ISS COVID-19 Updates


Fall 2021 Updates

 

Important Dates for Fall 2021 

  • The first day of fall semester classes for most academic programs is August 30, 2021.  
  • The latest date to arrive to the U.S. AND submit the ISS check-in is September 24, 2021.  
 

ISS ARO-DSO Letter for Fall 2021

ISS has prepared this ARO-DSO Letter for Fall 2021 that all F-1 and J-1 international students may use as needed for requesting an emergency visa interview and as a supporting document during their visa interview and/or arrival at a U.S. Port of Entry
 

ISS Check-In Requirement for ALL New International Students 

 

Fall 2021 Enrollment Requirements for F-1 and J-1 Students 

  • F-1 and J-1 students who were in ACTIVE F-1/J-1 status on or prior to March 9, 2020: You must either enroll full-time or otherwise comply with full-time enrollment requirements. There is no immigration limit on the number of online courses you can take during Fall 2021, though the availability of online courses may be more limited.
  • F-1 and J-1 students who were not in ACTIVE F-1/J-1 status until after March 9, 2020: You must either enroll full-time or otherwise comply with full-time enrollment requirements. You must enroll in at least 1 credit hour that is considered face-to-face or in-person. 


Late Arrivals for Fall 2021 

 
  • New Students: If you need to change the program start date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019, please use the post-decision questionnaires associated with your I-20 or DS-2019 request in Terra Dotta. 
    1. Navigate to your Fall 2021 I-20 or DS-2019 request in Terra Dotta.  
    2. Complete all post-decision questionnaires.  
    3. Answer Yes to the “Reissue Form due to Update” questionnaire.  
    4. Within the “Reissue Form due to Update” questionnaire, respond as follows:  
      • Question 1 – Select “Other” 
      • Question 2 – Add this statement “Please issue me an updated Form I-20 or DS-2019 with a program start date of September 24, 2021.” 
      • Questions 3, 4, and 5 – Specify how you want to receive your new document  
    5. Once all post-decision questionnaires have been completed, you can submit the Post-Decision Request in Terra Dotta.  
    6. ISS will review your request and process your updated document.  
    7. A copy of the updated document will be uploaded into Terra Dotta for you to access digitally and the original will be sent to you via the selected mailing option.  
 
  • Current Students: If you will be arriving late for Fall 2021, communicate the delay to your academic department.
    1. ISS cannot edit the program start date on the Form I-20 or DS-2019 for current F-1 or J-1 students, but you are encouraged to reference the following resources: 
 

If you are unable to receive a visa and/or enter the U.S. for Fall 2021: 

Texas A&M University is expecting students to be on campus taking face-to-face courses for Fall 2021. However, if you are unable to receive a visa or enter the U.S. for Fall 2021, you will need to inform both your academic department and ISS.

Options for NEW students who are unable to enter the U.S. for Fall 2021
  • Plan A: Enroll online outside of the U.S. for Fall 2021. (This option is only available for graduate students.)
    1. Contact your academic department to confirm that you will be permitted to enroll from outside the U.S. in Fall 2021 
    2. Apply for the Distance Learner Check-In for Fall 2021. 
    3. Apply for the Initial I-20 Request or Initial DS-2019 Request for Spring 2022. 
  • Plan B: Defer your admission from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022 and apply for an I-20 to start in Spring 2022. (This option is available for graduate and undergraduate students.)
    1. Contact your academic department and the Office of Admissions to defer your admission. Email admissions@tamu.edu using Subject: Admission Deferral Request.
    2. Apply for the Initial I-20 Request or Initial DS-2019 Request for Spring 2022.  

