COVID-19 Information for International Students

Updated July 31, 2020

On July 14, 2020, the U.S. government agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 policy directive and FAQs released on July 7 that indicated F-1 international students in the U.S. would not be able to remain in the country if they were attending schools that were operating entirely online. They are returning to the status quo established by the March 9, 2020 policy directive and March 13, 2020 addendum, which allows F-1 international students to continue making progress towards their degree and maintain their status from a distance outside the U.S. 

On July 24, 2020, SEVP issued a broadcast message to clarify how the March guidance would apply to Fall 2020 including new F-1 students. F-1 students in new or initial status will not be allowed to enter the U.S. if their institution is fully online. Kalamazoo College will be implementing a hybrid model for the Fall 2020 that includes a residential course of study.  

For general questions and concerns, visit the Kalamazoo College COVID-19 Information page. If you have any other questions or concerns as an international student, please email ISA@kzoo.edu

NEW F-1 STUDENT FAQS

The CIP has developed the following FAQs to answer some questions about Fall 2020 for new F-1 students. 

Q: What should I do if I already received my I-20? 

A: If you have submitted your I-20 documents and received your I-20, you should work on securing the first available visa appointment at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Then you may be able to request to expedite your visa appointment, depending on the policy of your local U.S.  embassy or consulate.  Please email us if/when you are able to obtain a visa appointment.  

Q: What should I do if I have not yet submitted my I-20 documents?

A: Please continue to work on gathering your I-20 documents.  If you have submitted them and have not yet received your I-20, please check-in with the Admissions office or Alayna Lewis to find out why you have not received the I-20.  It is likely that you are missing a document or that we need updated information or documents.  We need you to be I-20 eligible to attend.  Once you have received your I-20, you should work on securing the first available visa appointment at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Then you may be able to request to expedite your visa appointment, depending on the policy of your local U.S.  embassy or consulate.  Please email us if/when you are able to obtain a visa appointment. 

Q: When should I plan to arrive to campus? 

A: Our first priority is for you to arrive to campus, where we have reserved a dorm room for you, along with our other First-Year Students.  New international students should plan to arrive for move-in on September 3 and begin International Student Orientation on September 4.

Q: What happens if I am unable arrive by September 3rd? 

A: We know that many of the US embassies and consulates are not accepting student visa appointments at this time.  We want to assure you that if you are NOT able to secure a visa or travel before September 3, you will still be able to participate in International Student Orientation via online modules.  If you are able to travel, we will supplement these modules with in-person activities that will help you get to know the campus, our staff, and your fellow students. 

Please watch for additional communications from the CIP throughout the remainder of the summer, and please do not hesitate to reach out to Alayna Lewis with any questions as you prepare for Fall. 

Continuing F-1 Student FAQs

The CIP has developed the following FAQs to answer some questions about Fall 2020 for continuing F-1 students (sophomores, juniors, and seniors).  

Q: The College plans to adopt a hybrid delivery system of online, in-person, and mixed format classes for fall quarter. What does this mean for F-1 students who choose not to or are not able to return physically to Kalamazoo in September? 

A: Returning F-1 students who are outside the U.S. and are unable to re-enter the U.S. due to issues renewing passports or visas, health concerns, and/or travel restrictions, may enroll in distance learning courses offered by K for fall quarter. They will still be able to participate in distance learning courses, remain active in their F-1 student status, and make progress toward their degree as long as they are enrolled in a minimum of 2.4 K-units. This can be done via distance learning so your full course load could consist of distance learning classes and you can remain at home or another location within the U.S.  

Q: Is it possible for the College to switch to distance learning-only classes at any point after the quarter has begun? If so, what does that mean for continuing F-1 students?

A: Yes, it is possible. Please know that the College must abide by the Governor’s executive orders and these orders may change at any point before or during the quarter.  If the College changes to distance learning classes, international students will be able to continue their courses and remain in the U.S. The College is committed to making sure F-1 students may complete the academic year at K and not have to suddenly depart the U.S.

Q: I plan to return to Kalamazoo for the Fall quarter. What if I am unable to arrive by the beginning of the Fall 2020 (K’s first day of classes is September 14) but can arrive in the weeks after?

