The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is monitoring developments surrounding COVID-19 globally. This page includes updates and FAQs for future and current international students and scholars.
We are offering a Q&A sessions via Zoom for F-1 students on maintaining status in the spring. More information and how to access the sessions can be found on the ISSS calendar.
International students and scholars are encouraged to review the vaccine, testing, and post-travel guidance found on the university's covid19.illinois.edu website. Answers to frequently asked questions by international students can be found on the International Students page.
If you are traveling and require printed copies of your university COVID-19 Saliva RTPCR test, you may print official results via the MyMcKinley portal. Please visit the university's COVID-19 website for more information on accessing test results.
This page was last updated on June 12, 2021.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Visas & Regulations
- Visas & Regulations for Summer 2021
- Resources & Support
- ISSS Operations
- Arrival to the U.S./Campus
You should enroll full time to maintain your immigration status, or request a reduced course load through iStart. However the limitations on online enrollment have been lifted for Fall 2021, meaning you can take as many or as few online courses as needed for your program, including an entirely online program if necessary.
Yes, regardless of whether you plan to take in person courses or online courses.
Yes, if you plan to take at least one in-person course in your first semester. Current guidance is that entry visas will not be issued to new students who are entering the U.S. to begin a program entirely online.
Although you are considered a previous semester admit for academic purposes, you are considered a new, initial international student for immigration purposes. Therefore, if you are entering the U.S. to study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and do not currently have an active SEVIS record you will need to enroll in at least one in-person course.
Students who have transferred to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to begin studies this Fall and are currently in the U.S. should check in with ISSS and enroll as a full time student. Students who have transferred to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to begin studies this Fall and are currently outside the U.S. should only attempt to enter the US if they plan to take an in-person course. Transfer students who have left the U.S. and plan to be entirely online in Fall will receive a new I-20 or DS-2019 to enter the U.S. for a future semester.
Scans of I-20s for F-1 students are acceptable for all I-20 purposes through Spring 2022. Scanned copies of DS-2019s are able to issued for reference only, and cannot be used to obtain entry visas nor enter the US. Original documents are needed in these cases.
F-1 students will be able to take all online classes and maintain their F-1 status.
If you are enrolled as a full-time student in online courses, you would be considered maintaining your visa status as SEVP is allowing students to take all courses online to maintain F-1 or J-1 status. Therefore, if you have maintained your visa status through online registration, you will not be subject to the “5 month rule.”
If F-1 or J-1 students are finished with all of their required coursework, and only need thesis credit (such as 599), they can maintain their status by registering for thesis credit.
The university has no authority over external agencies; therefore, we cannot intervene and request they issue the required documents.
If the university has issued you an I-20 or DS-2019 document, this demonstrates our wish to have you join the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign family. We cannot issue any other documents to assist in obtaining an entry visa, nor can we ask the U.S. Consulate or Embassy to prioritize your visa application.
At the completion of your program you have either an additional ‘grace period’ of 30 days as a J-1 student or 60 days as a F-1 student after your graduation or program end date. If you wish to stay longer than this, you could consider applying for Optional Practical Training as an F-1 student or Academic Training as a J-1 student which could extend your legal status in the United States for employment purposes. Alternatively, you may be eligible to file an application with USCIS to change to another non-immigrant status. The discretion of approval falls to United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and ISSS cannot assist in moving your request forward.
If you cannot leave the U.S. by the required date, some embassies or consultates have been able to provide assistance to their citizens to help get them home.
If your host department has continued opportunities for you that match your current program objectives, they can request your DS-2019 be extended. Each department has an ISSS contact liaison who can initiate this process. Please note you or your department will be required to show you have adequate funding for this extension period. If you are currently ineligible for an extension due to your J-1 category limitations, a change of category may be possible at the discretion of USCIS.
Scholars who are unable to extend their program or change category but cannot leave the U.S. could apply to USCIS to change to another non-immigrant status. The discretion of approval falls to United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and ISSS cannot assist in moving your request forward. If you are subject to the 212e Two Year Home Residency Requirement, you can consider filing a change of status based on an extreme or special situation.
