COVID-19 FAQ for International Students and Visiting Scholars

Contacting Your International Office

Due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, the best way to contact any international office staff member is by email.  Contact information for each office is listed below:

International Degree Seeking Students
Short-Term Study Students

The physical CIE offices are closed. However, all international offices are open online, Monday through Friday, from 8:00am to 5:00pm.

Also, degree program students have access to the following in-person services with ISS in the Foundation Building Room 180, Monday through Friday, from 2:00 to 4:00pm:

  • I-20 Travel Signatures (provided at the time of visit)
  • Document Pick-up
  • Please note that ISS In-Person Hours are subject to change. Check Facebook or Instagram for up-to-date hours.
  • Meet with an Advisor via Zoom for drop-in advising, appointments, and workshops

Yes. All staff and students are required to wear masks on campus.  If you do not have a mask, you can refer to the CDC guidance on alternative ways to cover your face.

Newly Admitted Students

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updated the rules for F-1 students on April 26, 2021.

Registration Requirements for New Fall 2021 F-1 International Students

NEW F-1 International Student Registration Currently Not in the U.S.
(Will remain outside the U.S. in Fall 2021)
Currently Not in the U.S.
(Planning to travel to the U.S. to begin studies on campus in Fall 2021)
**See notes on visa
Currently in the U.S.
Health Insurance Required? No. If you already bought the required JCB medical insurance, you qualify for an insurance refund. To request a refund, email cie-student@csulb.edu with your name and student ID. The refund deadline is September 9, 2021. Yes. All CSULB students who will physically be in the U.S. to study at CSULB are required to have JCB medical coverage for the duration of studies. To purchase insurance, go to  https://jcbins.com/ Yes. All CSULB students who will physically be in the U.S. to study at CSULB are required to have JCB medical coverage for the duration of studies. To purchase insurance, go to https://jcbins.com/
Online units allowed? *Yes, as many as desired. Yes, as many as desired, BUT must have at least 1 hybrid/in-person unit. Yes, as many as desired. All online is OK for Fall 2021.
Hybrid units required? No. The student must be in the U.S. Yes, AND MUST register for at least 1 hybrid/in-person units. Yes, as many as desired.
Total minimum units required None, except what is required to retain matriculated status. Minimum in any combination of modes:
Undergrad = 12 units Grad = 8 units
Credential = 12 units
Minimum in any combination of modes:
Undergrad = 12 units Grad = 8 units
Credential = 12 units
General Immigration requirements None for Fall 2021. CIE will reach out to this group with Spring 2022 guidance as it becomes available. Students must follow all F-1 immigration requirements. Students must follow all F-1 immigration requirements.

I-20s and Immigration Requirements for New F-1 International Students Fall 2021

I-20 and Immigration for NEW F-1 International Students Currently Not in the U.S.
(Will remain outside the U.S. in Fall 2021)
Currently Not in the U.S.
(Planning to travel to the U.S. to begin studies on campus in Fall 2021)
**See notes on visa
Currently in the U.S.
I-20 Required?
(**see notes)
No. However, I-20s for Spring 2022 entry can be requested starting in August 2021. Yes. Follow the steps for I-20 request here YES. If you are transferring, from another school, follow the steps for I-20 request here.
Immigration Check-in Required? No. The student must be in the U.S. Yes. Complete the Online Immigration Check-In for CIE to release the Check-In Hold and properly report F-1 requirements. Deadline: Friday, August 27 at 5:00PM Yes. Complete the Online Immigration Check-In for CIE to release the Check-In Hold and properly report F-1 requirements. Deadline: Friday, August 27 at 5:00PM
Orientation Required? No. There will be a separate orientation if you plan to come for Spring 2022 term. Yes. Yes.

SPECIAL NOTES FOR NEW INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Mode of instruction during the Summer 2021, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters
The CSULB campus instructional mode for Summer 2021 will all be virtual. For Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 the mode of instruction will have a mix of hybrid, alternative and online classes. Classes that require in-person activities will be held on campus with strict physical distancing guidelines. If you plan to study online outside the U.S. and will have difficulty with courses that conflict with your time zone, please consult with your academic advisor about available asynchronous courses.

* Time Zone Issues for students taking online courses from overseas: If you will have difficulty with online courses that conflict with your time zone, please consult with your academic advisor about available asynchronous courses.

**Note about F-1 visas: If your current F-1 visa is valid for re-entry to the U.S. in Fall 2021, you do NOT need to visit the U.S. embassy/consulate for a new F-1 visa. If your current F-1 student visa in the passport has expired or will expire before date of re-entry to the U.S then you must apply for a new F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy/consulate.

If you plan to be in the U.S. for the Fall 2021 term, you are required to purchase the JCB medical insurance for your entire duration of studies at CSULB in the U.S.

