Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) for International Students and Scholars
- For general information, frequently asked questions, and resources about Coronavirus Disease COVID-19, please reference the UCCS COVID-19 information site: https://covid19.uccs.edu/
- As of 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, CDC will no longer require air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight. For more information, see here.
Please see an important update from the CDC for all International Air Travelers Destined for the United States: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel/index.html.
As of December 6, all air passengers eligible for entry into the United States, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States with limited exceptions or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days. More details on this requirement for all non-immigrant travelers is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html.
Effective November 29, 2021, further travel restrictions were put into place for the following countries: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Any nonimmigrant who has been present in any of these countries within 14 days prior to attempted entry in the U.S. (even as a result of a flight layover) will not be allowed to enter the U.S. The full announcement can be found here.
Effective November 8, 2021, the four geographic COVID-19 travel ban restrictions which impact Brazil, China, India, Iran, South Africa and much of Europe, will be lifted and replaced with a new requirement that restricts entry of non-immigrants (international students and scholars) into the U.S. to only those individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This applies to all air travel into the U.S.
Proof of vaccination and proof of a negative COVID test within 3 days of departure will be required for all flights to the U.S. The proof of vaccination requirement does not apply to children under the age of 18 or non-immigrants who are citizens of a foreign country where the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations is limited (having less than 10 percent of their populations fully vaccinated against COVID-19), but these individuals must still show proof of a negative COVID test within 3 days of departure. A list of countries where less than 10 percent of the population is fully vaccinated has not yet been published. If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to test within one day of departure.
Nonimmigrants who are not fully vaccinated and are traveling by air to the United States (from one of the approved countries) are required to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arriving in the United States and must provide proof of having arranged to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the U.S.
Currently, the following vaccines will be accepted: Janssen/J&J, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm, Sinovac.
The requirement to be fully vaccinated will not impact visa issuance.
There is no exception for religious reasons or other moral convictions.
More information can be found here: A Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic | The White House
Effective May 4, foreign nationals who have been physically present in India within the previous 14 days will not be allowed entry into the U.S. due to the surge of coronavirus cases in India. More information can be found here. Students continuing or resuming studies after August 1, 2021 will be allowed entry as a result of the NIE. More information can be found here.
On April 26, a National Interest Exemption (NIE) was made for F-1 students in China, Iran, Brazil and South Africa. Students intending to enter into the U.S. for an academic program beginning or resuming August 1, 2021 or later may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before their program start date. Students with a valid F-1 visa do not need to contact the embassy or consulate to obtain an NIE to travel and students who are applying for an F-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE. More information can be found here.
Effective March 31, 2021 Presidential Proclamation 10052 has expired. This temporarily suspended visa issuance to nonimmigrants seeking to enter the U.S. in certain H-1B, H-2B, J (for certain categories within the Exchange Visitor Program), and L nonimmigrants.
Effective January 30, 2021 South Africa will be added to the list of countries in the travel ban.
Effective January 26, 2021 all travelers entering the U.S. will be required to get a viral test within 3 days of their flight to the U.S. and show written documentation of their laboratory test result to the airline. The full CDC update can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0112-negative-covid-19-air-passengers.html As a reminder, it is important that you research entry requirements for teh country in which you are planning to travel and ensure that all criteria are in place as directed. Please review the COVID information for your country with the Department of State and your country's embassy or consulate page https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html The official press lease is below:
Department of State press release: Negative COVID-19 Test Required for Travel to the United States Beginning January 26
The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remind all travelers that beginning tomorrow, January 26, all air passengers two years of age or older arriving to the United States must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding. This order applies to both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. For more information about the testing requirement, visit: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States | CDC .
U.S. citizens should reconsider non-essential travel abroad. Those that must travel abroad following the implementation of this order should carefully consider the following:
- You could have difficulty accessing a test. Testing availability and turnaround times vary widely around the world. Check the U.S. Embassy website for your planned destination(s) for information about testing options. What plan do you have to ensure you can get a test that meets the requirement in order to come home on time?
- You could test positive and have to stay abroad. Many individuals infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 are asymptomatic and unaware they carry the virus. If you test positive, you will not be able to return home as planned. What plan do you have in case you cannot come home for several weeks? Where will you stay? How will you finance your stay?
- You could have difficulty accessing or financing medical care. Travelers should be aware that the availability and quality of healthcare varies around the world, and that private health insurance may not cover expenses incurred abroad. Will your health insurance cover your hospitalization or other medical expenses abroad? Do you have travel insurance that covers medical evacuation to the United States, and does it include COVID-19 as a covered item?
