UCI International Center

FAQs for International Students and Scholars

Section 1

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated on October 13, 2020.

*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.


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.

Current Students

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.

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 must be enrolled in at least one in-person course for Fall 2020.

If you are a continuing student who left the U.S. during Spring or Summer and you continue to be enrolled remotely, your SEVIS record will be kept active for Fall 2020 as long as you continue to be enrolled full-time (or have authorization for reduce course load).
New students in initial I-20/DS-2019 status who remain outside for Fall 2020 and enrolled at UCI for Fall 2020, your SEVIS record will remain in INITIAL status until the quarter that you decide to enter the U.S. You will need to receive an I-20/DS-2019 with the start date of the quarter in which you plan to be in the U.S.
SEVIS transfer students who are outside the U.S. for Fall 2020 your SEVIS record will remain in INITIAL status until the quarter you plan to be in the U.S.

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. As soon as SEVP has guidance for Winter and Spring, we will update this letter. Entry into the U.S. is always the decision of the CBP officer.

No, since you are a continuing student your SEVIS record will be kept active, you do not need to do a check-out form.

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.

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.
Latest SEVP published FAQ are available and are updated frequently.
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 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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

Social Security Administration offices are closed for walk in allowing certain applicants to schedule appointments to apply for a Social Security Number. We recommend that you work with your employer to determine next steps if there are delays in getting an appointment to apply.
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. Please call your local office to see if an in-office appointment is possible 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.


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