FAQs for International F1 Students

Last updated : July 24, 2020

July 24, 2020

What are my options for study if I can’t return this fall? International students who cannot return to Stetson this fall are able to take online-only classes from anywhere in the world, including within the USA. Be sure all the classes on your schedule are marked OL signifying online. If you prefer you can choose to take a leave of absence for the fall from Stetson and work with me to be sure your Sevis record is updated. Before you return in the Spring we need to be in touch to reactivate your Sevis record so you can enter then.

What are my options for study since this will be my first semester as a college student this fall? All first time in college international students who have an F1 visa MUST take at least half of their credits either face to face or hybrid, therefore you must come to campus. If you are unable to come to classes you have the option to defer your start date until spring and take a gap semester. you cannot study this fall.

I’m a first time in college student but I didn’t get a visa yet. Can I study from home? Yes. If you do not have an F1 visa yet you are not officially a international student in Sevis. Therefore, you are able to defer your start date until spring and take classes from Stetson while at home. Be sure to reach out to RLewis1@stetson.edu to keep your Sevis record available so you can continue to work toward getting a visa for the spring term.

Can I quarantine somewhere other than campus? Yes, you are permitted to quarantine anywhere in the USA for two weeks upon arrival but you are welcome to Quarantine on campus if you need to. Be sure to fill out the form distributed by residential living and learning to let them know your arrival date so they can have your room ready.

Can arrive late to campus? I am having trouble getting a flight to the US Stetson is able to accommodate a late start up to a point. You have until the end of the add/drop period (August 19) to begin classes without needing to seek permission to start late. If you must arrive after that time reach out to WORLD to begin that process of requesting permission.

I will still be in quarantine off-campus when classes begin. Can I start classes late? If you are taking all online classes you can begin from wherever you are quarantining on time. If you are expected to participate in face to face or hybrid classes you should reach out to your instructors and let them know you are in quarantine and will be arriving late. Ask them to help you keep up with the assignments until you can attend in person. WORLD can support your request if necessary.

How do I know if Stetson has a room reserved for me? You must fill out the housing form last sent out to all students in their stetson email on July 17th. Residential Life and Learning has committed to reserving space for our international students. However, space will fill up so fill out the form and submit it as soon as possible.

When is the WORLD Center open for the fall semester? The WORLD Staff will be in the office Tuesdays and Thursdays unless otherwise noted.  WORLD will update all signage on our website and office doors if there are any changes to the schedule.  The staff at WORLD is available to assist international students with their adjustment acclimation to Stetson University, as well as to answer any questions regarding study abroad.  Meetings will take place virtually whenever possible.  If an in-person meeting is needed, students should make a specific request or arrive at the center during WORLD’s pre-determined walk-in hours. If you would like to speak with someone on staff, you have two options:

  • Call the office at 386-822-8165 and ask to speak with any staff member.  Calls will be answered as staff is available.  All staff members have 8×8 set up on their computers and can take phone calls during office hours whether working on campus or at home.
    • Schedule an appointment to meet virtually with a staff member via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  By scheduling an appointment, you can lock in dedicated time with any of our professional staff.
    • August and September – Paula Hentz
    • October – Roxanne Lewis
    • November – Wendy Viggiano
    • December – Roxanne and Wendy will split the month (this will be confirmed at a later date pending university remote working guidelines.)
  • Does WORLD offer walk-in hours?
  • Walk in hours will be Tuesdays and Thursday from 10 am – 2 pm Eastern Time.  You are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment for walk in hours.
    • WORLD is always available virtually Monday through Friday, except on University holidays, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm Eastern Time.

I need a signature on my I-20. You may schedule an appointment with the WORLD staff member in the office (see schedule above) or you can come to the walk in hours

  • I want to drop off required study abroad forms or a payment (check, money order, or cash)You can drop off forms and payments during walk in hours but we strongly encourage students to send forms and payments through campus mail. 

  • I have questions about studying abroad
    • You have questions, we have answers.  Feel free to schedule a virtual meeting with Paula Hentz (Exchange programs) or Wendy Viggiano (Faculty Led and Affiliate Programs).  We are happy to help find the right study abroad program for you.

