Skip to main content
Emergency Alert

Phone outage

Campus is open today, Aug. 12, however, the main switchboard remains out of service. 

To reach Augustana, call 309-794-7711. 

 

Frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 for international students

Updated July 29, 2020

Academics in fall 2020

Augustana college is scheduled to reopen with a hybrid learning model that includes a mixture of distance (online) learning and in-person classes for the fall 2020 semester and J-term 2021.

Most fall semester 2020 classes and J-term 2021 classes will be held face-to-face, but will accommodate students who have opted for distance learning. Refer to the fall semester classes for in-person and distance learning message for information regarding on-campus students, distance learners and students taking a gap period.

Classes start:

  • In-person on Mon., Aug. 31, 2020.
  • Distance (online) learning on Mon., Nov. 30, 2020 until the end of the semester. Students may choose not to return to campus after Thanksgiving. All classes will meet online only the week after Thanksgiving. Finals (Dec. 7 -11) can be completed from a distance. For more information, see communication from the Augustana Strong Task Force.   

J-term is scheduled for Jan. 4 - 26, 2021.

Registration

Students can adjust their class schedules, if they wish, during open registration on August 17-21. New students can make schedule changes during Welcome Week.

If you have questions or need additional resources, refer to the fall semester classes for in-person and distance learning guidance for contact information.

Augustana College reopening

For the most current updates, please see communication from the Augustana Strong Taskforce or leave a comment or question on the COVID response form. It will take a continued effort from every member of the campus community to adhere to expert health guidance in an effort to successfully deliver a fantastic educational and co-curricular Augustana experience while co-existing with COVID-19 this fall. 

Immigration policy updates

Please make note: Immigration policies are rapidly changing during this time. Continue to check your email regularly for updates and attend OISSS check-ins regarding policy updates.

Friday, July 24, 2020 (Current policy): Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released clarifying questions and guidance to follow SEVP guidelines originally issued in March 2020. The guidance enables schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the public health emergency generated by COVID-19. 

  1. New of initial status international students (not enrolled by March 9, 2020) will not be able to enter the United States to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is fully online.
  2. F and M visa students seeking to enroll in a program of study that includes in-person and online (ex. Augustana's hybrid learning model) are able to maintain F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status if pursuing such programs during the fall 2020 school term.
  3. Active F-1 and M-1 students will be permitted to temporarily engage in a full online program of study.
  4. International students may remain in the U.S. even if Augustana College switches from a hybrid program to full online instruction. You will continue to maintain your SEVIS-Immigration status and will not be subject to removal proceedings based on full online studies.
  5. International students may remain in the U.S. in a hybrid program of study, which consists of both in-person and online components. Students will not face enforcement action or loss of their nonimmigrant status based on engaging in hybrid programs.
  6. SEVP-certified schools that previously submitted a procedural change plan detailing alternative procedures, do not need to resubmit the plan for the fall 2020 session, unless the school is making substantive changes.
  7. Returning international students and transfer students may continue their studies outside the U.S.. Form I-20 should reflect their continued studies outside the U.S. with the following remarks: "Outside the United States due to COVID-19."
  8. DSOs may electronically send I-20s to student email addresses listed in SEVIS.
  9. Students who were in valid F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status on March 9, 2020, including those previously enrolled in entirely online classes who are outside of the U.S. and seeking to re-enter the country this fall.
  10. Students actively enrolled at a U.S. school on March 9, 2020, who subsequently took courses online while outside of the country can re-enter the U.S., even if their school is engaged solely in distance learning. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020: The Federal Government rescinds the July 6, 2020 ICE Rule. The rule is no longer in effect—does not apply.

Monday, July 6, 2020: the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) released a policy update with new guidelines and requirements for international students and sponsoring institutions. 

FAQ for all international students

1. Can I apply or reapply for a VISA to attend Augustana's hybrid program?

Yes. Augustana College is an SEVP-certified school. Augustana is scheduled to reopen with  a hybrid learning model that will include a mixture of distance (online) learning and in-person classes.

Per March 2020 guidance: international students seeking to enroll in a program of study that includes in-person and online components are able to maintain F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status if pursuing such programs during the fall 2020 school term. 

