Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for International Students
This page is intended to provide incoming and current University of South Alabama international students with timely information, updates, and resources regarding immigration status as it relates to COVID-19.
The University of South Alabama has announced that it will reopen campus for the Fall 2020 semester. Course instruction will be offered in a combination of in-person, hybrid, web-enhanced, and online offerings.
The information on this page has been taken from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) FAQs, SEVP Clarifying FAQs, and the Department of State Exchange Visitor Program guidance and updates. This page will continue to be edited with the most update information as it becomes available.
Note: Prior to making any travel arrangements to exit the U.S., please reach out to our staff for further guidance.
The decision to stay or exit the U.S. is yours to make, but a few factors should be considered: personal health and well-being, current and potential future travel restrictions, academic commitments, visa validity, airline availability, etc. Please consult with your family, our staff, and refer to any U.S. travel restrictions on re-entry and/or advice from your home country about whether to travel home or remain in the U.S.
A word of caution: Situations, guidance, and rules change frequently and often without advanced notice. Exiting the U.S. may jeopardize your ability to return and resume your program in person.
Yes! We highly encourage you to enroll in online courses from your home country if
you are unable to join us in person for the fall semester. By enrolling in classes
online, you keep yourself on track to finish your degree program on time.
There are no U.S. immigration regulations to maintain if you are outside the U.S. You're not in active F or J status while abroad. Therefore, you can enroll in part-time or full-time classes while you are outside the U.S.
Remember, your F or J status is only activated when you enter the U.S. on an unexpired F or J visa. If you choose to enroll online for the Fall 2020 semester, we will reissue your I-20 or DS-2019 for a later semester of your choosing.
Unfortunately, no. Students in initial status may not enter the U.S. and enroll in strictly online classes. If you choose to enroll in only online classes, you must do so outside the U.S.
Current F-1 transfer and change of education level students, who have remained in the U.S. between their former institution and the University of South Alabama, should contact the Office of Immigration for further information on enrollment limitations.
Maybe. Here are a few qualifications to determine if you may apply for entry into the U.S.:
- You have a valid I-20 or DS-2019
- You have a valid F or J visa
- Your country is not under a current travel restriction to the U.S.
- You will not enroll in a fully online program
- There are flights available to the U.S. from your current location
For those family members and friends who may be eligible for a visitor's visa or the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), please check the Travel Restrictions page of our website as well as the availability of visa appointments at U.S. Embassies abroad, prior to making travel arrangements.
F-2 or J-2 dependents (spouse/child) may enter the U.S. to join their principal F-1 or J-1 student, provided they have a valid dependent I-20/DS-2019, valid visa, and are not prohibited by any travel restriction.
No. Neither domestic nor international students, are not required to self-isolate or quarantine upon arrival. However, there are important institutional guidelines that you should review prior to your first day on campus.
F Students: Yes. SEVP has extended their guidance that P/DSOs may continue to email I-20s to the email address listed in SEVIS.
J Students: Unfortunately, no. The Department of State has stated that we are not permitted to email a DS-2019.
J-1 students: Yes. Even if you are taking classes outside the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester, you are required to have the Department of State required health insurance coverage while your DS-2019 is active.
F-1 students: No. If you see a charge on your student account for health insurance, please speak to Justine Burbank in the Office of International Admissions and Student Programs.
You can read more on the F-1 five-month rule here. This issue has been updated since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mentioned it in their Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19 Last Updated: March 23, 20.
SEVP will allow F students to temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the limits stated in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v), even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes elsewhere. This temporary provision is only in effect due to COVID-19 and only for schools that comply with the requirement to notify SEVP of any procedural changes within 10 business days.
If this guidance is extended, we will update this site.
If you are completing your studies in December 2020 and wish to apply for post-completion F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) to work in the U.S., please make plans to remain in the U.S. as you cannot apply for OPT from abroad at this time.
Currently, USA faculty and staff are working remotely from home and the main campus is closed. To maintain safe social distancing, we will not be able to meet you in person. If you need a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, don’t worry. You can simply reach out to our staff when you are ready to return to the U.S. They will send you instructions on how to have a new I-20 or DS-2019 signed for re-entry emailed to you. You do not need a travel signature if you are staying in the U.S.
Yes! You must report any changes to your current address within 10 calendar days of moving, even if that means you'll be outside the Mobile area or U.S. Please report your address and contact information changes via email to our staff.
Yes! We continue normal business hours Monday through Friday from 8:00am - 5:00pm CST. You can contact the Office of Immigration by email, Zoom, or Skype (please email for Zoom and Skype appointments) for advising during these hours. Please let us know if you have any questions or need our support. We are here for you!
Once classes resume, we encourage you to continue to make virtual advising appointments, if possible.