COVID-19 Updates for F-1 Students

The International Student Program (ISP) is here to support the global SRJC community as the COVID-19 situation evolves. The health and well-being of our students and employees are our top priority. Please check this page for updates as more information becomes available, and read below for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from international students.

Additional Resources:


Classes start on Wednesday, January 18th. New (initial I-20) students will be required to take some in-person classes. Continuing, Transfer, and Change of Status students who have been physically present in the U.S. since March 9th, 2020 may enroll 100% online. The chart below explains your enrollment options, depending on your F-1 status and physical location, in accordance with COVID-19 guidance:

F-1 Status

Currently outside the United States

Currently inside the United States

New students who do not have an F-1 visa yet

Once you are fully admitted to SRJC, you may use our Form I-20 to apply for your F-1 visa to attend in Spring 2023 if you take at least one in-person course.

Additionally, DOS is working on Visa Interview Backlog. If you cannot get an F-1 visa interview before January 18th, or if you cannot get an in-person class, or if you prefer to wait until campus has fully re-opened, you may choose to defer your admission to Fall 2023. You may study online from your home country if you wish in Spring 2023.

If you have been physically present in the U.S. since March 9th, 2020, you may enroll 100% online at SRJC if you have an eligible federal status.

You may apply to USCIS for a Change of Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539) and remain in the U.S. until the application is approved before taking classes at SRJC.

If your F-1 status is not approved by January 18th, please notify us and we will defer your admission to Fall 2023.

New students who already have a valid F-1 visa

If your F-1 visa stamp has not expired, you may use it to enter or re-enter the U.S. to attend SRJC in Spring 2023 if you enroll in at least one in-person course. 

If you have been physically present in the U.S. since March 9th, 2020, you may enroll 100% online at SRJC if your F-1 status is active and your SEVIS record is transferred to SRJC by January 18th.

Please REMAIN IN THE U.S. between programs, or you will not be allowed to return for 100% online study.

Continuing students who are currently enrolled in Spring 2022

You may continue to maintain F-1 status by enrolling full-time in 100% online classes from your home country in Spring 2023. Please email us to confirm your plans ASAP.

You may return to the U.S. any time during your online studies, but you must return when SRJC resumes normal operations.

If you will not continue at SRJC and your Form I-20 Program end date is 05/27/2022, you must return to the U.S. before your I-20 expires to be eligible to apply for OPT or receive a 60-day grace period.

If you have been physically present in the U.S. since March 9th, 2020, you may continue to maintain F-1 status by enrolling full-time in 100% online classes from the U.S. in Spring 2023.

If you arrived in the U.S. anytime after 3/9/2020, the requirement is that you enroll in at least one course with some face-to-face requirement in Spring 2023. It can be a fully in-person or a hybrid course, as long as it’s not 100% online.

Returning students who are not enrolled in Spring 2022

If you took a Leave of Absence from SRJC, and the gap in your studies was less than 5 months, then your previous Form I-20 can be reactivated upon request.

If your absence was over 5 months, then can only return to SRJC with a new, initial Form I-20. To request a new I-20 with a Spring 2023 start date, submit a new Guarantee of Financial Support. Initial I-20 students must: 1) repay the SEVIS I-901 fee, 2) complete an additional year of study for CPT/OPT eligibility, 3) seek admission to the U.S. up to 30 days before your Program Start Date, and 4) enroll in at least one in-person course. Your passport and F-1 visa must also be valid for re-entry.

Not applicable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

ISP welcomes your questions! For your convenience, we've compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions and their answers below. If this information does not answer your question, please contact us

  • FAQ#1: Do I need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

    Yes, if you must travel to the United States or come to campus for in-person classes/services, then you must be fully vaccinated. The CDC now requires all nonimmigrant travelers to be fully vaccinated, and SRJC will require everyone on campus to be fully vaccinated (or exempt) starting on January 1st. But if you've been physically present in the U.S. since March 9, 2020, and you are taking 100% of your classes fully online, then you do not need to be vaccinated. 

  • FAQ#2: Is SRJC closed and have classes moved online?

    In response to health orders, SRJC services and instruction moved to a mostly online format beginning March 13th, 2020 and lasting through the Spring 2022 semester. If you have concerns about online instruction, or technology limitations, please notify your instructors immediately.

    In Spring 2023, about 63% of our classes will be in-person. Only about 880 out of 2,378 sections are being offered 100% online. 

  • FAQ #3: Can I take more than 3 units online with my F-1 visa?

