International Students FAQ's

For ALL International Students

If I am unable to return to campus will I be able to continue my studies remotely?

We know that some international students will need to study from home, and we plan to offer a range of courses remotely, with both synchronous and asynchronous approaches, to make sure that is possible across time-zones. While we cannot promise that every course will be available in every time-zone, we will work with departments to make sure that students can continue to progress in their major and degree requirements in ways that work for them. We are working on the arrangements for courses and modes of instruction over the next two weeks. In early July, we will reach out to those students who may not be able to come to campus this fall, to talk about their course needs and scheduling for the fall.

If I am unable to return to campus will I be able to defer enrollment?

New international students are able to defer enrollment and should work with Reon Sines-Sheaff (rsines-sheaff@wooster.edu) in the Office of Admission.

If you are a returning student, you will need to request a leave of absence from the Dean of Students. The leave of absence can be requested up until classes begin, but we recommend those conversations happen sooner than later. Students should write to dos@wooster.edu to receive a leave of absence application or to arrange an appointment to speak to someone in the DOS. In this scenario, we must terminate your SEVIS record, and your eventual return to the U.S. will require initial status — which includes a new Certificate of Finance; a new $350 SEVIS fee; and full-time enrollment in two semesters before you will regain eligibility for CPT and/or OPT benefits. If your current F1 visa date is still valid when you return to the U.S., you will not need to renew it. Please know that if you are currently in the US and you take a leave of absence, you must depart the U.S. within 15 days.

If I defer my enrollment or take a leave of absence will I lose my scholarship?

Your scholarship is your scholarship. If you need to take a year or semester and be at home and come back, your scholarship will be here when you return. New international students who have questions about deferment should work with Reon Sines-Sheaff (rsines-sheaff@wooster.edu) in the Office of Admission. If you are a returning student, you would need to request a leave of absence from the Dean of Students. The leave of absence can be requested up until classes begin, but we recommend those conversations happen sooner than later. They should write to dos@wooster.edu to receive a leave of absence application or to arrange an appointment to speak to someone in the DOS.

Will I be tested or be required to quarantine when I arrive on campus?

The CDC had made the recommendation that anyone entering the US from overseas be quarantined for 14 days, but the College will have mandatory COVID-19 testing upon arrival so we do not expect for there to be any required quarantine except for 48 hours for the test results and for positive results.

For New Incoming International Students

As an incoming first-year international student, when do I have to let the College know of my decision for fall?

Incoming international students must let the College know of your fall plans by July 6, 2020. This is to ensure that the College can provide the appropriate support, resources and course options regardless of where you are located and what option they choose. Please let Reon Sines-Sheaff (rsines-sheaff@wooster.edu) or Mackenzie Bowen (mbowen@wooster.edu) know as soon as possible or before the July 6 deadline.

What will I need in order to start on-campus in the fall?

If you already have a visa that allows for post-secondary enrollment or you have secured a visa appointment with an U.S. Consulate and obtained a visa and can arrive on campus by August 12, 2020, we invite you to join us on-campus for the fall semester. You should notify international@wooster.edu as soon as possible with your arrival information.

What if I am an incoming student and cannot arrive on-campus in the fall?

Incoming international students have two options if they cannot arrive on-campus in the fall:

  1. Take remote courses in the fall (full or part time), delaying your physical entry into the U.S. and on-campus arrival until the start of Spring Semester. The College will offer a variety of remote learning experiences available to students across the world.
  2. Request a deferral of your enrollment until spring 2020 or fall 2021 by contacting Reon Sines-Sheaff in the Admissions Office (rsines-sheaff@wooster.edu).

If you postpone your in-person arrival by choosing one of these two options, Admissions will re-issue your Form I-20 to reflect the spring semester start date. Your SEVIS number will not change, and if you already submitted your I-901 SEVIS fee, the payment remains valid for one year. Your F1 status does not begin until you enter the U.S., even if you enroll full time or part time online this fall.

For Returning International Students

When can I return to campus?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College is planning a staggered move-in for returning students to ensure the safety of students, families, and College staff. As we work diligently to come up with a plan, please do NOT make any travel plans until an announcement has been made and before you have been notified of your allotted date and time for returning to campus.

How do I maintain my F1 visa status if I am in the United States?

If you are in the United States, you must maintain lawful F1 status and an active SEVIS record. Please read below on how to do so:

F1 students who have been unable to depart the U.S. and are not on-campus will be encouraged to return to Wooster in August. The ability to stay off-campus and take courses remotely was allowed temporarily by USCIS during the spring semester because there were no in-person courses on campus. SEVP requires us to monitor your physical presence and if the regulation allowances end, the College will expect you to live on campus.

F1 status requires full-time enrollment during the academic year. You must register for 3-4 classes for fall semester. As long as the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are still in place, online enrollment will be allowed, but if the allowances end, you will be required to have in-person courses (ISS is expecting this to be true for spring semester).

If I am outside of the United States, do I have to maintain my F-1 status

If you are outside of the U.S., it is preferable for you to maintain an active SEVIS record. Please read more on how to do so:

If you are able to secure a flight and you have a valid visa, you are able to return to campus. The College is working on an arrival schedule for all returning students. As mentioned previously, do NOT make travel arrangements to the U.S. until you know your allotted arrival day and time.

If you cannot obtain a flight, renew your visa, or need to stay home for health or safety reasons we recommend for you to continue your coursework through the remote on-line offerings. Assuming temporary measures that allow students to stay in active student status while outside the US continue, if you enroll full-time from outside of the U.S. (3-4 courses for fall semester) ISS can help you to maintain an active SEVIS record. The five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply. You will be eligible to return and continue your program spring semester without penalty.

