UCI International Center

FAQs for International Students and Scholars

Section 1

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated on June 16, 2021.

*We will continue to update this page as we learn more information.



General Questions

Effective March 16th, 2020, the International Center will be available remotely until further notice. For any questions or concerns, e-mail the International Center at internationalcenter@uci.edu.You may also leave a voice-mail message on our main phone (949) 824-7249, we check voice mail daily.

A this time most I-20’s and other documents will be provided to you electronically
In some cases, we must issue an original I-20 or DS-2019 and we can ship this to you. You must arrange for UEMS/eShipGlobal to receive your document by mail. Once you have an order number, e-mail it to internationalcenter@uci.edu. For mailing intructions,click here .

F-1/J-1 students you may upload your requests here.

Yes, F-1/J-1 students must e-mail internationalcenter@uci.edu to request a zoom appointment.J-1 scholars must e-mail internationalscholar@uci.edu to request a zoom appointment.

As of April 1, 2021 the Department of State posted that the U.S. Consulates are resuming visa services on a post by post basis, following guidance for safe re-opening and the availability of staff. The Department of State has not provided specific date for when each Embassy/Consulate will resume full visa services. Services available will different at different sites, we recommend that you review website information of the location in which you plan to apply for a visa.

Yes. SEVP has announced guidance for 2021-22 academic year; this guidance will provide some flexibility for a combination of in-person and remote coursework.

The UCI Forward website has updated information about UCI vaccine requirements. Review frequently asked questions for students. If you have questions about the requirements or campus protocol regarding COVID19, you can send your questions to covid19@uci.edu.

UCI is looking forward to primarily in-person instruction for Fall 2021. The majority of coursework will be offered primarily in-person with some online options. If you cannot physically arrive on campus in time for Fall Quarter 2021 because of a visa problem, please contact the internationalcenter@uci.edu to discuss your specific situation. If you have questions about course selection or your academic progress, please contact your academic advising office.


Travel

Request a new I-20 by uploading a Student Visa Document Request. Your I-20 will be issued to you and sent to you electronically.

At this time we are providing electronic signatures for most applications. If your application does not qualify for an electronic signature, you will be instructed to complete an eshipglobal mailing order. OPT and OPT STEM applications require a wet signature and will require a mailing order.

On April 26, 2021, the Secretary of State made a national interest determinationregarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9984, 9992, and 10143 related to the spread of COVID-19. Students and academics subject to these proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later. Qualified travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may travel to the United States following the procedures below, even as PPs 9984, 9992, and 10143 remain in effect

  • Students with valid F-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies.
  • Students seeking to apply for new F-1 visa should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.
  • Student and Scholars in J-1 or H-1B visas with valid visa or who need to apply for a visa should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling, if they believe they may qualify for a National Interest Exception.
If you have a valid F-1 and are subject to the geographic COVID-19 Presidential proclamations due to your presence in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, you can travel to the United States without seeking an individual National Interest Exception (NIE) from a U.S. Embassy or consulate.

If you want more information about the NIE to your specific situation, please contact your nearest U.S. Consulate

If you are a student subject to the geographic COVID-19 Presidential proclamations due to your presence in India, China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, you may qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE) only if your academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later. Students with valid F-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program starting August 1, 2021 or later can travel to the United States without seeking an individual National Interest Exception from a U.S. Embassy or consulate.

If you have a valid F-1 and are subject to the geographic COVID-19 Presidential proclamations due to your presence in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, you can travel to the United States without seeking an individual National Interest Exception (NIE) from a U.S. Embassy or consulate.

If you want more information about the NIE to your specific situation, please contact your nearest U.S. Consulate.

In keeping with the Department of State's commitment to facilitate legitimate travel to the United States, Secretary Blinken decided to apply the same set of National Interest Exceptions to India that he had previously applied to all other regional travel restrictions currently in effect as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These Exceptions are detailed on the Department of State's website here and here.

  • Students with valid F-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies.
  • Students seeking to apply for new F-1 visashould check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel
  • Student and Scholars in J-1 or H-1B visas with valid visa or who need to apply for a visa should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling, if they believe they may qualify for a National Interest Exception.

As a new student with an initial I-20 you will need to be in the U.S. by end of week 2 in order to properly register your SEVIS record. If you are in a situation where you are outside the U.S. at the beginning of the program start date on your I-20 and you have a scheduled visa appointment, please e-mail the internationalcenter@uci.edu with confirmed visa appointment information and an International Student Advisor will contact you with additional guidance.

If you have not been able to get a visa appointment, e-mail the internationalcenter@uci.edu with that information; and an International Student Advisor will contact you to discuss your specific situation and provide options.


Current Students

The International Center has continued to host these sessions via Zoom. To review times and sign-up, click here.

Continuing students in F and J visa status are required to be enrolled in a minimum of 12 units. The Department of Homeland Security/SEVP is allowing students to be enrolled remotely in the 12 units. This is an exception to the normal rules that require that only 1 class (4 units) can be counted towards the 12 total units. You do not have to file any special paperwork with the International Center to get this exception. Please do remember to enroll full-time (12 units).

