COVID-19 Updates from International Services

Updated May 2021

For questions regarding LSU's COVID policies, please visit

Our thoughts go out to anyone who has already been affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

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.

New Students

Current Students

COVID-19 Travel Information

COVID–19 Testing and Vaccination Sites Near LSU

2021 International Travel Guide for F-1/J-1 Students

New Students

Fall 2021

Information for new International F-1 or J-1 Students who are outside the United States.

University operations can be found at the LSU COVID-19 web site under the student site.   

Roadmap to Spring (

This information will be updated to Roadmap to Fall shortly.

The University plans to offer in-person classes as well as remote classes.

F-1 students who are new and entering the US in the student status for the first time or starting a new program after a break in studies (and not on OPT) must enroll in at least ONE course which is not 100% remote/online (in-person instruction).

Current Students

Summer 2021

The summer semester is considered a vacation or break period for F-1 and J-1 continuing students.  Enrollment is not required.  The University will be offering in-person classes as well as remote classes.

Fall 2021

Information regarding the Fall 2021 semester and SEVP guidance of 2021-2022 for F-1 students has been confirmed. 

SEVP continues to allow F-1 continuing students, since spring 2020, to participate in 100% remote/online academic instruction during this temporary emergency period and still maintain their lawful F-1 and J-1 status.  

University operations can be found at the LSU COVID-19 web site under the Student Site.   

Roadmap to Spring (

This information will be updated to Roadmap to Fall shortly.

The University plans to offer in-person classes as well as remote classes.

For F-1 and J-1 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:  The high cost of flights is not a supported reason to not depart the US according to SEVP and DOS. 

The guidance from SEVP and DOS which began Spring 2020 and allowed continuing F-1 and J-1 students to participate in 100% remote/online academic instruction during this emergency period and still maintain their lawful F-1 status is currently in effect. Note that regulations regarding requirements to be a full-time student and all OTHER F-1  and J-1 status rules remain in effect.

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.

COVID–19 Travel Advisory Information and Resources

COVID-19 cases and deaths have been reported all over the world and in all 50 U.S. states, and the situation is constantly changing. U.S. Consulates may be closed or open on a limited basis for visa and other services due to the pandemic. Some U.S. Consulates have been able to open for phased resumption of routine visa services depending on their local areas but now have large backlogs of visa applications to process causing delays. Some students have been able to make U.S. visa appointments only to have them cancelled and rescheduled for a later time. This makes the planning for gaining or renewing a U.S. visa very difficult at this time.

Be fully aware that international travel may compromise your ability to return to the U.S. 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 time 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.

Effective January 26, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers departing and entering the U.S. Before international travel, 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. Rapid COVID-19 tests are NOT accepted.  Viral/diagnostic COVID-19 tests are required. In some cases, proof of completed vaccination for COVID-19 can eliminate the need to quarantine so this should be investigated.

Air passengers are required to get a diagnostic 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 if 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 can deny boarding to the passenger. You would also be ineligible to enter the U.S. Airlines may require other precautions such as temperature checks and evaluation for COVID-19 symptoms.

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

Each country had its own standards and protocols for entry regarding COVID-19 tests and quarantine periods. It is very important to know these requirements prior to travel. 

COVID-19 Country Specific Information (

The U.S. has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders. Travel Restrictions - Fact Sheet | U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico

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
  • South Africa
  • India

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

On April 26, 2021, DOS updated its National Interest Exception (NIE) page to expand certain NIE eligibility to all countries subject to a geographic COVID-19 entry ban. Students with valid F-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.

A National Interest Exception (NIE) is required for continuing F-1 students who want to return to the US earlier than 30 days prior to the fall 2021 class start date.  The NIE approval must be noted on the US visa stamp or provided to the individual in an email. Each approved NIE is valid for 12 months from the date of approval and may be used to travel to the US multiple times for the purpose indicated in the approved NIE.

Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the United States | CDC

Presidential Proclamations on Novel Coronavirus (

There are some possibilities for travel to the United States even from restricted countries and without an approved NIE for continuing F-1 students who want to return earlier than 30 days prior to the fall semester begin date. Some students have traveled to a third country that:

  1. does not fall under a United States travel restriction
  2. is not listed as a Level 2 or Level 3 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The U.S. travel restrictions refer to anyone being in one of the restricted countries for the “14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.” You would need to be in the unrestricted third county for at least 14 days before trying to enter the U.S. 

There are risks associated with such a plan, and you would need to be prepared for those if you would try this option. A couple of examples:

  1. The third country may have its own COVID and quarantine requirements.
  2. COVID conditions in the third country could change and impact travel from that country.
  3. If you test positive for COVID-19 while in the third country you would need seek medical treatment there and would experience that country’s full quarantine requirements.
  4. Costs incurred for additional travel and housing and any unexpected expenses.

You should investigate if you are eligible to travel to your planned destination(s) as you start to plan and purchase your return flight and research the options that may work best for you to try and return to the U.S.



CDC (Centers for Disease Control)

U.S. Consulates (find closures and information on 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