COVID-19 Summer 2021 Information

 

Information for All Students

Q: How can I obtain an I-20 or DS-2019 while staff in Northwestern’s Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS) are working remotely? (Updated 04/30/21) 

A: For F-1 students, I-20s are being issued as PDF documents and emailed to students with e-signatures. Students should print their I-20, sign it for their records and use it as needed (e.g., for visa appointments, employment, travel).

For J-1 students, some DS-2019s can be issued as PDF documents and emailed to students with e-signatures. Initial and visa renewal DS-2019s need to be original with an ink signature. J-1 students can request their documents by submitting a request via the OISS Portal.

Options for receiving original I-20 or DS-2019 with ink signatures:

  1. Request a shipment through eShipGlobal to receive documents in the mail.
  2. Pick up the I-20/DS-2019 Form at the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS). For the most up-to-date on-campus office hours, check the OISS home page.

Q: I need to apply for a U.S. visa to enter or return to the U.S. Am I able to get a visa at this time? (Updated 04/30/21) 

A: In March 2020, all U.S. Consulates suspended routine visa services until further notice. Since then, consulates have resumed routine visa services on a limited basis based on local conditions. This means that some international students may be able to apply for and receive a visa stamp depending on the country. You can still apply for your immigration documents from OISS (I-20 or DS 2019) so that you will be ready to submit a visa application as soon as your consulate reopens for services. Please contact your local U.S. Consulate for additional information and updates on visa services resuming.  

Q: How do I obtain a travel signature on my I-20 or DS-2019 to return to the U.S? (Updated 04/30/21)

A: New students do not need a travel signature to arrive in the U.S. Travel signatures for continuing F-1 and J-1 students are valid for one year. Travel signatures for F-1 students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) are valid for six months. 

All continuing F-1 and J-1 students can request a new travel signature on their I-20 or DS-2019 by submitting the “I-20 Reprint Request” or “DS-2019 Reprint Request” via the OISS Portal and selecting the reason as “travel.” Your OISS Advisor will email you a PDF of your document with a new travel signature. You should print that I-20 or DS-2019 and sign it before your travel. Customs and Border Protection officials will need to see your printed paper I-20 or DS-2019 for re-entry to the U.S.

All J-1 students who will renew their J-1 visa while traveling abroad will need a DS-2019 with ink signature from an OISS staff member. J-1 students can request shipment of the DS-2019 Form via eShipGlobal to receive in the mail or pick up the DS-2019 Form during limited on-campus office hours. For the most up-to-date, on-campus office hours, check the OISS home page.

Information for New Students

Q: I am a new international student who will be outside the U.S. for the Summer 2021 Term. Since Northwestern will offer remote, hybrid and face-to-face courses, are there any restrictions I should be aware of as I plan my course schedule? (Updated 04/30/21)

A: New international students who will be outside of the U.S. for the Summer 2021 term are eligible to take an all online/remote course schedule, but will need to defer their F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record and I-20 or DS-2019 form. Students can submit New Student Immigration Document Deferral requests through the Office of International Student and Scholar Services using the OISS Portal. International students should work with their academic advisor to discuss all options related to class registration.

Q: I am a new or transfer F-1 student currently outside of the U.S. I have received my initial or transfer-pending I-20 document and am ready to come to the U.S. Are there any barriers to entry I should anticipate? (Updated 04/30/21)

A: First, you must get a visa stamp from a U.S. consulate abroad before entering the U.S. Although U.S. consular services were temporarily paused due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they are slowly resuming. Please check with your local consulate or contact your OISS Advisor for guidance. Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa stamp requirement. 

Second, as of Jan. 26, 2021, anyone traveling to the U.S. from abroad will be permitted to board an aircraft only if they (1) have received a negative COVID-19 test result within three calendar days prior to their departure or (2) can provide documentation of recovery from COVID-19 within the prior three months and clearance for travel by a health care provider or public health official. More specific information about this requirement can be found on the CDC website. Also, travel to the United States from or through certain countries is currently prohibited due to COVID-19. The list of affected countries can be found on the CDC website.

Third, as a new or transfer F-1 student from overseas, at present, you must enroll in at least one in-person or hybrid class for the Summer Term. Hybrid classes include independent study or individual research courses. If all of your Summer Term courses are remote/online-only, you will need to remain outside of the U.S. to study remotely. For any immigration-related questions, please contact your OISS Advisor. Please work with your academic advisor to discuss all your options related to class registration.

If you do not plan to arrive in the U.S., you will need to defer your F-1 SEVIS record. You can submit the New Student Immigration Document Deferral request through the Office of International Student and Scholar Services using the OISS Portal. 

Q: I am a new international student. When can I arrive in the U.S.? (Updated 04/30/21)

A: International students in F-1 and J-1 status can arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date listed on their I-20 or DS-2019 forms and up to 30 days after that date. Students should check with their school or academic department before planning to arrive after their program start date. Some programs may not be able to accommodate late starts. Students must arrive no later than 30 days after the program start date listed on the I-20 or DS-2019. If students cannot arrive until after the 30-day window, they should plan to study remotely. In this case, students should submit a New Student Immigration Document Deferral request through the Office of International Student and Scholar Services using the OISS Portal. For students living in on-campus housing, please verify your move-in date and other specifics with Residential Services before planning your arrival to the U.S.

Information for Current/Continuing Students

Q: I am a continuing F-1 or J-1 student but am currently outside of the U.S. I plan to return to campus for the Summer 2021 Term. Are there any barriers to entry I should anticipate? (Updated 04/30/21) 

A: Before returning to the U.S., you must have a valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature and a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp. As of Jan. 26, 2021, anyone traveling to the U.S. from abroad will be permitted to board an aircraft only if they (1) have received a negative COVID-19 test result within three calendar days prior to their departure or (2) can provide documentation of recovery from COVID-19 within the prior three months and clearance for travel by a health care provider or public health official. Further, international travelers may be required to quarantine for at least seven days after arriving in the U.S. More specific information about these requirements can be found on the CDC website.

Travel to the United States from or through certain countries is currently prohibited due to COVID-19. The list of affected countries can be found on the CDC website.

If you have any questions before travel, please contact your OISS Advisor. If you encounter trouble at the border, please contact us right away at 847-491-3456. 

Q: I will be a continuing international student in the U.S. during the Summer 2021 Term. Since Northwestern will offer remote, hybrid and face-to-face courses, are there any restrictions I should be aware of as I plan my course schedule? (Updated 04/30/21)

A: At present, continuing F-1 or J-1 international students who will be in the U.S. for the Summer 2021 Term may register for any combination of online/remote, hybrid or face-to-face courses. Continuing international students should register for the upcoming term with their focus on making academic progress. If federal guidance changes, Northwestern will endeavor to provide the appropriate support so that students remain in compliance.

Q: I am a continuing international student who will not be in the U.S. for the Summer 2021 Term. Since Northwestern will offer remote, hybrid and face-to-face courses, are there any restrictions I should be aware of as I plan my course schedule?  (Updated 04/30/21)

A: At present, continuing students outside of the U.S. in the Summer Term are eligible to take all online/remote courses and maintain their immigration status. International students should work with their academic advisor to discuss all options related to class registration. OISS is monitoring Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) guidance and will inform all students and academic departments of any changes. We are committed to providing support to help students maintain immigration compliance.