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Santa Clara University

Immigration Considerations Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last Updated: September 3, 2020

Up-To-Date Immigration Information

Restrictions On Entry Into the U.S.: 

The U.S. has suspended entry for non-U.S. citizens who traveled in the following countries within 14-days: 

Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Iran, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.

The U.S. land borders between Canada and Mexico are both closed to non-essential foot and car traffic (returning home is allowed; flights continue).

New countries can be added to this list at any time without advance warning.

Visa Issuance:

Many U.S. Embassies and Consulates have resumed regular visa processing (based on their local conditions) or are allowing emergency visa appointments for students close to their program start date. (July 14, 2020)

General Questions

Santa Clara County, including Santa Clara University, has asked that people "shelter in place" starting on March 17, 2020. During this time the ISS Team is working remotely from their homes. We're providing additional information about our continued services below:

Email Response

  • Our office will continue to respond promptly to emails.
  • Emailing iss@scu.edu is the best way to reach us and get answers to your questions.

Drop In Hours

Withdraw / Leave of Absence

  • If you plan to leave the U.S. and withdraw or take a leave of absence for the Fall 2020 academic term, please email iss@scu.edu. In the email please include your full legal name, SCU ID number, academic program, and date of departure from the U.S.
  • If you have questions about withdrawing or taking a leave of absence, please email iss@scu.edu.

Reduced Course Load & Thesis/Capstone Authorization

CPT Authorization

  • We will continue to process CPT authorization requests
  • To request CPT, please email your completed CPT Cooperative Agreement to iss@scu.edu
  • If you have CPT authorization currently you may work remotely. Be sure to remain in close contact with your supervisor. You do not need to notify our office about this temporary change.

OPT Appointments

  • OPT appointments have resumed via Zoom appointment. 
  • Information on the modified OPT process can be found at scu.edu/opt
  • You must be in the U.S. to apply for OPT -- if you are graduating in Fall, we do not recommend leaving the U.S.
  • If you have questions about OPT please email iss@scu.edu

Workshops / Events

  • Fall 2020 workshops and events will all be online.
  • We have extended event times to support students in different time zones.
  • We encourage you to join us! Review our events and activities at scu.edu/geoevents
  • Videos of our workshops are available online (scu.edu/cpt, scu.edu/opt, scu.edu/stemopt)

We will accept verified electronic signatures on all ISS forms

If you opt for the electronic signature, the signature must have a verification mark or be an signature. Typed signatures or signatures with a typed appearance are not accepted. Programs such as DocuSign or Adobe Sign have signature validation features. Please see below for examples.

Electronic I-20s: While the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that I-20s can be electronically signed, we do not have clear guidance on whether other government agencies which are not within SEVP's jurisdiction, such as Department of State for visa appointments and Customs and Border Protection for entering the U.S., will accept electronic signatures. Therefore, ISS is not issuing I-20s with electronic signatures at this time.

OPT applications: Your OPT I-20 and Form I-765 must be hand signed prior to mailing your OPT application to USCIS.

STEM OPT extension applications: Your I-983 training Plan can be either hand signed or we will accept verified electronic signatures. Your STEM OPT I-20 and Form I-765 must be hand signed prior to mailing your STEM OPT extension application to USCIS. 

Incoming International Students

We’re excited to welcome you to the SCU international family! We are still issuing I-20s and supporting visa applications for all incoming students.

Santa Clara University is carefully monitoring guidance related to health and safety. You can read updates from the university here

Please select the button below that corresponds to your academic program for detailed and up-to-date answers to common immigration questions. Our immigration FAQs will be updated if there are any changes to your academic program.

Please contact International Students and Scholars in Global Engagement at iss@scu.edu if you have any additional questions.

Continuing International Students

Santa Clara University is carefully monitoring guidance related to health and safety. You can . 

Please select the button below that corresponds to your academic program for detailed and up-to-date answers to common immigration questions. Our immigration FAQs will be updated if there are any changes to academic programming plans.

Please contact International Students and Scholars in Global Engagement at iss@scu.edu if you have any additional questions.

International Students Who Are Graduating

  • OPT appointments have resumed via Zoom. 
  • Information on the modified OPT process can be found at scu.edu/opt
  • You must be in the U.S. to apply for OPT -- if you are graduating in Fall, we do not recommend leaving the U.S.
  • If you have questions about OPT please email iss@scu.edu

You must be physically present in the U.S. to apply for OPT. You cannot apply from abroad -- this is a regulation not an SCU policy. If you have already left the U.S. and have not yet applied for OPT, you would need to return to the U.S. before the end of the term you are graduating to apply for OPT.

If you’ve already mailed your OPT application, you’re welcome to depart the U.S. but make sure that the mailing address that you listed on your I-765 is still valid and being checked daily. 

During the 60 day departure period after graduation, international students are eligible to:

  • Apply for OPT (scu.edu/opt) -- you can actually do this before graduation, and we recommend you do so now!
  • Enroll in a higher degree program at SCU (you must be admitted and have your SEVIS record updated within the 60 days; you must start classes within 5 months)
  • Enroll in a new academic program at another school (you must be admitted and have your SEVIS record transferred within the 60 days; you must start classes within 5 months)
  • File an application to change your immigration status with USCIS
  • Depart from the U.S.

