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EIU Office of International Students and Scholars

Corona Virus Updates for EIU International Students

At Eastern Illinois University, we care about the impact that the COVID-19 (corona virus) pandemic has on our local and global communities, and most especially, for our international students. Please check back frequently for updates.

ICE-issued guidance regarding Fall 2020 here.

As you are all aware that the DHS has recently published a 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: international@eiu.edu for support and guidance. We appreciate your patience and perseverance, and hope that you continue to stay healthy and in good spirits.

Frequently Asked Question (Updated)

STUDENT STATUS

How will Eastern Illinois University (EIU) resume the fall 2020 semester?

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.

Now that classes at EIU fall classes will be delivered through face-to-face, can I still opt to enroll online since the new DHS guidance allows some distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the public health emergency generated by COVID-19?

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.

Under the new Guidance, can I enroll in Hybrid classes?

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.

Can I leave the United States, and take classes online outside the country, and return when everything gets to normal?

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.

Since EIU will resume fall 2020 semester face-to-face, would I be able regain my employment on-campus?

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.

What about if I am not able to regain my on-campus employment or find a job on-campus, and my previous loss of on-campus employment affected me financially?

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).

I am currently on OPT, the new DHS guidance affect me?

No.

My F-1 visa has expired. If I exit the United States would I be able to renew it prior to the beginning of the next semester fall?

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/

This is my last semester, will EIU hold a commencement/graduation ceremony for the fall 2020 semester?

We will inform you about the graduation ceremony during the fall 2020 semester.


TRAVEL

I am currently outside the United States, and I would like to come back to resume with my classes, would I be affected by the current travel ban?

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.

Can I travel internationally? Are there any entry restrictions to the U.S.?

OISS currently does not recommend non-essential international travel due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak and its impacts to global travel. International travel is currently unpredictable and high risk. If you do make the personal decision to travel internationally, please carefully contact OISS for required re-entry documents. If your U.S. entry visa is expired, be aware that applying for a Visa for entry could be unpredictable and could cause you to face further delays.

What are the current travel bans for students and scholars?

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:
a. Brazil
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.

What about Canada and Mexico?

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."

What if I am an on-campus resident and will be returning from abroad? Do I need to self-quarantine?

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.


EMPLOYMENT: CPT, OPT, ON-CAMPUS 

If I leave the United States, would I be able to apply for OPT from my home country?

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.

Can I apply for OPT now and travel?

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”.

USCIS is currently closed - will I still be able to apply for OPT?

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.

With the current changes of classes being offered online, am I eligible to apply for CPT?

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.

I am currently on OPT, and working for a company that recommended that all its employees, including me, work remotely from home in response to the coronavirus. Do I have to complete the I-983 form (Training Plan for STEM OPT students)?

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.

Now that all EIU Departments are providing all services remotely, I have lost my on-campus job, and this has affected me financially. Please advise.

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).


ADMISSIONS 

When will US Embassies/Consulates re-open around the world?

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.

Is there any assistance Eastern Illinois University can offer to students who are unable to secure visa appointments before August, as well as to students whose requests for an emergency appointment are denied?

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.

If new students are unable to obtain their student visas by the program start date, and must begin the program remotely in August and join on-campus in-person in a later month, will they need a new I-20? What logistical steps would they need to take?

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.

If students can’t obtain a visa prior to the program start date, can they start taking courses on-line in their country?

Both new and continuing students may enroll full-time online while outside the U.S.

Do I need to apply for the F1/J1 visa if I am not entering the U.S. this September?

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.)

I am an incoming student for Fall 2020. How does this impact arrival and orientation?

At present, OISS will be in touch with incoming students regarding these recent updates. Information about orientation will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

How do I defer my admission to the Spring 2021 semester?

You may defer your admission by completing the following form: https://www.eiu.edu/international/machform/view.php?id=38519

SOURCES

SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester
https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/sevp-modifies-temporary-exemptions-nonimmigrant-students-taking-online-courses-during    

COVID-190 Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders (March 13, 2020)
https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2020/Coronavirus%20Guidance_3.13.20.pdf    

Department of Homeland Security Travel Restrictions
https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/11/homeland-security-acting-secretary-chad-f-wolf-s-statement-presidential-proclamation

Department of State – Consulates & Embassies
https://www.usembassy.gov/ 

Re-entry for F1 Non-Immigrants (January 3, 2018)
https://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel

 

ACRONYMS 

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

Related Pages

Contact Information

Office of International Students and Scholars

1170 Blair Hall
600 Lincoln Avenue
Charleston, Illinois
61920-3099 USA
+001(217)581-2321
international@eiu.edu


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