The Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) continues to monitor events surrounding the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. We understand that this might be a very difficult time for you and your families, and that you probably have a number of unique questions and concerns, whether you are on campus or abroad this semester. To ensure that you stay informed on current information, we will update this page and the Frequently Asked Questions below as soon as we receive new guidance from the University and federal agencies. Most recently we added information about guidance issued for Fall 2020 regarding online programs in the "Maintaining Your Immigration Status" section below.
The University continues to update a dedicated COVID-19 resource page to help you stay updated and safe. The latest information is available 24/7 on this University website: www.udel.edu/coronavirus. Questions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please do not hesitate to contact OISS if you have questions about your visa status in the U.S. or require any assistance during your stay at the UD. We hope that you are safe and healthy, and that you are taking all necessary precautions to avoid health risks.
Beginning June 4th, certain USCIS field offices and asylum offices will resume non-emergency face-to-face services to the public. However, USCIS is still processing paper-based applications at this time at their Service Centers. This means you can still submit your OPT or STEM Extension application and it will be received and processed according to normal processing times. For more information see USCIS office closings.
The allotted unemployment time has not been extended. Students on OPT are still only allowed to accrue 90 days of unemployment during OPT. Students on the STEM Extension may accrue up to 150 days total between their original period of OPT and the STEM Extension. If you have a job offer, you should discuss with your new employer whether it is possible to begin work remotely while you are here in the U.S. You can also continue to look for a different employer. Also, it is recommended that you keep all documentation regarding your current employment search and any difficulty you may have leaving the U.S. after the 90/150 limit.
Students currently participating in OPT, including STEM OPT, may temporarily work remotely if their employer and the employer can assess student engagement using electronic means. Students participating in STEM OPT do not need to submit an updated Form I-983 to report remote work. However, requirements to submit an updated Form I-983 for other changes remain in effect per federal regulations.
There is no official guidance on this topic, but if you let us know by completing the OPT Employment Update form, OISS will make a note in your F-1 SEVIS record stating that you are working remotely due to COVID-19.
For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT and maintaining status.
If you are considered currently employed by your employer and they have given you an authorized time off, paid or unpaid, then it will not count against your unemployment. Authorized time off, and vacation time do not add to your unemployment days while on initial OPT or the STEM extension. We suggest that you keep for your records an email, letter, or similar type of documentation from your employer authorizing the leave, and that you document the date of return to paid employment once that occurs.
You should first determine whether you are being laid off or placed on a temporary leave but still considered an employee. A furlough is typically an employer-directed leave for a temporary, defined period of time after which you will return to work.
If you are laid off: this generally means you do not have a job to return to and are therefore considered unemployed. In this case, you are required to report the end of your employment within 10 days to OISS.
If you are on a temporary leave: if you are placed on a temporary leave in accordance with your employer’s official policy and the employer expects you to return when they resume business, then the days you are not working are not expected to count towards unemployment for OPT purposes.
Based on guidance from the Student Exchange and Visitor Program, international students may continue to engage in on-campus employment remotely if their current on-campus employment has transitioned to remote work or can be done through remote means. Students who plan on working outside the U.S. during this time should contact UD Payroll to discuss payment of wages and tax implications.
Anyone traveling from outside of the U.S. must self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival, regardless of how they enter the country.
Anyone using public transit, including airport shuttles, taxis, or ride share companies like Lyft or Uber, is advised to:
Read more guidance about using transportation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Currently the CDC prohibits foreign nationals who have visited one of these countries/areas in the past 14 days from entering the United States:
Effective March 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of State suspended all routine visa services. Per the U.S. DOS “Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.” We recommend that you reach out to your respective U.S. embassy/consulate for further details as information regarding openings varies.
Continuing Students: At this time, we are waiting on final immigration guidance for the Fall 2020 from SEVP. However, per current SEVP guidance, F-1 students with active SEVIS records are permitted to return to the U.S. at this time even if classes are online as long as you are otherwise eligible to enter the U.S. (travel ban for U.S. and other countries lifted, available flights, valid visa).
New Initial F-1/J-1 Students: For new international students, OISS is required to defer your immigration record until your program has a “physical presence” requirement to be in the U.S. International students are still eligible start their academic program online while outside the U.S. but your F-1/J-1 visa status would not be activated until you arrive in the U.S. for in-person coursework.
