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COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) FAQ


Last updated: 9:30 AM May 11, 2020. This webpage is being updated regularly, and we encourage you to continue to check back for important updates. Please note that this information is constantly evolving and we do not have all the answers at this time. Contact ISSS with additional questions.

pinned note PLEASE NOTE:  The University of Colorado Denver is providing university-wide updates on the CU Denver COVID-19 website. The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is providing updates on the CU Anschutz COVID-19 website. ​​

​​Students

(F-1 & J-1 Student Visa Holders)

 

 COVID-19, VISA STATUS, & ONLINE CLASSES

 

 Since CU Denver/CU Anschutz is conducting fully remote learning for the remainder of the semester, am I still in good immigration status?

Yes. If you are enrolled in full-time classes this spring semester (or have been approved for a Reduced Course Load), then you are still considered in good immigration status. This does not change even though the courses are moved to remote learning. 

Due to this unprecedented situation, an exception is being made for students to complete their spring courses remotely whether they are physically present in the U.S. or another country. 

Please note that you must remain enrolled in your spring semester classes. If you choose to withdraw from/drop any of your classes this could negatively impact your immigration status. If you require a Reduced Course Load for medical or academic reasons, please contact your ISSS specialist to discuss in detail. Depending on your situation, you may be approved for a Reduced Course Load.

1

 Is the ISSS office still open?

The Office of International Affairs, including International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS), is conducting work remotely. Your ISSS specialists are still issuing I-20s and travel signatures, processing CPT and OPT requests, taking appointments over Zoom (a video/audio conferencing software), and more.  

While we are working remotely, our business hours are the same: Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM MDT. Our request processing time is five business days, and we encourage you to consider shipping times if you require a document to be shipped to you.

2

 I have a question about COVID-19 that is not related to my immigration status. Who should I talk to?

The University of Colorado Denver is providing university-wide updates on the CU Denver COVID-19 website. The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is providing updates on the CU Anschutz COVID-19 website. Both campuses have additional resources listed on their website, as well.

3

 I heard that CU Denver is allowing students to choose a modified grading policy, so we can ask to take classes as P+/P/NP instead of letter grades. As an international student, what should I know?

Review the ISSS Modified Grading Guide for details. 4

 Is there a difference between remote learning and online learning?

Yes. Though all classes that were not already scheduled to be online have transitioned to remote learning for Spring, Maymester, and Summer 2020, the terms remote and online are not synonymous. Please see below for some general differences between online and remote courses.

Online: These courses were built for online delivery from the beginning. Online courses are likely to be asynchronous, built solely in the online Learning Management System (LMS), and are often part of an online program. These are more likely to be somewhat self-paced.

Remote: These courses are traditional classes that have been moved to a remote delivery system. They are more likely to see synchronous learning sessions, lectures, and discussions. Faculty are more likely to adhere to the dates and times for meetings in remote courses than those designated as online.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive or exclusive list of differences, but we hope it provides some clarity about the two terms.​

5


 

 COVID-19 and Travel

 

 I plan to complete my remote learning from my home country/outside the U.S. for the rest of spring semester, then return to Denver in summer/fall. What should I do or think about before I leave?

Questions to Ask Yourself if Returning Home:

  • Are you able to access the technology for online coursework in your home country (e.g., Canvas, university email, Zoom, etc.)?  Will you require a VPN to access it?
  • Have you considered the difference in time zones between Colorado and your home country?
    • For example, if your professor chooses to use Zoom they may want to keep the same class time and date but will hold the class virtually, and you will still need to participate fully as if you were physically in the classroom. Keep in mind the time zone impacts of this. Discuss these concerns directly with your professor, and receive confirmation prior to travel.
  • Is your passport valid for a return in August? Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your return date to the U.S.
  • Is your visa still valid for a return in August?
  • Does your I-20 have a recent travel signature? Travel signatures are valid for six months. If not, you need to have a new travel signature from ISSS. Please read our FAQs to find out how to obtain a travel signature while ISSS is working remotely.
  • Is this your last semester? If so, then please review our COVID-19 FAQ for international students and scholars website that discusses next steps you should take.
  • Have you reviewed the CU Denver COVID-19 website or CU Anschutz COVID-19 website?
  • Did you know that the CDC and the University of Colorado Denver and Anschutz are strongly recommending suspending/cancelling nonessential international and domestic travel?
  • Have you discussed the potential risks associated with travel with your family back home?

