COVID-19 Updates from International Services

updated January 14, 2021

For questions regarding LSU's COVID policies, please visit lsu.edu/roadmap/

International Services staff are working remotely for student advising and services at this time. You should contact staff directly by email: ISO TeamOur thoughts go out to anyone who has already been affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

Spring 2021

Recent Immigration Updates

Additional University Resources

COVID–19 Travel Information and Resources


Spring 2021

Information regarding the Spring 2021 semester and SEVP guidance is expected and will be posted and distributed once received and confirmed. The expectation at this time is that the Fall 2020 SEVP Guidance indicated below will continue for the Spring 2021 semester.

The health and safety of all our LSU community is important to us. Stay safe, take care of yourselves and those around you. Good luck with your studies. We are committed to assist and serve you in any way that we can. Together we will navigate and overcome this global health challenge.


Recent Immigration Updates

On July 24, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published guidance confirming that institutions are to follow the original March 2020 guidance for the fall 2020 semester.  It has also been verified that institutions that change to 100% remote instruction at a later date due to the pandemic, the enrolled F-1 students who are in the US or outside the US, would be able to maintain their F-1 immigration status.  See New Students and Current Students sections for more information.

Note that this news does not change the requirement for those F-1 students who are outside the U.S. to have a valid F-1 visa stamp to enter the US. The current world-wide and US travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are still applicable. New F-1 students must enroll in at least one class which is not 100% online for their first semester of enrollment.

Resources

During the emergency period related to COVID-19, the five-month temporary absence provision [8CFR 214.2(f)(4)] will not apply for students who have active SEVIS records. LSU F-1 and J-1 international students would be contacted by International Services directly if they did not have an active SEVIS record and were terminated. Students who have an active SEVIS record and have been outside the United States for more than 5 months may return to the United States through routine re-entry requirements.

Non-immigrants such as F-1 and J-1 status holders are not precluded from receiving unemployment benefits (if otherwise eligible), COVID-10 medical treatment and emergency funds that are provided by the University (not the CARES ACT). These are NOT considered a “public charge” which would be a violation of status.

uscis.gov/news/all-news/dhs-implements-inadmissibility-public-charge-grounds-final-rule


New Students

Information for new International Students who are outside the United States

Summer 2021

New students who are admitted for Summer 2021 need to be aware of a few things specifically concerning a summer admission:

  • LSU’s summer 2021 semester consists of two sessions, each about one month long.  The first session begins May 24, and the second session starts July 6. Our office is authorized to issue I-20s for the first session only due to the SEVIS reporting period, so you would need to either (1) arrive in May and enroll as a full-time student (total of 6 credits hours over the two sessions) or (2) wait and join for fall 2021.
  • Full-time enrollment is required when summer 2021 is your first semester of enrollment at LSU*.  Any future summer term enrollment is considered optional per F-1 student status regulations. *An exception to the full-time enrollment requirement can be made only if you are in the United States in F-1 status and are enrolled at another U.S. school for the spring 2021 semester.
  • If you decide to seek the F-1 visa to gain U.S. entry and enroll for summer, we highly recommend that you discuss with your academic advisor/department what courses may be offered over the two sessions of summer 2021 and that you consider taking 3 credit hours in each of the sessions, if possible. It is your responsibility to confirm with your academic advisor that you can enroll in 6 credit hours over the duration of the summer term.  One class must be in the first session so that our office can (1) report your summer semester arrival and official full-time enrollment and (2) activate your F-1 record during the SEVIS reporting period.  If this is not possible, you should consider fall 2021 as an option for your first semester of enrollment.

Additionally, new F-1 students cannot be enrolled in 100% remote courses for their first semester.  They must enroll in at least one in-person course. (less than 100% online).  New F-1 students should work closely with their academic advisor to confirm this necessary enrollment requirement for the semester.

Current Students

Spring 2021

The University operations for the spring 2021 semester instruction can be found at the LSU COVD-19 web site under the Student Site. 

Continuing F-1 students who were lawfully enrolled and/or present for employment (Academic Training, OPT or OPT STEM) for the spring 2020 semester can maintain their immigration status from inside or outside the U.S.  Full-time enrollment is required to maintain F-1 status.  Course enrollment for may be all in-person, all online, or a mix of the two. 

There may be some disruptions in University operations due to working remotely, and the high volume of inquiries and requests received may slow responses, but we are working very hard to serve all students as timely as possible.

NOTE:  The COVID-19 outbreak is causing delays in all mail delivery services worldwide.

LSU Remote Instruction

Students will receive instruction remotely via their personal or public computers/devices using University based platforms such as Zoom and Moodle. Students will be monitored by the normal University academic protocol and possibly with the online instruction platform, ProctorU. Instructors take attendance where applicable and now will receive assignments electronically. The University Registrar will monitor and maintain student enrollment. 100% remote instruction will be for the duration of spring semester, Spring Intersession, both Summer Sessions, and Summer Intersession. The University decision for the fall 2020 semester instruction can be found at the LSU COVD-19 web site under the Student Site.

