International Student/Scholar COVID-19 FAQ

OIED Statement of Support of International Students- 7/10/20

International Student/Scholar


Last updated: Friday, 1/29/21 at 8:17 AM

Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States

Updated Jan. 21, 2021

If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get tested no more than 3 days before you travel by air into the United States (US) and show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).

On January 12, 2021, CDC issued an Order requiring all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. Air passengers will also be required to confirm that the information they present is true in the form of an attestation. This Order is effective as of 12:01am EST (5:01am GMT) on January 26, 2021.

As of January 26, 2021, this Order replaces a previous order signed by the CDC Director on December 25, 2020, requiring a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test result for all airline passengers arriving into the United States from the United Kingdom [PDF – 6 pages].




Should I go back to my home country or not?  What factors should I consider when making this decision?

The decision to stay or return to your home is yours. Please consult with your family and refer to any restrictions or advice from your home country when making a decision about whether to travel home or remain in the US. Some factors to consider include personal health and well-being, current and potential future travel restrictions, whether your local embassy is issuing visas, and academic commitments.

What travel restrictions are currently in place?

Due to concerns regarding coronavirus transmission, presidential proclamations have been issued suspending entry to the US for all nonimmigrants, including F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors, who were physically present in the following countries within 14 days preceding their attempted entry: China, Brazil, Iran, and South Africa.

On July 22, 2020 travel restrictions were lifted for students traveling from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the European Schengen Area, which includes: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. 

We encourage you to continually monitor travel restrictions:

What visa restrictions are currently in place?

While the U.S. Department of State announced that routine visa services have been suspended worldwide, some embassies are beginning to re-open, and some may include a process for applying for a student visa with a National Interest Exception, which would allow students to enter the US even if existing travel bans are in place. Please check your country’s embassy website for the most up to date information. 

If you are outside the US and currently have a valid F-1 visa, you may use this to re-enter the US*. 

If you are outside the US and do not have a valid F-1 visa, you must wait until visa services resume in order to apply for a visa and enter the US.

If you are currently inside the US and considering traveling home, check that your visa will remain valid on the date you intend to re-enter the US. If your visa will expire before you intend to re-enter the US, you will need to apply for a new visa or reconsider travel.  Check with your local embassy to find out whether they are currently issuing visas and what the expected wait time may be for appointments.

  *See country specific travel restrictions above.

Do I need a new travel signature on my I-20?  If so, how can I get one?

If you need a travel signature, please contact and let us know your name and your date of travel. If you are an F-1 student, we can now email you a new form I-20 with updated travel signature.  You only need a new travel signature on your I-20 if your most recent signature was before September 1, 2020 and you intend to return to the US to study with your current status.


Once arriving in the US, international travelers should stay home, practice social distancing, and monitor their health for 10 days. The Office of the Dean of Students staff can assist you with meal delivery and other needs. Students who have registered for in-person classes cannot attend in-person classes during this 10-day period. Please keep this in mind when making your travel arrangements.

Read more about travel guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.


In a January 8 update to campus, it was announced that after careful review of the current data and positive case trends locally and statewide, the decision to delay the return to campus has been made. Classes will begin on January 19 as scheduled and will meet online until February 1. Students with residence hall contracts will receive a message from University Housing with new move-in assignment dates, adjusted rental rates and new COVID-19 re-entry test deadlines on Monday, January 11.


ICE released guidance Monday, July 6 regarding F-1 student enrollment for the fall 2020 semester. You can read the guidance here, which required all international students to depart the US in the event the university transitioned to fully online instruction.

On Tuesday, July 14, the ICE guidance from July 6 was rescinded.

On Friday, July 24, ICE issued new guidance for fall 2020, and those changes are reflected in the FAQ below. You can read the updated guidance here.

On Wednesday, December 9, ICE confirmed that guidance for spring 2021 would be the same as the guidance for fall 2020.

I am a new student entering the US to begin my studies. What does this mean for my Spring 2021 class registration?

For new students entering the US to begin your studies in Spring 2021, you must be enrolled in at least one face-to-face or hybrid course. According to most recent guidance, you may not enter the US to begin a program that is 100 percent online. 

I was a student in the US in March 2020 (either at Appalachian or another institution in the US). What does this mean for my Spring 2021 class registration?

As a continuing student in the US, you may be enrolled in all online classes for spring 2021. If you are taking all online classes, you may do so either from inside or outside the US and still maintain your F-1 status. 

How do I know the delivery method for my courses?

You can check the method of course instruction HERE.  Once you find the Spring 2021 class(es) you are searching for, look at the LOCATION column.  Online classes will list WEB.  In-person classes will list the abbreviation of a building (RSW for Rankin Science West, for example). 

What happens if I am currently outside the US and cannot come to campus for the Spring 2021 semester due to travel restrictions?

You may take all online Spring 2021 classes from outside the US during the Spring 2021 semester, if online classes are available to you. We encourage you to explore the availability of online classes if you are currently outside the US.  

If you are currently in F-1 status and were previously studying in the US in March 2020, you may maintain your F-1 status. If you are a new student beginning your studies for the first time in the US, we will issue you a new I-20 with a Fall 2021 start date. 


What is my university insurance policy’s coverage of COVID-19?

If you have Student Blue insurance through Appalachian, please review the Student Blue website for more details regarding coverage and health care benefits and what to do if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

What will happen with my on campus job?

Please contact your supervisor for more information about whether you are able to continue working. 

What are the best ways to contact ISSSO if I have questions or concerns about anything?

ISSSO staff members are working remotely and are available to set up a Zoom meeting or phone call with you. Please email with any questions or concerns. Starting January 19, 2021 come to Virtual Walk-In Hours on Tuesdays 1-3pm and Fridays 10am - 12pm.