Active/Returning Students: While COVID-19 restrictions are in place at the university, SEVP guidance for active/returning students states your SEVIS record will remain active if you are enrolled full-time whether abroad or in the U.S. Once UD returns to “normal” operations, if you cannot or choose not to return to the U.S. to study, SEVP guidance requires OISS to terminate the SEVIS record.
New international students: OISS is required to defer your immigration record until you can enter the U.S. on your “Initial” F-1 status. You are still eligible to start your program online while outside the U.S., but your F-1 visa status would not be activated yet.
International students should not enter the U.S. on a tourist visa/visa waiver for the purpose of starting a full-time academic program. This could be considered a violation of your current B-1/B-2/ESTA status. You would not be eligible to study in the U.S. while waiting for the change of status to possibly be approved (7-12 months). In addition, filing for a change of status in the first 90 days of entering the U.S. could be considered “misrepresentation.” It is possible that your change of status request could be denied as well as impact future eligibility for an F-1 and other visas.
Typically, we encourage students to give themselves at least 6-8 weeks before the start of their program to request an I-20/DS-2019 (this allows for the I-20 processing, shipment, visa appointment, and travel). While there is no specific deadline for the visa appointment, OISS is required to register your SEVIS record within the first 30 days of the start of the semester. If you are planning on entering the U.S. late in the fall, please work with OISS regarding your I-20/DS-2019 program start date as well as your academic department/advisor regarding late arrivals and availability of in-person coursework upon arrival.
OISS is required to report your SEVIS registration within the first 30 days of the start of the semester/term. If you haven’t arrived in the first 30 days but plan on attending UD, your I-20/DS-2019 will be deferred to a later start date. If you are deferring your admission to the university, your I-20/DS-2019 will be deferred to your new admission term. If you are planning on entering the U.S late in the fall while currently taking full-time coursework abroad, please work with OISS regarding your I-20/DS-2019 program start date as well as your academic department/advisor regarding late arrivals and availability of in-person coursework upon arrival.
F-1 Students: Current SEVP guidance allows DSOs to temporarily issue electronic I-20s. If you need a travel signature, please fill out the Student Request for Travel Signature and one will be emailed or shipped depending on your preference. The emailed copy can currently be used for visa appointments and at the port of entry (airports). ELI Students: Please contact an OISS ELI Immigration Advisor for specific instructions and forms.
J-1 Students & Scholars: Current U.S. Department of State Guidance does not permit the use of electronic DS-2019s for “formal processing.” Please fill the applicable scholar or student online travel request below and one will be mailed to your current location.
The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends that international students and exchange visitors reach out to their respective embassies or closest consulate if they are unable to book return flights home. A growing number of embassies are posting special communications on their websites and social media for international students and exchange visitors in order to make contact with them.
For more information, please visit COVID-19 Country Specific Information and DOS: Embassies Reaching Out to Exchange Visitors and review your respective embassy information.
It is highly encouraged to check in with your respective embassy in the U.S. If you are considering making travel plans, please contact an immigration services advisor at OISS to discuss your situation. It remains important for international students and exchange visitors to notify OISS of all travel plans.
University-sponsored travel to all international locations is prohibited through the end of the spring semester. The University strongly discourages personal international travel, including during Spring Break. Members of the UD community are reminded to register all travel plans with the University’s Office of Risk Management on this form.
International students and scholars who must return home for personal or urgent reasons should contact OISS for further guidance.
International students who are currently enrolled in online classes or have an approved Leave of Absence will be contacted by OISS with advice on their immigration status and what they will need to do to return to their campus studies. Please keep in mind that students planning to return to campus for the summer or fall 2020 sessions will need to be enrolled full-time in on-campus courses, and have a valid visa and I-20/DS-2019 to return to the U.S. Please contact OISS (email@example.com) for any specific questions regarding students’ immigration or visa status.
If you are a new international student who was not able to start your program at UD this semester, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions (for new undergraduate students) or Graduate College (for new graduate students) to defer your program start date at UD.
Visiting Scholars should notify their host department about their travel delay, and contact OISS Scholar Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) to adjust their SEVIS record and immigration status accordingly.
The current travel restrictions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require 14 days of quarantine for anyone who has been to a level 2 or 3 country within the past 14 days. Due to the rapidly changing dynamics surrounding the spread of COVID-19, we advise that students wait until travel restrictions are lifted before attempting to return to the U.S. There have been reports that students who have attempted to transit through other countries were not allowed to board their flights to the U.S.