- Office of the Dean of Students. Emergency Dean Fund created to defray tuition, housing and other costs for undergraduate and graduate students experiencing unexpected shortfalls.
- ISSS Financial Assistance. Dean Arthur Hamilton International Assistance Fund.
- Graduate College. Information about health insurance extension and continuation options, available for both continuing and graduating students.
- Office of Financial Aid. Students FIRST COVID-19 Emergency Fund: targeted financial aid to help students who are facing increased need now and for the coming academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Academic Colleges and Academic Advisors. Consult academic advisers in respective programs and colleges regarding academic plans and registration options.
- University Housing. To provide assistance and guidance on various housing matters.
- Campus and College Career Services. Collaboration with campus and college career services resources to support job search.
- Shanghai Office. To support students seeking internship and employment opportunities in China.
- Student Assistance Center. Identify community or government resources available to assist students; however, eligibility for some options may be dependent on citizenship or residency status.
Campus remains open but many offices, including ISSS, are following federal and state recommendations and closing for foot traffic. The majority of our staff will be working from remote locations. However, while our physical offices will be closed to the public, we will remain open for phone and email correspondence. Appointments will continue to happen via phone, an OPT video workshop is already on our website, and we will continue to provide as many services as we can during this temporary operational shift.
USCIS has granted schools permission to electronically sign I-20’s and e-mail them as attachments, so you will receive your I-20 in this way. This ability has not been extended to DS-2019’s, so these documents will be mailed. Please also remember you do not need a travel signature to leave the US. You will need one to return but a new document with this endorsement can you delivered to you via e-mail (I-20) or regular mail (DS-2019).
If all information on the I-20 remains the same at this time, students may request a new document via the Reprint/Replace I-20 form in iStart. Please select 'travel' as the reason for the request. ISSS has received temporary permission from SEVP to send documents electronically. We will e-mail the new I-20 with a travel signature, and students will need to print out and sign the new document.
According to the CDC website: "With specific exceptions, several Presidential proclamations suspend and limit entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of noncitizens who were physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. For a full list of exceptions, please refer to the relevant proclamations in the links below."
- European Schengen area (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, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
- United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
- Republic of Ireland
- South Africa
This restriction is regardless of citizenship, meaning travelers can be subject to it if they have been in these countries even if they are citizens of a different country. However an automatic exception has been granted to international F-1 students for those seeking to begin or resume an academic program. This exception is already active for Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Schengen area, and will be effective for Brazil, China, Iran, India, and South Africa for programs beginning or resuming on August 1, 2021 or later. This means F-1 students starting or continuing in a program of study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Fall 2021 can enter the US up to 30 days before the start of the Fall semester even if they have been present in one of the listed countries. J-1 students are also eligible for waivers to these restrictions, but will need to apply for one at their nearest U.S. consulate or embassy if one was not issued with the entry visa.
Any continuing student wishing to return to the United States more than 30 days before the start of the Fall 2021 semester and who has been present in Brazil, China, Iran, India, or South Africa will need to either have spent the 14 days prior to arrival in a non-restricted country, or should contact their nearest US embassy or consulate and apply for an exception.
This is a fluid and ever-changing situation. To enter the U.S. you will need a valid entry visa, and if you do not have one or your previous entry visa has expired, you will need to obtain one at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The situation in each country is different. For example, the Department of State recently announced that student visa appointments would resume in China effective May 4 while all visa appointments in India have been cancelled. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign cannot assist with visa appointments, nor can we advise on the availability of appointments in any specific country. You should contact your nearest embassy or consulate to find out the availability of visa appointments in your specific area.
As of January 26, 2021, all passengers travelling to the U.S will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken in the 72 hours prior to travel, or proof of recovery from COVID-19. Further details can be found on the CDC website.
Permission to join a program late is granted at the department level. Please contact your academic department to see if this is an option offered for your specific program. Undergraduate programs usually cannot be joined late. If you will not be able to start the Fall semester on time, you should contact Undergraduate Admissions to discuss your options.