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.
- SRJC District announcements and resources
- Official DHS COVID-19 guidance for F-1 visa holders
- CDC International travel recommendations
FALL 2021 ENROLLMENT OPTIONS
Classes start on Monday, August 16th. New (initial I-20) students will be required to take some in-person classes. Continuing, Transfer, and Change of Status students may enroll 100% online (if physically present in the U.S. since March 9th, 2020). The chart below explains your enrollment options, depending on your F-1 status and physical location, in accordance with COVID-19 guidance:
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 Fall 2021 if you enroll in at least one in-person course by July 1st. Detailed instructions will be provided during online orientation.
Additionally, DOS is working on Visa Interview Backlog. If you cannot get an F-1 visa interview before August 16th, or if you cannot get an in-person class by July 1st, or if you prefer to wait until campus has fully re-opened, we will defer your admission to Spring 2022. You may study online from your home country.
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 August 16th, please notify us and we will defer your admission to Spring 2022.
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 Fall 2021, if you enroll in at least one in-person course by July 1st. Detailed instructions will be provided during online orientation.
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 August 16th.
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 2021
You may continue to maintain F-1 status by enrolling full-time in 100% online classes from your home country in Fall 2021. 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 to SRJC when in-person instruction resumes.
If you will not continue at SRJC and your Form I-20 Program end date is 05/28/2021, you must return to the U.S. before your I-20 expires to be eligible for 60-day grace period.
You may continue to maintain F-1 status by enrolling full-time in 100% online classes from the U.S. in Fall 2021. Please email us to confirm your plans ASAP.
Returning students who are not enrolled in Spring 2021
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 Fall 2021 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 by July 1st. Your passport and F-1 visa must also be valid for re-entry.
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: Is SRJC closed and have classes moved online?
Yes. In response to current health orders, SRJC services and instruction have moved to an online format beginning March 13th, 2020 and lasting through the Fall 2021 semester. If you have concerns about online instruction, or technology limitations, please notify your instructors.
- FAQ #2: 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 Forms I-20 are required to take at least 1 in-person class.
- FAQ #3: 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.
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 #4: 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 travel.state.gov website for information on travel restrictions.
- FAQ #5: 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) 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. SEVP is temporarily allowing schools to email electronically signed I-20s to students for the duration of the emergency.
- FAQ #6: 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 in-person instruction resumes. 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 #7: 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 students in 2021 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 #8: 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 students will need to make a payment to be able to register for additional classes in 2021.
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 #9: 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 #10: 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 #11: 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 #12: How can I access student services?
Last updated April 12, 2021 at 10:46 PDT