PLEASE BE AWAREWe do not know how long these travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place. If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return. If your travel is related to your academic program, please consult your department or academic advisor about your travel plans.

If you have further questions, our office is open and available to answer your questions through phone or email. Please contact isss@ucdenver.edu, oia.helpdesk@ucdenver.edu, or contact your assigned ISSS specialist directly.

1

 How do I obtain a travel signature on my I-20 or DS-2019?

While ISSS is working remotely, we are still providing travel signatures for students who will be travelling internationally. You should read our FAQ about travel, and Submit a Request for a travel signature. Your ISSS specialist will review your request, re-print your I-20/DS-2019, and sign it for travel. We will ship it to the address you provide on the request form.*

Please note that our request processing time is up to five business days to issue the I-20/DS-2019 and travel signature. This five day processing time is for ISSS processes. It does not account for shipping times, which may be delayed during COVID-19 reduced operations. You will receive information from the shipping company with tracking information so you can track your shipment. 

*If you are in a location that is not accepting shipments at this time, your ISSS specialist may email you a copy of your I-20 with a digital signature. The Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has stated that Designated School Officials (DSO - the ISSS specialists) are permitted to digitally sign I-20s and email those I-20s to students on a temporary basis during COVID-19 operations. This procedure is not available for DS-2019s, so all J-1 students will receive physical, paper copies of their DS-2019s in the mail.

2

 My F-1/J-1 student visa has expired or will expire soon. Do I need to renew it?

If you leave the U.S. and then plan to re-enter then you will need to renew your F-1 or J-1 student visa. If you plan to remain in U.S. then you do not need to renew your F-1 or J-1 student visa; your valid I-20 or DS-2019, along with your valid passport and I-94, will prove your valid status in the United States. You cannot renew your student visa while remaining in the U.S.

We do not know how long travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place. If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return.

Be mindful that many US Embassies and Consulates have limited operations and/or are not providing visa/consular services at this time. We recommend reviewing the U.S. Department of State COVID-19 Country Specific Information page and the announcement on Suspension of Routine Visa Services.

3

 Spring 2020 is my final semester. Can I travel home then apply for post-completion OPT?

​No, ISSS does not recommend returning home if you plan to apply for Post-Completion OPT. You will not be able to return to U.S. past the program end date on your I-20 if you have not applied for Post-Completion OPT. If you have questions and you have already attended an OPT work clinic, please contact your assigned ISSS specialist. You can also review our OPT information page for more information.
4

 What if I departed the U.S. during the Spring or Summer 2020 semester and am unable to return to the Fall 2020 semester as planned?​

If you are not able to return to the U.S. as planned to resume your studies in the Fall, you will need to be in contact with your assigned ISSS Specialist before the start of the semester to understand your immigration options.

We do not know how long current travel restrictions will last. If you need to renew your visa while you are outside the U.S., be mindful that many U.S. Embassies and Consulates have limited operations and/or are not providing visa/consular services at this time. We recommend reviewing the U.S. Department of State COVID-19 Country Specific Information page and the announcement on Suspension of Routine Visa Services​ on an ongoing basis for the most up to date information.​

5

 What will happen to my F-1 visa if I stay outside the U.S. for longer than five months due to COVID-19 complications?

As long as you maintain your F-1 status through full-time enrollment (or an approved Reduced Course Load) and making normal progress toward completing your course of study, then the five-month rule will not apply and your visa will remain valid (if the visa expiration date has not passed). If the visa expiration date will pass before your return to the U.S., you will need to contact a U.S. embassy or consulate to inquire about the visa renewal process. 6


 

 EMPLOYMENT: On-Campus, CPT, & OPT

 

 Can I continue my on-campus employment remotely?

Yes, if you are an F-1 or J-1 student and have on-campus employment that permits you to work remotely, you may continue to do so. You should still track your hours to ensure you do not exceed 20 hours per week during the semester. You are not permitted to work off-campus (for an off-campus entity) unless you have other work authorization, such as CPT. If you are a J-1 student, please be sure you have received a work authorization letter from ISSS for your on-campus employment. Read more about what entities/offices constitute on-campus employment.

1

 I want to learn about applying for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). What should I do?

