Welcome to this page where you will find comprehensive information, frequently asked questions, and step-by-step instructions on how to maintain your immigration status as you approach and start the Spring 2021 semester.
Whether you are a new, transfer, or continuing student, these charts below are intended to provide you with all the details and instructions to follow for Spring 2021 (subject to change based on SEVP Guidance). Click on each chart to get access to the links. Please read all the information very carefully, and follow instructions accordingly based on your situation and location. Contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or access our Virtual Office if you have further questions or doubts.
IMPORTANT: If you started your program in the Fall 2020 but stayed in your country studying remotely, the Spring 2021 will be considered your first semester as an F-1 student and you are expected to enroll in at least one hybrid/in-person course.
- If you are a newly admitted student (new or transfer) for SPRING 2021 and you decide not to come to FIU, or you are unable to travel due to travel restrictions, you MUST contact the Office of International Admissions to let them know via:
- If you will be in the United States and at FIU in person in the SPRING 2021, learn about the different steps to follow as you prepare to arrive in the United States, and upon your arrival on our PRE-ARRIVAL INFORMATION page.
Please follow instructions very carefully. In order to accurately report your immigration status and keep your SEVIS record current, ISSS requires all continuing students to report their plans for Spring 2021. Below you may find three different options (You can click on the chart to access the links). Please take a moment to review this chart and based on where you will be during the upcoming semester, access the FIU ISSS PORTAL and submit your response using the Spring 2021 Reporting E-Form (available NOW).
ATTENTION! IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE STUDYING PHYSICALLY IN THE UNITED SATES (Category 1) YOU DO NOT NEED TO REPORT.
HOW TO REPORT:
- Access the FIU ISSS PORTAL
- Click on the F-1 Students Services link
- Click on the SPRING 2021 Reporting link from the drop-down menu
- Select the E-Form that applies to you (Category 2, or 3).
- Enter ALL the information and documents requested
- Submit for approval
IF YOU ARE A CONTINUING STUDENT AND YOU ALREADY SUBMITTED THIS INFORMATION FOR THE FALL SEMESTER- YOU MUST SUBMIT THIS INFORMATION AGAIN FOR SPRING.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS. FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS REQUEST MAY RESULT IN THE TERMINATION OF YOUR SEVIS RECORD.
IMPORTANT ABOUT INSURANCE HOLD FOR CATEGORY 2 STUDENTS:
If you are in the United States and will be leaving the country to spend the Spring Semester at home, please keep in mind that you MUST leave the country before December 31. If you leave the country after December 31, you will be liable for Health Insurance and your HOLD will not be released until you show proof that you are covered UNTIL YOU LEAVE THE USA. Instructions will be provided when you complete the Spring 2021 Reporting E-Form.
Based on the latest SEVP update, international students must be enrolled full time in online/remote/hybrid/in-person courses as long as they are complying with their F1 visa requirements.
If you are in your country and wish to start planning for your return to the United States, please be reminded that the ISSS Office is not the best source for travel information. The best sources are your airline, your local American Embassy, and the Center for Disease Control information.
Upon arrival, you will be required to follow FIU policies and guidelines when accessing any physical university premises regardless of where you travel from (across the street, local, national, international). FIU will only require a period of quarantine if it is required by local, state or federal health authorities. Please frequently visit the Panthers Protecting Panthers page for the latest updates pertaining to travel guidelines.
In addition, outside of FIU’s premises, members of the FIU community must abide by guidelines and requirements of the respective local and state authorities such as Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida Health Department. This includes the mandatory wearing of face masks in public, the enforcement of curfews, quarantine periods etc.
If you need to renew your visa, please continue to monitor the opening of your local American Embassy. Each country will be following its own schedule and conditions, so check with them in order to make an appointment for your visa interview. You can check the status of your local embassy here https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html
- In order to maintain your F-1 status while in the US, international students at FIU must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours (Undergraduate) and 9 credit hours (Graduate). Based on the latest update, if you are a continuing student, there is no limit on the number of online/remote courses you can register for. If you are a NEW (initial) student you have to be enrolled in AT LEAST one hybrid/in-person course. SEVP requires F-1 international students to take these classes and make normal progress toward completing the degree program.