If you have concerns or want to discuss your options further, please email iss@scu.edu or schedule a drop-in appointment.

International Alumni (on OPT and STEM OPT Extension)

If you have OPT or STEM OPT Extension authorization you may work remotely during any shelter-in place, stay at home orders, or at the direction of your company.

While working from home you should be sure to remain in close contact with your supervisor.

You do not need to notify our office about this temporary change.

Companies use the words furlough and lay-off to mean different things. It’s important to speak with your company’s Human Resources (HR) team to understand the status of your job before reporting changes to your employment to ISS.

If a student is laid-off, it means that the company no longer has employment for you and if you want to work for the company again you would have to reapply. If you are laid-off, you are considered unemployed for OPT or STEM OPT unemployment clock purposes and you need to report the unemployment to our office. If you are laid-off you may be eligible for unemployment insurance while you look for a new job.

If a student is placed on a temporary leave or furlough, it means that the company has temporarily suspended your employment due to lack of work or financial trouble, but you are expected to resume your employment with the company as soon as they resume operations. The key here is that you have a job to return to. Sometimes this suspension of employment is a few days or weeks, sometimes it is months. If you are on a temporary leave (or furlough), you are not considered unemployed for OPT or STEM OPT unemployment clock purposes and do not need to report the unpaid leave or furlough days to our office. You should keep documentation from your company (usually a letter from HR or your supervisor) that documents that this leave is in accordance with the company’s policies and that you are expected to resume work. If you are on a temporary leave, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance while you look for a new job or wait for your job to resume. Accepting unemployment does not impact your OPT or STEM OPT unemployment clock.


If you have questions or are not sure how this applies to you, first reach out to your supervisor or company’s Human Resources (HR) team. Once you have written communication from them you can schedule a drop-in appointment with our team.

Each state has their own process related to unemployment insurance (which is a financial payment for unemployed workers). 

If you've been furloughed or laid off, your company should be able to provide you information for the correct state agency and details on the application process.

You can learn more about California's process and eligibility requirements here.

To be eligible for the Economic Impact Payments from the CARES Act, you must be a "resident alien for tax purposes”. 

Most of SCU's international students and scholars are "non-resident aliens for tax purposes" and are therefore not eligible for the Economic Impact Payments from the CARES Act.

We cannot provide personalized tax guidance, however, you can find tax related information and resources here. We hope these web resources are helpful to you. 

 

Both state unemployment insurance payments as well as the economic impact payments are considered "earned benefits", and therefore are not considered a violation of the public charge rule. If you are eligible for these benefits, you may claim them.

 

Most companies are discouraging travel (both internationally and domestic) for non-essential purposes.

If you've considered the risk of international travel and still plan to leave the U.S. please review our travel website for a list of documents that you should carry with you.

There is no limitation to the amount of time you can be outside the U.S. while on OPT or STEM OPT extension, however, if you will be outside the U.S. for more than 30 days you should carry documents from your company approving your vacation or remote work from abroad.

STEM OPT Extensions: You must be physically present in the U.S. to apply for a STEM OPT extension. You cannot apply from abroad -- this is a regulation not an SCU policy. Students who have OPT that expires should not leave the U.S. until their STEM OPT extension has been properly delivered to USCIS.  

If you need an updated travel signature: Email iss@scu.edu. The email subject line should be "updated travel signature" in the email body include your full legal name, your SCU ID, your date of departure from the U.S. and your planned date of re-entry (if any). In the coming weeks we will create an updated I-20 for you with a new travel signature. Once the I-20 has been created you will be sent an email with instructions on how to create a shipping label so the we can mail the I-20 to you prior to your return to the U.S.

If you are eligible, you should file a STEM OPT extension. More information can be found at scu.edu/stemopt.

If you are not eligible for further practical training extension, during the 60 day departure period after your practical training period ends, you are eligible to:

  • Enroll in a higher degree program at SCU (you must be admitted and have your SEVIS record updated within the 60 days; you must start classes within 5 months)
  • Enroll in a new academic program at another school (you must be admitted and have your SEVIS record transferred within the 60 days; you must start classes within 5 months)
  • File an application to change your immigration status with USCIS
  • Depart from the U.S.

 

If you have concerns or want to discuss your options further, please email iss@scu.edu or schedule a drop-in appointment.

 

J-1 Research Scholars and Exchange Students

We continue to monitor the situation and options and as we better understand the university's academic and operational plans for the coming academic year. As the university updates operational plans to support dedensification and social distancing, we will continue to evaluate whether it makes sense for new scholars to physically arrive as planned or if we recommend they defer their arrival to a later date.   

We are accepting International Visitor Proposals and continue to evaluate them with respect to the university's operational plans and immigration guidance from the U.S. Department of State. Please submit your proposal to scholars@scu.edu on or before the deadline.

For more information, please visit our scholars page.

Parents and Families

Students facing extraordinary circumstances that will require them to remain in on-campus housing must request an exception to live on campus.

  • The form is available on your housing portal via eCampus.
  • Look for a button titled “Exception Form” across the top of the Housing landing page.
  • All exception requests will be reviewed within 24 hours.

More infomation can be found on the SCU On Campus Living Website