Top of Page
Skip main navigation

International Affairs COVID-19 Information

Updated: April 7, 2020, 5:30 P.M. EDT

This webpage is being updated regularly, and we encourage you to check it frequently for important updates. Please note that this information is constantly evolving and we do not have all the answers at this time.

Information for F-1 International Students 

Information for J-1 International Scholars

Information for NSU Related International Travel

Office of International Affairs Operations

The Office of International Affairs is currently operating with a remote staff.  We remain available to assist you with all of your needs, including advising and document processing.

  • Contact Us:
  • Advising:
    • International Student Advising: International Student Advisors are available for appointments via Zoom (online/phone) Monday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m and 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.  Appointments can be booked at http://bit.ly/nsuoissadvising.
    • Sharks Abroad Advising: 
  • Document Processing: Submit documents at any time to intl@nova.edu for processing.   

Reminders for all NSU community members:

  • The Office of International Affairs would like to remind you that www.nova.edu/coronavirus is the official and most current resource available for NSU updates related to COVID-19.  
  • NSU's official means of communication is through the NSU email address.  It is imperative that students retain access to their NSU email address at all times.
  • Students are strongly recommended to set up multi-factor authorization via the Authenticator app instead of via text message.  This will ensure continued access email, Canvas, SharkLink, and other NSU sites. This should especially be done prior to international travel.  Additional information is available at https://www.nova.edu/oiit/office-365/help/multi-factor-authentication.html.

Information for F-1 International Students

There are no future webinars scheduled at this time.  Please check back for updates about additional COVID-19 webinars from the Office of International Affairs.   

Webinar #2 - Monday, March 30, 2020 - 1:00pm EDT

Webinar #1 - Friday, March 13, 2020 - 12:00pm EDT

All F-1 students are required to complete the COVID-19 Information Form.  SEVP requires that NSU and F-1 students continue to report all information changes during COVID-19 disruptions.  This form assists in our efforts to fulfill this reporting requirement.  

Reminder:  If your information changes after you submit the form, you must re-submit your response!

Of course!  All documents and forms can still be processed by our office but may only be submitted via email to intl@nova.edu. You are encouraged to use our writable PDFs and scanning/photo capabilities to send documents requiring signatures to your advisors and then along to our office.  If you are having difficulty figuring out how to remotely complete and submit any of our forms, please just let us know.

Yes!  All CPT and OPT workshops will continue to be offered in a webinar format via Zoom.  Here is our current schedule.  

WORKSHOP TOPIC DATE & TIME LOCATION
OPT Tuesday, March 17th - 3:00 p.m. WEBINAR
CPT Thursday, March 26th - 11:30 a.m. WEBINAR
OPT Wednesday, April 8th - 9:00 a.m. WEBINAR
CPT Tuesday, April 21st - 10:00 a.m. WEBINAR
OPT Thursday, April 30th - 11:00 a.m. WEBINAR

You may also view recorded versions of previous workshops at any time:

F-1 Students Immigration Status

Yes. If you are enrolled in full-time classes this winter term then you are still considered in good immigration status. This does not change even though the courses are moved online, effective March 23, 2020. Due to this unprecedented situation, an exception is being made for students to complete their spring courses fully online, either within the US or abroad.  Students will remain in ACTIVE F-1 status so long as they otherwise adhere to all F-1 regulations. 

Please note that you must remain enrolled full-time in your winter semester classes. If you choose to drop any of your classes this could negatively impact your immigration status unless your inability to stay in your course is directly related to COVID-19.  Speak to an international student advisor before dropping below full-time.  

  • Source: 3/12/13 SEVP Statement to NAFSA - “SEVP is committed to remaining flexible in allowing schools to make temporary procedural adaptations so nonimmigrant students can continue to make normal forward progress in their program of study. They can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19. SEVP will provide updated guidance as the scope and length of this situation becomes more clear.”  View the statement here.
Yes.  On March 27, 2020, President Hanbury announced that "NSU will remain fully online through the remainder of the 2020 “winter term” for all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students."  NSU will continue to monitor the advice of national and local public health experts to determine if the university will transition to residential classes for the summer term.  These updates will be communicated via the official NSU Coronavirus website at www.nova.edu/coronavirus.

On April 1, 2020, NSU President Dr. George Hanbury announced that all 2020 spring and summer courses, which begin between March 30 and May 18, will be offered fully online.  

