International Students

The international student population is integral to UC’s goals of creating a diverse learning and living environment for all students. Finding ways to educate and engage this population during this time is crucial. 

We will continue to monitor the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidance on regulatory requirements for international students. Under normal circumstances, an international student can only use 3 credit hours (or one class) of online courses to fulfill the full-time enrollment requirement (12 credit hours at the undergraduate level and 10 credit hours at the graduate level). However, see the International Student FAQ for details about how DHS has temporarily relaxed many of the enrollment regulations

International students residing in the U.S.

Continuing international students residing in the United States will be able to enroll in any courses offered, which could include a full online course schedule. New international students who wish to enter the U.S. for the first time must be participating in a program of study that is not 100-percent online. New international students must be enrolled in at least one in-person or partial distance learning course to enter the U.S. for the first time. In Catalyst, a hybrid course will be designated with an instructional code of “PD” for Partial Distance Learning (26% - 75% online) or “MD for Mostly Distance Learning (75% - 99% online). “PD” designated courses would count toward meeting the full course of study enrollment requirement. “MD” designated courses would not. Programs with a significant number of international students are encouraged to devise individualized plans to serve this population.

International students residing abroad

Many incoming and continuing international students currently abroad will not be able to obtain visas in time to arrive in the U.S. by the beginning of the semester or may choose to remain abroad during the pandemic.  

Newly admitted students might have reduced Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) options if they take their first semester online from outside the country. Programs with a significant number of international students should plan for the possibility of students who may arrive late or cannot arrive at all. Under no circumstances can a newly admitted student come to the U.S. unless their program will have an in-person component. Continuing students may be permitted to re-enter the U.S. at the discretion of DHS regardless of the mode of instruction.

Academic programs are creating opportunities for international students who cannot travel to the U.S. International Admissions and academic advisors will work with first-year international students to ensure that they have a fully online schedule, including access to Learning Communities.

Additionally, Enrollment Management and UC International have identified continuing international students who have returned home and cannot travel to the U.S. Academic advisors will work with these students to provide a fully online schedule whenever possible. For continuing students, it will be difficult, and in some programs not practical, to provide upper division courses that count towards the degrees.

COVID-19 Testing Requirements

Please follow the latest CDC guidelines on testing, quarantine and isolation after high-risk travel. Please note that these guidelines and the below information is subject to change.

See the university's policies related to travel.

All students, whether traveling on university business or for personal reasons, must report via the UC COVID Check app upon return (or first-time arrival) to campus and guidance from the CDC related to international travel applies as to requirements to test, self-monitor, isolate or quarantine. Please note that that COVID Check App serves as a Daily Health Check for each day you are coming to campus or leave your University Housing residence hall room each day. 

UC's COVID Check app is free and easy to use. It can be downloaded through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. A web-based REDCap survey is also available as an alternative to using the app.

Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel, upon arrival.

Communication and cultural differences

All UC units should prepare for how international students will interpret U.S. distancing and safety rules. UC International will communicate with students prior to their arrival to prepare them for UC’s physical distancing and safety expectations, including procedures for health checks and acknowledging differences regarding personal space and interactions.

The university should place added emphasis on:

  • Guidelines to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus.
  • Communicating the procedures on recognizing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • What to do if students become ill.
  • Further encourage both inclusive language and behavior that embraces all students.

Units are encouraged to consider the following:

  • Some international students may request to defer enrollment.
  • Students with teaching responsibilities may need training to carry out their duties online. IT@UC and CET&L can assist with such training.
  • Preparation for both online and face-to-face instructional formats and the challenges associated with engaging with different cohorts of students.
  • Allowing students to make up work should they face visa delays and arrive on campus after the beginning of the semester.
  • Maintaining special sections of courses (e.g. Technical Writing) for international students.
  • Online learning requires greater use of written communication, which may disadvantage students for whom English is a second language.