Curricular Practical Training is a type of temporary work authorization for F-1 students who obtain off-campus internships or employment related to their field of study. Visit the ISSS CPT information page to learn some basic information about CPT, then sign up to attend a CPT work clinic (conducted virtually over Zoom). During the work clinic, you will learn about your CPT eligibility, the definition and restrictions of CPT, as well as the application process.
2

 I want to learn about applying for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). What should I do?

​Post-completion OPT is a type of temporary work authorization for F-1 students that begins after a student graduates. However, most students prefer to begin the OPT application process several months before they graduate, since it can take 60-90 days or longer to receive approval for OPT.

Visit the ISSS OPT information page to read about the basics of OPT, then sign up to attend an OPT work clinic (conducted virtually over Zoom). During the work clinic, you will learn about the definition of OPT, eligibility requirements for OPT, the application process, travel while on OPT, and reporting requirements.
3

 I already attended an OPT work clinic and am ready to request my OPT recommendation I-20 from ISSS. How should I submit my materials?

​ISSS specialists are working remotely. Send your OPT application materials to your assigned ISSS specialist via email. Please only include the items listed on the OPT application checklist under "Prepare and bring the following items to ISSS." Do not email copies of your check/money order, credit card information, photos, or other items to your ISSS specialist. 

Your ISSS specialist will process your OPT recommendation I-20 and contact you with shipping instructions so you can receive it. Once you receive it, prepare the items from the checklist titled "USCIS OPT Application Checklist" so you can ship all your items to USCIS once ready.

4

 Am I eligible to apply for unemployment benefits/insurance in the United States?

Each state sets its own unemployment insurance benefits eligibility guidelines. Please seek guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor for information about the state in which you are employed regarding unemployment insurance eligibility​. You are also welcome to seek guidance from an experienced employment attorney who is familiar with non-immigrant visas and unemployment benefits.​6


 

 Spring Graduates

 

 I am an F-1 student graduating in spring semester. What's happening with the graduation/commencement ceremony?

Spring commencement for CU Denver will not take place in person on the previously scheduled May 16, 2020 date because of health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. Review the CU Denver COVID-19 website and the Commencement website​ for more details.  

CU Anschutz in-person commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 21 and May 22, 2020 have been cancelled. Review the CU Anschutz commencement announcement for more details.

3

 I am an F-1 student graduating in spring semester, and I would like to know my options after graduation.

​​Please read about your Options after Graduation. Also review our FAQs page for details on specific options, such as applying for OPT or requesting a SEVIS transfer to a new school. 2

 I am an F-1 student graduating in spring semester. I plan to transfer my SEVIS record to a new school in the U.S. for fall semester. How do I request a SEVIS transfer?

You will keep your F-1 status if you stay enrolled in your classes for the rest of spring semester, whether you stay in the U.S. or leave the country before or after the semester ends.

If you plan to transfer to another school in the U.S., you must use the online SEVIS Transfer Out Request after you have been admitted to your new school and when you have decided for sure that you plan to attend that school. You should NOT request a travel signature from CU Denver/Anschutz ISSS even if you are leaving the U.S. this semester.

On this form, you will be asked to upload a digital copy of your acceptance letter to your new school. You will also be asked to select a SEVIS release date, which is the date your SEVIS record (I-20) will be electronically transferred to your new school. After that date, you will no longer have a current immigration record with CU Denver/Anschutz, and your new school will be able to create your transfer I-20. You should select a SEVIS release date that is after the end of the semester you plan to stop studying at CU Denver/Anschutz but before the day you begin classes at your new school. Many international students who graduate in May end up selecting the day after graduation as their SEVIS release date (e.g., May 17, 2020). If you are currently taking classes at CU Denver/Anschutz, you should not select a release date that is during the semester.

Please note that you should only complete the SEVIS Transfer Out request after you have decided to transfer, not if you are waiting for another school’s acceptance letter. Once your SEVIS release date has passed, CU Denver/Anschutz will not have access to your SEVIS record.

The International Student Office at your new school should be able to provide you with their SEVIS school code, if it is not already listed on the documents you have received from them.

If you are graduating this semester, ISSS must process your transfer out request within 60 days of your graduation date. This means you should submit your form at least one week prior to the end of your 60-day grace period following graduation.
1

 I am an F-1 student graduating in spring semester, and I plan to travel home before the semester ends. Can I still graduate? What do I need to do?

​You will keep your F-1 status if you remain enrolled in your classes through the end of spring semester. As long as you meet all graduation requirements and are eligible to graduate, you will still graduate even if you are outside the U.S. at the end of spring semester.