2. If I have a valid visa (and I am outside of the United States), do I need a new visa before traveling to the U.S.?

No, students with valid visas do not need to apply for a new visa to resume their studies at Augustana.

Continue to monitor travel restrictions due to COVID-19. Check section on current events and related updates for COVID-19 Country Specific Information, Travel Restricted Countries, and on U.S. Embassies and Consulates opening and reopening. 

3. Can I remain in the U.S. in a hybrid program of study?

Yes.

Per March 2020 guidance: International students may remain in the United States in a hybrid program of study, which consists of both in-person and online components. Students will not face enforcement action or loss of their nonimmigrant status based on engaging in hybrid programs. If a student violates U.S. laws or regulations, they could potentially be subject to removal.

4. Can I remind in the U.S. if Augustana College switches from traditional in-person or hybrid instruction to fully online instruction?

Yes. 

Per March 2020 guidance: international students may remain in the United States even if Augustana College switches from a hybrid program to a fully online instruction. You will continue to maintain your SEVIS-Immigration status and would not be subject to initiation of removal proceedings based on online studies. If a student violates U.S. laws or regulations, they could potentially be subject to removal.
 

5. Will I-20s be reissued?

No. On July 14, 2020, the Federal Government rescinded the July 6, 2020 order to reissue all Form I-20 to reflect changes in program enrollment and student information.

6. Can I-20s be sent electronically?

Yes. DSO - OISSS may electronically send I-20s to student email addresses listed in SEVIS.

7. What is the Five Month Rule?

A. The Five Month Rule is when an international student is terminated for being away from classes or not in status for 5 months:

  1. A SEVIS-Immigration record is terminated with reasons (out of status) for more than five months; and 
  2. An international student has spent more than five months outside of the United States during an absence from school (excluding those participating in authorized study abroad programs).

B. When termination occurs, there is a 5 month grace period to re-enter the U.S. on the current I-20: 

  1. Less than 5 months out of the U.S.: From the date of termination, you must return to the U.S. within 5 months in order to attempt reactivation of  your current I-20 on your SEVIS-Immigration file. Once OISSS receives your re-admitted status, an attempt to reactivate your current I-20 SEVIS-Immigration file can be processed.
  2. More than 5 months Out of the U.S.:  From the date of termination, if you return more than 5 months out of the U.S. and you wish to return as an Augie student, you may request a new/initial I-20 with a new SEVIS ID Number and pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee, again. Once OISSS receives your re-admitted status, a request for a new/initial I-20 can be processed.
     

FAQ for returning international students and transfers

This includes: returning Augustana international students, incoming transfers, and recent May 2020 high school graduates who were enrolled at a U.S. education institution on March 9, 2020.

1. I have been out of the U.S. since March 2020, can I re-enter the U.S.?

Yes, if you were enrolled as of March 9, 2020 at a U.S. education institution. Continue to monitor travel restrictions due to COVID-19. Check section on Current Events and Related Updates for COVID-19 Country Specific Information, Travel Restricted Countries, and on U.S. Embassies and Consulates opening and reopening. 

Be sure to travel with the following documents: 

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • I-20/DS-2019 federal forms
  • Current class schedule for Fall 2020

Per March 2020 guidance: Students actively enrolled at a U.S. school on March 9, 2020, who subsequently took courses online while outside of the country can re-enter the United States, even if their school is engaged solely in distance learning. Students who were in valid F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status on March 9, 2020, including those previously enrolled in entirely online classes who are outside of the 
United States and seeking to re-enter the country this fall. 

2. I have been out of the U.S. since March 2020, is my SEVIS-Immigrration file terminated?

If you did not withdraw from an educational institution for terminated with reasons in Spring 2020 then your SEVIS-Immigraiton file remains in active status. It was not terminated. 

3. I continued my studies from my home country or outside of the U.S. during the Spring 2020 Semester, is my SEVIS-Immigrration file terminated? 

No. By continuing and completing Spring 2020 academic semester via distance (online) learning from your home country or outside of the U.S. you maintained your VISA status. Your SEVIS-Immigraiton file remains in active status - it was not terminated.

Per March 2020 guidance: The guidance enables schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the public health emergency generated by COVID-19. The March 2020 guidance applies to nonimmigrant students who were actively enrolled at a U.S. school on March 9 and are otherwise complying with the terms of their nonimmigrant status, whether from inside the U.S. or abroad.

