International Students FAQs
UC is committed to returning to in-person classes for fall semester. However, UC will not be returning to full in-person operations. UC will be offering a cross section of courses including traditional in-person courses (with safety measures), hybrid courses, and fully online courses. Final decisions about course offerings are still being made and details will be communicated to students as soon as possible.
For Currently Enrolled International Students
We understand that you have many questions about how UC's method of instruction affects your current F-1 status. Since the middle of spring semester and through summer semester, UC has been completely remote for instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has temporarily relaxed many rules for F-1 students due to the pandemic, including rules about online courses, remote work, and the length of time students can remain outside the U.S. The DHS has not announced if these same relaxed rules will continue into fall semester and we are waiting for clarification from DHS. Be assured we will communicate with all international students as soon as we know final details about UC's method of instruction and what DHS will allow. We will continue to post additional details on this website when they become available.
For Newly Admitted International Students
We understand that you have many questions about how UC's method of instruction affects your ability to come to the U.S. on an F-1 student visa and your ability to obtain a visa stamp itself. We will provide clarification to you as soon as we can about your ability to enroll in a full course of in-person classes. Right now U.S. consulates and embassies are closed and it is not clear when they will reopen, or how long it will take to obtain a visa appointment when they do reopen. Undergraduate students have been receiving communication from Enrollment Management and graduate students have been receiving communication from their admitting programs about options that may be available to them in the event travel to the U.S. is not available for the fall semester. Please consider those options and reach out to the appropriate contact person for more information. We will continue to post additional details on this website when they become available.
All non-essential international travel is highly discouraged. For those who do travel, the countries below currently have restrictions on entry to the U.S.:
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- Vatican City
Anyone who is coming to UC for the first time or returning to campus from an international trip is required to report to University Health Services by emailing COVIDWatch@uc.edu.
The University of Cincinnati has restricted all international travel for faculty, staff and students traveling for UC business or educational purposes. Faculty, staff and students who decide to travel outside the U.S. will be subject to reporting and self-monitoring or other protocols upon return.
In addition, individuals from certain countries may not be able to enter at all. Non-immigrants present in China, Iran, South Korea and Europe during the 14-day period preceding their entry back into the U.S. will be denied re-entry due to national public health restrictions. U.S. citizens and permanent residents returning from these countries will have some level of public health restrictions on their movements for 14 days from the time they left China. Those considering non-essential travel should carefully consider all of these issues when considering travel.
Further complicating this issue is the fact that the U.S. Department of State has currently suspended all routine visa services due to the COVID-19 outbreak. That means until further notice anyone traveling with an expired visa stamp will not be able to obtain a new visa stamp necessary to reenter the U.S. It is unknown how long visa services will be suspended. We strongly recommend that you don’t travel if your visa stamp has expired.
All F-1 students have a 60 day grace period to depart the US from the date of program completion. International students looking for options to stay in the U.S. after graduation should consult with UC International Services about immigration and visa options. Students can reach UC international Services by phone at 513-556-4278, email at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
However, two options are readily available to international students to consider and include:
1. Students could consider applying for an OPT even if they do not wish to use it. The application must be mailed within the 60 day grace period following program completion. Most OPT applications take 90 days for DHS to process. Once the OPT is approved, students are allowed to remain unemployed in the US for an additional 90 days. Taking this course of action would give a student approximately a 6-month window to reside in the US until lockdowns / travel restrictions in their home countries are eased. Please note that F1 students do not need an offer letter from a company to apply for OPT.
2. Students could also consider applying for a tourist visa citing the pandemic and lack of ability to travel as the reason. Taking this course of action would result in a change of status from F-1 to B-2 tourist. This would entail filing an I-539 application to change/extend non-immigrant status with USCIS and the student will be allowed to stay while the while the application is being processed. On successful approval, a student gets a maximum of 6 months from their program completion date to remain in the US.
If the current on-campus employment opportunity has transitioned to remote work or the employment can be done through remote means, students may continue to engage in on-campus employment remotely. However, anyone who is remote working from overseas must contact Ron Cushing, Director of UC International Services at email@example.com. Also be sure to adhere to the 20 hour per week limitation for on-campus employment while school is in session.
UC will evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, requests for students to co-op outside the U.S. Students should consult with their ELCE advisor or college career coach to identify other options when necessary. International students must remember to obtain a curricular practical authorization from UC International Services if a change in co-op location results in co-oping in the U.S.
Students may engage in CPT during their time abroad, provided they are:
· Enrolled in a program of study in which CPT is integral to the program of study;
· UC International Services has authorized CPT in advance of the CPT start date; and
· Either the employer has an office outside the United States or the employer can assess student engagement and attainment of learning objectives electronically.
Any student who begins work in the US and is now changing to working outside the US must notify UC International Services of the date the employment changed to overseas work and the name and address of the employer. Send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prior to the COVID 19 pandemic it was mandatory for students on OPT to work full-time. However, during the pandemic this requirement has been waived and a student on OPT (with a valid EAD card) could work any number of hours between 1 and 40 and not be in violation of the OPT rules. However, the OPT unemployment rules still remain in effect. Students on the 12 month OPT period are limited to 90 days of unemployment and students on the 24-month STEM OPT extension are limited to 150 days of unemployment.