You do not need to take any additional action related to your F-1 status and I-20 if you are leaving the country and do not plan to return, apply for OPT, or transfer to another school such as for a graduate program. 

You should contact the CU Denver Registrar's Office or CU Anschutz Registrar's Office to inquire about having your diploma mailed to your correct address.
4


 

 Online Activities, Educational Help, and Health & Wellness

 

 Is OIA hosting online activities while campus has moved to remote learning?

Absolutely, here is a link to CU Denver International account on Instagram:  Virtual Events & Activities – Stay connected and have fun with fellow students! Follow @cudenverinternational on Instagram or Facebook to participate!
1

 Are there any events held online?

​Game Nights! – Every Tuesday and Friday nights at 7pm, join through the register link or follow @cudenverinternational on Instagram to learn about what the game for the night is! Students will meet on zoom, then will be informed how to play the game, Register here2

 Are there activities I can do on my own?

​Milo’s Den – A list of virtual activities offered by outside organizations to keep you entertained.3

 How do I keep up with my schoolwork from home?

​Resources for Learning Remotely – Find tips for succeeding as remote learner and other useful information. Also, contact your instructors, TAs, and academic advisor for additional assistance. 4

 ​What if I need extra help?

Reach out to your advisor to request an individual meeting. Advisors are still meeting with students remotely, often over Zoom or phone. They are also available via email. 5

 ​How do I talk to a counselor while I am off campus?

The CU Denver Student and Community Counseling Center is here to listen and support you.

6

 ​What if I am feeling ill?

Reach out to the Health Center at Auraria – they are offering COVID-19 telephone assessment for those with symptoms8

 How do I destress when I am staying home by myself?

Find supportive articles at https://you.ucdenver.edu/ to help you cope with the emotional and physical stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic and navigate your life as a student with YOU@CUDenver.9

 ​How do I stay healthy and active at home?

The CU Denver Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center is offering free online fitness classes every day at lunchtime! 10


 

 Other Questions & Resources

 

 What's going on with Maymester and Summer semester at CU Denver?

Please review the CU Denver COVID-19 website for details. According to the Chancellor's message from March 20, "Maymester classes will be held remotely. There will be no in-person classes."

According to the Provost’s message from April 7, “we have made the decision to transition all summer class offerings to remote and online teaching and learning.”

1

 I'm a newly admitted student to CU Denver/Anschutz and plan to start in Summer or Fall semester, but all visa services are suspended at the U.S. embassy or consulate near me. What should I do?

You can stay abreast of the suspension or availability of services at the U.S. embassy or consulate you plan to visit by reviewing the U.S. Department of State COVID-19 Country Specific Information page and the announcement on Suspension of Routine Visa Services. Once you have your immigration documents (including your I-20 or DS-2019), check to see whether the embassy or consulate is allowing visa appointments to be scheduled for future dates.

As of now, CU Denver and Anschutz have not made decisions about fall semester classes and whether they will be offered in person or conducted remotely. Please review the CU Denver COVID-19 website  and CU Anschutz COVID-19 website ​​for updates. ​

2

 What's going on with Fall semester at CU Denver and Anschutz?

Decisions have not yet been made about fall semester, but as of right now, you can prepare as though we may return to on-campus and in-person classes for fall. If there are updates related to remote learning and teaching for the fall semester, these decisions will be communicated through your university email. You should also continue to check the CU Denver COVID-19 and CU Anschutz COVID-19 websites for details as they become available. Decisions will depend on the evolution of the pandemic.9

 I heard the deadline to file taxes has changed. Can you tell me more?

The U.S. Income Tax filing deadline with the IRS has changed to July 15, 2020 as a result of COVID-19.  Please go to https://www.cu.edu/blog/work-life/international-employees-get-tax-season-support-ensure-your-us-tax-returns-are-correct to utilize tax software from CU International Tax to file your U.S. income tax return if you are an employee of CU Denver|Anschutz and have not already filed your U.S. Income Tax Return.

​Check with your state to find out whether they have updated their income tax filing deadline as well. Colorado has updated its state income tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020, to match the new federal tax filing deadline. Some states have not updated their filing deadlines. 
3

 Can I apply for a Social Security Number (SSN), Colorado Driver's License or State ID?

