OIS Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ

 

To the NC State international student and scholar community:

OIS is monitoring Coronavirus (COVID-19) developments here on campus and around the world. Because your health and safety are our primary concern, we are putting policies in place to prepare for different scenarios. We are sharing these FAQs to inform you of options and resources available to you should the university further change the delivery of our operations. OIS will continue to be available to support you throughout this time.

Last updated 6/23/2020

IMPORTANT RESOURCES AND FAQs (Click to expand)

UNIVERSITY RESOURCES

GOVERNMENT AGENCY RESOURCES AND FAQs

FINANCIAL RESOURCES

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (Click question below to jump to answer)

OIS OPERATIONS AND DOCUMENT REQUESTS

IMMIGRATION STATUS

(UPDATED!) PRESIDENTIAL EXECUTIVE ORDERS AND PROCLAMATIONS

June 22 Presidential Proclamation

April 22 Presidential Proclamation

TRAVEL

(NEW!) FAQs FOR STUDENTS ADMITTED/READMITTED FALL 2020

HEALTH CARE

ACADEMIC CHANGES AND SUPPORT

CAMPUS SERVICES AND LOGISTICS

FINANCIAL ISSUES AND RESOURCES

TAXES

ON-CAMPUS STUDENT EMPLOYMENT

OPT (F-1 STUDENTS)

CPT (F-1 STUDENTS)

ACADEMIC TRAINING (J-1 STUDENTS)

SOCIAL SECURITY

INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARS

ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS

 

 

OIS OPERATIONS AND DOCUMENT REQUESTS

 

Q: With the university moving to remote operations, how will OIS continue to operate?

A: Although our physical office is closed, OIS has moved our operations online and we remain open remotely. We are continuing as many functions as possible via email, phone, and video conferencing and we are still able to process requests and provide advising and programming services. Any changes to our operational status will be posted on our homepage as well as on this FAQ page.

 

Q: How can I use OIS’s services while OIS is operating remotely?

A: Below we have outlined how some of our major services have transitioned while we are operating remotely:

  • Processing Requests: Please email all processing requests (except specific processes noted below) to ois@ncsu.edu. We are continuing to issue updated I-20 and DS-2019s and will scan a copy to you once we have issued the updated document.
  • Distribution of Original Documents: Please review our document distribution procedures outlined in our answer to the question “How can I get my original document if I want it?” below.
  • Distribution of OPT related mail received in OIS: Please review our OPT mail distribution procedures outlined in our answer to the question “I used OIS as my mailing address on my OPT application. How can I obtain my original receipt notice, approval notice or EAD card?” below.
  • OPT Drop-off/Review: Our OPT procedures have transitioned online and are outlined on our OPT page.
  • CPT Processing: Our CPT procedures have transitioned to an entirely online process. Please submit CPT applications electronically via the Virtual Application Submission Center. Please review our CPT page for full application instructions. The Summer CPT application window opened on March 30, 2020.
  • Travel Signatures: Please review travel signature request procedures in our answer to the question “How can I get a travel signature on my I-20/DS-2019?” below.
  • Open Advising Hours: In-person open advising hours are cancelled until further notice. Effective immediately, please email your assigned OIS advisor with your question and your advisor will provide an answer via email or schedule a phone appointment to discuss your question.
  • OIS Programs & Events: In-person OIS events and programs are canceled until further notice. We will transition several programs to an online model and will announce those details soon. We are committed to finding new virtual ways for our campus community to connect and engage with each other. Follow OIS on Instagram and Facebook for more details!

 

Q: I understand OIS is emailing scanned copies of newly issued documents. How can I get my original document if I want it?

A: Per guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), I-20s “issued electronically or with electronic signatures—as permitted during the COVID-19 emergency—will remain valid until students have a need for an updated Form I-20.” 

This means that the electronically issued I-20 is a valid, original document and can be used as the original and that possession of the corresponding physical paper I-20 copy is not necessary (now or in the future). 

Based on this guidance as well as OIS’s budgetary and time constraints, OIS will hold any physical paper I-20 copies issued during the COVID-19 pandemic until these documents can be distributed in-person when we resume in-office operations. And, the OIS supported USPS mailing option will no longer be available for I-20s. We anticipate these changes to our services have little or no impact since F-1 students do not need the physical paper I-20 copy now or in the future based on the SEVP guidance. We do understand that some students may still want the physical paper I-20 copy. Therefore, if you still want the physical paper copy, you can either wait until OIS makes it available in-person after returning to in-office operations, or you can send OIS a prepaid shipping label now to receive the physical copy prior to OIS returning to in-office operations. 

Important reminders:

  • I-20s issued before COVID-19: the SEVP guidance regarding the validity of electronically issued I-20s only applies to I-20s issued electronically during the COVID-19 pandemic. It does not apply to I-20s issued prior to the pandemic. As such, F-1 students should keep physical paper copies of any I-20s issued prior to the COVID-19 pandemic as only the physical paper copy of those I-20s are the valid, original document. 
  • DS-2019s: the SEVP guidance does not apply to DS-2019s. The only valid, original DS-2019 at this time is the physical copy. Therefore, OIS will continue to make DS-2019s available via all methods listed below including First Class USPS mail and J-1 students should keep physical paper copies of all DS-2019s.

Document Receipt Options:

  • [Recommended] OPTION 1: In-person at a later date. If you choose this option, you will wait until OIS is back in our physical office on campus and can offer document pick up in order to receive your document. We do not currently have a timeline for when this will be, but once we know, we will announce this on our website and/or via email.
  • OPTION 2: FedEx or UPS: If you choose this option, you pay for the cost of shipping, but you can use OIS’s eShipGlobal account to order a FedEx or UPS mailing label at a discounted rate. eShipGlobal instructions are below (please follow ALL instructions):
    • Register for an account here and login with your email and password.
    • Click the document icon of the document you want to receive (or click “received documents from”).
    • Type “North Carolina State University” into the search box. Select “Office of International Services” from the list of departments provided, then click Continue.
    • Select preferred method of delivery and click Continue.
    • Select method of payment (ex. Credit/Debit Card, Wire Transfer or PayPal), enter payment information, click Confirm Payment.
    • VERY IMPORTANT: Email the OIS advisor who issued your document to notify them that you’ve ordered the label in eShipGlobal so they can print the label and send out your package. Please select a shipping date that is two days from the date you order your label so that advisors have time to go in, print your label, and get your package to a dropbox location.
  • OPTION 3: USPS Priority 2-day Mail. If you choose this option, you pay for the cost of shipping and must purchase a prepaid USPS Priority Mail label (it costs about $8 to send a 2-day priority envelope through USPS Click N Ship) and email it to the advisor who issued your document.
  • OPTION 4 (DS-2019s only): First Class USPS Mail. If you choose this option, OIS will pay for the cost of shipping. However, shipping is not guaranteed within a certain time frame as our ability to mail the DS-2019 out depends on the availability of shipping supplies in our homes and when we are able to get more supplies if/when we run out. In addition, USPS first class mail is NOT trackable. Given these limitations, we do not recommend this option if you need your DS-2019 in a timely manner.

 

Q: I used OIS as my mailing address on my OPT application. How can I obtain my original receipt notice, approval notice or EAD card?

