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:
Summer and Fall 2021 - SEVP Guidance and University Plans
What are LSU’s plans for Summer and Fall 2021? Will there be any regulatory changes that would affect my F-1 status?
For information regarding LSU's COVID policies, visit lsu.edu/roadmap/. Updates will be posted at this site.
The University will be offering in-person and remote classes for summer and fall 2021.
Information regarding the Fall 2021 semester and SEVP guidance of 2021-2022 for F-1 students has been confirmed.
Immigration allows F-1 continuing students to participate in 100% remote/online academic instruction during this temporary emergency period and still maintain their lawful F-1 status. F-1 students who are new and entering the US for the first time or starting a new program after a break in studies from the US (not transferring from OPT) must enroll in at least ONE course which is not 100% remote/online (in-person instruction).
Admits for Fall 2021
No, you would not need to pay the SEVIS fee again because your SEVIS number would not change. Our office will work to update the program dates on your SEVIS record and issue an updated I-20/DS-2019 form.
If you are unable to have a timely visa interview and are unable to arrive to campus for the start of the summer or fall 2021 semester, 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.
On July 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced that it began a “Phased Resumption of Routine Visa Services.” Some U.S. Consulates are open and receiving appointments, and others are still closed. This has caused a backlog of visa appointments causing delays. You should check the website of where you hope to apply for an F-1/J-1 visa: usembassy.gov/.
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.
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) – email@example.com.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Veterinary Clinical Training or DVM admit – email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to inform Financial Aid of your plans and desires if you decide to defer.
Situations can change with little notice in regard to visa appointments depending on which area of the world you will be conducting your visa appointment. We recommend that you wait until late July or early August to request an admission deferral to a future semester allowing time for all opportunities, if that is the option that you determine may be best for you.
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
According to LSU’s academic calendar, the last day to schedule classes for fall 2021 is September 1. You would need to arrive to LSU by August 31 to schedule classes, pay fees and complete course registration in order to maintain the F-1/J-1 visa status. ISO cannot change this date; it is a university-wide deadline.
We recommend that you request an earlier appointment with the consulate.
Any potential extension of the September 1 deadline would be determined by one of the following depending on your degree/program classification:
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/J-1 student visa in your home country and come to the U.S. as an F-1/J-1 student.
I received information with my I-20/DS-2019 about the International Student Orientation program and reporting to International Services upon my arrival to campus, which is part of the F-1/J-1 status requirements. What are the plans for the program? I may be enrolling at LSU remotely from my home country for the summer or fall 2021 semester. How would I attend the program?
Due to COVID-19 and physical distancing practices, ISO is not conducting an in-person International Student Orientation program. Rather, ISO is providing an online orientation course for new students during the week of August 16
Yes, you would need a I-20/DS-2019 for a future visa appointment, and this is regardless of whether you choose to enroll remotely for fall 2021 or defer your admission to a future semester.
ISO would work to defer/update your SEVIS record, but please note the visa cannot be issued more 120 days before the program start on the updated I-20/DS-2019.
Current/Continuing LSU students
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 enrolled full-time in online/remote classes during the spring and fall 2020 semesters, and the spring 2021 semester.
Please monitor our website for updates.
F-1 students who want their F-1 records to remain in Active status in SEVIS during the summer and/or fall 2021 semester must have LSU health insurance, or have been waived of the LSU student 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 the deadline. 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 not to meet the health insurance requirement and have the LSU student insurance charge removed, you should e-mail email@example.com and inform our office so that we may close your F-1/J-1 SEVIS record and inactivate your I-20/DS-2019 form. You would be able to request a re-activation of your SEVIS record for spring 2022 semester, if you plan to enroll at LSU for in-person classes in January 2022. Otherwise, a new Initial I-20/DS-2019 can be created and sent to you.
You can choose not to enroll for the summer semester. Enrollment is optional since it is a vacation period for continuing students. No notification to International Services is needed.
Students who are not planning to enroll for the Fall 2021 semester (either from within the U.S. or while outside the U.S.) will need to contact two units:
- ISO: Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate that you are not enrolling for fall 2021. In this case, ISO would need to terminate your SEVIS record for “Authorized Early Withdrawal.
- Your academic unit: Contacting your academic unit would provide you with information
on how not enrolling for fall 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 fall 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/DS-2019 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/DS-2019 for the semester you plan to return (if necessary).
Travel to the United States
The U.S. has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders.
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.
With specific exceptions, internationals who have been in any of the following countries during the previous 14 days may not enter the U.S.:
- 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
- South Africa
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 U.S. earlier than 30 days prior to the fall 2021 class start date. The NIE approval must be noted on the U.S. visa stamp or provided to the individual in an email. An approved NIE is valid to travel for only 30 calendar days from the day of approval for a single entry only.
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:
- does not fall under a United States travel restriction and
- 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 United States.
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:
- The third country may have its own COVID and quarantine requirements.
- COVID conditions in the third country could change and impact travel from that country.
- 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.
- 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 United States.
Yes, the travel restrictions do apply to those in transit through one of the restricted countries.
During the temporary 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. 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 all other routine re-entry requirements.
We recommend that you check LSU’s Roadmap website often for updates.
You can find more information about travel recommendations at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html
Effective January 26, 2021, the CDC expanded the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers departing and entering the US. Before international travel, a COVID-19 VIRAL 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 US 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.
ISO has identified important websites for you to monitor for updates when considering international travel on our page COVID-19 Travel Information and Resources.