Latest campus and coronavirus information Roadrunner Return Fall 2020


 

International Student FAQs 

 

Updated 7/17/2020 

Due to the recent rescinding of the July 6/7 guidance, F1 students have reverted to the prior (March 2020) directive which allowed a full online course load. The current guidance is still in place through the end of the summer semester. DHS has not announced an extension of the March guidance due to the evolving pandemic. As more information is released, the below FAQs will be updated and communicated accordingly.  

Information for New/Initial Students follows the section on Current/Continuing Students.  

 

CONTINUING/CURRENT STUDENTS: 

       1. What will the fall semester look like at UTSA? 

During our previous communication, it was stated that UTSA is incorporating a hybrid approach to the fall semester. UTSA will offer some in-person, online, and hybrid courses. As the COVID-19 exemption issued by DHS during the spring semester is still in effect, we anticipate our continuing students will be fully compliant with federal regulations.  

Additional fall guidance from DHS should be forthcoming before the semester starts. Once our office has reviewed and analyzed the new guidance, we will provide timely updates to all international students attending UTSA.  You can access the Public Health UTSA task force report here. 

       2. I am a continuing student and will be traveling back to the United States. How can I receive an updated I-20 with a travel signature?  

You should send an email to international.services@utsa.edu to request an I-20 with travel signature.  I-20s will be distributed electronically and signed with an electronic signature. Students who prefer to have the original document mailed, please notify ISS for additional instructions.  

Make sure to print the I-20 in color, sign, and date with blue ink. A printout of the I-20 will be required to enter the United States.

       3. I am a continuing student and have tested positive for COVID-19. Is a reduced course load possible?  

A medical reduced course load may be appropriate for students who contract an illness due to COVID-19 or another condition and cannot maintain a full course load. Contact ISS for assistance with the reduced course load application. Click here to access the Reduced Course Load application.  

       4I plan to graduate this fall semester, but I am currently outside of the United States. Will I be able to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) from my home country? 

As an F1 visa student, you must be physically present inside the United States to submit an OPT application to USCIS. We recommend that any student outside of the country interested in applying for OPT return to the United States prior to the end of the semester (12/11/2020). Returning to the United States after the end of the semester will not be possible as student will be on their 60 day grace period and OPT application will be denied by USCIS. 

       5. I am currently in the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, or Ireland, will I be allowed to re-enter the United States to resume my academic program for the upcoming semester? 

Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F1 visas, will be allowed to enter the United States. The current travel restrictions are in place to curb tourism and non-essential arrivals.  

 

CONTINUING STUDENT, STAYING IN HOME COUNTRY 

       1. I am currently outside of the United States and do not intend to return for the fall semester. What are my options for the upcoming semester? 

Option 1: Enroll in a full-course load of online courses. ISS has been instructed to keep your SEVIS record ACTIVE to allow for re-entry to the United States for the spring 2021 semester.  

Option 2: Request a leave of absence if you want to take the semester off. Student can then contact ISS to request reactivation of the previous SEVIS record to return to the United States for the spring 2021 semester.

       2. My home country has limited technology resources; therefore, I will not be able to complete my online semester. How will this impact my current F1 visa status? 

F1 visa students unable to complete the semester online due to the lack of available technology resources should notify ISS. ISS is permitted to keep records Active in SEVIS if the student intends to resume their program during the next available semester.   

 

NEW/INITIAL STUDENTS: 

       1. I have been admitted for the fall 2020 semester. Due to the closures and slow reopening of the U.S. Embassies, what are my options for the upcoming semester? 

Option 1: Apply and obtain the F1 student visa to enter the United States. Once physically present in the United States, attend the fall semester at UTSA 

Option 2: If you are unable or nervous about traveling to the United States for the fall semester, you could enroll online and complete the semester from your home country. F1 visa is not required for this option and International Student Services (ISS) will defer your I-20 start date to the spring 2021 semester. You would be permitted to arrive in the United States up to 30 days prior to the I-20 start date for the spring 2021 semester. 

Option 3: You could defer your admission to the spring 2021 semester or fall 2021 semester if desired. Students who decide to defer admission will require a deferred I-20 from ISS showing the spring 2021 or fall 2021 start date.  

       2.  How will I receive my form I-20? 

 I-20s will be distributed electronically and signed with an electronic signature. Students who prefer to have the original document mailed, please notify ISS for additional instructions.  

Make sure to print the I-20 in color, sign, and date with blue ink. A printout of the I-20 will be required to enter the United States.  

       3. I am a Chinese national and I want to know if I will be able to obtain the F1 student visa to begin my studies at UTSA? 

 On May 29, 2020, the President issued Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China. The order affects Chinese nationals who have ties to an entity in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that implements or supports the PRC's Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) strategy.  

  • New graduate students will not be issued a visa if they are found to have ties to MCF institutions.  
  • The order does not affect undergraduate and Language Training students. 

 

Sources:  

www.ice.gov (FAQs updated July 15, 2020) 

University of Texas at Austin – International Office - https://global.utexas.edu/isss/about/stay-informed 

U.S. Embassies/Consulates (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/phased-resumption-routine-visa-services.html) 

Harvard University – International Office - https://www.hio.harvard.edu/coronavirus 

Travel Update (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/national-interest-exceptions-from-certain-travelers-from-the-schengen-area-uk-and-ireland.html#.XxDYpqo0BLo.twitter)