SSA and DMV offices have closed nationwide from Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  Please go to the SSA  https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/ and DMV https://www.colorado.gov/dmv websites to find updates on online processes you can complete during their office closures.   When these offices resume normal operations, you can Submit a Request to request that ISSS issue you a support letter for an SSN or the DMV. If you are requesting an SSN support letter, you must have a valid job offer from an on-campus employer or an authorized CPT employer. Please review the ISSS webpage with Social Security Number information.
​​​​​​10

 Am I eligible for a stimulus check of $1,200 and will it be considered a public benefit?

International students and scholars who file their taxes as a resident alien should be eligible to receive a stimulus check from the federal government and this would not be considered a public benefit. However, if you filed your taxes as a resident alien in error, then you may have received a stimulus check in error as well and would have to return that check to the federal government. If you receive a stimulus check and think you may have received it in error, you should return the payment to the federal government by following the instructions on the following website:  www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc161. ISSS Specialists are not able to assist you in determining whether you are a resident or non-resident alien for tax purposes. Please consult the International Student & Scholar Tax Resource Guide​ to determine if you should be receiving the stimulus check or not. If you are a CU employee, please contact intltax@cu.edu​ for assistance with determining your tax filing status. ​11

 What are CU Denver and CU Anschutz doing about COVID-19?

The University of Colorado Denver is providing university-wide updates on the CU Denver COVID-19 website. The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is providing updates on the CU Anschutz COVID-19 website. ​​Please visit the linked websites for more information about COVID-19 and its impacts to CU Denver and Anschutz, precautions that are being taken, prevention measures you can take, and a compilation of frequently asked questions.​​8


Scholars/Employees

 (J-1, H-1B, O-1 , TN, etc.)
 
 

 International Scholars/Employees (J-1, H-1B, O-1, TN, etc.)

 

 I'm a J-1 scholar/employee and need a travel signature. What should I do?

If you are in J-1 status, please continue to request a travel signature from our office by clicking Submit a Request.  We will print a new DS-2019 for you, sign it for travel and ship it to your requested location.  Be aware that we will ship this document to you at your department’s expense.  If you do not wish for your department to pay this cost, you can pay for the shipment yourself by emailing isss@ucdenver.edu for instructions for utilizing eShipGlobal.

We do not know how long travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place. If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return.

Be mindful that many US Embassies and Consulates have limited operations and/or are not providing visa/consular services at this time. We recommend reviewing the U.S. Department of State COVID-19 Country Specific Information page and the announcement on Suspension of Routine Visa Services.
1

 Can I apply for a Social Security Number, Colorado Driver's License or State ID?

SSA and DMV offices have closed nationwide from Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  Please go to the SSA  https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/ and DMV https://www.colorado.gov/dmv websites to find updates on online processes you can complete during their office closures.  
2

 I heard the deadline to file taxes has changed. Can you tell me more?

The U.S. Income Tax filing deadline with the IRS has changed to July 15, 2020 as a result of COVID-19.  Please go to https://www.cu.edu/blog/work-life/international-employees-get-tax-season-support-ensure-your-us-tax-returns-are-correct to utilize tax software from CU International Tax to file your U.S. income tax return if you are an employee of CU Denver|Anschutz and have not already filed your U.S. Income Tax Return.

​Check with your state to find out whether they have updated their income tax filing deadline as well. Colorado has updated its state income tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020, to match the new federal tax filing deadline. Some states have not updated their filing deadlines.​
3

 I'm a J-1 or H-1B scholar/employee, and I am working remotely. What do I need to do?

If you are in J-1 or H-1B status, please complete our remote employment form to confirm your employment at CU Denver|Anschutz.  We are able to maintain your J-1 and H-1B status during this time regardless of whether you are working from home; however we need to keep this information in our record.4

 Am I eligible for a stimulus check of $1,200 and will it be considered a public benefit?

International students and scholars who file their taxes as a resident alien should be eligible to receive a stimulus check from the federal government and this would not be considered a public benefit. However, if you filed your taxes as a resident alien in error, then you may have received a stimulus check in error as well and would have to return that check to the federal government. If you receive a stimulus check and think you may have received it in error, you should return the payment to the federal government by following the instructions on the following website:  www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc161. ISSS Specialists are not able to assist you in determining whether you are a resident or non-resident alien for tax purposes. Please consult the International Student & Scholar Tax Resource Guide​ to determine if you should be receiving the stimulus check or not. If you are a CU employee, please contact intltax@cu.edu for assistance with determining your tax filing status. ​​5



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