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COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) FAQ


Last updated: 6:45 PM July 8, 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 and Safe Return to Campus website. The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is providing updates on the CU Anschutz COVID-19 website and CU Anschutz Return to Campus. ​Please continue to check these website for more updates.

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Announces Fall 2020 Enrollment Requirements for International Students in F-1 Status

On July 6, 2020, the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) released guidance regarding international students in F-1 status and online study for the Fall 2020 semester.

On July 7, 2020, the SEVP released a FAQ​ about their guidance for the Fall 2020 semester. ISSS is working to update its FAQs based on the SEVP Guidance and FAQ.

As an international student, you are an important member of the CU Denver | Anschutz community, and we stand ready to support your academic and career goals.

International students in F-1 nonimmigrant status attending schools in the United States that for Fall 2020 are adopting a hybrid model, a mixture of online and in person classes—like CU Denver/Anschutz:

  • May take more than three credit hours of online or remote courses;

  • Must enroll in the required number of credits to be considered full-time;

  • Must enroll in at least one credit of an on-campus or hybrid course; and

  • May not enroll in only online courses. 

International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) will provide a new Form I-20 to all CU Denver | Anschutz students intending to pursue a full-time course load that includes at least one credit of on-campus or hybrid course in Fall 2020. At the CU Denver | Anschutz Campuses, this includes on-campus, hybrid, thesis, dissertation, independent study, and internship credits.

F-1 and J-1 students should plan to enroll in at least 12 credits (undergraduate students) or 5 credits (graduate students) to meet full-time enrollment requirements. F-1 students must also plan to be physically present in the United States for the duration of the semester to maintain status. J-1 students have different requirements and therefore should plan to contact their International Services Specialist for additional information if not able to take one hybrid or in-person course this fall.

To ensure that every international student who is planning to return to CU Denver | Anschutz for fall is able to enroll in a course that meets the SEVP requirement, we ask that you please respond to our Fall 2020 Enrollment Form by 12pm MT on Friday, July 10th if you need to add a course that meets the on-campus/hybrid requirement. If you do not need to add a course that meets the on-campus/hybrid requirement, you may complete the form no later than July 28th.

Please attend an upcoming ISSS Info Session to learn more about the SEVP guidance:

Sign up here: https://oia.as.me/sevp-fall2020​​ 

ISSS Info Sessions: Fall 2020 SEVP Guidance

Fri, July 10 from 8:00-9:00 AM (MT) 

Tues, July 14 from 8:00-9:00 AM (MT) 

Wed, July 15 from 12:00-1:00 PM (MT)



​​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.​​

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.​

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 COVID-19 and Travel

 

 I am a continuing student who left the U.S. in Spring semester (or plan to leave in Summer), and plan to return to Denver for Fall semester. What should I do or think about when planning my return?

Questions to ask yourself:


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 AWARE: We 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.

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 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. If you are an F-1 student, you will receive your I-20 with a travel signature electronically via email. 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. If you are a J-1 student, you will receive your DS-2019 with a travel signature via FedEx shipping (or alternate shipping service if needed).

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. If your document is sent via FedEx, you will receive information from the shipping company with tracking information so you can track your shipment.

2

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

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

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 Summer 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 the 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.
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 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 need to be in contact with your assigned ISSS Specialist before the start of the Fall semester to understand your immigration options. 


At this time, ISSS is waiting for guidance from the Student Exchange & Visitor Program (SEVP), about what will be required for F-1 students to maintain their immigration status for the Fall semester. SEVP has indicated that it will provide guidance to universities, but has NOT released this information yet.


Once the guidance from SEVP has been released, ISSS will share the new information with you. Your ISSS Specialist will also be better positioned to advise you at that time on what will be required for you to maintain your F-1 immigration status this Fall.


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 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?

Currently, as long as you maintain your F-1 status through full-time enrollment (or an approved Reduced Course Load) and are 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. This information could change in regards to Fall semester.

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 EMPLOYMENT: On-Campus, CPT, & OPT

 

 Can I start or continue on-campus employment remotely during the summer?

If you are an F-1 or J-1 student in the United States and have on-campus employment that permits you to work remotely, you may do so. You should still track your hours to ensure you do not exceed 40 hours per week during summer. You are not permitted to work off-campus (for an off-campus entity) unless you have other work authorization, such as Curricular Practical Training (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.


If you are currently in F-1 status and outside the United States for the summer, and you want to do work for an on-campus employer remotely, you should check with the employer to see if it will allow that (especially if a significant time difference may be a factor).

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 create your I-20 with the OPT recommendation and provide it to you via email once it is ready. 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.​

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 Other Questions & Resources

 

 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

 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


Scholars/Employees

 (J-1, H-1B, O-1 , TN, etc.)
 
 

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

 

 I am 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.


Please also be aware that 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 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


1

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

Please visit the websites of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for the most up-to-date online and in-person services currently being offered. Please also review the ISSS website for Social Security information.

2

 I am a J-1 or H-1 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.


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