FAQs for F-1 Students

To the LSU international community:

International Services (ISO) is monitoring COVID-19 developments here on campus and internationally. Because your health and safety are our primary concern, we are sharing these FAQs to inform you of options and resources available to you. We will continue to update this page as additional information becomes available. Although ISO continues to work remotely, know that we are working as hard as ever to support you and advocate for you during this time. 

Please use the following sections to find your question:

Spring 2021

Admits for Fall 2020

Current/Continuing LSU Students

Travel to the United States

CPT applicants for the upcoming semester

OPT applicants and those with OPT authorization (12 months)

STEM OPT applicants and those with STEM OPT authorization (24 months)


Spring 2021

What are LSU’s plans for Spring 2021? Will there be any regulatory changes that would affect my F-1 status?

(updated 11/20/20)

Any updates from SEVP and LSU that may affect your F-1 status will be addressed here as they become available to us.  Please monitor our COVID Updates page for the latest information. The information below is based on the most-recent guidance from SEVP, last updated 8/7/2020.

My LSU admission was deferred to Spring 2021. I’ve already paid the I-901 SEVIS fee with the LSU I-20 that I received for a previous semester. Will I have to pay the SEVIS fee again?

No, you would not need to pay the SEVIS fee again because your SEVIS number would not change. Our office would work to update the program dates on your I-20/SEVIS record.

I have a valid tourist visa in my passport. Could I use the B-1/B-2 visa to enter the United States and change to F-1 student when I get to the U.S.?

No. Each visa category has a specific purpose, and U.S. Immigration regulations specifically prohibit study in the U.S. while in B-1/B-2 visitor status.  It is also generally not advisable for an individual to enter the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visitor visa and then immediately change status to F-1. One reason is that the change of status process often takes several months, so you would likely not have enough time to change your status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 before you would need to start your studies. The other main reason is that change of status applications from B-1/B-2 to F-1 are often questioned by U.S. Immigration and sometimes denied. (The issue is that U.S. Immigration does not look favorably on prospective students entering the U.S. as a B-1/B-2 visitor when the real intention is to study in a degree program in the U.S.) 

You should wait and apply for the F-1 student visa in your home country and come to the U.S. as an F-1 student. 


Admits for Fall 2020

On July 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced that it is beginning a “Phased Resumption of Routine Visa Services:” travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/phased-resumption-routine-visa-services.html. It is unknown which U.S. Consulates may be resuming services or when services in your country may resume, so you should check the website of where you hope to apply for an F-1 visa, if needed: usembassy.gov/. Note: The embassy links get you to the right embassy website, but you will have to navigate to find relevant COVID-19 information, as each embassy website is structured differently.

If you are unable to have a timely visa interview and are unable to arrive to campus for the start of the Fall 2020 semester (classes begin August 24), you could decide to:

1. Enroll in LSU classes that are available remotely from where you are outside of the United States, if able. Or
2. Request that your admission is deferred to a future semester.

(added 7/24/20)

The university has provided an FAQ on its “Roadmap” webpage that includes Tuition and Fees among its topics. You are encouraged to read through other items on the “Roadmap” site as many other questions you may have could be answered there.

Regarding actual payment of the tuition and fees, please visit the LSU Bursar Operations website.  If you have any further questions, you can e-mail them at bursar@lsu.edu.

(updated 7/27/20)

Regardless of which option you may be considering, you should contact one of the following depending on your degree/program classification:

1. Undergraduate admit (Bachelor’s level) – intrntladm@lsu.edu
2. Graduate admit (Master’s or PhD) – your LSU academic department. (If you decide to defer, please be aware that the you and the department will need to work with your Admission Officer at the Graduate School to officially defer your admission in the LSU system.)
3. Law Center admit – llmadmissions@lsu.edu.
4. Veterinary Clinical Training or DVM admit – svmadmissions@lsu.edu.

NOTE: If you have an assistantship, scholarship or Tuition Award from LSU, you also should ask how the offer/award may be impacted with either option. For undergraduate students with an LSU scholarship, you also should contact scholarships@lsu.edu to inform Financial Aid of your plans and desires if you decide to defer.

Since ISO does not know when U.S. Consulates in each area of the world may resume visa services, we recommend that you wait until late July or early August to request an admission deferral to a future semester, if that is the option that you determine may best for you. 

(added 7/23/20)

Yes, you would need a I-20 for for a future visa appointment, and this is regardless of whether you choose to enroll remotely for fall 2020 or defer your admission to a future semester.

ISO would work to defer/update your SEVIS record/I-20, but please note that we typically do not work on future semester I-20s until September at the earliest (for Spring 2021) or February 2021 at the earliest (for Summer/Fall 2021). This is because the visa cannot be issued more 120 days before the programs start on the updated I-20.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs has indicated on its website that “the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee is valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.” travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html

No, you would not need to pay the SEVIS fee again because your SEVIS number would not change. Our office would work to update the program dates on your I-20/SEVIS record.

(added 7/24/20)

According to LSU’s academic calendar, the last day to schedule classes for Fall 2020 is Wednesday, September 2.  You would need to arrive to LSU by September 1 to schedule classes, pay fees and complete course registration in order to maintain the F-1 visa status. ISO cannot change this date; it is a university-wide deadline. 

