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Santa Clara University

Immigration Considerations Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last Updated: April 2, 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, 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:

Most U.S. Embassies and Consulates have suspended regular visa processing for the time being but are allowing emergency visa appointments for students close to their program start date. (March 18, 2020)

General Questions

  • European Countries: Friday, March 13, 2020 at 11:59pm (EST), the U.S. government suspended entry for non-U.S. citizens who traveled in the Schengen Area within 14-days. The Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
  • Ireland and U.K.: Monday, March 16, 2020 at 11:59pm (EST): the U.S. government suspended entry for non-U.S. citizens who traveled in Ireland or the United Kingdom (Britan, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) within 14-days. 

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

The COVID-19 travel restrictions are based on recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC). They are evaluated regularly (usually every 15 days). 

The Presidential Travel Bans are based on immigration policy and the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They are re-evaluated less regularly (usually every 180 days). You can read more about the Presidential Travel Bans here.

Santa Clara County, including Santa Clara University, has asked that people "shelter in place" from 12:01 a.m. on March 17, until 11:59 p.m. on April 7, 2020. This means that people should not leave their homes other than for essential travel (such as grocery shopping or to go to the hospital). 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 Spring 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 Winter or Spring, we do not recommend leaving the U.S.
  • If you have questions about OPT please email iss@scu.edu

Workshops / Events

Current International Students

  • San Francisco and San Jose airports are continuing operations during the shelter in place and students are able to depart from the U.S.
  • You are not required to stay in the U.S. and can continue online classes in the Spring from outside the U.S.
  • You are not required to leave the U.S. and can continue online classes in the Spring from the U.S.

Graduating Students: 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. Students graduating in spring quarter who want to use OPT should not leave the U.S. until they apply for OPT.

Here is the basic travel guidance we're giving:

  • San Francisco and San Jose airports are continuing operations during the shelter in place and students are able to depart from the U.S.
  • If you've considered the risk of international travel and plan to leave the U.S. please review our travel website for a list of documents that you should carry with you.
  • You do not need to meet with our office before leaving the U.S.
  • I-20 travel signatures are valid for 1 year after issuance for enrolled students.
  • I-20 travel signatures are valid for 6 months after issuance for graduates on OPT / STEM OPT.

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

To re-enter the U.S. you are required to have a valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport. If the F-1 visa stamp in your passport will still be valid when you plan to return to the U.S. you will not need to apply for a new visa. If the F-1 visa stamp in your passport expires before you return to the U.S. you will need to apply for a new visa stamp before coming back to the U.S.

From an immigration standpoint during this global health crisis, SCU students who are fully enrolled (8 units for grad students, 12 units for undergrad or with an approved RCL or Thesis / Capstone) are considered full time students maintaining valid F-1 status, regardless of where they physically are located, and even though classes will be online for Spring quarter. 

The 5 month rule does not apply in this situation since you are considered to be maintaining status, even if you happen to be outside the U.S.

To enter the U.S. you do require a valid F-1 visa stamp -- if the visa stamp in your passport will still be valid, you will not need a new visa. If the visa stamp in your passport will have expired, you will need to apply for a new visa stamp before coming back to the U.S.

Due to this COVID-19 pandemic, international students are eligible to take classes online during the Spring term and are able to either remain in the U.S. or leave the U.S. The only exception is for graduating students who plan to apply for OPT -- you must be in the U.S. to apply for OPT.

That said, we expect that participating in online classes could be challenging if you are outside of the U.S. (due to the time difference, technology limitations, lack of access to instructional materials such as text books etc). Each Professor will handle their classes differently. We recommend that students communicate directly with professors (via email) about the fact that they are international or outside of the U.S. and will have a hard time participating if class is held in Pacific Standard Time and not recorded. The professor may be able to make an accommodation (such as allowing the student to watch a recording of the lecture), however not all classes will allow for accommodation. Alterntatively, the student may be able to switch classes (as long as it's before the add/drop deadline for the term).  In the worst case, if the student is not able to find any classes that would work while they are living outside of the U.S., the student can withdraw for the academic term. Please contact iss@scu.edu before dropping any classes.