The State Department has asked U.S. institutions to suspend their inbound exchange programs until at least 05/11/2020, following the Global Level 3 travel advisory they issued for all countries. Please contact your host department at UD to discuss the possibility of postponing your program. Please contact OISS at email@example.com to discuss your visa status in the U.S.
Please follow the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of State on their Exchange Visitor Information on Coronavirus webpage.
International students and scholars can seek financial assistance in the form of emergency assistance funds, local food aid support and free/discounted services. Below is a list of university and local resources where you can seek support during the pandemic.
International students and scholars on F1 or J1 visas are obligated to file federal income tax returns each year, even if they have not had income in the U.S. The UD Office for International Students and scholars cannot provide tax advice, only a certified tax professional like Sprintax can provide you with specific tax advice. Review the guidance provided by Sprintax about the CARES Act.
During the tax filing process, a tax professional will determine if you meet the “substantial presence” test and are considered a “resident for tax purposes”. If you have been in the U.S. long enough to be considered resident for tax purposes in 2018 or 2019, and have correctly filed taxes as a resident for tax purposes, you may be eligible for CARES Act assistance. First, visit the OISS Tax Page to begin filing taxes.
A person who is a non-resident alien in 2020 is not eligible for the payment. A person who is a qualifying resident alien with a valid SSN is eligible for the payment only if he or she is a qualifying resident alien in 2020 and could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer for 2020. Aliens who received a payment but are not qualifying resident aliens for 2020 should return the payment to the IRS. See instructions below.
USCIS has indicated that it will not consider “for public charge inadmissibility purposes” the testing, treatment, or preventative care related to COVID-19, even if the treatment is provided or paid for by federally-funded Medicaid. Moreover, if a foreign national has received an Economic Impact Payment from the IRS under that agency’s Coronavirus Tax Relief Program (to augment his/her wages during the COVID-19 quarantine), such payment would NOT count as a receipt of a public benefit under the Rule.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office at any time.
You should return the payment as described below.
If the payment was a paper check:
If the payment was a paper check and you have cashed it, or if the payment was a direct deposit:
For a full list of return centers by state please visit the IRS Website for more information. For your paper check, here are the IRS mailing addresses to use based on the state:
Philadelphia Refund Inquiry Unit
2970 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Kansas City Refund Inquiry Unit
333 W Pershing Rd
Mail Stop 6800, N-2
Kansas City, MO 64108
Andover Refund Inquiry Unit
310 Lowell St Mail
Andover, MA 01810
For F-1 Students: On July 6, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued temporary guidance related to online courses for the fall 2020 semester. Please note that the Temporary Final Rule is not official and has not yet been published. For updated information as the situation evolves, please review OISS’ SEVP Guidance for F-1 Students webpage. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact OISS for assistance.
For J-1 Students: The Exchange Visitor Program published guidance regarding the limits of online coursework for Fall 2020. The FAQ states that program sponsors may continue the accommodations they implemented for the Spring 2020 term only for exchange visitors in "active" SEVIS status who "are continuing programs that were underway in a manner compliant with regulations when the pandemic reached the United States."
For new participants currently in "initial" SEVIS status, "host academic institutions should have reinstated “partial to full-time classroom participation.” New J-1 students should expect to enroll in at least one class that requires some degree of physical presence or in-person interaction in order to be eligible for J-1 status in the U.S.
If your I-20/DS-2019 grace period is expiring soon and you are unable to return to your home country after contacting your respective embassy in the U.S., the following are options that may still be available to you:
F-1 Students: U.S. government agencies have not issued any official guidance or regulatory relief for F-1 students in this situation. At this time, you should still attempt to depart the U.S. no later than the end of your 60-day grace period following the conclusion of your program or OPT period. If this is not possible, consider one of the options listed above. Currently these are the only options available to keep your F-1 SEVIS record active after the end of your grace period.
J-1 Students and Scholars: Department of State (DOS) provided automatic program extensions for certain J-1 students and scholars with DS-2019s ending between April 1 and May 31. No guidance has been issued for J-1 exchange visitors with end dates beyond May 31. Please contact OISS if you have any questions about your new program end date.
In order to receive an I-20 to enter the U.S., incoming international students are required to attend in-person courses. Since the university has confirmed that all summer programs will be online, OISS is currently unable to issue initial I-20s for Summer 2020 start dates for students outside the U.S. At this time, classes are expected to resume on-campus for Fall. You may still request an I-20 for your summer admission, however, it will be for a Fall 2020 start date when classes resume in-person.Please note:
If you have any questions about your current status or case, please do not hesitate to contact OISS (firstname.lastname@example.org).