How to check if your courses are online, hybrid, or Face to Face

Log into MyStetson

Click on One Stop

Go to My Classes

Click on Change Term

Select a Term (from the drop down box):  Fall 2020- DeLand, the click Submit

Click Student Detail Schedule

Next to your Course Name you will see abbreviations

OL = Online

HY = Hybrid

FF = Face to Face

Example:  Fundamentals of Accounting – 7771 – ACCT 201 – HY

This course is a Hybrid course

July 13, 2020

  • What are my options for study if I can’t return this fall? We have published a few options here. Check your email often for updates.
  • What does the July 6, 2020 ICE Statement affect my study at Stetson as an F-1 student? See our email to students for an explanation.
  • What are the latest guidelines for international travel related to re-opening Institutions of Higher Education from the American College Health Associations? Although not all of these guidelines are relevant to Stetson we will be following these to help us re-open international travel and support services for all students, faculty, or staff who have been traveling internationally and are planning to re-enter the campus environment:
    • Should be encouraged or required to communicate their intentions with identified contacts at their institutions in order to receive critical relevant information well in advance of their anticipated return.
    • Must follow state, tribal, territorial, and local health department recommendations and requirements.
  • Considerations for Reopening Institutions of Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era
    • It is crucial to inform our international students and colleagues of relevant, reliable, and current travel health and safety resources and to encourage the serious consideration of current recommendations prior to travel.
    • Every international student, faculty, and staff member is in a unique situation, which warrants individually tailored recommendations.
    • All new or returning international travelers should refer to CDC returning travelers guidelines and review CDC’s “Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the U.S.
    • Existing international students, faculty, and staff currently at an IHE in the U.S. who are considering travel to their home countries should review global travel restrictions as noted by the U.S. State Department and CDC (see above and in Resources).
    • Faculty and staff contemplating travel with subsequent return to the U.S. to continue IHE studies or work must seriously consider:
      • Current COVID-19 travel health risks and the possibility of significant unexpected changes in risks during their travels.
      • Potential for abrupt disruption, cancellation, or other serious complications of the planned return to the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Rapidly changeable re-entry restrictions (including at any intermediate points in itinerary).
  • International travel is an evolving situation. Most IHEs in the U.S. have canceled or prohibited international travel for any university-related reasons through August 2020.
  • Incoming international students, faculty, and staff are faced with a multitude of uncertainties as well, and challenges and uncertainties abound in both host and
  • Home institutions and countries. Considering the multitude of unknown factors involved with this pandemic, knowledge and resources to inform new international travel guidelines will emerge in the coming months, and ACHA will offer updates as appropriate.
  • I missed the WORLD International Students FALL 2020 panel discussion. Was it recorded? Yes, you can watch it here. We did not click record right away, so the first 10-15 minutes are missing, but the bulk of the session is still available. Panel Discussion
  • I heard travelers from some countries are restricted from flying into the U.S. How do I know if that applies to me? CDC Countries restricted from entering USA
  • If my country is on the restricted travel list how can I come to the U.S.? The travel ban says that anyone who has been in the countries listed on the site above WITHIN the last 14 days is restricted from entering. Therefore, a student who is traveling from a country on the list would need to go to a third country (one not on the list) for 14 days before traveling into the USA. We strongly suggest you keep your boarding passes and travel receipts on all travel to support your entry.
  • My I-20 was signed before September 1, 2019.  Should I request a signature? YES. Everyone who has an I-20 with a signature on the travel page (2nd page) that is older than September 1, 2019 needs to get a new signature before leaving the US. If you have already left reach out to your DSO today.

I am am an international students but I spent the summer in the US. Do I need to quarantine when I get to Stetson? No. Domestic students and those internationals who have spent the summer in the United States are not required to quarantine .

Can I take the fall semester off and return to Stetson In the spring if the COVID-19 situation gets better? Yes. If you are a returning student and you wish to take a Leave of Absence from Stetson for one semester you are able to do that. You need to first check with financial aid to be sure your scholarships and other awards will not be affected. If after that you decide to you can fill out the Leave of Absence form and send it in. Then make sure you contact your DSO at Stetson so your SEVIS record can be managed. Your SEVIS record will be terminated for leave of absence with a note that it is due to travel restrictions in place because of COVID-19. That will allow us to reactivate your record when you return.

