Immigration Updates for FSU Departments: Fall 2021

Last updated: August 19, 2021

The Center for Global Engagement advising office is open 8 am – 5 pm for quick questions and document pick up and drop off.
Students can meet with a CGE advisor through Zoom-In Advising from 2:00 – 4:00 M-F.

Departments can contact advisors via email or Teams and can submit documents to them via Dropbox or email. Students submit applications (e.g. OPT, CPT) through NoleStart. If an application requires a department signature, we accept electronic signatures. If we receive a drop/add form or a major change form, an advisor will sign it and forward it to the appropriate office. Students can contact advisors via email, Zoom-In Advising (M-F from 2-4), or by appointment.

For H-1B or other employment-based applications, send documents electronically to Luciana Hornung, lhornung@fsu.edu. Checks for application fees that aren’t coming from payroll via campus mail can be dropped off at the CGE during the hours listed above.

CGE Orientations

  • Graduate student orientation: Thursday, August 12, 9 am EST (virtual) Noon (in person, food and Q&A)
  • Undergraduate student orientation: Tuesday, August 17, 9 am EST (virtual) Noon (in person, food and Q&A)

We expect to offer an early September program for students who are unable to arrive for the August orientations.
We will soon post pre-arrival information videos on our website


Visa Delays

New international students, and continuing students who are abroad with expired student visas, must obtain an F-1 (or J-1) visa from a U.S. Consulate before entering the U.S. (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda). The U.S. Department of State has phased-in reopening of consulates for non-immigrant visa processing. In many countries, high demand for appointments means that students must request expedited appointments, hoping to obtain an appointment in time to arrive before classes begin on August 23. We recommend that departments contact incoming international students and inquire about the status of their visa.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators, offers an extensive visa and travel-related information and some analysis https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/covid-19-restrictions-us-visas-and-entry.
Students from Canada and Bermuda do not need visas, but they do need a valid passport and an I-20 immigration document.


Enrollment Requirements for International Students for Fall 2021

FSU is returning to pre-pandemic operations for Fall 2021. However, SEVP Director Rachel Canty has stated that eligible F students who meet the criteria in the ICE/SEVP COVID-19 guidance may remain in Active SEVIS status.

  • NEW international students coming to the U.S. from abroad to begin study as F-1 international students (this includes new FSU students who began study in the fall from their home countries): At least one in-person class is required if the student is in the U.S.
  • Continuing students who were enrolled in the U.S. before this fall: May have fully remote/online enrollment if necessary.
  • F-1 international students enrolled in the U.S. as an F-1 student at another U.S. university and transferring their SEVIS record to FSU: Covered by SEVP guidance as continuing students. These students may enroll in a schedule that is 100% remote/online if necessary.
  • New international students who begin study from their home countries and do not come to the U.S.: This option depends on availability of courses offered by the department. If online classes are available and allowed by a department, immigration regulations do not apply and these students may enroll from abroad. The student must have the technology to access internet and Canvas.
  • FLEX classes: If a new international student enrolls in a class designated as FLEX and other classes are not in person, the student must participate in the in-person option.

Travel Restrictions from Certain Countries

F-1 students have an automatic National Interest Exception (NIE) from the restrictions on traveling to the U.S. directly from Schengen area countries, the UK, and Ireland. Beginning July 2, continuing F-1 students can return directly from India, China, Brazil, South Africa, and Iran and new students coming from those countries may enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the fall program start date on their I-20. J-1 students require an NIE issued by a U.S. Consulate. See our Travel Update page for more information: https://cge.fsu.edu/travel-update


FSU Expectations for Quarantine After Return from Travel Abroad

FSU expects students to follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for international travel. Students who are not fully vaccinated should self-quarantine for 7 days after travel and get tested within 3 – 5 days, or they can self-quarantine for 10 days without a test and monitor for symptoms. After obtaining a negative test result, students can schedule their vaccine appointment at FSU or another local site.

See the CGE International Travel & Visa Updates page for details about vaccinations and what is meant by “fully vaccinated.”

FSU recognizes that students will need to take care of some essential tasks like securing an apartment, purchasing food, and getting the COVID test. However, they should avoid others as much as possible and should not come to campus for gatherings or classes during the quarantine period.

Vaccinated students who arrive should take a viral test 3-5 days after travel and self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

COVID tests are free for students and available at FSU’s Tucker Center by appointment (https://uhs.fsu.edu/coronavirus/testing). Vaccines are also available and are free for FSU students (https://vaccine.fsu.edu). International students may take a passport as photo ID rather than a driver license. Information on free alternative testing and vaccine sites is HERE.