- Students attending schools adopting a hybrid model—that is, a mixture of online, hybrid, and in person classes—will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online.
- Contact your academic advisor for assistance if you are having difficulty finding your courses.
If this is your last semester of study and you are unable to register for a full course load, please read below:
- Student must also apply for graduation and submit a Reduced Course Load for Completion of Degree form in order to justify their under enrollment in their last term.
- Based on the latest update, there is no limit on the number of online/remote courses you can register for in your last semester of study.
- If you are a continuing student who is back in your home country and you decide that you are not returning to FIU for the Fall 2020, or you are unable to return due to travel restrictions, access the FIU ISSS PORTAL to report your decision based on the chart above. Failure to do this may impact your SEVIS record/immigration status negatively.
- Once you are ready to return to the United States in the SUMMER or FALL 2021 or any subsequent term, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to get in touch with the ISSS Office to get your updated I-20.
- If your F-1 visa expires while you are in your country during your Leave of Absence, it is your responsibility to renew it at your local US Embassy/Consulate to be able to enter the United States when you are able to come back.
- If you decide to take courses while you are still in your country, you will not be subject to the full-load requirement (you can be enrolled for as many credits as you wish). If you decide to take a full course load, your SEVIS record can remain ACTIVE and you need to complete, or if you don’t take a full course load, you MUST report this on the FIU ISSS PORTAL as instructed above.
- If you are a newly admitted student for fall 2020 and you decide not to come to FIU in the fall, or you are unable to travel due to travel restrictions, you MUST contact the Office of International Admissions to let them know. You may contact admissions via:
- WhatsApp: +1(786)702-0031 – Students should send a message to set up an appropriate time for a phone call.
More Frequently asked questions:
In addition, outside of FIU’s premises, members of the FIU community must abide by guidelines and requirements of the respective local and state authorities such as Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida Health Department. This includes the mandatory wearing of face masks in public, the enforcement of curfews, quarantine periods, etc.
If the information indicates that you will need to quarantine for a certain period, you are responsible for procuring the location where you will be complying with this requirement. If you are staying at FIU Housing, please check their website for updates.
In order to retain your status you must remain enrolled full time and you are able to take your courses overseas. See chart above. If you alreday submitted the information for fall, YOU MUST SUBMIT AGAIN FOR SPRING.
The 5- month temporary absence rule does not apply and you may return to the United States to continue your studies.
The same rules that have been in place will continue to apply. To be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT ) or Optional Practical Training (OPT), a student must be in F-1 status for the equivalent of an academic year (2 semesters in a row). Visit our CPT and OPT pages for more information.
No, you must be in the United States to apply for OPT. This is a requirement that has no exception. If you are outside the country and make arrangements to come back to apply in the middle or towards the end of the semester, there is no guarantee that your application will be approved (based on your I-94 information). Do not risk it. Consult with one of our ISSS Advisors before making any decision. Visit our OPT page for more information.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes has issued an Emergency Order extending certain expiring Florida driver licenses.
The Executive Order, among other things, authorizes the following:
- Extends the effective period of driver licenses and identification cards with expiration dates on or after March 16, 2020, through April 15, 2020, for 60 days.
For more information visit Visit https://www.flhsmv.gov/COVID-19/
If you are worried about your international student status if you happen to opt for the Pass/NO Credit Earned choice, USCIS has established that
“…full course of study requirements can be waived as a direct result of the impact from COVID-19” (March 26 Update)
So, although our would highly advise you to remain within the regular grading option, if you have a circumstance related to the COVID-19 situation and you have discussed the possibility with your academic advisor, you may opt for the new P or NC alternative. Also, please be reminded that ISSS only responds to immigration-related questions, all academic/GPA inquiries should be directed to your academic advisor.
Once you have discussed your decision with your academic advisor, if you still If have questions about how this may impact your visa status ALWAYS ask ISSS! And ALWAYS read our immigration updates, because this policy may change in the future.