A recent Presidential proclamation has blocked the entry of immigrants to the US. Although the Proclamation did not affect non-immigrant visas such as F-1, it was stipulated that issuance of non-immigrant visas will be evaluated. Some Senators have urged the current administration to end programs like OPT until the economy recovers. While the President has the authority to temporarily alter or change OPT and CPT programs due to an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not known if any formal changes will be proposed or implemented. Any comment on whether OPT or CPT will be discontinued, if students will lose their current OPT or CPT jobs would be purely speculative. UC is offering its full support for the OPT and CPT program and is talking with legislators and other professional organizations about the value of the program. Any updates on the future of the OPT or CPT programs will be communicated to the students by UC International Services.
There is no link between your program completion / graduation date and job offers. You are required to graduate irrespective of whether you have secured a job offer or not. You can always apply for an OPT which on acceptance, grants you an additional 90 days to look for a job within the US. Please note that delaying graduation due to the COVID 19 pandemic is not permitted.
Under current conditions, if an active F-1 student leaves the United States to complete the spring term online, their SEVIS record will remain in active status and not be terminated. While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, students are not subject to the five-month rule and are deemed to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study.
The answer to this questions depends on where you intend to pursue your new program/level of study. If you intend to pursue your study at UC you will need to obtain a new I-20 for the new program/degree level. To obtain a new I-20 you will need to submit documentation of your admission to the new program and sources of financial support to UC International Services. It is recommend that you obtain the new I-20 before you depart the U.S. but it can be done up to 60 days following your graduation. In this case your new I-20 would be mailed to you.
If you will be pursuing the new program/degree level at another U.S. institution you need to submit the “Transfer Out Request” eform to UC International Services. You will need to have your letter of admission to the new school to make this request. UC International Services will then transfer your SEVIS record to the new school who will then issue you a new I-20 to study at their school.
Please keep in mind that all travel advisories discussed elsewhere in this document apply (travel to a CDC Level 3 warning country, visa services being suspended, etc.).
Yes, any student who returns home and completes their courses from overseas will graduate as scheduled. Where you complete your courses has no impact on your ability to graduate.
Students with pending OPT applications should not travel currently.
We anticipate that fall semester will begin as normal with traditional (face-to-face) classes. However, we will be as proactive as possible in addressing situations where students may not be able to travel from specific parts of the world to start classes on-time. We are developing a number of options for those students to ensure they can make progress towards their degree and career goals, and will share details about those plans in the coming months.
Any visitor coming to campus must self-quarantine for 14 days and report to University Health Services (UHS) via COVIDWatch@uc.edu before arriving to campus. UHS will respond with appropriate health guidance.
There are additional restrictions for certain individuals visiting from more than 30 different countries. Due to the presidential “Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus”, visitors who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are currently subject to reporting and self-monitoring protocols upon return. U.S. citizens and permanent residents visiting from China currently have some level of restrictions on their movements for 14 days from the time they left China. Nonimmigrants physically present in China or Europe during the 14-day period preceding their entry into the U.S. are currently denied re-entry.
We recommend that invitations to all visitors but put on hold until travel restrictions and visa operations return to normal. Invitations for anyone to come before fall semester should be reconsidered. Faculty and staff inviting international visitors to campus should contact UC International Services with questions about invitation and visa processes to ensure the proper visas are being secured, that the appropriate export control screenings are conducted, and reasonable start dates are being selected during this difficult time.
We look forward to welcoming you this coming fall. As you know, the world is dealing with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and there are a lot of unknowns and questions we can’t answer currently. What we can tell is that our hope is to begin the fall semester with traditional (face-to-face) classes.
Unfortunately, there are embassy/consulate closures and other travel restrictions in place that might make it difficult to obtain visas and plan your arrival in Cincinnati. Please continue to monitor the situation at https://www.uc.edu/publichealth.html, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html, and https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/. Currently, embassies and consulates in China and India are closed for visa appointments and over 30 countries have travel restrictions or prohibitions on entry in place. Things will change quickly in the coming months so paying close attention to the situation will be important so you can act quickly when visa appointments become available. We are still processing I-20’s and DS-2019’s. It will be important to have your I-20 or DS-2019 in hand when embassies/consulates reopen. As such, please continue to complete the pre-arrival checklist for UC International Services at https://ibearcatsglobal.uc.edu (please use the Limited iStart Services link to login) to complete the processes necessary to be issued your I-20 or DS-2019.
In addition, we are trying to be as proactive as possible and we are developing alternative learning plans if students are not able to travel from specific parts of the world. We will share details about those plans with you in the coming months. Please rest assured that the UC community is doing everything possible to remain ahead of this unprecedented situation. We want you to know that we will make every effort to keep you updated as decisions are made.
During this time, we very much appreciate your patience and understanding. Please continue to visit our website over the coming days and weeks; however, if you have a question about your I-20, visa or arrival in Cincinnati that requires immediate attention, please contact email@example.com. If you are an undergraduate student and have questions about your admission or academic program please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Graduate students with questions about your admission or academic program should be contact your admitting department.