Loyola University Maryland

International Student Services

Immigration Information for the Fall 2020 Semester

As of August 6, the Fall 2020 semester will be online-only for undergraduates, as well as for many graduate programs. Read the announcement here.

There has been much uncertainty through the summer with regard to international travel, visa services, travel restrictions, and regulatory requirements for F-1 students for the fall semester 2020.  The Office of International Student Services feels that most outstanding questions have now been addressed by the various agencies. 

Please review the FAQ’s below to understand the current issues and announcements regarding the enrollment of F-1 students at Loyola University Maryland for the fall semester 2020.  The FAQ’s include information from the ICE guidance issued on July 24, 2020 to clarify how the March 9, 2020 ICE guidance applies to continuing and new students for the fall semester. If you would like to reference additional FAQs from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, please visit the Homeland Security (SEVP) FAQ site page.

Note: This page is updated as new information becomes available and is subject to change. Our office is continuing to monitor the impact of global, national, and university COVID-19 updates on our F-1 international students. Our top priority is protecting your health and well-being as we continue to support your academic progress.

Students who are currently outside the United States

I am a new international student for the fall 2020 semester in SEVIS initial status. What does the recent announcement regarding fall 2020 courses mean for me, as I have not yet arrived in the United States and was planning to travel to Loyola this fall?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s SEVP has stated that new F-1 international students will not be permitted to enter the United States to participate in a 100% online course of study. Therefore, since Loyola’s mode of instruction will now be 100% online/remote learning for the fall 2020 semester, new international students who received an initial Form I-20 from Loyola University Maryland will not have permission to enter the U.S. for the fall 2020 semester. New students, however, will be able to take their courses online from outside the United States for the fall 2020 semester. Your SEVIS record will be deferred to the spring 2021 semester, at which time, we hope you will be able to come to campus to start in-person coursework.

For F-1 students who transferred their SEVIS Form I-20 from another U.S. institution to Loyola, OISS will need to contact SEVP to request a data correction to preserve the original SEVIS ID and then issue an updated Form I-20 with a January 2021 program start date. This will take place during the fall semester.

Is a valid U.S. visa required to complete online coursework from outside the United States?

No. International students may complete coursework from outside the United States.

What should I do if I am a new student who will now arrive in the United States for the Spring 2021 semester but have a visa appointment scheduled for August or September?

Students may apply for a visa up to 120 days before the program start date on their Form I-20 immigration document. OISS anticipates being able to update and issue your new immigration documents for Spring 2021 by late-September. The international student report date for spring 2021, at this point in time, is tentatively scheduled for January 13, 2021. Once your new Form I-20 is issued, our office will send you your new Form I-20. OISS will need to prioritize immigration document issuance for returning students who hope to arrive for Fall 2020. If you have already received an initial Loyola Form I-20 for the fall 2020 semester and have already been approved for an F-1 international student visa after attending your visa interview, it is your responsibility to know that you are not permitted to enter the U.S. with your student visa/Loyola Form I-20 for fall 2020 studies, or for any other reason, for the fall semester.

I am a returning student with an active SEVIS record and have decided to take a full courseload of online classes from my home country/outside of the U.S. this fall semester. How will this impact my status status?

The July 24th ICE guidance states that your SEVIS immigration record will remain active if you enroll in a full course of study. If you choose this option, you will need to notify OISS prior to the start of the fall 2020 semester so that we can update your SEVIS record. The comment “Outside the United States due to COVID-19” will be included on your Form I-20 during the SEVIS registration process.

When you are ready to return to the U.S., hopefully for the spring semester 2021, after you notify our office, we will send a new Form I-20 with travel signature. We anticipate that we will send the document electronically to your Loyola email address.

In order to maintain your immigration status for the fall 2020 semester, international undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits, and international graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credits, regardless of the mode of instruction of courses or the student’s physical location.

To further clarify, since SEVIS records will remain active, we anticipate at this time that students will NOT need to start a new SEVIS record nor pay a new SEVIS I-901 fee. In addition, guidelines regarding time accrued by F-1 international students towards work eligibility remain in effect. You will need to notify OISS as soon as you would like to make this decision so that we can accurately maintain your active SEVIS record.

I am a returning student currently outside of the U.S. and would like to return to the U.S. to participate in courses remotely from within the U.S. Is this possible?

As a continuing student, we understand you may be eager to return to the U.S. and participate in all-online coursework. However, the answer to this question may depend on your individual circumstance. Please reach out to OISS to discuss this with your advisor if you are considering this option.