The Department and the CDC continue to strongly recommend U.S. citizens reconsider travel abroad, and postpone all non-essential travel. If you must travel overseas, you should review the entire State Department Travel Advisory for your destination(s) on travel.state.gov and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (http://STEP.state.gov) to receive important updates from the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You should obtain travel insurance that will cover medical evacuation, including for COVID-19, to the United States, in the event you become seriously ill. We also urge those contemplating travel abroad to review CDC's country-specific travel recommendations and their overall guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html . U.S. citizens abroad should also closely monitor guidance from local public health and immigration authorities at their location.
- As of May 24, 2020 Brazil has been added to the list of countries included in the travel ban.
- On March 19, 2020 the US. Department of State announced a Level 4 Global Health Advisory:
Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.
Please ensure you monitor the travel restrictions of your home country as some restrictions impact citizens as well.
- As of March 20, 2020 the U.S. and Mexico border is closed for non-essential travel.
- As of March 18, 2020 the U.S. and Canada border is closed for non-essential travel.
- As of March 16, 2020 the United Kingdom and Ireland have been added to the list of countries included in the travel ban.
- As of March 11, 2020, a travel ban is currently in place for the following countries: Austria, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The Presidential Proclamation can be found here. This travel ban applies to all foreign nationals, so all international students and scholars on an F or J visa are included. Any foreign national who has traveled to any of the countries listed above within 14 days of arrival from entering the country will be denied entry into the U.S.
At this time, we are cautioning international students and scholars on F and J visas against travel outside of the U.S. though we understand if you wish to return home to your families. Every student and scholar's situation is different and we ask that you consider the following before leaving:
- Current and future travel bans
- Will your visa be expired by the time you want to reenter the U.S.? If so, is the embassy or consulate in your home country closed?
- Are you graduating this semester and wanting to apply for OPT? If so, keep in mind your EAD card will need to be mailed to a U.S. address but you will also need your EAD card with you to reenter the U.S. if your OPT is approved.
For current information on travel restrictions and health notices, as well as specific port-of-entry screening processes, 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).
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is the primary resource for up-to-date information on all diseases and biological threats. CDC information about this virus is available at About 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and CDC travel restrictions and health notices at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.
For travel inquiries and up-to-date information on travel bans, please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html for updated Embassy information.
Stay at Home Order
A Stay at Home Order, issued by Governor Jared Polis, went into effect for the State of Colorado at 6 a.m. March 26, and will remain in effect until April 26, 2020 (it was recently extended).
Under this order, residents must remain at home, and only leave their home for the purpose of performing tasks critical to their (or their family/household members') health and safety, or to go to or return from "critical work."
- Another factor to consider if wanting to return home is if you have a valid visa. If your visa has expired and you return to your home country, you will need to renew your visa before entering the U.S. Currently many embassies and consulates have canceled visa appointments. More information from travel.state.gov is below:
"In response to worldwide challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of State is suspending routine visa services in most countries worldwide. Embassies and consulates in these countries will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 18, 2020. These embassies and consulates will resume routine visa services as soon as possible, but we are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Check the website of the embassy or consulate for its current operating status: usembassy.gov.
- UCCS will use remote learning for from March 16-May 16 for those classes that are able to do so. Although international students are restricted to taking only one online class per semester, an exception has been made by the Student and Exchange Visitor program (SEVP) to offer flexibility to universities to address the significant public health concerns associated with the COVID-19 crisis. At this time, international students are allowed to pursue 100% online coursework from March 16, 2020 - May 16, 2020.
- If any students or scholars are experiencing difficulty maintaining their visa status as a result of COVID-19, please reach out to the International Affairs Office immediately.
OPT Recommendations for Students Graduating
- If you are graduating in May, 2020 or August 2020 and plan to apply for OPT note that USCIS has not changed the regulation that requires students to apply for OPT from within the U.S. Furthermore, the I-765 application form requires a U.S. mailing address where your EAD and other notices, such as an RFE, will be sent. If you have not yet applied for OPT, we encourage you to do so but also advise against international travel while your application is pending.
- If you are graduating and have already left the U.S. without applying for OPT, you will need to return to the U.S. before your program end date (May 16 for spring graduates and August 7 for summer graduates) in order to apply. Due to the current travel restrictions, this may not be possible and you may lose your OPT benefit.
- If you have already applied for OPT, we do not recommend traveling internationally. Time sensitive mail (i.e. Requests for Further Evidence) will be mailed to the U.S. address you provided on your application and if not responded to in a timely manner, your OPT may be denied. If your OPT is approved, your EAD will be mailed to your U.S. address, which is also required when entering the U.S. If you have already left the country and your OPT is approved, we recommend returning before your program end date (May 16 for spring graduates and August 7 for summer graduates) and making arrangements to have your EAD sent to you in your home country.