A: The US Postal Service is still delivering mail to the university but may be delayed in making deliveries with reduced staff. We have made arrangements with university Mail Services to pick up our mail weekly. As we receive OPT mail, we will continue to notify you via email and we will also scan and email you a copy of your receipt notice, approval notice, and EAD. To obtain your original documents, please choose from the below options: 

  • In-person EAD pick-up: If we are able to offer in-person pick-up of the EAD, we will notify you individually by email about that process. 
  • Trackable mailing services: Mailing options are as follows:
    • FedEx or UPS: If you choose this option, you pay for the cost of shipping, but you can use OIS’s eShipGlobal account to order a FedEx or UPS mailing label at a discounted rate. This is the only option we recommend for international shipping. eShipGlobal instructions are below (please follow ALL instructions):
      • Register for an account here and login with your email and password.
      • Click the document icon of the document you want to receive (or click “received documents from”).
      • Type “North Carolina State University” into the search box. Select “Office of International Services” from the list of departments provided, then click Continue.
      • Select preferred method of delivery and click Continue.
      • Select method of payment (ex. Credit/Debit Card, Wire Transfer or PayPal), enter payment information, click Confirm Payment.
      • VERY IMPORTANT: Email the OIS advisor who issued your document to notify them that you’ve ordered the label in eShipGlobal so they can print the label and send out your package. Please select a shipping date that is two days from the date you order your label so that advisors have time to print your label from eShipGlobal and get your package to a dropbox location.
    • USPS Priority 2-day Mail: If you choose this option, you pay for the cost of shipping and must purchase a prepaid USPS Priority Mail label (it costs about $8 to send a 2-day priority envelope through USPS Click N Ship) and email it to the advisor who issued your document. Please note: We do not recommend this option for international mail.

If you choose to have your documents mailed to you, we recommend you wait until we have received all of your documents (receipt notice, approval notice, and EAD) to request we mail your documents in order to reduce your shipping costs. Finally, if you decide you would like to change your mailing address with USCIS, please contact your OIS advisor so we can assist you with that request.

 

IMMIGRATION STATUS

 

Q: With the university’s transition to online classes, will my immigration status be safe?

A: The Student and Exchange Visitor Program and the Department of State have allowed a short-term exception to limitations for online enrollment for current F-1 and J-1 students. Even though classes have moved online, as long as you continue completing course assignments and follow instructions of your professors, your immigration status is safe. The key is to continue making progress towards your degree.

 

 

(UPDATED!) PRESIDENTIAL EXECUTIVE ORDER

 

June 22 Presidential Proclamation

Q. What is the purpose of the June 22, 2020 Proclamation and what are the effective dates?

A. On Monday, June 22, 2020, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation titled: Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak. The purpose of the proclamation is to reduce risk to the U.S. labor market. The proclamation seeks to accomplish this purpose through two means. First, it extends previous entry suspensions contained in an April 22, 2020 proclamation (detailed in the Q&As below under the April 22, 2020 Presidential Proclamation section) so that they will expire December 31, 2020 instead of June 22, 2020. Second, it establishes new entry suspensions (detailed in the Q&As below). The proclamation will become effective on June 24, 2020 at 12:01 AM and is scheduled to continue until December 31, 2020. 

 

Q. What are the new entry suspensions and to whom to they apply?

The proclamation suspends entry into the U.S. of individuals who seek entry in the nonimmigrant visa categories listed below:

  • H-1B or H-2B visa and dependents
  • L visa and dependents
  • J visa and dependents in the program categories of intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel 

The entry suspension only applies if the individual:

  • Is outside the U.S. on the effective date of the proclamation (June 24, 2020), and
  • Does not already have a valid visa or other travel document in the impacted visa categories on the effective date of the proclamation. 

In sum, the proclamation only impacts individuals who are outside the U.S. on June 24, 2020 and who seek a principal or dependent visa in the visa categories of H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, or J-1 (intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, summer work travel only) and who do not already have such a visa as of June 24, 2020.

 

Q. Do the new entry suspensions impact me and my immigration status? 

In short, probably not because the new entry suspensions do NOT apply to any of the following:

  • Individuals inside the U.S. on the effective date of the proclamation 
  • F-1 students (including those on OPT, STEM OPT, and/or cap-gap)
  • J-1 students (including those on Academic Training)
  • J-1 exchange visitors in categories other than intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, and summer work travel. 
  • Individuals outside the U.S. who already have a valid visa prior to June 24, 2020. 
  • Individuals outside the U.S. who seek to apply for a visa in a category other than H, L, or the J program categories of intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, and summer work travel
  • Any application filed with USCIS including OPT, STEM OPT, H-1Bs, changes of status, etc.
  • U.S. permanent residents
  • Spouses or children of U.S. citizens
  • Asylees

 

Q. How does this impact me if my H-1B has been selected in this year’s H-1B lottery and will be filed or has already been filed by my employer?

In general, the proclamation does not negate selection in the H-1B lottery or suspend an employer’s ability to file an H-1B petition for an employee. If you have more specific questions about this proclamation as it relates to changes to your immigration status that are or will be handled through your employer (such as H-1B, permanent residency, etc.) please reach out to your employer’s immigration team or legal counsel for specific guidance for your particular situation.

 

Q. Will there be more executive orders that impact me and my immigration status?

The June 22, 2020 proclamation does instruct the Secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor, and the Department of State to work together to recommend modifications to the proclamation within 30 days and then every 60 days after that. So, we do not know at this time if the proclamation will change or if new proclamations will be issued. However, OIS will continue to monitor news bulletins for more information and update this FAQ accordingly once we know anything.

April 22 Presidential Proclamation

Q: What does the Presidential Executive Order of April 22 regarding immigration mean?

A: The executive order suspends entry into the U.S. of certain foreign nationals as immigrants (permanent residents) for 60 days. The order takes effect at 11:59 pm on April 23 and is subject to possible extension.

 

Q: Who does the executive order apply to and what is the impact?

A: Who: The executive order only applies to individuals who were outside the U.S. on the effective date, and who haven’t already been issued a valid immigrant visa and additional travel document on the effective date. Grossly simplified, the executive order only applies to prospective immigrants currently outside the U.S.

Impact: The order suspends issuance of immigrant visas to the above group of affected individuals as well as their entry to the U.S. for a period of 60 days, subject to possible extension.

 

Q: Does this executive order impact me and my immigration status?

A: International students and scholars in F and J status within the U.S. fall under the nonimmigrant sector of the U.S. immigration system. As such, this executive order does not directly impact individuals already present in the U.S. in F/J status. Furthermore, his executive order does not restrict, suspend, or impact the following:

  • Visa applications F or J visas at U.S. consulates and embassies abroad (although, keep in mind that the U.S. Department of State had already suspended most visa services worldwide (both nonimmigrant and immigrant) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic);
  • USCIS processing of applications including I-765s (for EAD cards associated with OPT, STEM OPT and J-2 work authorization), I-539s (applications for changes of status), and other USCIS applications;
  • USCIS review and adjudication of H1-B petitions

 

Q: Will there be more executive orders that do impact me and my immigration status?

A: In short, we don’t know right now. However, the April 22 executive order does contain a provision in Section 6 indicating that President Trump will “review nonimmigrant programs” in May 2020 and potentially enact measures to “ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.” OIS will continue to monitor news bulletins for more information and update this FAQ accordingly once we know anything.

 

TRAVEL

 

Q: I have family/friends in another part of the U.S. Can I move to stay with them while I continue my coursework online?

A: Yes. If you choose to move elsewhere, please update your SEVIS Local address in MyPack within 10 days of moving to report your new physical address in the U.S., as required by F-1 and J-1 visa regulations.

 

Q: Can I go to my home country and complete the semester there via online coursework?

