COVID-19 Updates for F-1 Students

The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority. Please see international student FAQs about the coronavirus. The International Student Program is offering Online Advising Services

COVID-19 Updates for F-1 Students

The International Student Program (ISP) at SRJC is deeply concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic and sincerely hope that you, your families, and your friends are healthy and safe. Your well-being is our top priority as we continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. Be sure to check this website frequently for updates, as more information becomes available. Please review some questions frequently asked by international students below. More district-wide information is available on the Coronavirus Updates website. Guidance for F-1 visa holders is available on the SEVP FAQs page.


Is SRJC closed and have classes been moved online?  

Yes. In response to current health orders, SRJC services and instruction have migrated to an online format through the Fall 2020 semester. If you have concerns about online instruction, or technology limitations, please notify your instructors. More SRJC Coronavirus Updates are available online, including frequently asked questions (FAQs) for students and employees. 


Can I take more than 3 units online with my F-1 visa?  

Yes. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is allowing schools to adjust their teaching methods in order to curtail further spread of the virus. F-1 international students are permitted to complete all course requirements online for the duration of this public health emergency. More updates and FAQs from SEVP can be found on their COVID-19 website under "Nonimmigrant Students and SEVP-Certified Schools." 


Can I drop a class if the online format is too difficult?

No. Dropping below 12 units without prior authorization will result in termination of your SEVIS record and F-1 status. 

If you are eligible for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) authorization due to a medical reason, you may submit an online request before dropping below 12 units. Remember that you will need supporting documentation from a medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), or licensed clinical psychologist. See our website for more details. If your RCL is approved, you can submit the petition to drop without a W and get a refund for the course. You do not need any supporting documents for this petition if COVID-19 is the reason.

If you are not eligible for RCL, and you are concerned about failing the course, you can petition to change your grading option to Pass/No Pass. Be sure to review the P/NP grade guidelines here.


What if one or more of my classes was cancelled?

If your class is cancelled, it will be removed from your schedule. This is okay, and not the same as "dropping" a course. Some SRJC classes cannot be offered online due to the nature of the class. If one or more of your Spring 2020 classes was cancelled due to COVID-19, you do not need to enroll in another class to maintain 12 units. This is being temporarily permitted by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which is the governing authority for F-1 student visa holders. More updates and FAQs from SEVP can be found on their COVID-19 website under "Nonimmigrant Students and SEVP-Certified Schools." 


I am outside the U.S. and have applied to study at SRJC for Summer/Fall 2020. Can I still attend?

No. Unfortunately, SEVP will not allow schools to bring new F-1 students to the U.S. to study fully online. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) has temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. This means that you will not be able to obtain the F-1 Student Visa and begin your studies at SRJC while we are fully online. Per SEVP guidance, SRJC may only allow SEVIS transfer students who are currently in the U.S. studying at other SEVP-certified institutions to begin their full-time programs of study fully online at SRJC in Summer/Fall 2020. 

As a solution, we highly recommend that you begin your SRJC program online from your home country in Summer or Fall 2020, and then join us on campus in Spring 2021.


How can I access student services?  

Students can visit our Online Student Services website to learn how to access department services, including ISP Online Advising Services. To find contact information for a specific SRJC employee, use the Faculty/Staff Search. You can also email the ISP Advisor at rpetrow@santarosa.edu with any questions.


Can I leave the U.S. to be with my family?  

Yes. Nothing is preventing you from leaving the U.S. at this time. Be sure to check the Travel.State.Gov website for country-specific information on travel restrictions. However, please keep in mind that any unnecessary travel is still considered a health risk at this time. Furthermore, you may be prevented from returning to the U.S. in a timely manner to resume your studies at SRJC when the online instruction period is over, due to travel restrictions. You may also not be able to renew your F-1 visa while abroad if it has expired, as the Department of State (DOS) has temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates.


Can I complete online coursework from my home country?  