Options for CURRENT students who are unable to enter the U.S. for Fall 2021
Contact your academic department to confirm that you will be permitted to enroll from outside the U.S. in Fall 2021. Please note that only students in a graduate program will have the option to enroll full time outside the United States for the fall 2021 semester.
  1. If you do not already have F-1 or J-1 status, apply for the Distance Learner Check-In for Fall 2021. Then, apply for the Initial I-20 Request or Initial DS-2019 Request for Spring 2022. 
  2. Graduate students who already have F-1 or J-1 status and plan to meet full-time enrollment requirements during Fall 2021 should submit the Exclusively Remote Outside the United States Notification for Fall 2021.
  3. If you currently have F-1 or J-1 status and no longer plan to meet full-time enrollment requirements, apply for an Authorized Early Withdrawal by completing the Authorized Early Withdrawal Program through Terra Dotta:
  4. Withdrawal from the University for Fall 2021. If you will not enroll at all for Fall 2021, you will need follow the instructions at https://registrar.tamu.edu/Courses,-Registration,-Scheduling/Registration-Enrollment-Information/Withdrawing-From-the-University in addition to applying for an Authorized Early Withdrawal through Terra Dotta:
 

Travel Restrictions and National Interest Exemptions (NIEs) 

For additional information about current travel restrictions and the National Interest Exemptions (NIEs) applicable to F-1 and J-1 students, please visit https://iss.tamu.edu/Current-Students/Traveling-and-Coronavirus#0-TravelUpdates
 
For general travel information, please visit the following webpages: 


April 26, 2021, Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued guidance for the Fall 2021 semester.  ISS is reviewing and will be updating the FAQ to reflect the new information.

March 22, 2021, the University announced information about Fall 2021 Classes & Registration.
 

Travel Restrictions and National Interest Exceptions (NIE) 
The U.S. government has placed COVID-19 travel restrictions for the following countries: India, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland. This means if you are physically located in one of these countries, you will not be able to directly enter the U.S. unless you first visit a country that is not under this travel restriction for a period of at least 14 days.  
The U.S. government has stated that students who have been physically present in those impacted countries are able to qualify for a National Interest Exception only if their I-20 program start date is August 1, 2021 or later. This means that it may not be possible for you to enter the U.S. to begin studies for Summer 2021 term. Students with J-1 visas may have to apply for the National Interest Exception at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 

New Travel Restrictions from India to the United States
April 30, 2021, President Biden's administration has announced its intentions to restrict travel from India on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.  The travel restriction is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on May 4, 2021.   

"Suspension and Limitation on Entry.  The entry into the United States, as nonimmigrants, of noncitizens who were physically present within the Republic of India during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States is hereby suspended and limited subject to section 2 of this proclamation."

To read the Proclamation, click here.

Extension of Eligibility for the National Interest Exceptions (NIE)
April 30, 2021, the Department of State extended the qualification to the NIE for F-1 students from India.  Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019

"Students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs. Students subject to these geographic COVID proclamations due to their presence in India, China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for a National Interest Exception only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later. Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual National Interest Exception to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel."
      
April 26, 2021, the Department of State stated that F-1 students located in Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom and Ireland are eligible for travel exceptions from the Presidential Proclamations.  The news release states "Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel.  They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies.  Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel."

Important Dates for Summer 2021 

  • The first day of first term and 10-week semester classes is June 1, 2021.  
  • The latest date to arrive to the U.S. AND submit the ISS check-in is July 16, 2021.  
After Arriving in the U.S. 
  1. Step One:  Update your U.S. address in the Howdy Portal 
  2. Step Two:  Submit your ISS Check-In in Terra Dotta so ISS can verify your immigration status and activate your SEVIS record. 
  3. Step Three: Enroll full-time in a minimum of one face-to-face course for Summer 2021 term. 
Late Arrivals for Summer 2021 – Things you should know!
If you need to change the program start date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019, please use the post-decision questionnaires associated with your I-20 or DS-2019 request in Terra Dotta.  To do this:
  1. Navigate to your Summer 2021 I-20 or DS-2019 request in Terra Dotta.  
  2. Complete all post-decision questionnaires.  
  3. Answer Yes to the “Reissue Form due to Update” questionnaire.  
  4. Within the “Reissue Form due to Update” questionnaire, respond as follows:  
    • Question 1 – Select “Other” 
    • Question 2 – Add this statement “Please issue me an updated Form I-20 or DS-2019 with a program start date of July 16, 2021.” 
    • Questions 3, 4, and 5 – Specify how you want to receive your new document  
  5. Once all post-decision questionnaires have been completed, you can submit the Post-Decision Request in Terra Dotta.
  6.  ISS will review your request and process your updated document.  
  7. A copy of the updated document will be uploaded into Terra Dotta for you to access digitally and the original will be sent to you via the selected mailing option. 
There are 3 options: 
  • Plan A: Reside in a country that does not have a travel restriction for at least 14 days prior to your entry to the U.S. 
  • Plan B: Enroll online outside of the U.S. for Summer 2021 and apply for an I-20 to start in Fall 2021. To do this you must:
  • Plan C: Defer your admission from Summer 2021 to Fall 2021 and apply for an I-20 to start in Fall 2021.  To do this you must:
International Student Services has created three COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) webpages to help our new, current, and graduated international students understand the evolving issues regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). As the situation evolves, we will regularly update you and this webpage. We strongly encourage you regularly monitor official Texas A&M University communications via email and the web as well as our website for updates.

