COVID-19 FAQs- Current students

On Tuesday, July 14th, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded in its entirety the guidance from July 6th and the FAQs that followed, with regard to the mode of instruction and maintaining F-1 status for Fall 2020. The Augus 7th SEVP FAQ reverts back to the guidance provided for spring and summer 2020, and extends the guidance into the fall 2020 semester.  Please be advised that this guidance may change frequently so be sure to check back often.

Is ISSS open? 

Yes, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is open, but effective March 17, 2020 the staff is working remotely. We continue to be committed to our international student and scholar populations. Advising is being conducted via Zoom or by telephone. Click here to book an appointment to meet with an advisor.

We are still accepting requests, (e.g. travel signature, CPT, OPT I-20 requests, etc.). Convert your documents into a pdf file and email to ISSS at international-office@sjsu.edu Currently there is no option to pick-up your I-20 or documents in-person. For most I-20 requests, we will be signing via docusign, then emailing the I-20 to you. For the I-20’s that need to have a wet signature, we will mail them to you via the US Postal Service, unless otherwise directed. Please allow 2-3 days extra for processing and mail delivery. 

Can I continue my courses for fall 2020 outside the U.S., since classes are online?

If you are maintaining your F-1 status by making normal progress in your course of study, then due to COVID-19, SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) has allowed the following temporary provision:

“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. And SEVP will allow students in F-1 status to temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the limits stated in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v), even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes elsewhere.” 

If I am outside of the U.S. with an active SEVIS status, do I need to enroll full-time?

Yes, if you wish to maintain your F-1 status, you will need to enroll in 12 units as an undergrduate student and 9 units as a graduate student. If you plan on not enrolling in classes, you will need to request a leave of basence by contacting ISSS.

Can I continue my courses for fall 2020 inside the U.S., since classes are online?

If you are maintaining your F-1 visa status in the U.S., then you can remain in active status and enroll in all online courses for the fall 2020 academic semester.

If I continue the fall semester in my home country, can I come back for spring classes?

It depends. If everything returns to normal, yes. If there are ongoing travel restrictions, then there is a risk. It is best to discuss your individual case with an ISSS advisor. Please also remember that you will need a valid travel signature, a valid passport and a valid F-1 visa stamp upon your re-entry.

I am currently in the U.S. and fall 2020 is my final semester. Am I entitled to a reduced course load (RCL) even if it is all online, since I only have one course left?

Yes. You are still entitled to a RCL for your final semester, even if all your classes are online.

I am currently in the U.S. and plan to travel after the semester ends. What should I do?

Please complete the travel signature request form so we can verify your record and determine if a new travel I-20 is required. You will get a follow up email within 1-2 days with more instructions/information. Keep in mind that travel signatures are valid for 12 months, when you are in your degree program. A validity of 6 months, when you are on OPT/STEM OPT. Check page 2 of your current I-20 to see when your I-20 was last signed for travel. If you are unsure, please email ISSS to verify. 

I am currently in the U.S. and plan to request a leave of absence to go back to my home country. What should I do?

Please schedule an appointment with an ISSS advisor, as each case is different and we want to ensure we give you the best advice possible for your situation.

I am currently out of the U.S. and did not get an updated travel signature before leaving the U.S.

Please contact ISSS one month before you plan to return to the U.S. and we will work with you on sending you an updated I-20.

I have recently moved, do I need to report this change in address?

Currently enrolled students: If you are still in the U.S., then you will need to update ISSS of the  change by filing the Change of Address form. If you are outside the U.S., then make sure your international address is up to date under ‘Home’ in your mySJSU account. 

Students on post-completion OPT and STEM OPT: You will need to report your change in address in your SEVP portal account.

I am working on CPT this semester and my employer is having me work remotely, do I need to report this change?

No. Keep records of your employer's policy and procedure for remote work, including the dates and address of where you worked remotely. 

I am working on CPT this semester and due to COVID-19, I have lost my internship. How do I report this change?

Email ISSS at international-office@sjsu.edu letting us know that you are no longer working on CPT. We will need to know the dates that you worked, so we can update your CPT authorization in your SEVIS record.

Are there any changes to OPT/STEM OPT? Application deadlines? Unemployment rules?

No, there are not any changes in the OPT/STEM OPT process to apply, application deadlines, or unemployment rules. You must be in the U.S. to submit the application to USCIS. Our OPT tutorial and STEM OPT information page are up to date. If changes do occur, we will update our tutorials and webpage. 

I am working on post-completion OPT and my employer is having me work remotely, do I need to report this change?

No. Keep records of your employer's policy and procedure for remote work, including the dates and address of where you worked remotely.

I am working on post-completion OPT and due to COVID-19, I have lost my job. How do I report this change?

It is essential that you report within 10 days of the change. Log into your SEVP Portal account, update or enter the last day of work under the ‘Employment End Date’ field. Please remember that you can accrue an aggregate of 90 days of unemployment during post-completion OPT. In order to stop the unemployment clock, you must be working more than 20 hours per week in a position that is related to your major field of study at SJSU. The job can be paid or unpaid, as long as you are not violating labor laws.

I am working on STEM OPT and my employer is having me work remotely, do I need to report this change?

No. Keep records of your employer's policy and procedure for remote work, including the dates and address of where you worked remotely.

I am working on STEM OPT and due to COVID-19, I have lost my job. How do I report this change?

You need to report this change to ISSS within 10 days of the change in employment, by submitting the Employment Update Report. You will also need to submit the bottom part of page 5 of the I-983, ‘Final Evaluation on Student Progress’, which has been completed and signed by you and your employer. 

Please remember that you can accrue an aggregate of 150 days of unemployment during post-completion and STEM OPT. To stop the unemployment clock: you must be working for an e-verified employer for more than 20 hours per week in a PAID position that is related to your STEM major field of study at SJSU. If you change employers, you will need to submit a new I-983 for ISSS to review. 

Does SJSU health insurance cover COVID-19 testing?

Yes, testing for COVID-19 is covered 100% by Aetna.

What if I get sick? Is that covered by the insurance? How about prescriptions?

Medical claims outside of testing will be paid just like any other sickness under your plan, which is at 100% covered on your plan. For COVID-19, $20 copay will also be waived. “Teledoc” (aka virtual visits) are free . Prescriptions can be filled for 90 days instead of 30. For more information, please go here.

I am planning on returning to my home country. Can I get a refund on my insurance payment?

Yes, please contact ISSS before September 8th at international-office@sjsu.edu.

How can I stay connected with others during this time?

ISSS, along with many other campus departments, is creating opportunities for students to connect with each other and engage with us online. For the latest ISSS event updates, please see our website at https://www.sjsu.edu/isss/events/ or follow us on Instagram or Facebook @SJSUinternational. 

Other Resources

CDC (Center for Disease Control)
Department of State Travel Advisories
USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services): 
SJSU Health Advisories COVID-19 Website
ISSS Immigration Updates page

**Both the DMV and SSA are closed. Please go to their websites for more information about applications and urgent requests.

California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles)
Social Security Administration