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Coronavirus Updates

Message From the International Student Services Office

 

We understand that with the current situation surrounding COVID-19, things are changing frequently. As such, we’ve created this space to provide the latest updates, answers to common questions we’ve been receiving from other international students like yourself, as well as any other information and resources we think would be helpful. 

 

We remain fully available, Monday through Friday from 9 am PST to 4 pm PST, and can be reached directly at dso@sofia.edu or 888.820.1484 ext. 10361 should you have any additional questions. During this temporary transition, ISS will be offering remote services only. 

Reviewed: March 23, 2020

Up to date information on COVID-19 and the effects on F-1 Students

Incoming Students

If I am a new or initial incoming F-1 student, what are my options?

If already in the U.S., new students (including transfer students) holding active F-1 status can begin their studies at Sofia University with online classes for the upcoming academic terms due to the current COVID-19 F-1 accommodations.

Please Note: that the new COVID-19 F-1 accommodations do not apply to new or initial F-1 students who are outside of the U.S. and do not currently hold active F-1 status.

Due to COVID-19, what is the requirement for Initial status students who have already arrived in the United States?

Initial students currently in the United States that have reported to their school should be made Active in SEVIS and follow the guidelines the school provides to all its F students related to COVID-19. If Initial students have not arrived in the United States, they should remain in their home country.

Current Students

Since F-1 students are required to maintain full-time status with majority of courses offered on-ground, does the University’s transition to online delivery affect my visa status as a current student in the US?

During the COVID-19 F-1 accommodation period, current students in the US can take online or remote courses to maintain full-time status in their academic term because the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has approved this on a temporary basis due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This means you can study full-time online in the US and stay in good standing.

If I leave the U.S., are there any restrictions on being able to return to campus for the next academic quarter

If you decide to return to your home country or leave the US during the academic break, you can do so. We highly recommend you review current global public health advisories and keep track of any travel restrictions in place. Please also consider your ability to access online learning, travel limitations, and remember that this is an evolving situation that is subject to change.

If you decide to travel abroad during the academic break:

Make sure that your passport and F-1 visa stamp will be valid for your expected date of return.
• You should also check if you have a valid travel signature on your I-20. Travel signatures are valid for one year while enrolled in classes, or until your program end date. While on Post-Completion OPT, your travel signature is valid for six months from the date signed. Remember you do not need a new travel signature for each time you travel.
• To request a travel signature— reach out to dso@sofia.edu
• Please review current travel advisories at www.travel.state.gov.

Will any action be taken on my SEVIS record?

During this temporary COVID-19 F-1 accommodation period, your F-1 record will not be impacted because you are taking online courses or engaging in remote practical training as a current student. This COVID-19 F-1 accommodation period currently applies throughout the Spring 2020 Academic Quarter.

Students with Employment Authorization

I am currently on Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Can I participate in remote practical training and do I need to report changes to my practical training due to COVID-19?

Yes. You can participate remotely in practical training working with your employer to review available options.

I am currently on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). Are there any accommodations if I am not able to work and exceed my 90-day limit on unemployment?

The Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has recognized that the spread of COVID-19 may impact students engaging in OPT. Changes to workplace requirements may impact international students engaging in practical training. SEVP encourages such students to consult with their employers to seek alternative ways to maintain employment, such as teleworking or other arrangements.

March 13, 2020

Letter from the Office of the DSO

 

Sofia University does not recommend travel due to the changing nature of U.S. immigration policy, the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak and its impacts to global travel. For important information regarding current U.S. immigration policy, Executive Orders, and travel advisories, please revise CDC travel advisory website for answers to common questions about travel and support resources. 

Sofia University is closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and Presidential Proclamations suspending entry into the United States for those deemed to pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19, specifically travelers entering from Iran and China within the last 14 days.  Restrictions to travel to and from China, Iran, and other regions are rapidly evolving, as well as impacting Chinese Embassies and Consulates working with U.S. visa applications.  Be aware that travelers returning from CDC Level 3 countries may encounter serious difficulties returning to the United States.

Should you have urgent, emergency travel needs to or from this region, please contact your DSO: Raisa Velazquez at dso@sofia.edu and Rosalie Cook at student_services@sofia.edu so that the university is able to comprehensively advise and support you with your travel plans.

At this time, the CDC has issued no advisories or restrictions related to travel within any area of the United States.

We encourage you to read to read the CDC’s frequently asked questions and answers .

Please continue to review the CDC Website for updates as new information is available on a daily basis.

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