Admissions FAQs

  • You can begin your first semester entirely online from your home country. This way, you can keep your admissions spot. If you decide to begin your program online instead of coming to campus, contact the International Admissions Office at cie-admission@csulb.edu with your CSULB ID number.

    If you do not begin your program at all in Fall 2021, your admissions spot will be forfeited, and you must re-apply for the next available semester.

  • Graduate Programs: If you were admitted to a graduate program offered only in Fall semesters, please correspond with program advisors for additional information.
  • Yes, but you must re-apply for admission.
  • Please note that some programs do not allow Spring 2022 admission.

Please contact cie-admission@csulb.edu for guidance if:

  • You were unable to complete your high school or college courses in Spring 2021, or
  • You were unable to get your graduation/degree certificate or final grade report due to school closures.

Continuing Degree Students

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updated the rules for F-1 students on April 26, 2021.

Continuing F-1 International Students

Registration Guide for Summer 2021, Fall 2021, and Spring 2022

Registration Guide for Continuing F-1 International Students Currently Not in the U.S.
(Will remain outside the U.S. in Fall 2021)
Currently Not in the U.S.
(Planning to travel to the U.S. to begin studies on campus in Fall 2021)
**See notes on visa
Currently in the U.S.
Health Insurance Required? No. If you already bought the required JCB medical insurance, you qualify for an insurance refund. To request a refund, email cie-student@csulb.edu with your name and student ID. The refund deadline is September 9, 2021. Yes. All CSULB students who will physically be in the U.S. to study at CSULB are required to have JCB medical coverage for the duration of studies. To purchase insurance, go to  https://jcbins.com/ Yes. All CSULB students who will physically be in the U.S. to study at CSULB are required to have JCB medical coverage for the duration of studies. To purchase insurance, go to https://jcbins.com/
Online units allowed? *Yes, as many as desired. Yes, as many as desired. Yes, as many as desired. All online is OK for Fall 2021.
Hybrid units required? No. The student must be in the U.S. No. Yes, as many as desired. 
Total minimum units required None, except what is required to retain matriculated status. Undergrad = 12 units
Grad = 8 units
Credential = 12 units
Undergrad = 12 units
Grad = 8 units
Credential = 12 units
General Immigration Requirements None for Fall 2021. CIE will reach out to this group with Spring 2022 guidance as it becomes available. Students must follow all F-1 immigration requirements. Students must follow all F-1 immigration requirements.

I-20 & Immigration Requirements for Continuing F-1 International Students Fall 2021 & Spring 2022

I-20 /Immigration for Continuing F-1 International Students Currently Not in the U.S.
(Will remain outside the U.S. in Fall 2021)
Currently Not in the U.S.
(Planning to travel to the U.S. to begin studies on campus in Fall 2021)
**See notes on visa
Currently in the U.S.
I-20 or Travel signature required? No. However, I-20s for Spring 2022 entry can be requested starting in August 2021. Yes. Travel signature must be valid for 1 year.
If you need a travel signature, submit a Document Request Form.
Yes, if you are planning to travel outside the U.S. at anytime during your studies obtain a travel signature by submitting a Document Request Form
Immigration Check-in Required? *Yes, as many as desired. Yes. Complete the Online Immigration Check-In for CIE to release the Check-In Hold and properly report F-1 requirements. Deadline: Friday, August 27 at 5:00PM Yes. Complete the Online Immigration Check-In for CIE to release the Check-In Hold and properly report F-1 requirements. Deadline: Friday, August 27 at 5:00PM

Special Notes for Continuing Students

Mode of instruction during the Summer 2021, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters
CSULB campus instructional mode for Summer 2021 will be all virtual. For Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 the mode of instruction will have a mix of hybrid, alternative and online classes. Classes that require in-person activities will be held on campus with strict physical distancing guidelines. If you plan to study online outside the U.S. and will have difficulty with courses that conflict with your time zone, please consult with your academic advisor about available asynchronous courses.

* Time Zone Issues for students taking online courses from overseas: If you will have difficulty with online courses that conflict with your time zone, please consult with your academic advisor about available asynchronous courses.

**Note about F-1 visas: If your current F-1 visa is valid for re-entry to the U.S. in Fall 2021, you do NOT need to visit the U.S. embassy/consulate for a new F-1 visa. If your current F-1 student visa in the passport has expired or will expire before date of re-entry to the U.S then you must apply for a new F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy/consulate.

Reduced Course Load Permissions

  • For RCL (reduced course load) based on medical reasons, you do not need to leave the U.S., but you must speak with an advisor for permission. Please click here to Meet with an Advisor

  • For all other F-1 status issues such as FCE (full course load exception) and RCL (reduced course load), you must still consult with a CIE advisor. Click here to make an appointment for approval.