I am a returning student. Is travel advisable from an immigration perspective?

The Office of International Student Services cannot advise you on whether to continue staying in your home country or to come back to the U.S. for the fall semester; this is a decision for you to make with your support system as you consider the possible options. However, we can advise you of the difficulties you may face in attempting to return to the U.S. Please consider the following factors:

  • Overall health and safety
  • Risks involved in international travel as there is confusion around travel guidance and restrictions
  • U.S. Presidential Proclamation regarding travel suspensions and possibility of a national interest exemption
  • Validity of your F-1 visa and the status of the embassy/consulates in your home country
  • Reduced flights and the related expense
  • Limited designated airports for international flights
  • For more information about arrival to Loyola, visit Loyola’s Coronavirus Updates page.

What travel bans are in effect?

Under the President’s Proclamation, the U.S. government has suspended the entry of both immigrants and nonimmigrants who were physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the U.S.- China, Iran, Schengen countries in Europe, including United Kingdom, and Brazil. These restrictions will remain in effect until terminated by the President.

On July 22, 2020, the Department of State announced that national interest exceptions would be made for certain travelers from the Schengen area, United Kingdom and Ireland to the U.S. The exception includes students with a valid F-1 visa who are returning to the U.S. to engage in full-time studies. Students with a valid F-1 visa should bring a printed copy of the announcement, in addition to the regular documents for travel. Please contact OISS two weeks prior to your travel to request a letter of support, as well as a copy of the announcement, for your travels to re-enter the U.S. for your studies.

The possibility does not seem to apply to China, Iran or Brazil at this time.

I am from Canada or Mexico. Are there restrictions in place that will prevent my return or entry to the U.S.?

Two Federal Register notices published on March 24, 2020 announced the decision to temporarily restrict entry to the United States through land ports along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.- Mexico borders for “essential travel” only. The restrictions were then extended on June 24 (85 FR 44185 and 44183) and are currently in effect until August 21, 2020.

Returning international students in F-1 status entering the U.S. for full-time study through land ports along the U.S.-Canada and U.S. Mexico borders in F-1 status are now considered "essential visitors" and, thus, can travel across the land border. Different ports of entry may interpret whether accompanying parents may also enter. We recommend contacting the port-of-entry you are planning to enter through to inquire about this and record the officer's contact information for future reference. Travel by air is not impacted by these temporary restrictions.

New international students will not be permitted to enter the U.S. for online only studies.

I have heard that international flights are only allowed to enter at designated airports. Is this true?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, as of March 13, 2020, Americans traveling from any restricted countries (China, Iran, Brazil, United Kingdom, Ireland and Schengen countries of Europe), are required to travel through select airports. It is anticipated that those traveling on the national interest exception will also be required to travel through these same airports.

  • Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
  • Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
  • Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia

These are airports "where enhanced public health services and protocols are being implemented.” This list of affected airports may be modified by the Secretary of Homeland Security through an updated publication in the Federal Register or by posting an advisory at www.cbp.gov. The restrictions will remain in effect until superseded, modified, or revoked by publication in the Federal Register.

I am a returning Loyola student currently outside of the U.S. and am considering returning to the U.S. to engage in all-online coursework remotely from within the U.S. for the fall 2020 semester. Is this possible, and if so, how can I get my Form I-20 signed for travel if I would like to return to the U.S.?

Returning students who are considering returning to the U.S. for the fall semester in order to engage in full-time online-only coursework remotely, from within the U.S., should carefully review the information above and below. However, please understand that while OISS can provide general guidance on travel, admission into the U.S., travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 are at the discretion of the U.S. government. OISS, therefore, is unable to guarantee any student's ability to re-enter the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's SEVP has granted universities permission to maintain active SEVIS records of returning students who A) continue to participate in their required full-time course load from anywhere in the world, and B) report their updated address to OISS by the end of drop/add, which is September 3rd.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), Department of State, and Customs and Border Protection have all confirmed that they will accept a printout of an electronic version of a Form I-20 for returning students for the fall 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 emergency. As a returning student planning to return to the U.S. for your studies, you must notify OISS at least two weeks prior to your arrival and we will re-issue you a new Form I-20 to you, which will then be signed, scanned, and emailed to you. Please continue to check your Loyola email account, as information will be sent there regarding information needed from you for you to request a new Form I-20.

Note: The above guidance only applies to returning students who are continuing in their program with Loyola. It does not apply to new/initial students who are starting a new program with Loyola.