A: There may be a number of reasons you or your family would want you to be home in a time of pandemic response. If all of your classes move to online delivery, you can technically pursue your work from your home country. However, please keep in mind the following considerations:

  • Technology. Will you be able to access all the resources you need to participate in remote classes? This includes Moodle, WebAssign, Zoom, and Google Apps such as Docs, Slides, and Hangouts. You will want to consider your ability to respond to communication from instructors in a timely fashion and submit required assignments from your home country.
  • Time difference. If your classes are meeting online at your regularly scheduled time, consider the time difference and whether or not you will be able to attend. If the time difference will make class attendance impractical, it is appropriate to contact your instructor and ask whether lectures will be recorded and made available online.
  • Travel Restrictions: There are currently indefinite entry restrictions for noncitizens traveling to the U.S. who have recently been in Iran or China, and noncitizens traveling from the Schengen area of Europe, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. At this time, we do not know when these restrictions will be lifted or how they might change (for example, additional countries added).
  • Visa Validity: Many U.S. embassies and consulates have modified or suspended their visa services (please check with the closest embassy to your home to confirm their operating status). If your visa has expired or will expire over the summer, we do not recommend international travel as your return by Fall will very likely be delayed.
  • Return to the U.S.: Because of current travel restrictions and reduced/suspended operations of U.S. embassies and consulates, there may be some uncertainty in terms of how quickly you would be able to return to the U.S. and it’s possible that even return by Fall 2020 could be uncertain. If you aren’t sure and want to discuss your plans with an advisor, please contact your OIS advisor before making your decision.
  • Graduating in May 2020 or Summer 2020. If you plan to complete your degree in May 2020 or Summer 2020 and wish to apply for OPT, you must physically be in the U.S. at the time of application. Please consult our advice about travel during the OPT process for more information.
  • Visa status/“5 month rule”. The “5 month rule” refers to the interruption of a student’s F-1 status due to the student being outside of the United States for more than five months. However, according to the Nonimmigrant Students section of the ICE COVID FAQ (ICE is the agency which manages SEVIS), “nonimmigrant students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19.” In addition, “students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the United States.” The ICE COVID-19 FAQ also states that “the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in Active status.” Based on this guidance, we expect the 5 month rule to be waived for students who continue to engage in classes online while abroad with an active SEVIS record. We will update this page if further guidance is issued. If you are currently abroad or go abroad, we recommend you consult your OIS advisor prior to being abroad for more than 5 months so we can give you the most up to date information at that time.

 

Q: Can/Should I travel internationally?

A: There may be a number of reasons you or your family would want you to be home or you need to travel internationally in a time of pandemic response. Students and scholars must make international travel decisions that are in their best interest. However, please keep in mind the following considerations:

  • Travel Guidance: Please keep in mind the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) general guidance regarding domestic and international travel.
  • Travel Restrictions: There are currently indefinite entry restrictions for noncitizens traveling to the U.S. who have recently been in Iran or China, and noncitizens traveling from the Schengen area of Europe, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. At this time, we do not know when these restrictions will be lifted or how they might change (for example, additional countries added).
  • Visa Validity: Many U.S. embassies and consulates have modified or suspended their visa services (please check with the closest embassy to your home to confirm their operating status). If your visa has expired or will expire over the summer, we do not recommend international travel as your return by Fall will very likely be delayed.
  • Return to the U.S.: Because of current travel restrictions and reduced/suspended operations of U.S. embassies and consulates, there may be some uncertainty in terms of how quickly you would be able to return to the U.S. and it’s possible that even return by Fall 2020 could be uncertain. If you aren’t sure and want to discuss your plans with an advisor, please contact your OIS advisor before making your decision.
  • Graduating in May 2020 or Summer 2020. If you plan to complete your degree in May 2020 or Summer 2020 and wish to apply for OPT, you must physically be in the U.S. at the time of application. Please consult our advice about travel during the OPT process for more information.
  • Visa status/“5 month rule”. The “5 month rule” refers to the interruption of a student’s F-1 status due to the student being outside of the United States for more than five months. However, according to the Nonimmigrant Students section of the ICE COVID FAQ (ICE is the agency which manages SEVIS), “nonimmigrant students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19.” In addition, “students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the United States.” The ICE COVID-19 FAQ also states that “the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in Active status.” Based on this guidance, we expect the 5 month rule to be waived for students who continue to engage in classes online while abroad with an active SEVIS record. We will update this page if further guidance is issued. If you are currently abroad or go abroad, we recommend you consult your OIS advisor prior to being abroad for more than 5 months so we can give you the most up to date information at that time.

 

Q: How can I get a travel signature on my I-20/DS-2019?

A: Before you travel, please review the above question “Can/Should I travel internationally?” for advice and considerations on international travel.

Travel Signature Validity: Travel signatures for currently enrolled students, J-1 students on Academic Training, and active J-1 scholars/student interns are valid for one year from the date of the signature. If you are an F-1 student on OPT, your signature is only valid for six months from the date of the travel signature (please also see our FAQ on travel on OPT).

Travel Signature Requests: A Travel Signature is essentially documentation from OIS that shows you have permission to travel and return to your program because you are in good standing with respect to your academic and immigration status. Normally an original document with a valid travel signature on it is required for travel. However, we have received guidance that the original document/travel signature is not required during this time. Please check your most recently issued document to see if you already have a travel signature. If you do not, you can review the below options to obtain documentation of your permission to travel.

  • Electronic copy of an updated I-20 which includes a travel signature (F-1 students only). If your I-20 has been (or will be) updated while OIS is operating remotely, an electronic copy of the I-20 will be emailed to you and will have a travel signature on it. Per SEVP guidance, an I-20 issued electronically during the COVID-19 pandemic is the valid, original document. As such, this I-20 with a travel signature can be used for travel.
  • Physical paper I-20/DS-2019 plus an electronically issued OIS Travel Letter. If you are in possession of your most recently issued I-20/DS-2019 and no programmatic changes have resulted in the need for an updated I-20/DS-2019, we will issue a travel support letter via email for you to print and carry with you in addition to your original I-20/DS-2019 when traveling internationally. To request a travel letter, please complete this google form. Within 10 business days of your request, OIS will email you a travel letter. You do not need to wait for the letter to be emailed to you to depart the U.S., you only need to have a print out or electronic copy in your possession when you return.

 

Q: What if I cannot depart the U.S. by the end of my grace period?

A: Please contact your OIS advisor so we can discuss your particular circumstances. Extensions might be possible in some cases; in others, we may refer you to an immigration attorney to discuss the possibilities of a change of status application.

 

FAQs FOR STUDENTS ADMITTED/READMITTED FALL 2020

Please note: Many of these answers depend on whether you will be a graduate or undergraduate student at NC State. Please pay attention to the information for your admission type when reviewing this section.

Q: Where can I find comprehensive graduate admissions information?

A: Graduate students: Please consult the Graduate School’s page for Future Students for further information on admissions requirements and processes.

Undergraduate students: Undergraduate students can connect with International Undergraduate Admissions.

 

Q: How and when will I receive my I-20/DS-2019?

A: Graduate students: Once your Enrollment Intention Form has been submitted, the fee is paid (if required by your graduate program), and your Certificate of Financial Responsibility is submitted and approved, the Graduate School will be able to issue your I-20/DS-2019. The Graduate School will scan this document to you for your use in making a visa appointment.  The Graduate School will then mail you your I-20/DS-2019.

Undergraduate students: Log in to your wolfPAW account for instructions on ordering your I-20 or DS-2019.

 

Q: Mail/courier services in my country have been suspended. Do I still need the original copy of my I-20/DS-2019?