Summer 2020 enrollment for current NSU F-1 students who started in Winter 2020 or prior and are continuing in their programs: From an immigration perspective, students may register for summer courses or not.  There are no restrictions on the number of courses, their modality, or a student's physical location, if enrolled.  Note that academic programs may require summer enrollment and current students should defer to their academic program requirements for summer 2020 registration. 

This information applies only to Spring and Summer 2020 terms. As of April 7, 2020, Fall 2020 coursework is expected to be held on campus.  

As of March 27, 2020, there still has been very little guidance provided by SEVP or USCIS regarding modifications to the processing of I-765, OPT applications.

At this time we do not know if applications will be accepted from outside of the US, how applications that were already submitted will be seen if the student is outside of the US when the application is adjudicated (and hopefully approved), or if students attempting to re-enter the country with a pending or approved OPT will be permitted entry without a job offer.  All of these are currently unknown and the Office of International Affairs is not able to advise on how SEVP and/or USCIS will respond.

It is important that students recognize that prior to COVID-19 concerns, the Office of International Affairs strongly discouraged students from leaving the country while their OPT application was pending as we have reports of students being denied re-entry.  

Our best recommendation at this time remains that students who wish to file an OPT application should do so from within the United States and that they should ensure they return to the US before their program end date (last day of coursework).  

  • If you are currently authorized for CPT and will remain in the U.S. and are able to continue in your CPT site, no changes are necessary.
  • If you are currently authorized for CPT but your CPT site has indicated that it is no longer possible for you to complete your CPT experience:
    • Communicate with your faculty about what this means for your academic program.  
    • Communicate with the Office of International Affairs so that we can end your CPT authorization.
  • If you are currently authorized for CPT but will leave the country:
    • If your CPT organization is permitting you to continue your work remotely, confirm with your faculty member that this transition will continue to meet the expectations of your program.  No changes will need to be made to your I-20 since you will remain active.
    • If it is not possible to continue in your work, notify your faculty member to determine what this means for your academic program and notify the Office of International Affairs so that we can end your CPT authorization.  

Reminder:  CPT authorization takes a minimum of seven business days to be processed by our office.  NEVER begin off-campus training/employment before receiving your updated I-20, endorsed for CPT.

Students who have fallen out of status should schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor to discuss their options.  If you have failed to maintain F-1 student status and wish to regain valid status, there are two ways you can be reinstated:

  1. Apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for reinstatement.
  2. Leave the US and reenter using a new I-20 with a new SEVIS number.
Under federal USCIS regulation 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16), an F-1 student is eligible for reinstatement if all of the following conditions apply:
  • You have not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement
    • OR the failure to file within the 5 month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that you filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances
  • You do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of [USCIS] regulations
  • You are currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20
  • You have not engaged in unauthorized employment
  • You are not deportable on any ground other than section 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act
  • You establish, to the satisfaction of the [USCIS], in detail showing, either that:
    • The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control. Such circumstances might include:
      • serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO
      • but do not include instances where a pattern of violations or where a willful failure on the part of the student resulted in the need for reinstatement
    • OR The violation relates to a reduction in the student’s course load that would have been within a DSO’s power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student

OIA will assist you with a reinstatement petition only if all of the conditions above apply. If you do not meet the above eligibility requirements you will need to consult a US immigration attorney.

Unfortunately, there has not been any guidance provided on how the Department of Homeland Security will address situations where an individual has fallen out of status and is required to leave the U.S. but is unable to do so due to current travel restrictions.  NSU's Office of International Affairs is unable to advise students as to what will happen in this situation.  Students may wish to contact an immigration attorney regarding their situation.

F-1 Student Travel Information

Making the decision to return home is a very personal one.  Before making the decision to return home, F-1 students should consider:

  • Personal and community health implications of travel
  • Resources available (in the US and in home country)
  • Availability of flights - are there flights into your country?  Will there be flights out of your country when it is time to return?
  • F-1 visa status - will you be able to return on an unexpired F-1 visa?
  • Quarantine requirements - is your country currently requiring that you go through a quarantine period upon your departure from the US?

Students should follow all recommendations listed on the NSU coronavirus website, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel website, and from the World Health Organization.

Travel Documents 

  • Should you decide to travel WITHIN the United States, the only documentation required is a valid photo ID (note that F-1 students should always have a copy of their valid I-20 accessible).  
  • Should you decide to travel OUTSIDE of the United States, you must be prepared to show the following information to re-enter:
    •  Valid, unexpired passport
      • Note some limited exceptions exist to this rule.  See information on the "Six Months Club" for further details.
    • Valid, unexpired visa
    • Valid, unexpired I-20 with a travel signature on page two, dated within the past SIX MONTHS of when you plan to return to campus.