Other schools are going to teach online-only classes. Why is Stetson not doing that? In March, 2020 the USCIS issued accomodating rules to allow international students to complete the spring term. At that time those accommodations included “Continuing F-1 students can take all online courses if they live outside the US or inside the US. They must remain full-time enrolled.  Unfortunately, the accommodations set out in March are set to expire at the end of summer.   Still, universities and colleges need to plan. Some Institutions of higher education are building their plans and are counting on the accommodations being extended into the Fall Semester. Stetson has opted to plan as though the federal government will not extend the accommodations into the Fall semester, but revert back to the normal laws and guidelines.

At this point in time, no one knows if or when they will send out the Fall Guidance. Unless/until SEVP officially announces that they are extending the guidance issued in March 2020 to the fall semester, we cannot tell international students that they will be allowed to take all online courses in the fall.  We certainly hope that the guidance will be extended, as it will offer more flexibility for our students; however, we cannot guarantee our international students that fully online learning will be allowed in the fall, because we simply do not have proof that it will be.

What does USCIS say about when they will distribute guidance for the Fall 2020 semester? SEVP has not issued guidance to international students and schools for the fall semester. We understand international students and schools have questions, and SEVP is actively working to issue guidance. In the meantime, the temporary procedural adaptions that permit international students to engage in remote learning are still in place through the summer session. As soon as SEVP finalizes guidance for the fall term, the academic community will be updated. We are all eagerly awaiting the update from SEVP, and once we receive it, we hope we will have better news regarding the fall 2020 online learning options for international students. You are also welcome to watch the recording of the panel discussion we held on Monday.  We, unfortunately, didn’t click the record button right away, so the first 10-15 minutes are missing, but the bulk of the session is still available.

I am a new student coming to college for the first time. What happens to my SEVIS record and visa if I want to wait until the spring to start my classes and see if COVID-19 gets better? You can work with the staff at WORLD to defer your SEVIS start date until the beginning of the spring term. If the visa you hold is valid at that time you can use it to enter the US. Make sure you contact Stetson’s admissions office to let them know so they can be sure all other departments are aware and you can avoid errors in billing.

I am worried my visa will expire before the COVID-19 virus has passed and the borders reopen worldwide. Has USCIS and Homeland Security made any adjustments to the way that will be handled? As of this time (June 30 , 2020) there have been no changes in deadlines and expiration dates as associated with visas. Throughout the world wide health event the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA) has been pushing for accommodations appropriate to the situation as has been enacted in other countries. As time has passed, there has been movement on this issue. American immigration lawyers have made the decision to sue USCIS and Homeland Security to force them to suspend relevant deadlines and expiration dates. We will continue to share news as it comes in. More information.

As an international student, can I take all my courses online in fall 2020? At this time, the answer is no. Currently, the adaptations made to SEVIS compliance rules which allowed international students to take only online classes to complete the spring 2020 term is no longer in effect once Stetson returns to a “normal” course delivery system of face to face classes on August 13, 2020. USCIS has not yet issued guidance for the fall 2020 semester. Once they do, WORLD will look over the policies to determine if any online learning will be allowed.

How will I keep in compliance if I am not able to return to the US and attend classes? Each situation is different. You must stay in active status to continue your current SEVIS record. That requires that you be present, on campus and in full-time face to face classes. If that is not possible, protecting the integrity of your visa and SEVIS status so you are able to return at a future date becomes our priority for your record. Reach out to Roxanne Lewis rlewis1@stetson to discuss your situation and explore the options available in your case.

What do I need to do before I return to campus? Be sure to tell Residential Living and Learning the date you will arrive on campus. These are the options.

-July 23rd or 24th for new international students who need to quarantine on campus

July 28th or 29th for students returning from another country and need to quarantine on campus

August 8th – 13th for all returning students who have either been in the US all summer or have quarantined for two weeks off campus before coming to Stetson.

Do I need to quarantine upon arrival?  If so, how will the quarantine work? International students who have been in the USA throughout the summer will not have to quarantine but all others will. If you are entering the US after having been abroad you will be expected to quarantine for either two weeks on campus or off campus with a friend or family member beginning the 28th or 29th of July. Those choosing to quarantine off campus can move in to Stetson housing starting on the 8th of August. If you are coming to Stetson as a new student you will be expected to participate in New International Student Orientation and FOCUS so you will need to quarantine on campus for two weeks starting the 23rd or 24th of July. There will be no additional cost for the extra two weeks of housing. You can also choose to have meals delivered to your door for a discounted rate.

