FAQs for International Students and Scholars
Frequently Asked Questions
Last Updated on July 29, 2020.
*We will continue to update this page as we learn more information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.Our office will respond to your e-mail as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience and are working diligently to respond to all your questions and concerns.
You must pay for mailing via UEMS/eShipGlobal to receive your document by mail. Once you have an order number, e-mail it to email@example.com. For mailing intructions,click here.
F-1/J-1 students you may upload your requests here.
Yes, you may remain in the U.S. and must continue to enroll in a minimum of 12 units unless the International Center has approved your part-time request. We encourage you to take care of yourself and follow advice on how to stay healthy.
Yes, effective the week of April 6th, the International Student Advisors will host one session per week via Zoom. To review times and sign-up, click here.
International 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 because the university has decided this is the mode of instruction for the Spring 2020 Quarter. 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).
If you decide to return to your home country during Spring Quarter and continue to be enrolled remotely, your SEVIS record will be kept active. However, please be aware that this may change if SEVP provides different guidance regarding this issue.
If you decide to return to your home country and plan to return later in summer or fall, you will need to be sure your documents are valid. 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, UCI, offered classes remotely for Spring Quarter because of the COVID-19. You will need to have proof of your Spring Quarter enrollment. You must be sure that you have a valid visa, valid I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature, proof of Spring enrollment and we also recommend that you have a printed copy of the Chancellor’s message you received on March 10, 2020. Entry into the U.S. is always the decision of the CBP officer.
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 OPT Presentation for information about travel when the application is pending.
You will be able to request a new I-20 for return when in-person classes resume at UCI. Review campus e-mails and the International Center website to determine when in-person instruction will begin again and plan to submit your request 2-3 months before the quarter you will return for. Review Returning Student information and upload your request here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information and a list of check-in requirements, please visit https://ic.uci.edu/scholars/j-1/new-scholar-check-in.php
Social Security Administration offices are closed for walk in. We recommend that you work with your employer to be hired without a social security number. Some students have reported that the SSA has asked that they mail in their documents. This option may be risky in case of your documents being lost. Additionally, we have heard that some offices may take an appointment on a very limited basis. Please call your local office to see if an in-office appointment is possible. 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.
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.
Yes, the International Center will transfer out your SEVIS record if you have maintained your visa status and have an active SEVIS record.
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.
If you are enrolled in Spring Quarter and maintaining 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.
The International Center is working with CPA Gary Engler who has provided a pre-recorded webinar availble to address this issue. Please visit the International Taxpayer Information section of our website for access to the link. The webinar will be available for viewing until July 15th, 2020.
Additional information can be found on the IRS Website.
The SEVP guidance that was published on July 6th is no longer valid. It was rescinded on July 15th. For continuing students that means that you can continue your studies at UCI and you can enroll in remote classes. You must still enroll in 12 units to maintain your F-1 status.
On July 15, SEVP published FAQs; however, these FAQ are consistent with information they had previously released in March and June of 2020.
Additional information is available at the International Center website Immigration Policy Updates.
Continuing students enrolling in classes for Fall 2020:
Guidance from the Department of State pertaining 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.
Since the SEVP guidance reverted to the March 2020 guidance, it did not provide exemption to in-person requirement for NEW fall 2020 students. At this time new students coming from outside the U.S. (incoming for Fall 2020) do require at least one course to be in-person.
Based on the latest SEVP guidance for Fall 2020 (published on 07/24/2020), 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 and maintain F-1 status.
Yes. Although SEVP guidance of 07/24/2020 indicates that a notation is no longer needed, UCI will issue or in some cases re-issue I-20s that include a notation to facilitate your visa application and admissions at the port-of-entry. However, please note that the issuance of a visa and entry into the U.S. is the decision of U.S. government officials.
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. As long as you are enrolled in the required full-time units, UCI will maintain your SEVIS record ACTIVE.
If you are a SEVIS transfer-in students who was outside the US at the end of the Spring term while participating in online classes at your transfer-out school or have left the U.S. after the conclusion of the Spring term, you are subject to one in-person class enrollment requirement if you wish enter the U.S. and to enroll for fall.
If you are SEVIS transfer-in students who remained and has been in the U.S. since the March 9 SEVP guidance you are exempt from the one in-person class enrollment requirement and you may enroll in all online classes if they wish to remain in the U.S. for fall.
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 for your return to the U.S. Corrections must be approved in order to reactivate your SEVIS record.