Any potential extension of the September 2 deadline would be determined by one of the following depending on your degree/program classification:     

1. Undergraduate admit (Bachelor’s level) – contact intrntladm@lsu.edu
2. Graduate admit (Master’s or PhD) – contact your LSU academic department and the Graduate School (gradadmission@lsu.edu).

 

No. Each visa category has a specific purpose, and U.S. Immigration regulations specifically prohibit study in the U.S. while in B-1/B-2 visitor status.  It is also generally not advisable for an individual to enter the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visitor visa and then immediately change status to F-1. One reason is that the change of status process often takes several months, so you would likely not have enough time to change your status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 before you would need to start your studies. The other main reason is that change of status applications from B-1/B-2 to F-1 are often questioned by U.S. Immigration and sometimes denied. (The issue is that U.S. Immigration does not look favorably on prospective students entering the U.S. as a B-1/B-2 visitor when the real intention is to study in a degree program in the U.S.) 

You should wait and apply for the F-1 student visa in your home country and come to the U.S. as an F-1 student. 


Current/Continuing LSU students

(updated 11/20/20)

We expect that this allowance will remain the same, however, the SEVP has not yet final information concerning Spring 2021. We will post the information as soon as it becomes available.

(added 8/7/20)

F-1 students who want their F-1 records to remain in Active status in SEVIS during the Fall 2020 semester must have LSU health insurance, or approved proof of health insurance, because their Active F-1 records would allow them to re-enter the U.S. at any time. Students must either keep the LSU student insurance or submit a waiver request of the LSU insurance through the online portal by Friday, September 11: www.gallagherstudent.com/lsu-batonrouge. Any other charges on your fee bill are mandatory and are assessed regardless of the mode of instruction.

If you choose to not meet the health insurance requirement, you should e-mail isosevis@lsu.edu and inform our office so that we may close your F-1 SEVIS record and inactivate your I-20 form for the fall 2020 semester. You may be able to request a reactivation of your SEVIS record and I-20 for spring 2021 semester, if you plan to enroll at LSU for in-person classes in January 2021. Otherwise, a new Initial I-20 can be created and sent to you once you meet requirements.

(updated 11/20/20)

Students who are not planning to enroll for the Spring 2021 semester (either from within the U.S. or while outside the U.S.) will need to contact two units:

  • ISO:  Please e-mail isosevis@lsu.edu to indicate that you are not enrolling for spring 2021. In this case, ISO would need to terminate your SEVIS record for “Authorized Early Withdrawal. Note: This is not a “bad” termination reason.
  • Your academic unit: Contacting your academic unit would provide you with information on how skipping spring 2021 may affect your degree plan and ensure that you are properly “pausing” your academic progress.  Depending on your degree/program classification, contact one of the following:
    • Undergraduate students: your academic college advisor to request a “Leave of Absence (LOA) form.” This form would be used so that you may not need to re-apply for admission to return for a future semester.
    • Graduate students: your academic department and graduate advisor for any instruction/guidance.

Please be aware that if you are currently inside the United States and will not enroll for spring 2021:

  • You will need to depart the U.S. within 15 days of your SEVIS termination.
  • Once your SEVIS record is terminated, you would not be able to use your current I-20 to return to the United States.
  • You need to contact our office before returning to the U.S. so that we can reactive your SEVIS record (if possible) and/or issue you a new I-20 (if necessary).

(updated 11/20/20)

SEVP allowed F-1 students to maintain valid F-1 status and keep their SEVIS record in “Active” status even if they left the United States and took online/remote classes during the Spring, Summer and/or Fall 2020 semesters.

Please monitor our website for updates.

 


Travel to the United States

(updated 11/20/20)

The President of the United States issued proclamations limiting travel to the United States due to COVID-19.  For the current list of countries affected, visit nafsa.org/regulatory-information/covid-19-restrictions-us-visas-and-entry.These proclamations will remain in effect until terminated by the President.

There are some possibilities for travel to the United States even from restricted countries. Members of our professional organization (NAFSA: Association of International Educators) who also advise international students have shared that some of their students are trying to travel to a third country that:

  1. does not fall under a United States travel restriction and
  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 may need to be in the third county for at least 14 days before trying to enter the U.S. 

Please understand there is no official guidance or official documentation on the mentioned plan to enter the U.S. There are risks (and costs) associated with such a plan, and you would need to be prepared for those if you would try this. A couple of examples:

  1. The third country may have its own quarantine requirements.
  2. COVID conditions in the third country could change and impact travel from the third country.

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 United States.

(added 1/21/21)

Because we do not how health and safety guidelines may be altered as the Coronavirus pandemic evolves, we recommend that you check LSU’s Roadmap website for updates.

You can find more information about travel recommendations at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html

(updated 8/7/20)

ISO has identified important websites for you to monitor for updates when considering international travel on our section “COVID-19 Travel Information and Resources". 