What if I can’t arrive on campus and fulfill the quarantine in time for the start of classes? There is a little bit of room for you to arrive late if you are experiencing flight delays or other short term complications in arriving at Stetson. If you should find you are not able to arrive before your assigned quarantine date, or before the start of classes for those not required to quarantine, contact WORLD for advice on next steps. Each situation is different and therefore each requires a different solution.

What do I do if I switch addresses before Stetson allows us to return?  Please alert your DSO (designated school official) that you are moving.   Again, it is REQUIRED that we have the correct address on your SEVIS record.

My visa is expiring soon but I have applied for OPT.  Can I work OPT if it is approved on an expired visa?  YES.  The visa allows entry into the country. The I-20 keeps your record up to date while you are here and allows USCIS to track you. As long as you do not cross an international border you can use your OPT to work. Please work with your DSO to keep your I-20 updated.

What do I do if I am witness to or I am subjected to discriminatory actions or comments? Please share your experience with the Dean of Students, Lynn Schoenberg, at lschoenb@stetson.edu. Our intent is to be very clear. There is no place at Stetson University for discriminatory behavior. 

Can I come to the WORLD Center if I need help?  The WORLD Center (the building) is currently closed. As of the third week of March 2020 Stetson University has sent all non essential employees home. That means the WORLD building is closed until further notice. However, staff from WORLD are all working online from 8:00am-4:30pm M-F and are available to assist you and answer your questions.

How can I get help from someone at WORLD ? You have several options.  You can call the WORLD Center at 386-822-8165 during the hours of 8:00 am-4:30 pm M-F.  Or you can send any one of us an email or make an appointment at calendly.com:

Phentz@stetson.edu or Calendly.com/Phentz

Rlewis1@stetson.edu or Calendly.com/rlewis1-world

Wviggiano@stetson.edu or Calendly.com/wviggiano

How can I get advising for next fall while we are affected by the school evacuation? You can reach out to your faculty advisor, or you can make an appointment with one of the WORLD Staff.

Furthermore, Academic Advising will provide supplemental support to our Stetson community virtually. Their website includes helpful content and resources for faculty, current students and prospective students. For specific inquiries you can reach them directly by contacting academic.advising@stetson.edu or the Academic Success department main line (ext. 7345).  Students in the Discovery Program are required to meet with their Secondary Advisor, Miguel Ortiz-Burgos, Coordinator for First-Year Advising. Discovery students were sent communication regarding their requirement to meet with our area to their Stetson email. Please contact Miguel Ortiz-Burgos at mortizbu@stetson.edu for any questions. 

Can DSOs electronically send signed Forms I-20 to students instead of physically mailing the forms? Yes, due to COVID-19, DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS. In the case of a minor students, the email address may belong to their parent or legal guardian. Schools do not need to request permission from SEVP or report their plans to electronically send Forms I-20 as part of their COVID-19 procedural changes.

 I want to sign up for OPT starting this summer but I am not in the US. Can I apply from my home? No. At this time USCIS has not changed any of the laws impacting OPT. You must be in the US to apply for OPT.

What has the WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning been doing to help international students get through this situation? WORLD has been very busy this summer supporting students, parents, exchange partners, faculty and administrators in an effort to help them understand and comply with the guidelines and regulations associated with international learning in the COVID-19 pandemic. All international students have been contacted at least twice over the summer to check on well being and whereabouts. Staff members have served on committees responsible for advising the administration on best practices for reopening. Others have been updating the WORLD web site to make it more accessible to the user. We have been a clearinghouse of information regarding all things related to international students for Stetson faculty, staff, Deans, V.P.s and the Provost. Efforts have been made to support individual students with unique situations to allow them to remain legally in the United States and major efforts went into identifying and securing support funding for international students with financial hardships due to the virus. (click the link to read the Stetson Today article.

Helpful links:

CDC Travel restricted countries list

ICE Guidance on COVID-19 | ICE

Stetson’s Covid 19 Communication page

Study in the Stetson Covid Resource

Stetson Parent’s Facebook Page