During the academic year international students may only count one online class toward their full time enrollment requirements. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government agency that manages the student visa system (ICE / SEVP) has informed universities that moving classes online due to this health emergency will be allowed and that they are maintaining flexibility to ensure that students are safe and to protect public health.  

We are required to report all changes to the method of instruction to the U.S. government agency that manages the student visa system. We've already submitted our initial report telling the government that classes are online through April 13 and will update them that online instruction has been extended through the end of the academic year. 

From an immigration standpoint, during the Spring 2020 academic term F-1 students who are fully enrolled (8 units for grad students, 12 units for undergrad or with an approved RCL or Thesis / Capstone) are considered full time students maintaining valid F-1 status, regardless of where they physically are located, and even though classes will be online for Spring quarter.  

We are required to report all changes to the method of instruction to the U.S. government agency that manages the student visa system. We've already submitted our initial report telling the government that classes are online through April 13 and will update them that online instruction has been extended through the end of the academic year. The government has informed universities that moving classes online due to this pandemic will be allowed and that they are maintaining flexibility to ensure that students are safe and to protect public health. 

Opting for Pass / No Pass (P/NP) grading does not impact your immigration status. You may take any or all of your Spring 2020 classes P/NP.

Santa Clara County, including Santa Clara University, has asked that people "shelter in place" from 12:01 a.m. on March 17, until 11:59 p.m. on April 7, 2020. This means that people should not leave their homes other than for essential travel (such as grocery shopping or to go to the hospital). 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 Spring 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

  • We will continue to process  requests. 
  • Please email your completed RCL or Thesis/Capstone Confirmation to iss@scu.edu.

CPT Authorization

  • We will continue to process . 
  • 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 
  • You must be in the U.S. to apply for OPT -- if you are graduating in Winter or Spring, we do not recommend leaving the U.S.
  • If you have questions about OPT please email iss@scu.edu

Workshops / Events

International Students Who Are Graduating

  • OPT appointments have resumed via Zoom. 
  • Information on the modified OPT process can be found at 
  • You must be in the U.S. to apply for OPT -- if you are graduating in Winter or Spring, 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 spring term 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 student are eligible to:

  • Apply for OPT (scu.edu/opt) -- you can actually do this before graduation, and we recommend applying early!
  • 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
  • Leave the U.S.

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.

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
  • Leave the U.S.

J-1 Research Scholars and Exchange Students

Prior to the end of your program, please contact iss@scu.edu (students) or scholars@scu.edu (professors / reserachers) for guidance. You may be eligible to:

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 no later than March 20, 2020.

  • 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

Admitted International Students

ISS is currently issuing I-20s for students who will join SCU in Fall 2020. Please request your I-20 following the process here.

Routine visa issuance is currently suspended at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. However, students who are close to their program start date (listed on their I-20) are considered urgent for emergency visa appointments. 

We do expect that visa issuance will be delayed but since SCU starts much later than most schools, there is much more time for visa issuance prior to Fall quarter.

 

We are hopeful that travel restrictions will be lifted as we get closer to Fall quarter. However, if the travel restrictions continue you will need to spend at least 14 days in a 3rd country that is not restricted prior to entering the U.S.

 

If you are currently an F-1 student at another school and plan to have your F-1 SEVIS immigration record transfered to SCU, you are not required to depart the U.S. between your academic programs. You may stay in the U.S. Please email iss@scu.edu if you have further questions.

For questions related to educational documents (transcripts, test scores) contact your admissions department, be sure to include your full legal name, your SCU ID number.


For documents required for I-20 issuance (including funding documents), please email iss@scu.edu. Include your full legal name, your SCU ID number and the document you cannot collect.

Routine visa issuance is currently suspended at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. However, students who are close to their program start date (listed on their I-20) are considered urgent for emergency visa issuance. 

We recommend waiting until closer to your program start date to request an emergency appointment. If you have questions on how long to wait or how to request an emergency appointment, please email iss@scu.edu. Include your full legal name, your SCU ID number and the Consulate or Embassy you plan to visit.