A: Admissions (Grad or Undergrad)l can send you a scanned copy of your document.  Some Embassies have indicated that they may accept a scanned document, however, there has been no centralized statement from the Department of State allowing scanned documents, so if at all possible you should take your original I-20/DS-2019 to your in-person visa interview.

 

Q: What happens if I cannot get my visa in time to start classes for the Fall 2020 semester?

A: For both graduate and undergraduate students, your options may include deferring admission to a later semester or enrolling in online courses from abroad if available. Instructions are below for who to contact if you have questions or want to discus these options. Please note that beginning your program on-line may impact your future ability to apply for CPT/OPT, if you become an on-campus student after your first semester on-line. Please see the question below about off-campus internship participation to review that impact.

Graduate students: Please consult with your academic program for what options are available to you.

Undergraduate students: undergraduates, please email undergrad-admissions@ncsu.edu.

 

Q: I am currently in the U.S. on an F-1 visa at a different school. How do I transfer my F-1 record to NC State?

A: Follow the Graduate School’s or Undergraduate Admissions’ instructions for completing your Certificate of Financial Responsibility and Visa Clearance Form. More information can be found here: https://internationalservices.ncsu.edu/future-students/transfers/.

 

Q: I am currently in the U.S. on a different visa type. Can I change my status in the U.S.?

A: Your ability to change status within the U.S. depends on many factors, and if possible will likely encounter lengthy processing times. If you have admission for Fall 2020 and are currently in the U.S. on another visa type, OIS is currently assisting admissions in assessing change of status processes and how COVID-19 operational issues at USCIS may impact this.  If you have additional questions regarding changing status within the U.S. and how COVID-19 may impact the process, make an appointment with an OIS advisor by emailing ois@ncsu.edu.

 

Q: As an admitted student currently outside of the U.S., if I enroll in online courses from abroad for Fall 2020 or defer admission with the expectation of arriving in the U.S. for the Spring 2021 semester, how will my ability to participate in off-campus internships be affected?

A: Many F-1 students choose to apply for an off-campus work authorization called Curricular Practical Training (CPT) to engage in co-op and internship experiences during their program, particularly in the summer. Federal regulations require that students be physically present in the U.S. for an academic year (two semesters) and in F-1 status at the time of application to be eligible for CPT. Therefore, if you enroll online for Fall 2020 from abroad, or first enroll in on-campus courses in Spring 2021, you would not be eligible for CPT until Spring 2022.

 

Q: If I defer my admission to Spring 2021 or Fall 2021, but then visa appointments become available and I could arrive on-campus for Fall 2020, can my admission be changed back?

A: Potentially, depending on how much time there is before the start of Fall 2020; if you already have an I-20 for Fall 2020, and we didn’t issue you a new one for a future term, you could still use that I-20 at your visa appointment. You would need to email your Admissions contact right away. Grad students would also need to contact their academic program to request that their start term be changed back to Fall 2020 in order to enroll in classes. 

If you deferred before submitting your CFR, you would need to inquire with Undergraduate Admissions or  Graduate School to find out if there is enough time for you to submit the CFR, receive an I-20, and have your visa appointment in time to arrive for the start of classes in Fall 2020.

 

HEALTH CARE

 

Q: What measures should I take to practice “social distancing” and reduce my chances of contracting the COVID-19 virus?

A: Social distancing is designed to limit the spread of a disease by reducing the opportunities for close contact between people. Strategies include using conference calls and video conferencing in place of face-to-face meetings, avoiding unnecessary travel and reinforcing handwashing and other common-sense precautions.

If you are among a group of people where anyone appears to be ill or may have had contact with a person diagnosed with coronavirus, try to keep a distance of at least six feet from one another.

To practice social distancing and minimize risk of infection to yourself and others, you can follow these guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

Q: How much does it cost for international students to get Coronavirus testing?

A: According to the North Carolina State Department of Health, only those who meet the following criteria should ask their doctor or local health department about being testing for COVID-19:

  1. Have fever or lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within the past 14 days; OR
  2. Have fever and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and a negative rapid flu test.

If you feel you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, NC State Student Health is prepared to see students who are possibly ill with COVID-19. You can read more about these services here: https://healthypack.dasa.ncsu.edu/coronavirus-testing-only-available-for-students-exhibiting-symptoms/.

 

Q: What should I do if I test positive for COVID-2019?

A: If you test positive for COVID-2019, please notify OIS so that we can get you connected with campus resources to guide you on isolation practices and follow up care.

 

 

ACADEMIC CHANGES AND SUPPORT

 

Q: I still have not heard from one of my instructors about their plans for moving to online coursework. What should I do?

A: Faculty have been working diligently in restructuring their courses for online learning. By this point, you should have received some type of communication from each of your instructors. While some course instructors or lab instructors may still be in the process of finalizing aspects of their online curriculum, it is expected that they would have contacted you with an update.

You should begin by checking any course-related websites or Moodle pages for updates. Also check your inbox to ensure that their messages were not sent to a spam folder or to trash. If you are still unable to find the information you are looking for, contact your instructor directly and request this information.

If your instructor is not responding, then you should contact your academic advisor, the Office of International Services, or the Academic Coordinator for International Student Support.

 

Q: I am worried about taking online classes. Do you have any recommendations for getting organized, staying focused, or adjusting my study routines?

A: The Division of Academic and Student Affairs has pulled together information from colleagues across campus and across the United States to develop its Keep Learning website. This web page serves as a guide for getting started with online learning, developing strategies for academic success, and identifying helpful resources.

If you have not done so already, we recommend that you begin by simply tracking the changes that have happened in each of your classes. You have probably already received numerous emails with updates to deadlines, exam dates, project instructions and more. Organize this information by compiling in a separate document.

Visit DASA’s Keep Learning web page for additional information on:

  • Identifying challenges
  • Communicating with your instructors
  • Adjusting your study habits
  • Collaborating with your classmates online.

 

Q: I do not have my own computer. Can I borrow a laptop from the university?

A: Supplies are limited, but students can request to borrow laptops on a long-term basis. If your request is approved, you will need to pick up the laptop from D.H. Hill Library, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Remember to bring your campus ID as you will need it for entry into the library.

 

Q: Is the University Tutorial Center (UTC) still providing assistance to students at this time?

A: The UTC is providing online writing support, tutoring, and Supplemental Instruction as of Monday, March 23. Orientation and application processes have been waived for the remainder of the semester. For more information, visit: http://tutorial.dasa.ncsu.edu.

In addition, any student can email tutorialcenter@ncsu.edu or call (919) 515-3163 during business hours to schedule an online appointment with a UTC staff member to develop a personal plan for learning online.

 

Q: I received an email from the university about the option to change the course grading to “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.” What does this mean? Should I do this?

A: On March 20, 2020, the Provost issued a memo announcing that all graduate and undergraduate students (with the exception of DVM students in the College of Veterinary Medicine) will have the option to change the grading of your courses to “S/U.” If you choose this option, it means that your final grade will either be “S” for satisfactory or “U” for unsatisfactory. You would not receive a traditional letter grade (A, B, C… etc.) with this option. As a result, the “S” or “U” grades will not impact your cumulative GPA. There are several other points you should consider before deciding to make this change, like the impact of a “U” grade on Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.

If you are considering this change to course grading, we recommend that you first have a conversation with your Academic Advisor. You should also review the FAQ from Registration & Records on the Spring 2020 Enhanced Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading Option for more information.