Banking For New Students and Scholars

Many banks are closed to walk-in appointments and should schedule an appointment to open an account. Here are some options that would not require a student or scholar to have a U.S. SSN when applying:

  • Suntrust (Truist) Bank – (104 N. Woodward Ave, adjacent to the FSU Bookstore, ground level of the parking garage) – Students can make an appointment HERE, or try going to the campus bank location when campus is open. Students need 2 forms of photo ID, a local address, and check or cash for an initial deposit. We recommend that students and scholars schedule their appointment immediately or try walking in..
  • Bank of America - Make an appointment HERE and select the branches at 2252 N. Monroe St., 2930 Apalachee Parkway, or 5676 or 3430 Thomasville Road. These branches that are open for help with new accounts. The branch closest to campus at 803 Lake Bradford Rd is not open for full services. If no appointments are available, a student may walk in at those locations, but may need to wait until a representative is available. Students must have 2 forms of photo ID, a local address, and a check or cash for an initial deposit. We recommend that students and scholars schedule their appointment in advance of their arrival.
  • Wells Fargo – Make an appointment HERE. Students must take 2 forms of photo ID, a local address, and a check or cash for an initial deposit.

Obtaining a U.S. Social Security Number

  • Because the Social Security Administration office is closed to walk-in visits, students and new postdocs/employees must have an appointment to apply for a number. F-1 students must have an offer of employment (e.g. graduate assistantship) to be eligible to apply for an SSN. Departments do NOT currently need an SSN receipt or number to complete the onboarding process or for the I-9 as long as the student or scholar has initiated the process for an appointment.
  • F-1 students should ask their department to complete the SSN Form for On-Campus Employment and return it to them to upload it in Nole Start (https://istart.fsu.edu). Alternatively, a student can go to the CGE during open hours.
  • Students and employees can call the Tallahassee Social Security Administration office and request an appointment, (866)-248-2088. It is likely they will have to wait at least two weeks to be given an appointment.
  • Students should take the signed SSN Form for On-Campus Employment, (F-1 Students), their passport, I-94 (printed), I-20, and a completed SSN application to the appointment. We were informed that students and scholars coming from international travel must have been in the U.S. for at least 14 days before the appointment.
  • After the appointment, students should show the application receipt to the department payroll representative. When the social security card arrives via mail, the student should show it to the department’s payroll representative and to the registrar’s office (can send it via FSU Dropbox to bethomas@fsu.edu).

What are the options departments can offer NEW international students?

It is important to understand that NEW international students are incoming international students who have not already been studying at a U.S. institution with F-1 nonimmigrant student status. Students who began study in the fall from their home countries would be new international students for purposes of the immigration regulations. (Students coming to FSU after studying at other U.S. institutions in F-1 status are NOT considered NEW international students for immigration purposes. Refer to the questions regarding transfer and change of level students.)

These are scenarios for NEW international students:

Scenario 1: Obtain an F-1 visa and arrive in time to start classes in-person by the beginning of fall. Schedule cannot be 100% online.

 

Scenario 2: Unable to obtain a visa and arrive for fall.

  • Graduate Assistant appointment not possible if no U.S. bank account.
  • Unclear if sufficient online classes would be available for a student to begin academic program while abroad.
  • Full course of study optional unless receiving waivers or the Latin America/Caribbean scholarship.
  • Student works with department or Office of Admissions (undergraduate students) to begin program in spring or another future semester

Should a department notify the CGE if a NEW international student or a new transfer student cannot come to the U.S. for the fall?

Yes, please. The CGE needs to know when a student will come to the U.S. in order to change the program start date on the student’s I-20 immigration document, if the department expects the student for a future semester.

Where can I find for more information on these topics?

Can a student enter for study without a visa or with a B visa and change status inside the U.S.?

Only students who have a passport issued by Canada or Bermuda may enter the U.S. for study without obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate. Those students must enter with an I-20 immigration document issued by FSU and must pay their SEVIS fee at least 3 days before they enter.

Students entering without a visa or with a B (visitor) visa are entering in a tourist status that prohibits class attendance. The program that allows tourist travel to the U.S. without a visa (Visa Waiver Program/ESTA) does not allow change of status inside the U.S. at all. Change of status from B-1/B-2 status takes approximately one year, during which time regulations prohibit study and employment.

Is there any way a student can get an earlier visa appointment?

The website of the U.S. Embassy/Consulates provide information about requesting an expedited appointment. Students must first complete their visa application and schedule the first possible visa appointment date, even if it is in 2022. Then, student follow the website instructions on requesting the expedited appointment.

Can a student go to a U.S. consulate in another country to apply for the visa?

Because of the overall limited capacity at U.S. consulates worldwide and the backlog of visa applications, most U.S. consulates are not scheduling visa appointments for anyone who is not a resident of the country in which the consulate is located.

Can we employ a student while they are outside the U.S.?

This might be possible if the student has a U.S. bank account. However, classes may not be available for a graduate student who needs to enroll full time in order to qualify for waivers.

What happens to the I-20/visa if we change a student’s admission term?

Our case management system can tell us if a student has been admitted to a future term, but it cannot pick up edits to a previous admission. PLEASE let us know if you decide to edit a student’s admission term, rather than having them re-apply to a later semester. This will help us know not to expect the student for the fall semester. That helps us know what to do with the student’s record in SEVIS that shows a fall start date.

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