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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.  

Eastern Illinois University - Response to Corona virus 

Please review Eastern Illinois University's official policy in regards to the corona virus pandemic - available here.  You will find links to student remote learning and local FAQs. 

 

Travel Warnings 

The following travel warnings have been issued: 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

The Office of International Students & Scholars is closely monitoring the policy updates from the Department of Homeland Security and the impact they have on our international community. As we receive more information and guidance, we will update this page. If you have further questions or concerns, please email us at international@eiu.edu or call us at 217-581-2321. 

 

STUDENT STATUS & TRAVEL 

Now that EIU classes will be delivered through online instruction and/or other alternative instructional methods effective March 30, how will this affect my immigration status?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is "committed to remaining flexible in allowing schools to make temporary procedural adaptations so nonimmigrant students can continue to make normal progress in their program of study. F-1 and J-1 students can temporarily engage in distance-learning (online), or other alternate learning procedures, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, for the duration of this emergency. DHS will provide updated guidance as the scope and length of this situation becomes more clear (DHS)." Accordingly, the change in instruction methods does not affect your immigration status.

Am I required to remain in the United States to complete online courses this semester?

According to the current DHS policy, you can complete your online classes from your home country. SEVP will allow students to temporarily count online classes towards a full course of study, even if they have left the US, and are taking online classes from elsewhere. You must pursue your course of study full-time for the remainder of the spring semester (i.e. you cannot drop courses below full-time). However, you may be subject to the DHS travel ban if you decide to return to the US. We advise you to continuously check the DHS current travel restrictions: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/11/homeland-security-acting-secretary-chad-f-wolf-s-statement-presidential-proclamation

Can I leave the United States, and return when everything gets back to normal?

Yes, as long as you do not remain for more than five months out of the country. 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.

What about if I remain outside the United States for more than 5 months?

According to the DHS, “if you remain outside the United States for five months or more, your student immigration status and visa will be terminated” (DHS). However, if you wish to return to the United States as a student, you will need to obtain a new/initial Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," with a new SEVIS ID and pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee again. You will also need to apply for and receive a new student visa.

Can I leave Charleston for another location in the US?

According to the DHS, SEVP will allow students to temporarily count online classes towards a full course of study, and are taking online classes from elsewhere. If you choose to relocate, you must continue to pursue your course of study full-time for the remainder of the spring semester to maintain your student visa status. (I.e. you cannot drop courses below full-time) If you move from your current on- or off-campus residence, you must update your address via the https://www.eiu.edu/international/machform/view.php?id=8

If I depart the United States at the end of this semester, and plan to return by the first day of class in August, would I be considered on summer annual vacation?

The current DHS guidance in regards to the COVID-19 does not mention anything on the summer vacation. Accordingly, summer semester remains optional.

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 fall semester?

If the current situation with COVID-19 does not improve, you may not be able to renew your visa since many US Consulates overseas have closed their visa sections in response to the pandemic. We advise you to check the following US Department of State website to see if the nearest Consulate accepts visa applications: https://www.usembassy.gov/

My passport has expired. How do I renew it?

Due to the global impact of COVID-19, all students have been advised to avoid all international travel. However, you may reach out to your Embassy or Consulate to determine routine passport services: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/consularnotification/ConsularNotificationandAccess.html

>
I am currently outside the United States, and I would like to come back to resume my classes. Will 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.


ACADEMICS & CAMPUS LIFE 

Now that OISS is closed and only provides services to students online, how would I get my I-20 signed, or submit my OPT application?

OISS will continue to serve you remotely via zoom, phone, and email. Moreover, we will also electronically send you signed forms I-20 instead of physically mailing it. Accordingly, effective today March 30th, 2020, you will be required to submit all your requests electronically to: international@eiu.edu, and we will respond you by email. This includes travel signatures, OPT, CPT, EAD for Special Relief and all other I-20 form related requests. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are now accepting electronically signed version of I-20 forms.

Can I stay on campus?

Yes—if you have university housing, you may stay on campus. Our residence halls and dining services will remain open. There may be changes in how and where food is served, but you may remain on campus for the remainder of the semester.

How will I complete my course assignments online?

Your professors will be in contact with you about forthcoming assignments by the week of March 23. It will be important to stay in contact with your professors and to complete your work on time. You should contact your professors directly if you have any questions---it is appropriate to reach out to your professors with any questions you may have.

Will EIU have summer courses?

Yes; EIU will offer summer courses. Many summer courses are provided online. You will be able to register for summer courses soon. You can contact your academic advisor or your graduate coordinator for assistance.

This is my last semester - will EIU hold a commencement/graduation ceremony?

The graduation ceremony for the Spring 2020 semester has been cancelled.

Would I be required to attend summer semester face-to-face?

No. Since summer semester is optional, you can take classes online.

Am I required to remain in the United States to complete online classes this semester?

According to the current DHS guidance, you can complete your online classes from your home country. However, you may be subject to the DHS travel ban if you decide to return to the US. We advise you to continuously check the DHS current travel restrictions: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/11/homeland-security-acting-secretary-chad-f-wolf-s-statement-presidential-proclamation


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 Department 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 

Will EIU continue to process international applications?

Yes, EIU will continue to receive and process international applications. Graduate students: your applications will continue to be reviewed by your intended departments.

Will EIU continue to issue Form I-20s?

Yes, EIU will continue to issue Form I-20s if applicants are fully admitted, and files are complete. Please be aware that as of March 18, 2020, the Department of State has suspended all routine visa services at most US Consulates and Embassies worldwide. We recommend that all applicants check the embassy or consulate for its current operating status: https://www.usembassy.gov/

What if I have already received a Form I-20/ already scheduled a visa appointment?

As of March 18, 2020, the Department of State has suspended all routine visa services at most US Consulates and Embassies worldwide. We recommend that all applicants check the embassy or consulate for its current operating status: https://www.usembassy.gov/

What if I want to update my application to a different semester?

To update your application to a different semester, please complete the following form: https://www.eiu.edu/graduate/appupdate.php

What if I wish to defer my admission?

To defer your admission to a different semester, please complete the following form.

SOURCES

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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