Vaccination/Quarantine requirements: Open the “Travel FAQs” section below

Instructions for obtaining an I-20:  Go to Obtaining CSULB Form I-20

  • You must register for the full-time status minimum required units: 
    • Undergraduates = 12 units 
    • Credential students=12 units 
    • Graduate students = 8 units

  • If you purchased the required JCB medical insurance, you qualify for an insurance refund.  To request an insurance refund, please email cie-student@csulb.edu with your name and student ID. The deadline to apply for a refund is September 9, 2021

For all other F-1 status issues such as FCE (full course load exception) and RCL (reduced course load), you must still consult with a CIE advisor. Click here for an appointment.

  • Inform International Student Services office right away.
  • You may continue taking online courses remotely as a student at CSULB. 
  • If you purchased the required JCB medical insurance, you qualify for an insurance refund.  To request an insurance refund, please email cie-student@csulb.edu with your name and student ID. The deadline to apply for a refund is September 9, 2021

  • In order to return to the U.S. in F-1 status, you MUST contact cie-student@csulb.edu to receive a new I-20, pay the I-901 SEVIS fee again, and obtain a new F-1 visa if needed. 
  • Make an appointment with an international student advisor. Please click here to make an appointment.  
  • International student advisor will terminate your I-20.
  • You will file for an educational leave through Enrollment Services

If you plan to be in the U.S. for the Fall 2021 term, you are required to purchase the JCB medical insurance for your entire duration of studies at CSULB in the U.S.

Short-Term/Non-Degree Students

Travel & Vaccination FAQs

Travel Information
The Presidential Proclamation on suspension of entry provided National Interest Exemptions (NIE) for “Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies."

 

Quarantine Requirements Before and After Arriving in the U.S.
On January 12, 2021, CDC announced an Order requiring all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. ​Airlines must deny boarding of passengers who do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery. For more information, go to the CDC's COVID-19 traveler website.

 

Quarantine Requirements upon Arriving in Los Angeles County 
Los Angeles County requires all travelers (both domestic and international) coming from abroad to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.  Those who have been vaccinated do not need to quarantine. For more details, please visit the Los Angeles County Public Health Travel Advisory.

You are responsible for arranging a location to quarantine. 

I already traveled outside the U.S. and will be returning to the U.S. to continue my studies. What do I need to return to the U.S.?

  • Your current I-20 must have a valid travel signature to re-enter the U.S.
  • You must also have a valid passport for at least 6 months beyond the date of the re-entry
  • Your F-1 student visa in passport must be valid (except students from Canada) 

Can I travel abroad during the semester? 
Yes, but If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S., you must stay informed about current global travel warnings, vaccination requirements and delays affecting travelers all over the world. Be sure to obtain a travel signature from your advisor so that you are able to return to the U.S. 

Campus Vaccination Requirements
All students must show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination before participating in activities and courses on campus. Please see the CSULB Immunizations page for details.

 

Housing Vaccination Requirements
Students who want to live in housing must have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before June 15, 2021. Email housing@csulb.edu to make your quarantine arrangements with them. See the Housing and Residential Life for additional details.

 

Student Health Services
If you are not feeling well, please go to the CSULB Student Health Services website for help. 

 

The U.S. government posts up-to-date travel warnings about country events that create potential risks and dangers. Check these sites for updated reports on risks of traveling to certain countries at this time: 

Immigration & Visas

The U.S. Department of State announcement on April 30, 2021 stated that consulates and embassies will be prioritizing the processing of visas using a “tiered approach.” As a result, it is anticipated that there will be significant delays and backlogs for processing visas. Please check your local U.S. consulate or embassy to determine the timeline for applying and obtaining your visa to enter the U.S. You may also check the Department of State page that lists approximate visa wait times at worldwide U.S. consulates.

As long as your SEVIS record has “active” status, you may re-enter the U.S. with an unexpired F-1 visa.  You should notify your international advisor or staff member of your return. 

The U.S. Department of State has announced a National Interest Exception (NIE) which applies to F, M and some J visas holders to enter the U.S. after August 1, 2021. Those who qualify for an NIE do not need to be outside the travel-restricted country for 14 days before entering the U.S. For additional clarity on your specific situation, please contact your local U.S. consulate for guidance.

If you have a valid F-1 visa to begin or to continue your studies on or after August 1, 2021, you are automatically considered for an NIE and do not need to contact a U.S. consulate to obtain it for travel. The same is true for those on F-1 OPT or STEM OPT.

J-1 Visiting Scholars & International Faculty

According to the Department of State announcement on May 13, 2021, F-1 and M-1 visa holders automatically qualify for the National Interest Exception (NIE). Those who qualify for an NIE do not need to be outside the travel-restricted country for 14 days before entering the U.S.

However, additional clarification is needed on the NIE rule for J-1 scholars and students. Please contact your nearest embassy to determine your qualification for NIE.