More information https://onestop.fiu.edu/classes/grades/
As an international student you are considered a non-resident for tax purposes, therefore the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states that you do not qualify for a stimulus check. Visit the Economic Impact Payment Information Center for more information.
You can also visit https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/determining-alien-tax-status to determine if you are considered a non-resident for tax purposes. Important: Most international students are considered non-residents for tax purposes.
Important: If you received a stimulus check in error, please visit https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc161 for instructions; and if you are still unsure, please contact a tax accountant or attorney. Tax policies are very complex, and please keep in mind that the ISSS staff is not qualified to give you advice on tax related issues.
The International Students offices around the country are waiting for an answer to this question. Unfortunately there is no specific extension being announced as of yet for our F-1 students and dependents. However, if you are in this situation, please see the link above on Extension or Change of Status. For the time being, this would be one solution that you can seek.
Remember, for all these processes, it is highly advisable that you seek the help/counsel of an immigration attorney.
For additional USCIS In formation you can access COVID-19 Delays in Extension/Change of Status Filings
For all job-related activities, you will need to have a Social Security Number/Social Security Card (SSN). Unfortunately at the moment, all Social Security Offices are closed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our office has no way of anticipating when these offices will reopen.
Please keep in mind that you cannot start any work-related activity on or off campus without a SSN. It is important that you keep this in mind, because in the future, if you happen to have worked without the proper paperwork, your immigration status will be negatively impacted.
Keep checking with the Social Security Office for future re-openings- our office will keep you informed too.
You must realize that the COVID 19 crisis continues to be a fluid and rapidly changing event, therefore, there are scenarios that may arise that are unpredictable and the consequences of which are unknown. Travel and returning home will carry inherent and perhaps unknown risks. If you decide you want to leave the country and go home you must
- ensure that your F-1 visa will be valid at the time you intend to return.
- ensure your passport is valid.
- have a valid travel signature on page two of your I-20 (this is valid for 12 months from date of the first signature)
If you already left the US and still require a signature, you may submit a request through the FIU ISSS Portal at least three weeks before you are planning to return to the United States and we will send a signed I-20 to your home country via email.
Important: If you renewed any of your immigration documents (passport or visa) and haven’t provided a copy to our office, please do so with your document request. Your Travel Signature will be delayed if we do not have your updated information
Due to the temporary closure of FIU because of the COVID 19 crisis, it may be difficult to meet your needs immediately. If you are a student who has already departed the US or one who intends to leave shortly and are unable to get your I-20 travel signature, please be advised that when you come back to the United States, if your I-20 does not have a current signature or if you do not have your I-20 with you, the US Custom and Border Protection (USCBP) Officer who you see when you arrive typically issues students lacking a proper I-20 a form called I-515A at the port of entry.
If CBP issues you a Form I-515A, tell your designated school official (DSO)/International Student Advisor that you have been given this form. He or she can help you submit the right information to complete this form.
What is the “I‐515A” Form? The I‐515A is a form issued to international students/scholars/dependents by a United States Port of Entry (POE) when the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer is not satisfied with the admission documentation that a student/scholar/dependent provides. For example, the border patrol may issue an I‐515A if the I‐20 or DS‐2019 is missing a valid travel signature. The I‐515A Form allows temporary entry into the United States of no more than 30 days.
This information will be updated as we receive more guidance from USCIS. Please follow up with ISSS two weeks before you are coming back to the US.
Yes, you can schedule a phone/virtual appointment accessing the ISSS Virtual Appointment Request Form. Once our system received this form, you will receive an email with your appointment date and time.
CPT (Curricular Practical Training), OPT (Optional Practical Training), or STEM OPT extension applications are also available by appointment. Once you have scheduled the appointment, an advisor will contact you via email with further instructions.
In order to apply for OPT you need to be present in the United States. Once you are ready to start the process (you should be starting it as soon as possible)
- Make an appointment with ISSS (see instructions above)
- Visit the Optional Practical Training (OPT) section on our website and follow all the instructions.
Students’ status will remain current as long as they remain enrolled in their classes maintaining full time status.