Frequently Asked Questions for International Students Spring 2021

The Deparment of Homeland Security has not yet issued updated guidance for the spring 2021 semester.  The information on this page represents our best understanding of spring requirements based on fall guidance.  When additional informations is received, this page will be updated as soon as possible, and an email sent to students with the updated information.

Page last updated 12/17/2020 09:26 PM

While we have not yet received updated guidance for spring 2021, we believe that continuing students may choose to take a fully online course load, regardless of their physical location.  We will keep you updated on any changes.

While we have not yet received updated guidance for spring 2021, we believe that if you are a new student, arriving in the U.S. for the first time, you’ll be required to take at least one face-to-face or hybrid course, but the rest may be taken online. We will keep you updated on any changes.

You do not need to maintain health insurance if you are studying outside of the U.S.

To request a health insurance waiver, for spring 2021 please complete the spring waiver form, and return it to [email protected] for review. 

When you are ready to begin study in the U.S., you must obtain an F-1/J-1 student visa prior to entry. Visas are issued by the U.S. Department of State, and unfortunately, there is never a guarantee that a visa will be issued; the decision lies entirely with federal officials.

While we have not yet received updated guidance for spring 2021, we believe the following information will remain true:

Continuing students must continue to take classes full-time online from home in order to maintain their visa status. If you are in your final semester and you do not require a full-time course load to complete degree requirements, you can enroll part-time and maintain status.

Students who are new to St. John’s and do not already have an F-1 visa (from attending another U.S. school, for example) cannot apply for or receive an F-1 visa if they remain at home and study online during the spring semester.

While we have not yet received updated guidance for spring 2021, we believe continuing students who remain enrolled full-time and are in Active status in SEVIS will continue to continue to accumulate credit towards OPT eligibility, regardless of their physical location.

Unfortunately, F-1 regulations require you to be physically in the U.S. at the time you submit your OPT application. For more information on submitting your OPT application, please visit our page on our Optional Practical Training page.

If you are arriving from abroad, New York State has updated guidance for quarantine. You must get a COVID test three days before departure for New York.  When you arrive in New York, you must complete the  New York State Traveler Health Form and you must quarantine for 4 days.  On the 4th day you must get another PCR COVID test.  If your test is negative, you may end your quarantine.

Please note that these quarantine requirements apply to both students living in University housing and those living off-campus.

Students living on campus should have received an email from Residence Life with specific information about arrival dates and testing procedures.  Students arriving from abroad are expected to move in on January 13th.  For more information on spring move-in, please visit the Office of Residence Life’s “Move-In Survival Guide.” Review the section on “Quarantine Requirements.)

Students quarantining off-campus will be required to present a negative COVID test (type: PCR, taken at the end of the 4-day period) to Student Health Services in order to enter campus. Students quarantining off-campus who need to take a PCR COVID test will receive information about testing options available. The cost of this test should be covered by SJU Health Insurance.

All students must plan to arrive and complete quarantine requirements in time to begin any in-person course requirements by February 3, which is the add/drop date for spring, except for the School of Law (see below.)

Additional information for School of Law Students: For most upper-level continuing students at the School of Law, the first day of classes ia January 19.  First year continuing students will begin their Lawyering pre-session class on January 8.  Upper-leve pre-session classes will be offered online.  Orientation and some introductory courses for new LL.M. students start on January 11.  Add/drop for the School of Law ends on January 25th.  All Law students must plan to arrive and complete quarantine requirements in time to begin any in-person course requirements. If you have questions about your Law courses or program, please reach out to the School of Law directly at [email protected]  

Wednesday, February 3 is the last date to check in to Residence Halls. Unless you have requested to quarantine on campus and plan to arrive on Saturday, January 9, all quarantine requirements need to be completed in advance of check-in. For more information, please vsit the Office of Residence Life’s “Move-In Survival Guide.”

While we have not yet received updated guidance for spring 2021, we believe students can have “on campus” employment from abroad, whether this is a continuation of a previous job or a new job. This includes graduate assistantships; however, you must speak with your academic department about your plans.

Merit-based scholarships will be honored, regardless of physical location or mode of instruction.

Ozanam and Catholic Scholars will be accommodated if they need to participate remotely and should be in touch directly with their programs about this.

In addition, athletes should be in touch directly with their coaches for specific guidance.

While we have not yet received updated guidance for spring 2021, we believe continuing students studying full-time outside the U.S. in spring 2021 will remain in Active status in SEVIS, and therefore the 5-month rule will not apply.

Students will receive new I-20s on an as-needed basis. Students with upcoming visa appointments or planned travel should contact [email protected] for guidance.

The Department of State updated national interest exceptions for certain travelers from the Schengen Area, the U.K., and Ireland on July 16, 2020. Students traveling from these regions and countries with valid F-1 visas may be able to enter the U.S. We urge you to contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate for confirmation. Should you travel to the U.S., print this page and carry it with you when traveling.

You need to report a change of your U.S. residential address in UIS (under the “personal information” tab) so we can update your SEVIS record as required by the Department of Homeland Security.

We encourage you to contact the International Student and Scholar Services Office (ISSSO) at [email protected] for more information or schedule an appointment for individual advising. Please note that appointments will take place online.