CPT applicants for the upcoming semester

Please see our CPT page for the specific dates and deadlines for the upcoming semester. Due to the special circumstances with COVID-19 social distancing and staff working remotely, you have three options for submitting your documents to us:

  1. Scan copies of all CPT application materials after 7/15/2020 to isoemp@lsu.edu, and we will try to process them that way. 
  2. Use US Postal Mail to send your packet to International Services, LSU; Attn: Employment Coordinator, 101 Hatcher Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. You cannot use FedEx or UPS to mail anything since our building is closed. The only mail we can receive goes through the US Postal Service to our Campus Mailing Center, and we would pick it up from there.
  3. You may drop off your CPT application materials at the front desk in 101 Hatcher Hall, between 8:00am – 4:30pm Monday – Friday.

You still need all the appropriate signatures, and to follow the dates and deadlines on our webpage, etc. All CPT Application forms, information dates and deadlines can be found on our CPT page. Digital/electronic signatures are fine on the paperwork for our part of the process.

LSU semester start and end dates and deadlines depend on the LSU Calendar, and would only change if those corresponding dates change. 


OPT applicants and those with OPT authorization (12 months)

Please see our OPT page for the specific dates and deadlines for the upcoming semester.  Due to the special circumstances with COVID-19 social distancing and staff working remotely, you have three options for submitting your documents to us:

  1. You may scan copies of all of the OPT application materials to the email isoemp@lsu.edu and we will try to process them that way. 
  2. You may mail your application materials to International Services, LSU; Attn: Employment Coordinator, 101 Hatcher Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. 
  3. You may drop off your OPT application materials at the front desk in 101 Hatcher Hall, between 8:00am – 4:30pm Monday – Friday.

You still need all the appropriate signatures, and to follow the dates and deadlines on our webpage, etc. All OPT Application forms and information can be found on our OPT page. Digital/electronic signatures are fine on the paperwork for our part of the process.

LSU dates and deadlines depend on the LSU Calendar and would only change if those corresponding dates change. For now OPT periods have not changed, but there is guidance from US ICE about accommodations being made in various areas: ice.gov/coronavirus. Your part would be under the “Nonimmigrant students and SEVP-Certified Schools” tab, then “Frequently Asked Questions.” The ICE webpage is in development and may be updated at any time.

Even though there have been rumors in the news lately, we are still processing OPT applications for those who are eligible and USCIS is still processing and approving their part of the applications, so at this point, OPT is still a benefit for eligible F-1 students. 

Our professional organization (NAFSA) advocates for all aspects of international education and is how we stay informed and up-to-date on actual changes and how they affect our students so we can best advise. Also, the American Immigration Lawyers Association fights for the rights of internationals who are in the U.S., so keeping up with their website aila.org and their Facebook may help you see what is rumor, fact or a possibility. 

It is a scary time for all of us who believe in international education and know how hard you have worked for your goals. We will continue to support and advise the best we can in these challenging times. 


STEM OPT applicants and those with STEM OPT authorization (24 months)

Please see our STEM OPT page for the specific dates and deadlines for the upcoming semester. Due to the special circumstances with COVID-19 social distancing and staff working remotely, you have three options for submitting your documents to us:

  1. You may scan copies of all of the STEM OPT application materials to the email isoemp@lsu.edu and we will try to process them that way. 
  2. You may mail your application materials to International Services, LSU; Attn: Employment Coordinator, 101 Hatcher Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. 
  3. You may drop off your STEM OPT application materials at the front desk in 101 Hatcher Hall, between 8:00am – 4:30pm Monday – Friday.

You still need all the appropriate signatures, and to follow the dates and deadlines on our webpage, etc. All STEM OPT forms and information can be found on our STEM OPT page. Digital/electronic signatures are fine on the paperwork for our part of the process.

LSU dates and deadlines depend on the LSU Calendar and would only change if those corresponding dates change. For now STEM OPT periods have not changed, but there is guidance from US ICE about accommodations being made in various areas: ice.gov/coronavirus. Your part would be under the “Nonimmigrant students and SEVP-Certified Schools” tab, then “Frequently Asked Questions.” The ICE webpage is in development and may be updated at any time.

Even though there have been rumors in the news lately, we are still processing STEM OPT applications for those who are eligible and USCIS is still processing and approving their part of the applications, so at this point, STEM OPT is still a benefit for eligible F-1 students. 

Our professional organization (NAFSA) advocates for all aspects of international education and is how we stay informed and up-to-date on actual changes and how they affect our students so we can best advise. Also, the American Immigration Lawyers Association fights for the rights of internationals who are in the U.S., so keeping up with their website aila.org and their Facebook may help you see what is rumor, fact or a possibility. 

It is a scary time for all of us who believe in international education and know how hard you have worked for your goals. We will continue to support and advise the best we can in these challenging times. 

After you e-mail your DSO at isoemp@lsu.edu to report your STEM OPT information, you have done what you needed to do. The deadline mentioned in the e-mail and in your SEVP Portal is your deadline for reporting to your DSO. 

DSOs have their own timeline to report it in SEVIS. There are many miscommunications and issues with the Portal, and it is unfortunate there is not a button for you to click that you have done your part.  After you have sent the information to your DSO, we will take care of our part so multiple e-mails from you are not necessary.