Finally, it is very important that you are aware of YOUR deadline for making this decision. Your deadline for switching to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading depends on whether you are a continuing or graduating student as well as which semester (Spring or Summer) the request is for. As such, we encourage you to review the FAQ from Registration and Records thoroughly, discuss your decision with your academic advisor, and take the advice of the Registrar and “continue with your current grading basis until you have time to assess your comfort with the new online course delivery.” In other words, there is still plenty of time for you to make this decision, and it’s possible to see your grades (although only for a few days in some cases) before your deadline to make the decision.

 

Q: I received an email from the university about the option to “late drop” a course. I am thinking about dropping one or more classes. Should I do this?

A: On March 20, 2020, the Provost issued a memo announcing that all students will also have the option to submit late drop requests for individual courses beginning April 6, 2020. It is very important that you are aware of YOUR deadline for making this decision. The deadline to make the decisions depends on whether you are a continuing or graduating student as well as which semester (Spring or Summer) the request is for.  

While SEVP has made concessions to allow for online education right now, there has been no change to the full-time enrollment requirements for F-1 and J-1 students.  As such, an approved reduced course load (RCL) will still be required before you make a decision to drop below full time if it will result in less than full-time enrollment during the semester dates. If you use the late drop option and it results in your enrollment being less than full time after the semester end date (May 10 or later for Spring 2020, June 19 or later for Summer 1 and July 29 or later for Summer 2), then no RCL is required and you may drop without negative impact to your immigration status. 

If you are considering a late drop that will result in your enrollment dropping below full-time, we recommend that you first consult your OIS advisor to discuss what impact the resulting enrollment changes may have to your immigration record before taking any action. You should also review this FAQ from Registration & Records on the Spring 2020 Late Drop Option for more information. 

Remember, there is still time for you to make this decision, and it’s possible to see your grades (if even only for a few days in some cases) before the deadline to make the decision. So, unless there is an immediate need to drop a course from your schedule, we encourage you to try your online coursework for a period of time before making this decision.   

 

Q: I know that I need help, but I don’t know where to start!

A: Speak with your academic Advisor; contact OIS, or consider reaching out to Tony Shurer–Academic Coordinator for International Student Support. Tony is hosting virtual “drop-in” hours every Monday and Friday from 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM. You can request guidance on a variety of academic questions and concerns. This includes major exploration, questions about changing majors, and general questions about academic policy. You may also request assistance in developing strategies for academic success. This could include conversations about goal setting, time management, study skills, note taking, test preparation and more.

Virtual Drop-In Hours & Access

If your schedule does not permit you to attend Drop-In hours on Mondays or Fridays, please feel free to email your questions or concerns to Tony Shurer directly at ajshurer@ncsu.edu. Individual appointments can be scheduled as needed.

 

 

CAMPUS SERVICES AND LOGISTICS

 

Q: I’m staying on campus. Will there still be food available?

A: Yes, limited dining options will continue to be available for students. Please refer to NC State Dining’s website for more details.

 

Q: Will the library, offices, labs, etc. remain open?

A: Please refer to the University’s Coronavirus Facilities page for the most up to date information. For lab availability, please reach out to your supervisor or instructor.

 

Q: I’m worried about finances. Are there any resources available?

A: NC State Pack Essentials continues to provide resources and support to students during this time. Submit an application to get connected.

 

FINANCIAL ISSUES

 

Q: I lost my on-campus job as a result of the university moving to reduced/remote operations. Am I eligible to file for unemployment?

A: Possibly, but it depends on a variety of factors. Fortunately, Student Legal Services has offered to talk with (currently enrolled) students and help them with unemployment benefits. If you would like to discuss the possibility of unemployment benefits with an attorney in Student Legal Services, please email them at studentlegal@ncsu.edu and one of their attorneys will follow up with you.

 

Q: Am I eligible to receive the stimulus check (officially known as the Economic Impact Payment)?

A: Please review our answer to this question in the Taxes Section of this FAQ as well as our page on U.S. Taxes for more detailed information in general on U.S. taxes.

 

Q: I’m on OPT/Academic Training and lost my job. What is Unemployment Insurance and am I eligible?

A:  Possibly, but eligibility depends on a number of factors in your personal circumstances and varies from state to state. It is not advised to determine unemployment benefits eligibility based on generalities, nor can OIS definitively confirm an individual’s eligibility based on generalities. Rather, the best way to determine the eligibility criteria and application process in your state is to review your individual situation in consultation with an attorney familiar with your state’s employment law and/or is to contact your state’s employment agency to seek clarification. Below are a few helpful resources to begin your research: 

  • This fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Labor gives an overview of Unemployment Insurance in the U.S. Unemployment Insurance is administered at the state level and eligibility and qualification criteria differs from state to state. 
  • This U.S. Department of Labor web page also gives an overview of Unemployment Insurance in the U.S. including some additional flexibilities related to COVID-19.
  • If you live/work in North Carolina: The NC Department of Employment Security administers the state’s unemployment filings and their website has a comprehensive FAQ about filing for unemployment in North Carolina
  • If you work and live in a state other than North Carolina: You can look up your state’s unemployment insurance program to assist in determining whether you are eligible and if so how to apply.

Finally, it is important to remember to represent the facts of your case honestly and completely when applying for any government benefit as failure to do so is a serious issue.

 

TAXES

 

Q: Have tax filing deadlines been extended due to COVID-19?

A: The federal deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020. However, state filing deadlines may differ. Please refer to our Tax FAQ for more information.

 

Q: Am I eligible to receive the stimulus check (officially known as the Economic Impact Payment)?

A: To be eligible for this payment, you must be a resident alien for tax purposes. Tax residency status depends on your immigration status and length of time in the U.S. as explained below:

  • International students (those on F visas or in the student categories of J visas) are typically considered Nonresident Aliens for tax purposes for the first 5 years in the U.S.
  • International scholars (those in the scholar categories of J visas) are typically considered Nonresident Aliens for tax purposes for the first 2 years in the U.S.

So, if you’ve been in the U.S. longer than the time period indicated above for your visa status, you may be eligible if you also meet the other qualifications (such as income levels and having a Social Security number, etc.). If you are eligible, you do not need to apply for the payment. The IRS will determine your eligibility based on your 2019 tax return (or your 2018 tax return if you haven’t yet filed your 2019 tax return). You can read more about this on our Tax FAQ page.

 

Q: I received the stimulus check (officially known as the Economic Impact Payment), but I don’t think I’m eligible. What should I do?

A: If you believe you received this payment in error , you likely need to take action to correct your tax return and/or return the payment. Please refer to our Tax FAQ page for instructions on this process and more information.

ON-CAMPUS STUDENT EMPLOYMENT

 

Q: With the university’s extension of spring break by one week, does that mean that I can still work more than 20 hours per week?

A: Because the university has officially extended spring break by one week, students may work more than 20 hours through Friday, March 20, 2020. Students must return to the 20 hour per week limitation beginning Saturday, March 21, 2020.

 

Q: How does the university moving to online operations affect my on-campus employment?

A: Please consult with your supervisor to determine if you can continue your work in a remote capacity. During this time period, your remote work will be considered on-campus employment, wherever you are remoting from. Additionally, please note that with the university returning to full class schedules, on-campus employment is limited to 20 hours/week beginning Saturday, March 21.

.

Q: I lost my on-campus job as a result of the university moving to reduced/remote operations. What financial resources are available to me?

A: The university has a number of resources to help students facing food shortage, financial issues, etc. Please review this list of resources in the Financial Resources and University Resources sections of this FAQ.