OISS will continue to offer immigration and other support services even though Elliott Hall and many offices on campus are operating remotely. OISS staff will be available to advise via phone, email and zoom Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For general questions and to schedule an appointment with an advisor, please email email@example.com.
UD’s switch to online classes amid COVID-19 concerns will not impact international students on F-1 and J-1 visa status following procedural adaptations that were recently announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State. Typically, international students may only enroll in one online class toward a full course load, but new guidance from federal agencies are allowing schools to provide online instruction for international students on a temporary basis. If you have any questions about your visa status in the U.S., please contact an immigration services advisor at OISS to discuss your situation.
Students who would like to return to UD to take summer classes should contact OISS (firstname.lastname@example.org) and work with an immigration services advisor at OISS to verify eligibility before re-entering the U.S. for summer session courses.
Since the university has confirmed that all summer programs will be online, OISS is currently unable to issue initial I-20s for Summer 2020 start dates for students outside the U.S. At this time, classes are expected to resume on-campus for Fall.
Students on campus who feel sick are asked to call Student Health Services at 302-831-2226, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Walk-in visits are not being accepted. For after hours support the Aetna After Hours Nurse Medical Advice Line is available to all University of Delaware Students at 800-681-3957.
If you need a prescription filled or refilled, please call Student Health Service at 302-831-2226 to make an appointment with the dispensary for pick up and to receive guidance on the safest way to enter the Student Health Services building.
As always, If you are experiencing a health emergency, please call 911 or utilize local emergency department services immediately.
For students enrolled in the UD Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) offered by Aetna, effective immediately, the following enhancements have been added:
For ELI students, please contact the English Language Institute for more information about your health insurance coverage plan.
For J-1 Scholars, please contact your individual insurance provider to request more information. If you have trouble locating your insurance provider, please contact OISS at email@example.com for assistance.
UD offers a number of resources should you need someone to talk to. International students and scholars are encouraged to contact the Center for Counseling & Student Development at (302) 831-2141 or (302) 831-1001 if they are concerned for this situation and the impact it may be having on their loved ones back home. For health-related concerns, contact Student Health Services at (302) 831-2226. For after-hours emergencies, please call 911 or contact University Police at (302) 831-2222.
At UD, we work hard to put our values of supporting members of our community into practice – from all races, ethnicities, nationalities, minoritized social identities and individual backgrounds – welcoming them with kindness and compassion, especially at a time like this when we collectively monitor the health of our community. The diversity of the University of Delaware is one of its greatest strengths. Racist, discriminatory, and xenophobic behaviors and biases are not in line with our community values.
UD and OISS take reports very seriously, and support is available 24 hours a day for anyone who experiences incidents of discrimination or harrassment. Support is available 24 hours a day and if you would like to speak with a clinician, we encourage you to call 302-831-2141 to connect with our Center for Counseling and Student Development. If it is after normal business hours, you can call 302-831-1001 or text UDTEXT to 741741. If you would like to officially report this incident, please visit udel.edu/oei to file a complaint with the Office of Equity and Inclusion. If this is potentially a criminal matter, UDPD can assist by calling them at 302-831-2222.
In order to reduce any health risks to our campus community, some large campus events are being suspended, rescheduled or moved to online formats. By reducing the level of risk now, we hope to return to a normal programming and event calendar as soon as possible.
We understand that many services are affected by delays right now. For questions about financial implications or UD scholarships, please contact Student Financial Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or (302) 831-2126. Graduate students with questions about UD assistantships or scholarships should contact the Graduate College at email@example.com or (302) 831-6824.
According to the announcement from the university, Residence Life and Housing will continue to provide housing for international students who are following university guidance against international travel, and for those who cannot travel due to government restrictions. By drastically reducing the number of students in the residence halls, those who remain on campus will be able to safely practice social distancing, which is advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to control the spread of COVID-19. The university will continue to provide you with housing, meals, technology and other important resources to support your continued academic success. However, you MUST fill out this form immediately to request to stay on campus for the rest of the semester.
Students have the option of remaining in the residence halls during this time. Residence halls will remain open, and Dining Services will provide meals as needed. Students who choose to leave campus for the break should take whatever personal and academic materials they might need to complete the semester online. For questions, please contact Residence Life & Housing at (302) 831-4663.