A: Professors are planning to approach their courses with flexibility in recognition that students may need to complete courses from a distance for health and/or travel reasons.  

We will do our best to offer flexibility, but this will have to be determined on a case-by-case basis with each individual affected. Please maintain close communication with CIP staff and your professors if you are in this situation.  

Q: What happens to my SEVIS status if I choose to withdraw from the College for fall quarter?

A: Please note that there are travel restrictions in place for students who have spent time in China, Iran, the European Schengen Area, U.K., Ireland or Brazil in the 14-day period before attempting entry to the U.S. Any students in this country that are planning to return to the US would need to travel to an alternate location for the 14 days preceding their planned entry to the US.

F-1 students who are outside the U.S. and are unable to re-enter the U.S. due to issues renewing passports or visas, or due to travel restrictions, may enroll in online courses offered by K for fall quarter. They will still be able to participate in online courses and make progress toward their degree, but their SEVIS records will not remain active for the quarter.  

Q: What happens to my SEVIS status if I cannot return to the U.S. in the fall?

A: Depending on how long F-1 students are outside of the U.S, they may be able to request to have their original SEVIS record reactivated and obtain an I-20 for re-entry, or they may have to apply for a new I-20 by completing a new Resource Verification form and providing financial documentation that they can afford to return and complete their program.

Outside the country less than 5 months:
Can request to reactivate SEVIS record.

Outside the country more than 5 months:
Requires application for new SEVIS record (Resource Verification Form, financial documents, new SEVIS fee, new visa ONLY if visa is expired).

The CIP will reimburse returning students (rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors) for the SEVIS fee and/or visa application fees if you return to enroll at the College in Winter 2021, Spring 2021 or Fall 2021. We can advocate with Information Services so you may maintain your K email address to keep connected and up-to-date with campus information.  

Note: For students who were enrolled full-time for spring quarter and took classes remotely, the 5-month rule would start in September as summer is an annual break.

Q:  Will Kalamazoo College require me to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving into the US?

A:  The College will work with our Student Health Center as well as local and national public health organizations to make decisions about this. As of right now, there is no mandate requiring international travelers to quarantine upon arrival. If this changes by the time students arrive, the College has reserved local housing to be able to quarantine students if necessary. 

Please note that there are travel restrictions in place for students who have spent time in China, Iran, the European Schengen Area, U.K., Ireland or Brazil in the 14-day period before attempting entry to the U.S. Any student in these countries that are planning to return to the U.S. would need to travel to an alternate location for the 14 days preceding their planned entry to the U.S. 

Q:  Will Kalamazoo College require me to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving into the US?

A: The College will work with our Student Health Center as well as local and national public health organizations to make decisions about this. As of right now, there is no mandate requiring international travelers to quarantine upon arrival. If this changes by the time students arrive, the College has reserved local housing to be able to quarantine students if necessary.

Academics

Q:  When will we know which courses will be offered via distance learning format and which will be offered as hybrid/in-person?

A:  As of now, it seems most courses being developed for the fall term will be offered as hybrid/in-person. The information will be updated on the course schedule at the beginning of August and the Drop/Add period will open on Monday, August 3rd

Q:  Will I be able to get the classes that I need for my major, if I am unable to re-enter the U.S.?

A:  The course schedule will be updated at the beginning of August to indicate which classes will be offered in which format or how many classes will be offered in each format.  We are confident that students will be able to find a distance learning option for a significant number of courses. Faculty have confirmed they are committed to supporting international students and will do all they can to offer flexibility.  

Housing

Q:  Will international students who are sophomores, juniors, or seniors receive on-campus housing?

A:  A prior College communication had announced the decision that on-campus housing would not be offered to juniors and seniors. For the fall term, the College will prioritize incoming first-year students and visiting international students for campus housing. There will not be space to house sophomore students on campus, including those who had planned to live in Living Learning Houses, so sophomores should make plans to live off campus (in Kalamazoo or at home).

Q:  What resources are available to international students searching for off-campus housing?