F-1 Visa 

Remember that your F-1 visa is required to be VALID (unexpired) any time you (re)enter the United States.  

  • If your current F-1 visa will expire in the near future, you should be aware that you will need to obtain a new, unexpired visa before you will have the opportunity to return to the U.S.

NOTE:  On March 20, 2020, travel.state.gov (U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Visa Office) posted the following news alert:

  • "In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time."

First, please check your most recent travel signature.

  • Current F-1 Students (non-OPT): Although NSU typically recommends students obtain travel signatures every 6 months, each travel signature is actually valid for 12 months.  If you plan to re-enter the country less than one year after your most recent travel signature was provided, you do not require a new travel signature.
  • F-1 visa holders on OPT: Travel signatures for students on OPT are only valid for 6 months.  If you plan to re-enter the country less than six months after your most recent travel signature was provided, you do not require a new travel signature.

If you have determined you require a new travel signature, please submit the following information to intl@nova.edu at least TWO WEEKS prior to your return to the United States so that a new I-20 with an updated travel signature may be shipped to you:

  • Full name
  • NSU N#
  • SEVIS ID#
  • Date of most recent travel signature
  • Estimated travel dates (including re-entry date)
  • Location where your new I-20 with an updated travel signature can be shipped
    • I-20 will be sent via FedEx so no PO Boxes can be utilized
    • I-20 may take up to two weeks to arrive so please provide an address (US or abroad) where you will be located to receive your new I-20

If you will return to the US in less than two weeks and require a travel signature, please send the following information to intl@nova.edu and we will write a letter requesting that CBP permit your entrance at the Port of Entry.  Please note that this is not a guaranteed method but has been successful for students in the past.  While document processing in the Office of International Affairs is seven business days, we will do everything in our power to expedite this letter for you.  

  • Full name
  • NSU N#
  • SEVIS ID#
  • Date of most recent travel signature
  • Estimated travel dates (including re-entry date)

As of March 27, 2020, decisions regarding 2020 commencement ceremonies have not yet been made.  

Unfortunately, there has not been any guidance provided about how the Department of Homeland Security will address situations where an individual has fallen out of status and is required to leave the U.S. but is unable to do so due to current travel restrictions.  NSU's Office of International Affairs is unable to advise students as to what will happen in this situation.  Students may wish to contact an immigration attorney regarding their situation.
Incoming F-1 Students 

On April 1, 2020, NSU President Dr. George Hanbury announced that all 2020 spring and summer courses, which begin between March 30 and May 18, will be offered fully online.  

Students within the US who will begin their program at NSU on a new I-20 during the Summer 2020 term:  Students must be enrolled in a full course of study, meeting minimum credit requirements but without concern for course modality.

Students outside of the US who wish to begin their program at NSU on a new I-20 during the Summer 2020 term: Students who are currently located outside of the US and wish to begin a new program of study during Summer 2020 have two options:
  • Remain outside of the US (recommended): Students remaining outside of the US may begin their coursework from outside of the US.  Because they are outside of the US, there are no immigration requirements, including a required number of credits.  Note that academic programs may require a certain number of credits and current students should defer to their academic program regarding requirements for summer 2020 registration.
  • Travel to the US (not recommended):  Students who choose and are able to travel to the US must be enrolled in a full course of study, meeting minimum credit requirements but without concern for course modality.  Please note that global US standard visa processing has been suspended and there are many travel disruptions and restrictions around the world.  Please note that while all NSU operations remain available remotely, university campuses are closed and all arrival support will only be available remotely.  

This information applies only to Spring and Summer 2020 terms. As of April 7, 2020, Fall 2020 coursework is expected to be held on campus.  

Students should continue to make progress on their NSU admission applications for fall 2020.  Once you have been fully admitted by your academic program, you will be able to request your NSU I-20.  Please visit the Requirements For Obtaining An I-20 page for additional details. Please watch for additional announcements from the Office of International Affairs and visit the Admitted F-1 Student Checklists to ensure you are ready to begin your studies at NSU.