 

 

OPT (F-1 STUDENTS)

 

Q: I am completing my degree in the next 90 days. Can I still apply for post-completion OPT now that OIS has transitioned to remote operations?

A: Yes, you may still apply for OPT while OIS is in remote operations. Please review our new OPT application procedures on the OIS’s OPT page.

 

Q: I used OIS as my mailing address on my OPT application. Will OIS still be able to send me my receipt notice, approval notice or EAD card?

A: The US Postal Service is still delivering mail to the university but may be delayed in making deliveries with reduced staff. We have made arrangements with university Mail Services to pick up our mail weekly. As we receive OPT mail, we will continue to notify you via email and we will also scan and email you a copy of your receipt notice, approval notice, and EAD. To obtain your original documents, please choose from the below options: 

  • In-person EAD pick-up. If we are able to offer in-person pick-up of the EAD, we will notify you individually by email about that process. 
  • Trackable mailing services. Mailing options are as follows:
    • FedEx or UPS: If you choose this option, you pay for the cost of shipping, but you can use OIS’s eShipGlobal account to order a FedEx or UPS mailing label at a discounted rate. This is the only option we recommend for international shipping. eShipGlobal instructions are below (please follow ALL instructions):
      • Register for an account here and login with your email and password.
      • Click the document icon of the document you want to receive (or click “received documents from”).
      • Type “North Carolina State University” into the search box. Select “Office of International Services” from the list of departments provided, then click Continue.
      • Select preferred method of delivery and click Continue.
      • Select method of payment (ex. Credit/Debit Card, Wire Transfer or PayPal), enter payment information, click Confirm Payment.
      • VERY IMPORTANT: Email the OIS advisor who issued your document to notify them that you’ve ordered the label in eShipGlobal so they can print the label and send out your package. Please select a shipping date that is two days from the date you order your label so that advisors have time to print your label from eShipGlobal and get your package to a dropbox location.
    • USPS Priority 2-day Mail: If you choose this option, you pay for the cost of shipping and must purchase a prepaid USPS Priority Mail label (it costs about $8 to send a 2-day priority envelope through USPS Click N Ship) and email it to the advisor who issued your document. Please note: we do not recommend this option for international mail.

If you choose to have your documents mailed to you, we recommend you wait until we have received all of your documents (receipt notice, approval notice, and EAD) to request we mail your documents in order to reduce your shipping costs. Finally, if you decide you would like to change your mailing address with USCIS, please contact your OIS advisor so we can assist you with that request.

 

Q: I am being asked/required by my employer to self-quarantine or work remotely. What does this mean for my OPT?

A: If your employer allows you to work remotely, there is no impact on your OPT due to self-quarantine. Similarly, if you are able to take leave (sick leave, vacation days, etc.), there is no impact on your OPT due to self-quarantine. According to the clarifications provided by SEVP on their COVID-19 page (in the FAQs under nonimmigrant students and SEVP certified schools section), the employer address in SEVIS / SEVP Portal should not be updated for OPT students temporarily working remotely.

 

Q: Will the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expand the number of unemployment days OPT/STEM OPT students are given due to COVID-19 impacts resulting in so many employers closing and/or not hiring?

A: At this time we have not heard from DHS whether they plan to expand the number of allowable unemployment days for OPT/STEM students due to COVID-19. However, if and when we hear any news about this, we will update this FAQ and also send an email to OPT/STEM students to inform you of this update.

 

Q: Can OPT students work fewer than 20 hours a week during the COVID-19 crisis?

A: This question has been addressed in the SEVP COVID-19 FAQ Document (4/30/2020 update). According to this document, “for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT.”  

To date, this is the only information we have on this subject. Our interpretation is that this only applies to students on OPT and does not apply to students on STEM OPT.

 

Q: I have been (or will be) laid off by my employer. What does this mean for my OPT?

A: Being laid off means you have been separated from employment with no expectation or right to be rehired. If you are laid off, it means your employment has ended and your unemployment days will accrue if you do not find alternative employment in your field for at least 20 hours per week. If you are laid off but given severance pay, it may be difficult to precisely determine what your last day of employment is for the purposes of OPT reporting and counting unemployment days. The reason for this is because your official last day of employment can depend on several factors such as how your employer sets up the severance pay (continuing you on payroll vs. a lump sum payout, etc.) and how they view your continued (or not) employment status with the employer. As such, if you are laid off with severance, we recommend you ask your employer what your last day of employment would be if you were to request an employment verification letter in order to know what day to report as your last day of employment.

 

Q: I have been (or will be) laid off by my employer. Am I eligible to file for unemployment?

A:  Possibly, but eligibility depends on a number of factors in your personal circumstances and varies from state to state. It is not advised to determine unemployment benefits eligibility based on generalities, nor can OIS definitively confirm an individual’s eligibility based on generalities. Rather, the best way to determine the eligibility criteria and application process in your state is to review your individual situation in consultation with an attorney familiar with your state’s employment law and/or is to contact your state’s employment agency to seek clarification. Below are a few helpful resources to begin your research: 

Finally, it is important to remember to represent the facts of your case honestly and completely when applying for any government benefit as failure to do so is a serious issue.

 

Q: I have been (or will be) furloughed by my employer. What does this mean for my OPT?

A: A furlough is a temporary, employer-mandated period of unpaid leave. During a furlough, the employee is not allowed to work and is not paid, however, the employer does typically continue the employee’s benefits (insurance, etc.). Furloughed employees can usually expect their employer to recall them from furlough to continue their work and resume receiving pay after a temporary period of time. Although the employee is not allowed to work and is not paid during a furlough, the employee has not been completely separated from the employer either. And, when a furloughed employee is allowed to return to work, there is no re-hiring process since the employee was never completely separated from employment. Because of these reasons, it’s not completely clear whether an individual is still “employed” while they are furloughed. As such, it’s unclear whether an OPT student accrues unemployment days during a furlough. We have reached out to SEVP for guidance on this question and have yet to hear back. If and when we receive any guidance on whether an OPT student accrues unemployment days during a furlough, we will update this FAQ and communicate with OPT/STEM students any important information via email.

 

Q: I have been (or will be) furloughed by my employer. Am I eligible to file for unemployment?

A:  Possibly, but eligibility depends on a number of factors in your personal circumstances and varies from state to state. It is not advised to determine unemployment benefits eligibility based on generalities, nor can OIS definitively confirm an individual’s eligibility based on generalities. Rather, the best way to determine the eligibility criteria and application process in your state is to review your individual situation in consultation with an attorney familiar with your state’s employment law and/or is to contact your state’s employment agency to seek clarification. Below are a few helpful resources to begin your research: 

Finally, it is important to remember to represent the facts of your case honestly and completely when applying for any government benefit as failure to do so is a serious issue.

 

Q: I am currently outside the U.S. and unable to return. How does this impact my OPT?

A: If your employer allows you to work remotely or if you continue to be employed while on a period of authorized leave from work, the time you spend outside of the U.S. will not count as ‘unemployment,’ so you do not have to worry about accruing days towards your 90/150-day unemployment limit (please see 7.1.8 of DHS’ OPT policy guidance). Since the SEVP Portal only allows U.S. addresses, please keep your “employer address” as is (assuming you haven’t changed employers).

 

Q: I am currently participating in post-completion OPT and my EAD will expire in the next 90 days. How can I apply for the STEM OPT Extension while OIS is operating remotely?

A: To accommodate students around the country, most of our STEM OPT application process is already online. Please review our STEM OPT page for more information about this process. We will continue to accept STEM OPT applications through our STEM Upload Center.