You can view recordings of the COVID-19 FAQ Webinars hosted by ISS at http://iss.tamu.edu/Events/COVID-19-FAQ-Webinar-Recording.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for New International Students
 
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Current International Students
 
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Graduated International Students

Texas A&M University is committed to keeping our community safe, healthy, and informed the University’s response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Texas A&M University continues to closely monitor latest developments and take the appropriate actions.  The Texas A&M Coronavirus (COVID-19) information is located at https://www.tamu.edu/coronavirus/

To complete the Spring 2021 COVID-19 Training mandatory for on campus visitation please visit: https://studentlife.tamu.edu/covid19-training/ 

Unfortunately, there have been numerous new scams that have developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a U.S. federal government agency aimed at protecting consumers and they have developed a comprehensive Coronavirus Advice for Consumers webpage: https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice. ISS encourages all international students to review this information in order to learn about acceptable practices in the U.S. and how to identify potential coronavirus scams so they can be avoided – and reported.
 
ISS understands that this situation may cause students extra stress and anxiety. We want to remind students that the following campus resources are still operating and available to you:

 
ISS encourages all international students to monitor COVID-19 developments through various local, state, and federal agencies, including those listed below.

Spring 2021 Updates

January 25, 2021: President Biden issued a presidential proclamation continuing the COVID-19 travel restrictions for the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil.  He also added South Africa to the list. 
  • Noncitizens "who were physically present within the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), the Republic of Ireland, and the Federative Republic of Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, is hereby suspended and limited subject to section 2 of this proclamation.”   
  • “The entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of noncitizens who were physically present within the Republic of South Africa during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, is hereby suspended and limited subject to section 2 of this proclamation.”
President Trump's presidential proclamations concerning COVID-19 travel restrictions for China and Iran are still in force as per a press release from the U.S. Department of State on January 26, 2021.

January 13, 2021: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is requiring all air passengers travelling to the United States have a documented COVID-19 test within 3 days of departure.   This will be effective January 26, 2021https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0112-negative-covid-19-air-passengers.html

Texas A&M University recommends persons who have recently  returned to the United States receive a COVID-19 test with in a few days upon arrival.

January 12, 2021: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of State has stated through the media and SEVP representatives that the Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance will apply for Spring 2021. It is likely that they will not publish revised guidance and we have adjusted the COVID-19 FAQ to reflect the Fall guidance. If more guidance is released, we will update the FAQ and email students.

December 9, 2020:  A news article stated, "Nonimmigrant students should continue to abide by SEVP guidance originally issued in March 2020," said the spokeswoman, Carissa Cutrell. "The guidance enables schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the public health emergency generated by COVID-19."  https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/12/09/federal-guidance-foreign-students-remains-same-spring

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of State have not yet published Spring 2021 guidance related to COVID-19 and F or J regulations.   ISS will be updating the ISS COVID-19 FAQ to reflect the recent statement from SEVP.

For the most updated version of the Frequently Asked Questions on the March 2020 SEVP COVID-19 Guidance, please check: www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf

November 24, 2020: A letter has been drafted by ISS for your use at the port-of-entry. This is to explain to the port-of-entry official that Texas A&M University will be having courses face-to-face and students will have the option to enroll in hybrid courses (face-to-face course with a remote option).  The letter explaining this is available at https://iss.tamu.edu/ISS/media/ISS-Files/ISS-PDF/ISS%20Information/Spring-2021-PDSO-Letter.pdf