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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.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)  announced on April 26, 2021 that the COVID-19 guidance issued in March 2020 will remain in place for the 2021-22 academic year. VIS hosted a webinar on May 4th to review how the recent SEVP/DHS updates directly impact F-1 students for Fall 2021. Click here for the video log. 

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 Fall 2021?
    I am transferring from another US institution, do I need to enroll in an in-person or hybrid course?
    Can I still travel to the US if all my classes will be online?
    When should new students arrive to Stony Brook for the Fall 2021 semester?
    What will happen if I cannot arrive on time for fall?
    I cannot arrive to campus for Fall 2021, what are my options?
    Can I defer my admission?
    Can I do the entire Fall 2021 semester remotely from my home country?
    Can I have an extension for submitting the health forms?
    I plan to live on campus for Fall 2021, what do I need to know?
  • Fall Enrollment Requirements


    Fall 2021 Enrollment Requirements

    What enrollment allowances are in place for Fall 2021?
    What are the enrollment requirements for Fall 2021?
    As a continuing "active" F-1 student, can I take more than 1 online classes this fall?
    Can continuing "active" students do the entire Fall 2021 semester remotely from their home country?
    Is Graduate Research Abroad an option for continuing PhD students?
    Fall 2021 is my last semester of study, am I eligible for part-time enrollment?
  • Travel & Vaccinations


    Travel & Vaccinations

    Is the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for students?
    What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?
    Where do I submit my proof of vaccination?
    Do I need to receive a COVID-19 test in advance of my travel to the US?
    Can I get a letter about SBU's mode of instruction for my entry to the U.S.?
    When should students arrive in New York for the Fall 2021 semester?
    Will my travel to the US be impacted by current COVID-19 restrictions?
    Are there restrictions on returning to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico?
    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?
    Do I need to quarantine upon arrival 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 2021?
    What is the deadline to request an I-20?
    I'm deferring my arrival/admission, when will I receive my updated I-20?
  • Student Visas


    Student Visas

    What are the top 10 things I should know about the F-1 visa interview?
    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?
    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, is there a chance my new visa won't be approved in time to arrive for Fall 2021?
    If I already have a valid B1/B2 visa, can I enter the US as a tourist and then change to F-1 status?
    What impacts will President Trump's Executive Order (6/22/2020) have on international students, faculty and scholars?
  • OPT Concerns

    OPT Concerns

    When will I be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) if I study outside of the United States this spring?
    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 2022 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 during Fall 2021?
    How can I connect with an International Student Advisor to ask a question?
    How can I schedule an appointment to speak with an advisor?
    Can I come to VIS to collect my immigration documents?