 

Q: I received an email message from The Graduate School about extending application deadlines and online enrollment for the Fall semester. I am graduating this semester (Spring 2020) and have applied for OPT. Does this affect my OPT application in any way?

A: No, this message was sent to all upcoming international student graduates, as well as recent international student graduates, to provide them with information on upcoming admissions deadlines and changes in admissions processes. The university’s decision to make these changes does not affect your OPT application.

 

Q: Can I withdraw my pending OPT application and apply for another degree program?

A: While it is difficult to withdraw an OPT application once you have submitted it to USCIS and may cause complications if you change your mind and try to reapply before the withdrawal is adjudicated, it is possible if your I-20 end date has not passed or you are still within your 60 day grace period. Before withdrawing your application though, you must first obtain admission to another degree program and ou must first discuss the OPT withdrawal process with an OIS advisor. Please keep in mind that you have to complete another degree at the same level or higher, in order to be eligible for OPT again.

 

Q: I am currently on OPT but would like to cancel my OPT because I have been laid off and do not want to accrue more unemployment time. Can I cancel my OPT and continue as a full-time student again?

A: If you are currently on OPT, you cannot cancel your OPT authorization. Keep in mind that you have 90 days of unemployment to use over your 12 months of OPT. If you are worried about going over the 90 days of unemployment/USCIS terminating your record, OIS can complete your F-1 record prior to that happening, at which point you would be expected to depart the U.S. within your 60 day grace period.

Alternatively if you have admission to another degree program (which must begin no later than five months of completion of your OPT) you may be able to request a transfer of your SEVIS record to attend another school (or a change of level to return to NCSU for a degree program). To be eligible for a SEVIS transfer or change of level, you must have a written confirmation of your admission to another school (or NCSU) and be maintaining your F-1 or J-1 status through the SEVIS transfer release date/change of level start date. (If you are found to be in violation of your visa status prior to the release date, OIS is required to terminate your SEVIS record). More information about the transfer out process can be found here.

You should also note that you can only participate in OPT once per degree level. Meaning if you are currently authorized for OPT based on your Masters degree, you will not be eligible for OPT upon completion of a second Masters degree. You would only be eligible for OPT again if you completed a higher degree level (for example, you must complete a PhD degree if you previously obtained OPT on a master’s degree or you must complete a master’s degree if you previously obtained OPT on a bachelor’s degree).

 

CPT (F-1 STUDENTS)

 

Q: I have received an internship offer to work off-campus during the summer – can I still apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization while the university is under reduced operations?

A: Our Summer CPT application period will still open on March 30th and we will still accept applications which must be submitted to the Career Development Center electronically via the Virtual CPT Application Submission Center. All other processing steps remain the same. For a full description of these, please review our CPT page.

 

Q: What if my CPT employer requires employees to self-quarantine?

A: Remote work is possible while on CPT and would not in itself require any special permission or new authorization request, as long as the work continues and there is continued supervision/oversight through various technological means. Students would simply inform OIS via email of the new remote work address and expected duration of quarantine period so that we can update the student’s record. If the employer terminates the appointment for whatever reason, the student will need to notify OIS immediately so that the CPT authorization can be adjusted to reflect the new end date.

 

Q. What if my current internship is shortened due to the coronavirus?

A: Please email ois@ncsu.edu and we will adjust your CPT authorization if necessary. If your CPT is based on Co-op enrollment, then you will still need to submit the final Summary Report to the CDC.

 

 

ACADEMIC TRAINING (J-1 STUDENTS)

 

Q: I am a degree seeking student in J-1 status and I have received an offer to participate in an internship off-campus this summer. Can I still apply for Academic Training?

A: Yes, you can still apply for Academic Training and submit your request to ois@ncsu.edu. If you are a graduate student, your DGP will need to e-sign and complete the Academic Training form; if you are an undergraduate student, your academic advisor will need to e-sign and complete the form. You can read more about the process for applying for Academic Training here: https://internationalservices.ncsu.edu/j-1-academic-training/.

 

Q: If I am graduating this semester and returning home to complete this semester online, can I still return for a summer internship on post-completion Academic Training?

A: You may potentially be eligible for post-completion academic training, but you must submit all Academic Training request materials before the end of your 30-day grace period. Please contact your OIS advisor for more information. If you depart the U.S., understand that there will be uncertainty regarding when you may be able to return. Please review the information in our Travel Section of this FAQ to help you as you make these decisions.

 

Q: I am being required by my employer to self-quarantine. What does this mean for my Academic Training?

A: If your employer allows you to work remotely and has a supervision structure in place to check on your work progress, there is no impact on your Academic Training due to self-quarantine. Similarly, if you are able to take leave (sick leave, vacation days, etc.), there is no impact on your Academic Training.

 

SOCIAL SECURITY

 

Q: Do I need a Social Security Number (SSN) to begin employment in the U.S.? 

A: Several government agencies have confirmed you may start employment without an SSN or while waiting for an SSN. This is especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the fact that many Social Security Administration offices have either closed or are not accepting new SSN applications. Please review the following communications (relevant excerpts included below) and share with your employer if your employer has questions/concerns about hiring your without an SSN:

  • Social Security Administration “Dear Colleague Letter:” 
    • “An F-1 or M-1 student may work while the Social Security number application is being processed. Employers may wish to reference Social Security’s fact sheet, Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers. This fact sheet contains information on how to report wages for an employee who has not yet received an SSN and is available online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/employer/hiring.htm. There is no provision in the Social Security Act (the Act) that employers must have their employees’ SSNs before hiring them. Neither is there any provision in the Act that prohibits an employee from beginning work if he or she has not yet obtained an SSN.”
  • IRS “Delays in Issuing SSNs to Aliens by the Social Security Administration”
    • There is no federal law administered by any federal agency which prohibits the hiring of a person based solely on the fact that the person does not have a Social Security Number (SSN). Similarly, there is no federal law which prohibits the making of a payment to a person based solely on the fact that the person does not have an SSN… If an alien employee can prove his work-eligibility with documents listed on Form I-9 other than a U.S. social security card, then the alien’s Form I-9, even though submitted without an SSN, is valid under the immigration law.
  • IRS “Employers Tax Guide”
    • “If you file Form W-2 on paper and your employee applied for an SSN but does not have one when you must file Form W-2, enter “Applied For” on the form. If you are filing electronically, enter all zeros (000-00-000) in the social security number field. When the employee receives the SSN, file Copy A of Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement, with the SSA to show the employee’s SSN. Furnish copies B, C, and 2 of Form W-2c to the employee. Up to five Forms W-2c for each Form W-3c may now be filed per session over the Internet, with no limit on the number of sessions. For more information, visit the SSA’s Employer W-2 Filing Instructions & Information webpage at www.socialsecurity.gov/employer. Advise your employee to correct the SSN on his or her original Form W-2. Page 9, Publication 15, Circular E: Employer’s Tax Guide
  • USCIS Form I-9 Fact Sheet for F-1 Students contains the following guidance to students about I-9 validation:
    • Q: “What if I have not yet received a Social Security number (SSN)?
    • A: An SSN is not required for Form I-9. It is required if your employer uses E-Verify, but E-Verify allows you to work while you wait for an SSN.”

 

INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARS

 

Q: If I am not able to access my lab, or am required to continue my research/writing remotely, how would this affect my status? Am I still considered actively engaged in my program?