PLEASE NOTE: While NSU programs are scheduled to go on as planned, closures around the globe may cause disruptions.  NSU has been notified of the following closures which could impact your ability to complete your admissions requirements and join the NSU community:

  • On March 20, 2020, travel.state.gov (U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Visa Office) posted the following news alert:

    • "In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time."
  • ETS has reported many test center closures.  A full list and details information about effected centers are available:
  • WES will be suspending operations until further notice.  As a result, any documents that reached their offices after March 10th should expected delays. Additional details can be found at www.wes.org. 
Miscellaneous F-1 Student Information

Details about how your course will be transitioned to an online environment will be provided by your faculty.  There are two types of online courses:

  • Synchronous - Course takes place at the same dates/times as when it was offered in person.  All students are expected to log into your course at the same time and interact with the faculty instructor in a live setting.
  • Asynchronous - Course content is delivered and engaged with at different times, such as recorded lectures, discussion posts, etc.

Most classes will likely utilize a combination of methods, but students should expect that they will still need to be available to log into their classes and participate in class at their scheduled class dates and times.  This is true even for students who are planning to be in different time zones.  It is your responsibility to ensure you have appropriate connectivity and technology to be available at your scheduled class dates and times.  

Students who will need a Social Security Number (SSN) due to OPT can apply for their SSN at the same time they apply for OPT, using the same I-765 form.

Unfortunately, as of March 18, 2020, all Social Security Administration (SSA) offices are closed and not providing in-person services.  There have been mixed responses from the SSA as to if students can apply for a SSN by mail.  Even if this service is permitted by the local SSA, it requires that students mail all original documents (including the student's passport) and that materials are returned by standard mail, without a tracking number.  For this reason, we do not recommend students apply for an SSN by mail and instead wait for Social Security Administration offices to reopen.  Please check https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/ for more information on Social Security Administration services.

Most state laws, including Florida law, do not require an individual to have a SSN before they start employment.  We encourage you to explain to your employer why you may not be able to obtain a SSN until the Social Security Administration reopens to see if they will allow you to begin employment prior to receiving your SSN. 

Currently, NSU requires student employees to have already obtained their SSN before they are able to begin employment.  

Yes! All F-1 students have a filing responsibility.  At this time, NSU's Glacier Tax Prep workshops have been canceled.  However, using the Glacier Tax Prep software is very easy and will walk you through your filing responsibilities step-by-step.  Visit the Office of International Affairs Taxes page for additional information and to access the Glacier Tax Prep software.  

The United States tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15th.  Your taxes must be postmarked by this date.  

If you experience severe economic hardship because of unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, you may submit an application to USCIS to work off-campus due to an Economic Hardship.  Note: At this time, we do not have any examples of successful or unsuccessful Economic Hardship applications due to COVID-19. 

Economic Hardship reminders:

  • You must have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year.
  • You must provide documentation of your economic hardship.
    • USCIS has recently been very strict in their review of economic hardship applications.  Students should be prepared to provide documentation of extenuating circumstances beyond standard COVID-19 disruptions in order to be considered for economic hardship.  
  • The Economic Hardship application is filed using the USCIS Form I-765 which requires a $410 processing fee.
  • Economic Hardship applications will take approximately three months to be processed.
  • If approved, economic hardship limits off-campus employment to 20 hours a week while classes are in session.  Students may be full-time during university breaks.  

If you wish to apply for Economic Hardship, please schedule an an advising appointment at http://bit.ly/nsuoissadvising.

Please be advised that NSU cannot provide any kind of tax advice, tax consultation, or tax preparation assistance to you.

CARES Act credits are only for Resident Aliens (RAs).  This is a tax designation, not an immigration designation.  The vast majority of F-1 students are Non-Resident Aliens (NRAs) for tax purposes.

  • If you filed 2019 or 2018 taxes and you were a resident alien at the time of your most recent filing, you may be eligible for the CARES Act stimulus credit.
    • Single filers must have a Social Security Number (SSN) to be eligible.
    • Married Resident Aliens who filed their taxes jointly must both have SSNs to be eligible (unless at least one spouse is a member of the armed forces).
    • Children who are US citizens of Non-Resident Aliens are not considered qualifying children and are ineligible for a credit.
  • If you were a Non-Resident Alien when you filed your 2018 taxes but are now considered a Resident Alien for tax purposes and have an SSN, you may still be able to file your 2019 return and qualify for the credit.

 Learn more about determining if you are a Non-Resident Alien (the vast majority of F-1s) or a Resident Alien for tax purposes here.  NSU F-1 students are also encouraged to utilize Glacier Tax Prep software which will walk students step-by-step through their tax-filing responsibilities, including determining if they are a Non-Resident Alien or Resident-Alien for tax purposes.  