A: We encourage everyone who is thinking about returning to Kalamazoo to investigate off-campus housing in the Kalamazoo area. We have an Off-Campus Housing Guide on our Moodle Page and you can also reach out to other international students about finding housing together on the International Student Facebook Group or fellow K students on the K Student Body group.  

Financial Assistance

Q: What is available to international students in terms of financial support for the upcoming academic year?

A: The Financial Aid Special Circumstance Form is a request that can be submitted to the Financial Aid office to review your financial aid package for the upcoming academic year. The Financial Aid office will continue to review requests submitted after the original May 1st deadline to review financial aid packages for the 2020-2021 academic year. If this is an option that you are interested, please email Financial.Aid@kzoo.edu.   

Another possible option would be the Severe Economic Hardship Work Authorization. This may be a lesser-known option for students, but it is a possibility for any student who has completed one full academic year in good F-1 status and who can document their economic hardship. You can find more information about this on the Moodle. The process requires that you work closely with Alayna to apply.  

Q: I am struggling with my finances right now. Are there any resources for me?

Unfortunately, the CARES Act was written to exclude many people, including international students, and although the HEROES Act has not yet passed, if it does, it is almost certain that it will not include financial benefits for international students.  The CIP has begun investigating other financial support structures to see what may be available and accessible to international students.  

The CIP has also developed a COVID-19 International Student Emergency Fund Application, which can be found on the Moodle. Awarding of emergency funds is subject to availability of funds for the program. If you have questions about the application, please email Alayna, Asia, or Lizbeth. 

Q: I plan to take courses from a distance. What resources are available to help me with books or other course supplies?

A: The CIP can investigate and attempt to mitigate some of the cost of shipping any books or materials you need for class. At the moment, there are numerous issues with international shipping and customs officials will still inspect books and materials. We cannot promise we can solve every issue around accessing materials, but we will do what we can to mitigate the additional costs. Please reach out to us if you find you need assistance with this.

Work Authorization

Q: Will off-campus work authorization be impacted for students whose SEVIS record is terminated? 

A: If you are outside the country less than 5 months and are able to reactivate your record, your eligibility will not be affected (as long as you have completed 1 full year or 3 academic quarters at K, then you would be eligible).   

If you are outside the country for more than 5 months and have to apply for a new I-20, then you will not be eligible until you complete 1 full academic year or 3 academic quarters on that new I-20.  If you have less than 3 quarters left to complete your degree, you will not be eligible for OPT.  

Q: Will it negatively impact my F-1 student status if I have a remote internship/job at a U.S. based company, but I am working from outside the U.S.? 

A: As long as you are in active F-1 student status (enrolled full-time at K with a minimum of 2.4 units), you are allowed to participate in campus employment, Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), and/or STEM OPT at a U.S. based company while living and working outside the U.S. as long as the employer has a way of assessing your attainment of learning objectives. 

There may be tax implications associated with work conducted outside the U.S. for both you and the employer. 

Q:  If I have already graduated and applied for OPT, will I be able to continue with OPT as planned?

A:  Yes. If you left the country while waiting for your approval and EAD, you will need an I-20 with a travel signature, a valid F-1 visa, your passport and the EAD to re-enter the U.S.  If you need a travel signature, please let us know.

Health Insurance

Q: As an international student, I have the College Student Health Insurance plan. Does it cover COVID-19 costs?

A: Wellfleet, the College health insurance provider, has updated the below coverage:  

Wellfleet will cover all member costs for COVID-19 testing, including emergency room, urgent care, and office visits. 

Wellfleet will cover treatment based on the members specific plan benefits.   

More updates from Wellfleet about COVID-19 can be found here. Information about specific plan benefits can be found here.  

Q: Do I still have health insurance coverage with the College Student Health Insurance plan while I am in my home country?

A: Yes, the policy goes from 8/1-7/31 each year.  Out of country expenses are covered at 60%.  Students would need to pay and submit receipts for reimbursement.  Additionally, the insurance does NOT cover “eligible expenses within your home country or country of origin that would be payable or medical treatment that is available under any governmental or national health plan for which you could be eligible.”