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Student FAQ's During COVID-19

We understand the challenges that students are facing given the fluid situation with 2019 Novel Coronavirus. We will continue to update this page as information is available.

Out of caution we advise that you closely monitor the CDC and U. S. Department of State for travel advisories and updates for any country you are travelling to or transiting through.

We have not received updates from SEVP or DHS on what to expect for the Spring 2021 semester. Once we receive guidance we will be sure to share it with students and departments.  Please find the 10/09/2020 response from SEVP regarding Spring 2021 COVID guidance:

"The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has not issued guidance to international students and schools for the Spring 2021 semester. We understand international students and schools have questions, and SEVP is actively working to issue guidance. In the meantime, the temporary procedural adaptations that permit international students to engage in remote learning are still in place through the fall session. As soon as SEVP finalizes guidance for the spring term, the academic community will be updated. Stakeholders will receive information through a variety of communication channels, and information will be updated on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) COVID-19 resource page under the Nonimmigrant Students and SEVP-Certified Schools section."

For a more comprehensive list of question and answers, please visit the  Coming Back Safe and Strong website.  

Frequently Asked Questions
  • New Students

    New Students

    I am a new student in "initial" status OUTSIDE of the US, can I enter the US and study for the fall 2020 semester?
    I am a new student in the US transferring my SEVIS record to SBU, can I remain in the US?
    Can I still travel to the US if all my classes will be online?
    When should students arrive to Stony Brook for the fall semester?
    I cannot arrive to campus for the fall semester, what are my options?
    Can I defer my admission?
    Can I do the entire Fall 2020 semester remotely from my home country?
    Can I have an extension for submitting the health forms?
    Do I need another I-20 with notation to apply for a visa?
    I plan to live on campus this spring, what do I need to know?
  • Fall Enrollment Requirements

    Fall 2020 Enrollment Requirements

    How will classes be offered for the Fall 2020 semester?
    What will immigration allow for F-1 students in Fall 2020?
    As an F-1 student, can I take more than 1 online classes this fall?
    Can students do the entire Fall 2020 semester remotely from their home country?
    Is Graduate Research Abroad an option for continuing PhD students?
    Fall is my last semester of study, am I eligible for part-time enrollment?
    Since all classes and exams, including finals, will take place remotely after Thanksgiving, does that mean I will need to leave the U.S.?
  • Travel


    Items to consider if and when traveling internationally.
    Will my travel to the US be impacted by current restrictions and visa processing delays?
    When should students arrive to New York for the fall semster?
    I'm a continuing student returning to the US to live off campus for the fall - when do I have to arrive by?
    How do I know if I'm exempt from the restrictions imposed by the travel ban?
    What documents do I need to reenter the US after traveling abroad?
    How can I get a travel signature?
    Can I travel domestically without affecting my F-1 status?
    Am I required to self-quarantine upon arriving to the US?
    Will transportation accommodations be provide to students arriving to the US?
  • Receiving a Form I-20/DS-2019

    Receiving a Form I-20 / DS-2019

    Is the COVID-19 situation impacting newly admitted students' ability to apply for I-20 for Fall 2020?
    What is the deadline to request an I-20?
    I'm deferring my arrival/admission, when will I receive my updated I-20?
    Do I need another I-20 with notation to apply for a visa?
  • Student Visas

    Student Visas

    What should a NEW student do if they are not able to secure a visa interview until after the start of the semester?
    What do I do if the embassy keeps postponing or canceling my visa appointment?
    What impacts will President Trump's Executive Order (6/22/2020) have on international students, faculty and scholars?
    Will I need a new visa if mine has not expired?
    What are the current visa related impacts? What are the tips from VIS for students applying for visas now?
    If I took a leave of absence for the spring semester, is there a chance my new visa won't be approved for Fall?
    If I already have a valid B1/B2 visa, can I enter the US as a tourist and then change to F-1 status?
  • OPT Concerns

    OPT Concerns

    When will I be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) if I study outside of the United States this fall?
    If I return to my home country now, how will this affect my ability to apply for OPT? Can I apply for OPT this semester as a graduating student?
    Has the COVID pandemic affected the current processing time for OPT?
    If VIS is not offering OPT Application Review Sessions, where can I get guidance on completing the I-765?
    I have already filed my I-765 request for employment with USCIS but need to return to my home country- is this a risk?
    My request for OPT was approved by USCIS and I've received my EAD, can I travel outside of the US?
  • CPT Concerns

    CPT Concerns 

    How will delaying my arrival to Spring 2021 impact CPT eligibility?
    My employer has asked me to work remotely. Is this permitted during CPT?
    If I leave the U.S. and continue my studies from my home country, will I be able to apply for CPT?
  • SSN/Taxes/Stimulus Tax Credit

    SSN/Taxes/Stimulus Tax Credit

    Am I eligible to apply for unemployment benefits?
    What is the procedure for obtaining SSN?
    What is the procedure to apply for a SSN through the local Patchogue office?
    What if I am not currently living near Stony Brook, how do I apply for an SSN?
    Can I apply for an SSN outside the U.S.?
    Do I need an original I-20 with a wet signature to apply for an SSN?
    Am I eligible for the Stimulus tax credit?
  • Office Operations

    Office Operations

    How will the Visa and Immigration Services (VIS) office operate for the fall semester?
    How can I schedule an appointment to speak with an advisor?
    Can I come to VIS to collect my immigration documents?