COVID-19 FAQs- New Students

Please note that the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), under the guidance of DHS, has not yet released guidance regarding the spring 2021 semester. We will email you and update our website as soon as we learn more.

The mode of instruction for fall 2020 will be hybrid. On Tuesday, July 14th, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded in its entirety the guidance from July 6th and the FAQs that followed, with regard to the mode of instruction and maintaining F-1 status for Fall 2020.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 most recent August 7th SEVP FAQ reverts back to the guidance provided for spring and summer 2020, and extends the guidance into the fall 2020 semester, with certain additional comments regarding initial I-20s. Please be advised that this guidance may change frequently so be sure to check back often. Please note that the questions and answers below pertain to the fall 2020 semester only. 

I am a new student outside of the United States. Can I enter the U.S. to pursue my studies in fall 2020?

In light of the fluid nature of the current immigration world and the many health concerns due to the pandemic, we recommend and encourage you to consider remaining in your home country and enrolling in classes from home for fall 2020. You can then attempt to obtain your F-1 visa stamp and to physically join us in spring 2021. 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.

I am a new student for fall 2020, outside of the United States and I have already booked my visa appointment. What additional documents do I need for the visa interview?

In order to be able to apply for a F-1 visa stamp, you will need the following:

  • An updated I-20 confirming that SJSU will be functioning as a hybrid campus in fall 2020 (provided by ISSS);
  • A list of your course enrollment for fall 2020 that includes at least one hybrid or in-person class (available online through your MYSJSU login).

If you are planning on going in for your visa interview or if you have a valid F-1 visa stamp and plan to enter the U.S. in the coming weeks, please email ISSS at international-office@sjsu.edu so we can advise you and provide you with the appropriate documentation (i.e. I-20) you need.

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 2020, 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 2021 to continue with my studies?

Yes, you may enroll in online classes at SJSU while in your home country for fall 2020 and then obtain a visa based on a spring 2021 I-20 start date. The fee you pay for the DS-160 (visa application) is valid for one year. 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.

I am a new student outside of the United States and plan to start my courses online in fall 2020 and join SJSU in person in spring 2021. Is there a minimum number of units I need to enroll in for fall 2020?

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 fall 2020 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 2020 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 2021, 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 2020 application to spring 2021? 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 2021, 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. 

If I am a new student starting my classes online in fall 2020, 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 2020. 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.