    Yes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) understands that schools must adjust their teaching methods in order to curtail further spread of the virus. F-1 international students are temporarily permitted by SEVP to take online classes in excess of 3 units for the duration of the emergency. Students admitted to SRJC with initial I-20 are required to take at least 1 in-person class.

  • FAQ #4: Can I drop a class because of COVID?

    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, you may submit an online RCL request before dropping below 12 units. You will need supporting academic or medical documentation (see RCL eligibility requirements). If your RCL is approved, you can submit a petition to drop your class without a W and get a refund for the course.

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

    What if one or more of my classes was cancelled?

    Some SRJC classes cannot be offered online due to the nature of the class. If one or more of your classes are cancelled due to COVID-19, they will be removed from your schedule. If the add/drop period is over, then you do not need to enroll in another class to maintain 12 units. This is being temporarily permitted by SEVP for the duration of the emergency.

    What if I don’t have access to the technology I need to do online classes?

    SRJC is providing laptops and WiFi to students who are studying remotely. If you still are unable to enroll because you lack the technology to participate in online classes, this is being temporarily permitted by SEVP for the duration of the emergency. Contact ISP for more information.

  • FAQ #5: Can I leave the United States?

    Yes, nothing is preventing you from departing the U.S. at this time. Please keep in mind that any unnecessary travel is still considered a risk at this time. Conditions are constantly changing, and you may find yourself stuck outside U.S. due to travel restrictions or with an expired F-1 visa and unable to renew it because of DOS visa interview backlogs. Be prepared for anything! Before departing, check the website for information on travel restrictions.

  • FAQ #6: Can I return to the United States?

    Yes. Continuing students with Active SEVIS records may re-enter the U.S. at any time during their online studies, as long as they meet Center for Disease Control (CDC) vaccination requirements and have valid travel documents (passport, F-1 visa stamp, and Form I-20 with a valid travel signature on Page 2). If needed, you may request a Travel Authorization online and ISP will email you a signed Form I-20. 

  • FAQ #7: Can I study online from my home country?

    Yes. Some students have chosen to begin or continue their studies online from home. Your SEVIS record will remain in Active status if you maintain full-time enrollment online at SRJC. If that is your plan, please notify ISP so that your Form I-20 can be updated with the remarks: “Outside the United States due to COVID-19.” Note that students are prohibited from taking online SRJC classes from other states (e.g. New York).

    Under current guidance, you must return to the U.S. when normal operations resume. Also, some online materials may be inaccessible from countries with internet firewalls. Again, please contact your instructors with any concerns about online instruction from your home country, including technology limitations or firewall barriers.

  • FAQ #8: Can I withdraw from SRJC and receive a refund?

    You may fully withdraw from your classes before the drop deadline. Extensions were approved at the beginning of the pandemic in Summer/Fall 2020, but current students will need to petition to drop classes late without a "W" and request a refund/fee reversal. These petitions are considered on a case-by-case bases by the Admissions & Records department.

    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 request a Leave of Absence (LOA) online. 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 request an Authorized Early Withdrawal (AEW) online. 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.

  • FAQ #9: I'm having trouble paying my fees because of COVID-19. Will the deadline be extended?

    No. Extensions were approved at the beginning of the pandemic in Summer/Fall 2020, but current students will need to make a payment to be able to register for additional classes.

    If you need financial assistance, there is help available! SRJC Foundation has established the SRJC Crisis Response Fund to support students during these difficult times. Students may submit an online application (Option 2) describing their educational expenses and urgent need for funding.

  • FAQ #10: 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. While most departments are likely to hire fewer student workers during the campus closure, you can check the Career Hub website to see what is available on JobSpeaker. 

  • FAQ #11: Can I work remotely for my CPT or OPT employer?

    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. Furthermore, students who are employed less than 20 hours per week during the pandemic are considered to be meeting OPT requirements. If you have lost your job entirely, please contact your DSO for more information.

  • FAQ #12: Can I use my ISP health insurance for COVID-19 testing?

    If you are experiencing symptoms, COVID-19 testing will be covered by GeoBlue insurance at 100% at in-network facilities. Please note that the virus is treated as any other sickness or illness covered under the plan. Students who are asymptomatic and need a negative COVID-19 test for other purposes (i.e. travel) will not be covered. More information about accessing healthcare, including how to obtain proof of coverage, is available on our health insurance page.

  • FAQ #13: How can I access student services?

    Students can visit SRJC's Online Student Services website to learn how to access department services. We also have a webpage dedicated to our ISP Online Advising Services. To find contact information for a specific SRJC employee, use the Faculty/Staff Search. If you have any questions, contact us!

Last updated November 4, 2021 at 8:11 PDT