COVID-19 Updates for F-1 Students

The International Student Program (ISP) at SRJC is deeply concerned about the current coronavirus outbreak and sincerely hope that you, your families, and your friends have not been directly impacted. The health, safety, and well-being of our international students, staff & faculty, and broader SRJC community are our priority. SRJC leadership and ISP staff are monitoring the rapidly changing information. The best way to receive updated information is to check this website as we will post updates here as soon as more information is available.

We encourage you to review the some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below about travel, enrollment, and campus resources for current SRJC international students. More district-wide information is available on the Coronavirus Updates website.


Is SRJC closed and will classes be moved online?  

Yes. SRJC is closed March 16-22 for Spring Break, and all classes are suspended March 23-29 due to COVID-19 concerns. In response to the "Shelter in Place" Order,  starting March 30, SRJC classes will resume in an online format, and campuses will remain closed to the public through May 23 (tentatively). Online instruction may prove difficult for some classes, and you should be hearing more from your instructors in the coming days/weeks. If you have concerns about online instruction, or technology limitations, please notify your instructors of this information to help them in their planning. More SRJC Coronavirus Updates are available online, including 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." 


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 Spring 2020 classes was cancelled due to COVID-19, you do not need to enroll in another class to maintain 12 units. SEVP is allowing a temporary exception to the full course of study requirement in this particular case.


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. Students will be able to 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, you must notify ISP as well, as this will affect your F-1 visa status and you will be required to depart the U.S. 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 in Fall 2020 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 have 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 until Monday, May 4, with the class schedule being released on Thursday, April 16. 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 have an on-campus job, but SRJC is closed. Will I still get paid?  

SRJC employees, including student workers, have been asked to work from home starting Monday March 23rd. Whether or not you have the ability to work from home, you will be paid for your regularly scheduled hours. Be sure to contact your supervisor and check the FAQs for students for more information.  


What if my CPT/OPT employer is closed?  

If your employer for CPT or OPT has closed due to the Shelter in Place order, but you are still considered their employee (i.e. on payroll), your work authorization will be unaffected. If you have lost your job, please notify your DSO at rpetrow@santarosa.edu for more information.  


Can I still apply for the F-1 visa?  

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Admitted and continuing students who need to apply for/renew their F-1 visa are unable to do so at this time. These services will be resumed as soon as possible, but it is not yet known when. Be sure to check the Travel.State.Gov website for updates.  


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 04/02/2020 at 3:32pm.