COVID-19 FAQs- New Students
On April 26, 2021, the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) confirmed that the March 2020 guidance will continue for the 2021-2022 academic year. ISSS will email you and update our website if there are any changes. At this time, travel abroad remains risky and we ask that you take extra precautions and review the CDC guidelines regularly before you travel.
I am a new student outside of the United States. Can I enter the U.S. to pursue my studies in fall 2021?
In light of the fluid nature of the current immigration world and the many health concerns due to the pandemic, it depends on the COVID situation in your home country and the availibility of visa appointments.
If you do intend to travel to the U.S. for the first time in order to pursue your studies, you will need to be enrolled in at least one hybrid or in-person course, as per the SEVP guidance for fall 2021.
If you are not able to travel to the United States for fall 2021, you can then attempt to obtain your F-1 visa stamp and to physically join us in spring 2022. If you choose this option, our admissions office will be in touch with you in early fall (September) and will provide you with a new I-20 with a January start date. Due to the amended I-20 start date, you will not be able to arrive in the U.S. more than 30 days before this date. Your SEVIS fee (I-901 payment) will remain valid as your SEVIS ID number will not change. If you have paid the DS-160 visa application fee, you can apply for the F-1 visa for up to a year after that payment.
If I am successful in obtaining my F-1 visa stamp, how late may I enter the U.S.?
You should try to enter the U.S. by the I-20 start date. However, if you are late in obtaining your visa, you would need to enter the U.S. By September 8th, the current add/drop deadline. Please note that this guidance may change, as we learn more.
If the U.S. Embassy in my country remains closed and I can't get a visa for fall 2021, will I be able to take online classes and then appear for a visa interview later when they resume services to arrive on campus in spring 2022 to continue with my studies?
Yes, you may enroll in online classes at SJSU while in your home country for fall 2021 and then obtain a visa based on a spring 2022 I-20 start date. This would allow you to begin your studies on time and still enjoy the benefits of in-person study on the SJSU campus when you are able to be here. The fee you pay for the DS-160 (visa application) is valid for one year.
Admitted International Graduate Students:
I am a new student outside of the United States and plan to start my courses online in fall 2021 and join SJSU in person in spring 2022. Is there a minimum number of units I need to enroll in for spring 2021?
Since you are not in F-1 status yet, you are not bound by F-1 visa regulations. As such, you may enroll in as few or as many classes as you wish, as long as it is approved by your academic department. Once you enter the U.S. in F-1 status, you will be bound by the full-time enrollment requirement (i.e. 12 units for undergraduates and 9 units for graduate students).
I am a new transfer student in the United States. How does switching to hybrid instruction affect my immigration status?
Under normal circumstances, F-1 students are limited by immigration regulations to taking a maximum of one course (3-4 units) online to meet the full-time enrollment requirements. However, due to COVID-19, SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) has made a continued exception for the 2021-2022 allowing a full load of online coursework.
I am a new transfer student in the United States. Do I need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and the DS-160 visa application fee?
No, those fees (I-901 and DS-160) are only for new students with new SEVIS records. As long as you are a SEVIS transfer student, your SEVIS ID remains the same and there is no need to pay the I-901 fee again. The DS-160 application fee will need to be paid only IF you need to renew your visa when you leave the U.S. next.
I am a new transfer student outside of the United States. Can I complete the check-in
process with ISSS from outside the U.S.?
No, as a SEVIS transfer-in student, you need to be physically in the U.S. to be able to complete the check-in process.
For fall 2021 admits, will taking online classes outside of the U.S. have any effect on students' CPT or OPT application in the future?
Yes. Current immigration regulations state that in order to be eligible for CPT, you have to be in F-1 visa status (in the U.S.) for one full academic year (e.g. fall and spring academic semesters) and in good academic standing.
Therefore, as is most likely, if you arrive in the United States and begin your F-1 status in spring 2022, you would be eligible for CPT after one academic year from when you entered the U.S. in F-1 status.
Will I be able to defer my fall 2021 application to spring 2022? If allowed, do I have to request a new I-20 and pay a new SEVIS fee?
Deferral requests need to be made with the Admissions Office. If they authorize your deferral to spring 2022, then they would need to amend your I-20 start and end date. The deferral of I-20 dates would NOT require you to pay a new SEVIS fee. An amended I-20 would need to be sent to you.
For undergraduate deferral requests, please email email@example.com by September 3rd, 2021.
For graduate defferal requests, please refer to GAPE's deferral webpage or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I am a new student starting my classes online in fall 2021, do I still need to purchase health insurance?
No, you do not need to purchase the health insurance unless you are physically in the United States.
I am a new student starting my classes in fall 2021. Is there an extension on submitting my immunization records?
Please start gathering your immunization records and submit them by August 19th. If needed, you may continue to upload additional documents during the fall semester. All incoming students are strongly encouraged to submit their immunization records.
What are the new U.S. travel rules starting January 26, 2021?
Please click here to watch a video produced by SJSU's Student Wellness Center for more information.