For H-1B faculty, according to NAFSA:

“The prior versions of the NIE policy's reference to "academics" in general is no longer mentioned in the April 26, 2021 version. This might mean that immigration categories like H-1B, L-1, O-1 nonimmigrants may have to qualify for an NIE by establishing that they are "seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure," or "for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security."

Please contact your Academic Department or College Dean’s office to learn alternative options that may be available to you.

Barring another surge in the pandemic, a number of other factors will determine the ability of the visiting scholar to travel to the U.S. and begin their program at CSULB, mainly: 1) the reopening of embassies and consulates for visa issuance; 2) travel restrictions; and 3) availability of flights for international travel.

The Presidential Proclamations DO NOT affect U.S. green card holders, spouses and children of U.S. citizens, and EB-5 investor immigrants, all of whom are exempt from the order. The proclamation ONLY impacts pending immigrant visa applications (applications for permanent residency) for persons who were outside the U.S. on the effective date of the proclamation.

Help & Support

CSULB Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has virtual support groups for all students. Each group meeting will focus on a mental health topic related to the COVID-19 situation.  Topics include: Fear, anxiety, and stress amidst a global pandemic, Social distancing and mental health, Racism and microaggression amidst COVID-19 fears, and “Stuck” and away from country and community.'

  • Degree Students: CSULB Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is available to offer their support. Please visit their website for the available services. You may also review your Anthem health insurance coverage for information on mental health benefits.
  • ALI Students: MY SSP is available for support 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. To use the app, check the MY SSP instructional video or ALI Student Health Resource Guide, or email us at CPIE-ALIPrograms@csulb.edu for assistance.
  • Exchange and SA@B Students: Please review your Anthem health insurance coverage for information on mental health benefits.
  • J-1 scholars: Please review your health insurance coverage for information on mental health benefits.

Degree Students: This is available for degree students only. An international advisor will assist you during a one-on-one Zoom advising appointment to review in detail the option of “Severe Economic Hardship.” Book an appointment to meet with an advisor.

F-1/J-1 Employment Issues

No. Due to treaty regulations, CSULB does not allow student employment from outside the State of California or outside United States.

Yes. For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities for fewer than 20 hours a week as actively engaged in OPT.

  • If you are already approved for OPT, you can continue to work remotely for the duration of their post-completion OPT period.
  • You can return to the U.S. as long as you have a valid employment authorization and F-1 visa (F-1 OPT falls within the National Interest Exception to travel to the U.S.). Due to the changing nature of the situation, you should refer to your local U.S. embassy website through the U.S. Department of State COVID-19 Traveler Information page for any updates about visa issuance and travel restrictions to the United States.
  • Students who left the country before applying for OPT should wait for further guidance from the ICE Guidance on COVID-19 as indicated in the most recent SEVP COVID-19 FAQs.

No. Please go to the ISS Employment page for instructions.

On April 12, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that F-1 OPT applications can be filed online. However, USCIS has acknowledged that this test release could include glitches or lead to errors in adjudication. Therefore, we encourage students to continue filing OPT and STEM OPT applications by mail until this new filing system has been established.

Students should also discuss urgent OPT and STEM OPT applications with an international student advisor to determine if online filing is a viable option.

Post-completion OPT rules have not changed due to COVID-19. If you know that you will exceed the 90-day unemployment time, you should seek other options to continue to maintain F-1 status. These options include: departing the U.S., transferring to a new school or new academic program, or seeking a change of visa status.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) still continues to perform duties that do not involve face-to-face contact with the public, and has not announced any further delays on the processing of OPT applications. USCIS has indicated that individuals may still submit applications and petitions during this time. You may track the status of your application or submit a Case Status inquiry online at https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do. For general I-765- Application processing times, you can Check Case Processing Times.

SEVP guidance indicates that students can engage in remote employment for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency and until further notice. In addition, you do not have to update the employer address information in SEVIS or on the Form I-983 if you are working remotely.

You may use available unemployment time to cover the unemployment gap. However, you should still continue to make efforts to seek employment in order to maintain F-1 status and avoid exceeding the 90-day unemployment limit.

What’s the difference between being furloughed and being laid off?

The main difference between being furloughed and laid-off is the employment relationship between the employee and the employer. In both cases, you are not getting paid. Generally, furloughed means your job may be reinstated after a certain timeframe. Being laid off means your employment has ended. Read this Huffington Post article for a full detailed explanation.

From the moment that a student is officially without a job and ends the employee relationship with the employer, the student will accrue unemployment time. The SEVP definition of unemployment time is “each day (including weekends) during the period when OPT authorization begins and ends that the student does not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment.”

There are no clear answers to this question. However, SEVP guidance has indicated that students should contact their local or state employment agency for information on whether or not they are allowed to accept unemployment benefits.

Additional Links to Resources