You may drop below full-time or request a personal leave from the College. In this scenario, however, ISS must end your F-1 program and terminate your SEVIS record. If we terminate your SEVIS record, your eventual return to the U.S. will require initial status — which includes funding verification; a new $350 SEVIS fee; and full-time enrollment in two consecutive semesters before you will regain eligibility for CPT and/or OPT benefits. If your current F1 visa is still date valid when you return to the U.S., you will not need to renew it.

If you are outside the U.S., you are not limited by F1 practical training requirements. You may work or pursue an internship without special authorization from ISS — regardless of the location of the employer. Some U.S. employers will have additional residency requirements, so it is still important to comply with their requirements.

If I have been approved to return to the College following a leave of absence, what do I need to do?

If you have been approved and re-admitted, please be sure to not re-enter the U.S until you have received readmission information permitting you to return. ISS will be in contact with you regarding immigration paperwork and requirements. Upon receiving your confirmed arrival information, ISS will issue you a new I-20 (the exception to this is if you need to apply for a new F1 visa). Please contact ISS if you have any questions.

You will also need to choose one of the following options: a) enroll online, full time; b) enroll online, part time; c) apply to delay your enrollment, or d) return to campus for fall semester to take in-person courses. Please let the Dean of Students Office and ISS know which option you choose.

*Since your SEVIS record will not be activated until you enter the U.S., you should also consider how your enrollment decisions will impact your access to practical training benefits. Full-time enrollment in two consecutive semesters is required in order to gain eligibility for CPT and/or OPT benefits.

Can I still take advantage of F1 visa holder practical trainings benefits?

If you are not inside the U.S., you are not limited by F1 practical training requirements. You may work or pursue an internship without special authorization from ISS — regardless of the location of the employer. Some U.S. employers will have additional residency requirements, so it is still important to comply with their requirements.

If your feet are on U.S. soil, F1 practical training requirements apply to you. In order to pursue an internship, you must first secure F1 Curricular Practical Training — regardless of the location of your employer. Some U.S. employers will have additional residency requirements, so it is also important to comply with their requirements, of course.

If you are returning from a leave of absence or you are an incoming student, you must have Full-time enrollment in two consecutive semesters is required in order to gain eligibility for CPT and/or OPT benefits. 

If I am returning to campus, will I need my I-20 signed?

I-20 travel signatures are valid for 12 months. If you need a signature before returning to the U.S. because the signature will expire before your arrival, please contact ISS.

If I am not in the U.S. for my senior year can I apply for OPT from my home country? 

Unfortunately, no, you will not be considered eligible to apply.  Regulations requires students to have been in active status for one academic year to be eligible to apply.  If you are not in the U.S. for your final 2 semesters of your senior year you will not have an active SEVIS record to be eligible to apply.  While we can hope for temporary regulation changes due to the pandemic that would allow you to still apply, at this time we do not anticipate any changes.

Your ability to apply for OPT is a separate issue than those addressed in the recent Presidential Proclamation suspending certain work visa categories until December 31, 2020.  Authorization to work while on your F-1 student visa is an extension of your education, not a work visa.

International Travel and Borders

Flights to and from the U.S. are limited — and in some cases, non-existent. Information about borders and travel is changing every day, all over the world.

COVID-19 related restrictions on U.S. entries and visas are posted on the NAFSA site. This includes:

  • A general suspension of U.S. visa services;
  • Essential Travel Only on the U.S. borders to Canada and Mexico;
  • Travel-Related Entry Restrictions from Specific Countries (including China, Iran, Schengen Area, Ireland and the U.K., Brazil).

Foreign nationals traveling from these countries cannot enter the U.S. For those who can enter, there may be quarantine requirements on the part of the U.S. government and/or The College of Wooster.

General Reminders for All F-1 Visa Holders

  • All F1 visa holders should contact ISS to report a new U.S. and/or international address within 10 days of your relocation, unless you are staying on campus.
  • The College of Wooster Fall 2020 guide includes information about a variety of important topics. Please contact ISS if you have specific questions.
  • Standard F1 travel reminders apply for domestic and/or international travel:
  • I-20 travel endorsements are valid for 12 months (6 months if you are OPT/STEM OPT);
  • Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months into the future (students are responsible to monitor the life of this document);
  • Any time that you leave the College of Wooster, you should carry your Passport/Visa & I-20;
  • When crossing the U.S. border, electronic devices and/or social media are subject to search by U.S. Customs.
  • *We also encourage students to carry their Ohio State ID or License; and to carry your Lewermark Insurance plan card.
  • If your feet are on U.S. soil, F1 practical training requirements apply to you. In order to pursue an internship, you must first secure F1 Curricular Practical Training  — regardless of the location of your employer. Some U.S. employers will have additional residency requirements, so it is also important to comply with their requirements, of course.
  • If you are in the U.S. and carry Lewermark Insurance , visit Lewermark’s website to access a card. Be sure to carry a hard copy or electronic copy of your insurance card. If you are studying remotely at home during fall semester, you will not be billed for medical insurance.
  • On 3/20/2020, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that the 2019 federal tax return filing deadline was extended to July 15. Instructions are posted: Non-Immigrant and U.S. Tax Returns: Reporting on 2019. Under the CARES Act, Congress has provided for a one-time, $1,200 payment to eligible individuals. Nonresident tax payers are not eligible — so if you receive it in error, contact ISS and return the payment via the IRS guidelines. If you have become a resident for tax purposes, you are eligible for the payment.

U.S. Protests

ISS knows you are aware of the protests for justice, police reform, and equity happening in the US and around the world. Please know that though there have been pockets of violence, the protests in Wooster have remained peaceful and the College is doing all it can to keep students who have remained on campus safe.