A: Please consult with your supervisor to determine what is possible, as you may have a number of different options including:

  • Temporary leave (such as vacation or sick time). If you are approved for a temporary leave (less than 30 days), your J-1 status is not in jeopardy.
  • RemoTe work. You and your supervisor can make arrangements for you to continue your program objectives remotely, which has been supported in guidance from the Department of State. If you and your supervisor arrange for you to work remotely, please email your OIS advisor, copying your supervisor, with your plan, including the address where you will be working remotely from, and we will update your SEVIS record accordingly.

 

Q: Will I still get paid during this time?

A: This depends on your employment status (e.g. mandatory, non-mandatory, salary, hourly, etc.). Please review the University HR COVID-19 resources and contact HR if you have any specific questions not addressed in the resources on the HR website.

 

Q: I have decided to complete my program early and depart the U.S. What do I need to do?

A: Please complete this departure form and email it to ois@ncsu.edu once your plans are set.

 

Q: How can I get a travel signature on my DS-2019 if I just want to return home for a short period of time and then return to continue my J program?

A: Before you travel, please review the above question “Can/Should I travel internationally?” for advice and considerations on international travel.

Travel Signature Validity: Travel signatures for active J-1 scholars/student interns are valid for one year from the date of the signature. If your DS-2019 is up to date (i.e. nothing has changed and you have not been issued a new DS-2019) and you have a current travel signature on your DS-2019 that will be less than one year old on the date of your return to the U.S., you do not need to do anything further.

Travel Signature Requests: A Travel Signature is essentially documentation from OIS that shows you have permission to travel and return to your program because you are in good standing with respect to your academic and immigration status. Normally an original document with a valid travel signature on it is required for travel. However, we have received guidance that the original document/travel signature is not required during this time. As such, there are two acceptable combinations of documents that can demonstrate you have permission to travel and return to your program as per below:

  • Electronic copy of an updated DS-2019 which includes a travel signature. If your DS-2019 has been updated since OIS has been in remote operations status due to a program change (such as extension, financial update, etc.), you should have received a copy of the updated document via email. If the document included a travel signature, you can use this electronic copy for travel.
  • Original DS-2019 plus an electronically issued OIS Travel Letter. If you are in possession of your most recently issued DS-2019 and no programmatic changes have resulted in the need for an updated DS-2019, we will issue a travel support letter via email for you to print and carry with you in addition to your original DS-2019 when traveling internationally. To request a travel letter, please complete this google form. Within 10 business days of your request, OIS will email you a travel letter. You do not need to wait for the letter to be emailed to you to depart the U.S., you only need to have a print out or electronic copy in your possession when you return.

 

Q: My DS-2019 is going to expire soon but because the university currently has reduced operations I am not able to complete my research. Am I eligible for an extension?

A: If you need more time to complete your research you may be eligible for a program extension. You should keep in mind that the maximum program duration varies based on your J-1 category as follows:

  • Research Scholar: 5 years
  • Short Term Scholar: 6 months
  • Student Intern: 12 months

Your J-1 category is indicated on your DS-2019 in section 4. If you will be requesting an extension within the allowable maximum time for your J-1 category please work with your department to submit a DS-2019 request Part B along with any required supporting documentation to OIS via email (ois@ncsu.edu). You can find more information about the scholar program extension process here: https://internationalservices.ncsu.edu/visiting-scholars/j-1-changes-extensions/.

 

Q: My DS-2019 is going to expire soon but I am not eligible for an extension because my DS-2019 has already been extended to the maximum allowable stay for my category. What are my options?

A: All scholars who complete their program have a 30 day grace period following the DS-2019 end date. During this grace period you have the following options:

  • Prepare to depart the U.S. – we recommend you depart the U.S. if your home country is allowing its citizens to return and has not completely closed its borders.
  • Consult an advisor to discuss any other options depending on your personal situation including an extension of your J-1 category beyond max stay, a change of J-1 category, or a change of status to something other than J-1 depending on your subjectivity to the 212(e) home residency requirement.

 

Q: Can my dependents (children) still attend school?

A: This will depend on your child’s school and whether they are still operational. If your child’s school is still operational and your child is not exhibiting any symptoms of illness, then yes, they may continue to attend school. If your child is ill, they should stay home from school. Please be in communication with your child’s school and follow all instructions provided to you in regards to restricted activities, school closings, etc.

 

Q: My spouse would like to work in the U.S. Can my spouse still send an application to USCIS to request work authorization?

A: Yes, USCIS is still accepting applications for J-2 dependents to receive work authorization. Please email your OIS assigned advisor to schedule a phone call or Zoom meeting to discuss this process further.

 

Q: I have a dependent spouse or child who is planning to arrive in the U.S. soon. Can I still request a J-2 DS-2019 for them?

A: Yes, if you would like to request a J-2 DS-2019 please submit an I-20/DS-2019 request form along with the required supporting documentation (listed on the form) to OIS via email, at ois@ncsu.edu. You should keep in mind that there are current travel restrictions for certain countries. Additionally visa processing may be delayed in some areas. For up-to-date travel information please refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Coronavirus webpage: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.

 

 

ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS

 

Q: I would like to host a J-1 visiting scholar. Can I still submit a request to bring a scholar at this time?

A: Please refer to our email sent to departments on 4/15 regarding initial DS-2019 processing. At this time, OIS must temporarily suspend acceptance of initial J-1 Scholar and J-1 Student Intern requests.

The Department of State has suspended all consulate appointments for non-immigrant visas indefinitely and asked J-1 sponsors to delay the issuance of new documents, which we communicated about on March 16, 2020. The freezing of the majority of new hiring actions as outlined in the memo from UNC System President Roper on March 24th has further complicated the J-1 request process, as an HR appointment is a requirement for J-1 scholars and student interns at NC State.

Given these challenges, and our need to focus our support on our existing population, OIS must temporarily suspend acceptance of initial J-1 Scholar and J-1 Student Intern requests. OIS will continue to monitor the situation and will revisit this decision and send out additional communications as necessary either in mid-June or when the hiring freeze is lifted and visa application and international travel restrictions are no longer in place, whichever is earlier. Based on this decision, we ask you to make plans as follows depending on the status of any J-1 requests in your unit:

  • If you have submitted a request to OIS that we have not yet processed: Please plan to resubmit the request when we lift this temporary suspension. Over the next week we plan to follow up individually with you by email to virtually “return” your request so you are aware it needs to be resubmitted after we lift this temporary suspension.
  • If you are working on a request that you haven’t yet submitted to OIS: Please plan to submit the request after we lift this temporary suspension.

When we lift this temporary suspension and begin accepting requests again, we hope we will be able to do so using a new electronic process that will make it easier for both the department and the potential scholar to submit paperwork. We will be messaging departmental contacts regarding that new procedure in the coming weeks. You may complete our J-1 Payrep Sign Up form if you are not yet on our payrep listserv. Finally, please review our website to make sure you are following the most up-to-date procedure when you are ready to submit your next DS-2019 request.

 

Q: I have students and/or scholars submitting OIS requests which require my signature. Will OIS accept a digital signature?

A: Yes, we will gladly accept digital signatures in lieu of an ink signature on our forms. Alternatively, if you are unable to provide a digital signature, you can send us an email with the required information from the department section of the form and confirm you’ve reviewed the other sections of the form (completed by the student/scholar/employer) and approve of the request.

 

Q: I have submitted a DS-2019 request to OIS via email, how will I receive the original DS-2019 document?

A: We will email the department when the document is ready, however instead of sending it directly to the department, we will ask for a FedEx label, and we will deliver it to a FedEx box for mailing to the scholar.