New students in initial I-20/DS-2019 status who enter the U.S. for Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, or Fall 2021 must be enrolled in at least one in-person course.

If you are a continuing UCI student that has otherwise maintained F-1 status, you may be enrolled in all online classes from either inside or outside the U.S. You must be enrolled in the required full-time (12) units, UCI will maintain your SEVIS record ACTIVE.

Students that entered the U.S. in Fall 2020 or after must enrolled in at least one in-person course.

You must be sure to have proper documentation for your entry into the U.S. Remember that your re-entry will depend on any travel restrictions or travel bans that may be in place at the time that you plan to return; as well to all immigration and visa requirements.

You will need to let the officer know that your school offered classes remotely for because of the COVID-19. UCI has reported that our instructional plans with DHS/SEVP
We recommend that you have proof of your continued enrollment (a print out of your enrollment is sufficient). You must be sure that you have a valid visa, valid I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature, proof of enrollment and a copy of the IC travel letter.

Yes, the International Center will transfer out your SEVIS record if you have maintained your visa status and have an active SEVIS record. However, if you plan to enter for Fall 2020 you are required to have at least one in-person class.

If you have continued to be enrolled and have maintained your visa status, your SEVIS record remains in ACTIVE status. While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, you are maintaining status. For that reason, the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in active status. Therefore, you will be able to re-enter the U.S. even if you are outside for over five-months. If you were not enrolled in the Spring Quarter, this exception does not apply to you.
Please remember that you must continue to be in F-1 status and have valid passport, visa document and visa. Re-entry into the U.S. is always the decision of the officer at the port-of-entry.

Continuing students enrolling in classes for Fall 2020:

Guidance from the Department of Statepertaining to the enrollment of J-1 students allows continuing J-1 students in active status to participate in a full course of study (12 units) with fully remote courses.

New J-1 Students in Initial Status:

The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to facilitate in-person exchanges. New students on J-1 visa (“initial” status) may start their J-1 exchange program must have a component of in-person and remote learning in order to meet J-1 regulations.

The UCI Student Health Center is your resource for information on health insurance requirements. Review Waiving the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP) for information on how to request a waiver. Requesting a waiver does not impact your I-20.


New & Returning Students

Based on the latest SEVP guidance, any student with an initial I-20 that is outside the U.S. and wants to enter cannot be enrolled 100% online and will need to be enrolled in at least one in-person course to allow for the SEVIS record to be Active.

Based on the latest SEVP guidance, any new student that is outside the U.S. and wants to enter for Fall Quarter cannot be enrolled 100% online and will need to be enrolled in at least one in-person course in order to allow for the SEVIS record to be Active for Fall 2020, the requirement will continue for Winter and Spring quarters.

If you are SEVIS transfer-in students who has remained and has been in the U.S. since the March 9, 2020 SEVP guidance you are exempt from the one in-person class enrollment requirement and you may enroll in all online classes.

SEVP has indicated that students that are SEVIS transfer-in who are enrolled in remote classes and are outside the U.S. for fall quarter cannot have an active SEVIS record in fall quarter. However, when you are ready to return to the U.S., UCI can contact SEVP to request a correction of your SEVIS record.

Review Returning Student information and upload your request here. Your I-20 will be in INITIAL status and you are required to be enrolled in at least one in-person course.


CPT, OPT, & Employment

There are many factors that must be reviewed to determine if you are able to start or continue employment for UCI from abroad. In some cases it might be possible, but this must be reviewed and determined by your hiring department following guidelines provided by Academic Personnel or Human Resources office. Please contact your hiring department directly to discuss your specific situation.

Per the current guidance, USCIS has not confirmed this option at this time. As information is gathered the FAQ will be updated.

Travel is not recommended when an application is pending. Please review the Travel While on OPT for information about travel when the application is pending.

If you will work inside the U.S. you will need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). The Social Security Administration (SSA) is currently seeing applicants with scheduled appointments. It may take a few days or a couple of weeks to get an appointment. The International Center recommend that you talk to your employer about completing your hiring paperwork while you wait for your SSN appointment. Your employer will need your SSN for taxation purposes. Please be sure that you talk to your employer directly about any delays.

Many of our students and alumni have made appointments and successfully applied for their SSN. However, some of our students have reported that the SSA has asked that they mail in their documents. This option may be risky in case of your documents are lost in the process.

Please call your local office to schedule an in-office appointment and review the SSA Coronavirus Updates. To contact your local office, please look for the general inquiry telephone number at Social Security Office Locator under “Show Additional Office Information” for the office you select.

No. You do not need to add this information added to your I-20, SEVIS Record, or I-983 at this time.

It is possible that USCIS experiences delays in cases of remote work or closures depending on their work load and the number of applications received. You can check the status of your application at the USCIS website.


Scholars

Effective March 16, 2020, the International Center will not hold in-person New Scholar Check-In Sessions. New incoming J-1 scholars will need to complete this process remotely, and submit new scholar check-in documents to internationalscholar@uci.edu. For additional information and a list of check-in requirements, please visit https://ic.uci.edu/scholars/j-1/new-scholar-check-in.php