Details about exactly when or how CARES Act credits will be paid have not been released, other than to say that individuals who are eligible to receive CARES Act credits will receive them as direct deposits or mailed checks based on the information on file from previous tax refunds.    

If you have a question that is not related to your immigration status, you will need to contact the appropriate department for that question. For example, questions about on-campus housing (including personal items left in on-campus housing) should be directed to the Office of Residential Life & Housing.  Questions about your on-campus jobs should be directed to your supervisor and/or Student Employment.

Information for J-1 Scholars

If an Exchange Visitor is in the United States but must go home or is stuck outside of the country and cannot return because his/her visa is expired, NSU will shorten the program using the explanation “due to emergent COVID-19 reasons.” This ends the program in SEVIS and prevents the Exchange Visitor from traveling until NSU can re-issue a new DS-2019 for travel purposes.

NSU may also keep an Exchange Visitor’s SEVIS record active until the Exchange Visitor is able to return to the United States to continue with his or her original program objectives. Exchange visitors should be mindful of the validity dates of their J-1 visas; they may need to renew their visas before they return to the United States.

  • Unfortunately, the Office of International Affairs has received a few reports of visa interview cancellations at US embassies around the globe.
  • Should you require a new J-1 visa to enter the country (because your current visa has expired) you will need to find an appointment with the closest/most appropriate embassy-granting office in your home country.  

NSU may need to make changes to programs with little notice, for example to comply with state or local health emergency declarations.  In such situations, NSU's obligations regarding the health, safety, and welfare of exchange visitors may conflict with our obligations in the regulations and implementing guidance to provide advance notice of certain changes to exchange visitors’ situations.  If that occurs, the Department would support NSU's prioritization of their health, safety, and welfare obligations.

The Department of State asks NSU and exchange visitors to seek alternative ways to maintain program objectives and/or employment, such as telework, online classes, or other arrangements, while preventing unnecessary exposure to the disease and its spread.  A temporary modification along these lines for exigent circumstances beyond NSU's control does not undermine a program’s consistency with the regulations.

Exchange visitors traveling through or from affected countries should refer to guidance from the Department of State (https://travel.state.gov), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry) for travel restrictions and health notices, as well as specific port-of-entry screening processes.

The Department of State has urged NSU and other sponsors to either cancel the programs altogether or defer the start dates to a date past the current recommended 60-day suspension period and issue new DS2019s. These actions update SEVIS with the information to inform consular officers of what appropriate action to take.

Information Related to NSU International Travel

Includes Study Abroad, Travel Study, International Rotations, etc.

Due to the ongoing and evolving global impact of COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution for our staff and students, Nova Southeastern University has suspended all travel outside the continental United States until further notice. As such, 2020 study abroad programs that begin prior to June 1, 2020 should be cancelled.   

 

At this time, programs that begin on or after June 1, 2020, are scheduled to continue as planned.  However, it is important to realize that future cancellations may be possible.

Pre-Departure Orientation

We have cancelled our in-person pre-departure orientation and are working to develop an online orientation to be delivered via Canvas.  Please stay tuned for additional details. 

Planning Reminders:

Because cancellations are possible at any time, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the deadlines and refund policies of your study abroad organization (as well as any other travel arrangements you may make).  All summer and fall study abroad students are strongly recommended to take the following actions:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the deadlines and refund policies of your study abroad organization.  Ensure you understand what will happen under each of the following situations:
    • Your program is cancelled by your study abroad program provider.
    • Your program is not cancelled by your study abroad program provider but NSU suspends travel to your program destination.
    • Your program is not cancelled and NSU has not suspended travel to your program destination but you decide you no longer wish to participate.
  2. Meet with your academic advisor to discuss a backup plan for obtaining any necessary courses/credits that you currently plan to earn while studying abroad, in the event you are unable to study abroad.  For Fall 2020 students especially, this may include registering for Fall 2020 coursework at NSU, with the intent of cancelling at a later date should your program not be disrupted (please pay attention to all posted payment and refund schedules). 
  3. Identify alternate study abroad options should your first choice not be possible.  These alternate options may include programs in different locations and/or during a different term.
Students are strongly encouraged to continue to move forward with the study abroad goals for the Winter 2021 semester and beyond.  Visit www.nova.edu/sharksabroad to explore program options and learn more about going abroad.

The Sharks Abroad Peer Advising team is back!

Return to top of page