4. How would I know if I was terminated?

An international student would initiate the withdrawal process from an educational institution of attendance. 
 
The international advisor or international office would terminate SEVIS Immigraiton record accordingly to terminated with reasons and a 15 day Termination Notice would be given to depart the U.S. within 15 days to your home country.

5. When does the Five Month Rule begin?

The Five Month Rule applies when an international student initiates the withdrawal process from an educational institution of attendance. The five month rule begins from the date SEVIS-Immigation record is terminated and notice is given to the international student. 

6. Can I take online classes from my home country?

Yes. You will maintain status by continuing distance learning from your home country. Your SEVIS-Immigraiton status will remain in active status - will not be terminated. Your I-20 will be updated to reflect continued studies outside the United States with remarks: “Outside the United States due to COVID-19.” 

All International Students: will need to complete the “Maintaining Status Reminder: F-1 & J-1 Status Check-in.”

Per March 2020 guidance: returning international students and transfers students may continue their studies outside the United States. Your SEVIS-Immigraiton record will remain active. Your I-20 will be updated to reflect your continued studies outside the United States with the following remarks: “Outside the United States due to COVID-19.”

7. Can I remain in the United States and take full online course work? 

Yes. You may take 100% all online courses from anywhere in the United States. Your SEVIS-Immigraiton status will remain in active status. It will not be terminated. 

All International Students: will need to complete the “Maintaining Status Reminder: F-1 & J-1 Status Check-in.” 

Per March 2020 guidance: returning international students and transfers (may remain in the United States to engage in a full course of study online. Students engaged in 100 percent online coursework will be able to maintain their nonimmigrant status and not be subject to initiation of removal proceedings based on their online studies. If a student violates U.S. laws or regulations, they could potentially be subject to removal.

8. What is a full time hybrid course load?

International students must maintain full-time academic enrollment or a course load of 12 credits per academic semester. This is part of maintaining your visa status. 

9. What are my options for hybrid courses?

There are no regulations as to how many online, in person, or hybrid classes to take for the Fall 2020 & J Term.

10. Can I take a gap semester or gap year?

Yes, you may take a leave of absence.

  1. Stay connected with OISSS: share your withdrawal plans so accurate documentation can be noted on your SEVIS-Immigraiton record, and advising can be given pre and post gap and prior to your return. 
  2. Follow the process for withdrawal from Augustana College with the Dean of Students Office.
  3. Once OISSS receives your withdrawal status: 
    1. Your SEVIS-Immigraiton record will be terminated with reasons for “Early Authorized Withdrawal,”
    2. Your I-20 will be terminated - no longer valid, and 
    3. OISSS will send you a 15 day Termination Notice: to depart the U.S. within 15 days to your home country.
    4. The Five Month Rule begins from the date of termination. 

11. How do I get readmitted after taking a gap semester or gap year?

When you are ready to return:

  1. Stay connected with OISSS: Share your return plans so accurate advising can be given prior to your return. 
  2. Reapply for admission using the Special Student Application to be readmitted.
  3. Once OISSS receives your readmitted status: 
    1. Discussion starting from the The Five Month Rule will begin, and 
    2. Advising on next steps with student will begin. 
       

FAQ for new/initial status incoming international students

1. What is a full time hybrid course load?

International students must maintain full-time academic enrollment or a course load of 12 credits per academic semester. This is part of maintaining your visa status. 

2. What are my options for hybrid courses?

At least one course must be in-person or hybrid class. 

Per March 2020 guidance: New or initial status after March 9, 2020 will not be able to enter the U.S. to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online.  Designated school officials (ex. Augustana College - OISSS) will not issue a Form I-20 to new or initial status who is outside of the U.S. and plans to take classes at an SEVP-certified educational institution fully online.
 

Current country-specific information

1. COVID-19 Country Specific Information

Travel.State.Gov

2. Travel Restricted Countries:

Travel.State.Gov
CDC

3. US Embassies and Consulates opening and reopening:

List of US Embassy in Foreign Countries - USEmbassy.gov
List of U.S. Embassies and Consulates In Foreign Countries - Travel.State.Gov
 

Still have questions? Prospective students, contact Liz Nino, Director of International Admissions. New and returning students, contact OISSS