment for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond their control have created severe economic hardship. These may include the following :
- Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment (if the student is not at fault) [https://www.ice.gov/sevis/employment#tab0]
- Large increases in tuition or living costs
- Substantial decrease in the relative value of currency the student depends upon to pay expenses
- Unexpected changes in the financial conditions for a student's sources of financial support
- Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance
- Other substantial, unexpected expenses
An F-1 student must have remained enrolled for at least one academic year, in status and in good academic standing before USCIS will authorize off-campus employment.
The F-1 student must be unable to get on-campus employment, or the pay from available on-campus employment must be insufficient to meet financial needs. For each request approval, a DSO must provide the F-1 student with a Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," endorsed to that effect. The F-1 student must file a Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization," and pay a fee to USCIS. The student should file within 30 days of the day the DSO endorses the Form I-20. If USCIS approves the application, the student will receive a Form I-766, "Employment Authorization Document," (EAD) from USCIS and can begin working.
Approval for off-campus employment is good for one year. If the F-1 student needs to continue working off-campus, the student must re-apply” (DHS/ICE).
At this time there are no consular services for F or J visas (or any other type of nonimmigrant visa categories). We have also seen appointments that were currently scheduled, which are now being cancelled. We are hearing that consulates will have appointments in September or October. At this point, there is no new information officially from the U.S. State Dept. on when they plan to open up their services.
Regarding emergency appointments, Eastern Illinois University is looking into possibilities on how to assist students, and this concern is under discussion amongst administration personnel at this time.
Yes, a new i-20 with a new “initial” start date will need to be created. Please note that immigration regulations will only permit a student to enter the U.S. 30 days before the program start date.
Both new and continuing students may enroll full-time online while outside the U.S.
The visa in your passport is only used to enter the U.S. So you may obtain the visa at a later time if you are not entering the U.S. this Fall semester. (Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement.)
At present, OISS will be in touch with incoming students regarding these recent updates. Information about orientation will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.
You may defer your admission by completing the following form: https://www.eiu.edu/international/machform/view.php?id=38519
SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during the fall 2020 semester
COVID-190 Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders (March 13, 2020)
Department of Homeland Security Travel Restrictions
Department of State – Consulates & Embassies
Re-entry for F1 Non-Immigrants (January 3, 2018)
DHS – Department of Homeland Security
USCIS – United States Citizenship & Immigration Services
OPT – Optional Practical Training
CPT – Curricular Practical Training
SEVIS – Student & Exchange Visitor Information System
SEVP – Student & Exchange Visitor Program