Information for current F-1 Students

You may find more information regarding SEVP and US government information in regards to COVID-19 at the following site: .ice.gov/coronavirus 

The guidance from SEVP allowed continuing F-1 students to participate in 100% remote/online academic instruction during this emergency period and still maintain their lawful F-1 status. We have reported the University’s operational and academic changes such as remote instruction to SEVP as required for our F-1 student program. Note that regulations regarding requirements to be a full-time student and all OTHER F-1 rules remain in effect.

As an F-1 student, when you are departing your local residence address at LSU and/or in Baton Rouge, LA:

  • If you are remaining in the United States, you must update your local residence/street address in your myLSU account to the address where you will be staying within 10 calendar days of your move.
    If you are departing the United States, verify that your permanent home address (of your home country) is entered and accurate in your myLSU account.

Information for current J-1 Students

For those of you whose DS-2019 forms were NOT issued by LSU and your J-1 status is sponsored by a non-LSU entity, you should be in direct contact with their staff for information and guidance during this critical time.

The US Department of State J-1 Exchange Visitor Program recognizes that we share its commitment to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our participants. The uncertainty created by the widespread outbreak of COVID-19 requires flexibility. We have reported the University’s operational and academic remote instruction changes to the US Department of State J-1 Exchange Visitor Program as required. In regard to the University’s temporary hybrid instruction, you remain in lawful J-1 status as an active participant engaged in your program objectives. Note that regulations regarding requirements to be a full-time student and all OTHER J-1 student rules remain in effect.

As a J-1 student, when you are departing your residence address at LSU and/or in Baton Rouge, LA:

  • If you are remaining in the United States, you must update your local residence/street address in your myLSU account to the address where you will be staying within 10 calendar days of your move.
  • If you are departing the United States, verify that your permanent home address (of your home country) is entered and accurate in your myLSU account.
  • If your J-1 status is sponsored by a non-LSU entity, you should report your address changes directly to your J-1 sponsor advisors immediately.

U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor program guidance emphasizes that J-1 program participants should continue to have direct institution interaction and campus engagement opportunities.  LSU meets this model with in-person and hybrid class instruction and campus interaction (in-person and virtual) which fall under CDC guidelines.


Additional University Resources

Students experiencing food insecurity/shortages can make an appointment to visit the LSU Food Pantry is open at reduced hours.

You may also:

If you are unable to gain assistance, please email: isograd@lsu.edu

The LSU Baptist College Ministry (BCM) is also offering food assistance. Students who have food assistance needs should email: lsubcm@eatel.net

Students with unanswered questions and concerns, report your case to LSU CARES as a “student of concern”: lsu.edu/saa/lsu-cares/

Student Emergency Support Fund: lsu.edu/family/association/emergencyfundapp.php


COVID–19 Travel Information and Resources

COVID-19 cases and deaths have been reported all over the world and in all 50 US states, and the situation is constantly changing. US Consulates have been closed since March 2020 for visa services due to the pandemic and there has been no official announcement concerning their ability to resume services.

Be fully aware that international travel may compromise your ability to return to the United States either by your own personal preference and/or in the foreseeable future, depending on circumstances and world-wide changes and travel restrictions. This is an unprecedented situation in which prior experience and normal expectations no longer exist. Taking serious health precautions and making decisions based on careful review of all information and travel advisories will help you manage your decisions and fully understand all risks.

For F and J students and dependents who are facing deadlines to depart the US but are unable to do so because of pandemic related travel restrictions:

SEVP and DOS instructs F and J students/scholars and their dependents to keep documentation of their attempts to depart the US and the restrictions that prevent them from doing so until they are able to depart (border travel restrictions, flight cancellations, etc.).   F and J students/scholars should also inform their international advisor in International Services if they are unable to depart the US by their deadline providing documentation collected.

NOTE:  High cost of flights is not a supported reason to not depart the US according to SEVP and DOS. 

Update from January 12, 2021:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expanding the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers entering the U.S.  Before departure to the U.S., a COVID-19 test is required, combined with the CDC recommendations to get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for 7 days post-travel.

Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a COVID-19 test for current infection) within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19. Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.

This order will become effective on January 26, 2021.

For additional information: CDC Expands Negative COVID-19 Test Requirement to All Air Passengers Entering the United States | CDC Online Newsroom

The US has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders.

With specific exceptions, internationals who have been in any of the following countries during the previous 14 days may not enter the United States:

  • China
  • Iran
  • European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City) *
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) *
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Brazil

* National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland (F1) students:

travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/national-interest-exceptions-from-certain-travelers-from-the-schengen-area-uk-and-ireland.html

Related sites:

SEVP COVID-19:

DHS ICE:

CDC:

U.S. Consulates:

Additional resources (closures and suspended visa appointments):

Learn More

We understand that there are many questions at this time. You may find some of your answers here:

FAQs for F-1 students


Many are advocating on behalf of F-1 students, and lawsuits have been filed to seek an injunction against the temporary exemptions indicated by ICE on July 6, 2020:

LSU Interim President Tom Galligan statement to international students

NAFSA: Association of International Educators Statement

States and Universities File Lawsuits