Yes. Your SEVIS record will remain in Active status if you maintain full-time enrollment at SRJC online from your home country. However, you must return to the U.S. to resume face-to-face studies as soon as the online instruction period is concluded. Please note that some online materials may be inaccessible from countries with internet firewalls. Again, we urge you to contact your instructors with concerns about online instruction from your home country, including technology limitations or firewall barriers. 


Do I need a travel authorization signature?  

Yes. If you plan to return to the U.S. to resume your studies when face-to-face instruction resumes, you will need to have a valid travel authorization signature on Page 2 of your Form I-20. If you do not have one, an updated Form I-20 will be emailed to you after you submit the Travel Authorization Request Form. Please note that travel authorizations are valid for 12 months after the date of the signature. 

On March 26, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) updated the coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs on ice.gov/covid19 to provide the following guidance on electronic Form I-20 issuance: Due to COVID-19, DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS. In the case of a minor students, the email address may belong to their parent or legal guardian.


If I leave the U.S., how and when can I return to SRJC?  

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued travel health notices for those returning from high risk countries. You may not be able to re-enter the U.S. immediately after visiting one of the affected countries. Check the CDC website for updates.  


Can I withdraw from classes and receive a refund?  

Yes. During the COVID-19 outbreak, students may withdraw from SRJC and receive a full refund of their enrollment fees. You are still required to submit the Petition: Drop/Withdraw from Class After Deadline to drop your classes without a "W" and request a refund/fee reversal. You may list all classes and instructors on the same form submission. 

If you wish to drop your classes and depart the U.S., you must notify ISP immediately:

  • If your absence from the U.S. will be less than 5 months, please submit the Leave of Absence (LOA) request form. This will allow you to return to SRJC to resume your studies using the same Form I-20 after a temporary break from your studies.
  • If your absence from the U.S. will be more than 5 months, please submit the Authorized Early Withdrawal (AEW) request form. You would need to obtain a new Form I-20 from ISP and pay another I-901 fee under your new SEVIS ID number to be able to return to the U.S. in F-1 status. 

Once your LOA/AEW request is submitted, ISP will drop you from your classes, terminate your SEVIS record, and you will receive a 15-day grace period to depart the U.S. 


I'm having trouble paying my fees because of COVID-19. Will the deadline be extended?

Yes. If you have an outstanding balance with the college, this will not block you from registering for Summer/Fall 2020 classes. SRJC had delayed registration due to COVID-19, so be sure to check the Academic Calendar and the Priority Registration Schedule for updated information as it becomes available.

If you need further financial assistance, SRJC Foundation has established the SRJC Crisis Response Fund to help students pay rent and bills, provide food, and support their families as they go without work and important services. The fund will allow for immediate access and flexibility to support a variety of basic needs. Students will be able to access the funds through Student Resources and Financial Aid with a short application describing their urgent need and intentions with funding.


I would like to get an on-campus job, but SRJC is closed. Is this possible?  

SRJC employees, including student workers, have been working from home since campus closed in March, 2020. Only some departments will hire new student workers in Summer/Fall 2020. You can check the Career Hub website to see what is available on JobSpeaker. Be sure to check the FAQs for students for more information.  


What if my CPT/OPT employer is closed?  

If your employer for CPT or OPT employer has closed due to the Shelter in Place order, but you are still employed and still on the company's payroll, unemployment days will not accrue and you are still considered employed for CPT/OPT reporting purposes. If you have lost your job, please notify your DSO at rpetrow@santarosa.edu for more information.  


Can I use my ISP health insurance for COVID-19 testing?  

Yes. GeoBlue has agreed to waive any deductible or copays associated with diagnostic testing for COVID-19. Testing will be covered at 100% at in-network facilities. Please note that the virus is treated as any other sickness or illness covered under the plan. More information about accessing healthcare, including how to obtain proof of coverage, is available on our health insurance page

 

Updated 07/15/2020 at 1:17pm.