I am a returning student and would like to consider returning to the U.S. to participate in the fall 2020 semester online. I am wondering about quarantine and testing. What should I consider before I make this decision?

The answer to this question will depend on your individual situation. Some factors to consider are where you plan to live while engaging in fall 2020 online coursework and when you plan to arrive to the U.S. Please contact OISS to discuss your personal situation.

I am a new F-1 international student outside of the U.S. and I am transferring my SEVIS immigration record from my previous institution to Loyola University Maryland. What will happen to my SEVIS immigration record?

F-1 international transfer students currently outside of the U.S. may take a full-time course load online from outside the United States for the Fall 2020 semester but will not hold an active SEVIS record while abroad. International transfer students who will study from outside the United States for the fall semester should contact OISS. Our office will need to request a data correction from SEVP to move your Form I-20 start date to January 2021 in order to preserve your SEVIS ID number. This will take place during the fall semester.

What if I have additional immigration/visa/travel questions?

Please email the Office of International Student Services at oiss@loyola.edu with questions or concerns about how the guidance applies to your personal situation.

Students who are currently in the United States

Can I remain in the U.S. during the Fall 2020?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international students who are currently in the U.S. are eligible to take classes online and are able to either remain in the U.S. or leave the U.S. The only exception is for graduating students who plan to apply for OPT -- you must be in the U.S. to apply for OPT. Returning international students are covered by the temporary March ICE guidance. As a returning international student, you may take all of your courses online from inside or outside the United States. As a reminder, in order to maintain immigration status for the fall 2020 semester, undergraduate international students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits, and international graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credits, regardless of the mode of instruction of courses or the student’s physical location.

Now that classes are online: Can I depart the U.S.? Should I depart the U.S.? Do I have to depart the U.S.?

You should be able to return to your home country, however, it will depend on travel restrictions and flight availability at the time. Please see the section for international students who are currently outside of the U.S. for more information as it relates to your F-1 status. At this point in time, our understanding is:

  • Students are able to depart the U.S.
  • Students are not required to stay in the U.S. and can continue online courses from outside the U.S.
  • Students are not required to leave the U.S. and can continue online courses from inside the U.S.
  • Graduating students: you must be physically present in the U.S. to apply for OPT. You cannot apply from abroad - this is a U.S. immigration regulation, not a Loyola policy.

Do I need to do anything for OISS regarding my SEVIS immigration record at this time?

Yes, you must notify the Office of International Student Services (OISS) of what your plans are for the fall 2020 semester, either via the Google Form OISS sent to you, or by email prior to the start of the fall semester as well as report what your physical address will be for the fall semester.

I remained in the U.S. Can I take a 100% online schedule even though I am staying in the U.S.?

Yes, the latest ICE guidance has stated that continuing F-1 international students who have remained in the U.S. may take all online courses for the fall 2020 semester, as long as they maintain their full-time student status. This accommodation will be reevaluated for future semesters. As a reminder, in order to maintain your immigration status for the fall 2020 semester, international undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits, and international graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credits, regardless of the student’s physical location or mode of course instruction.

I am currently in the U.S. and will participate in all-online coursework from within the U.S. for the fall 2020 semester. Can I still live on-campus at Loyola and take my courses online?

More information about this question will soon be available. Recognizing that some students face extraordinary circumstances, Loyola will provide emergency housing to a very limited number of students. There will be an application process to request emergency housing. The application will be available soon. Please contact OISS if you are in need of this option.

I am a new F-1 international student inside of the U.S. and I am transferring my SEVIS immigration record from my previous institution to Loyola University Maryland. Will I be permitted to study in an all online environment?

Per ICE’s latest SEVP guidelines, international students in F-1 visa status who are transferring their Form I-20/SEVIS immigration record to Loyola, who are in the United States, are permitted to enroll in all-online coursework while in the U.S., as long as the student has been issued a Loyola Form I-20 and enrolls and maintains full-time student status for the fall semester (minimum of 12 credits for international undergraduate students, minimum of 9 credits for international graduate students).

What if I have additional immigration/visa/travel questions?

Please email the Office of International Student Services at oiss@loyola.edu with questions or concerns about how the guidance applies to your personal situation.

Be sure to diligently check your Loyola email account for any information that we provide to you, and to respond to our office with information requested. Our office continues to monitor information put forth and will be sure to share pertinent information with students.

We understand this is a very complicated and challenging situation. Your health and safety is our primary concern. Because COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States, we strongly encourage you to discuss all of the above considerations with your family/support system.