International Student COVID-19 FAQ

Since MSU has moved to all online classes, am I still maintaining my F1 visa status?

Yes, as long as you remain enrolled full time and are making normal progress towards your degree your F1 status will remain active, even if you choose to exit the US.

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Will F students be able to return to the United States if they are continuing their studies outside of the country as a result of COVID-19?

Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the United States. However, because of the changing array of travel restrictions, students should refer to their local embassy’s website through the U.S. Department of State for any updates about visa issuance. Also, DHS and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) websites provide information about current travel restrictions to the United States.

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What are the International Institute’s hours?

The International Institute is currently staffed from 8am-noon Monday-Friday but many of our staff are working remotely so we may not be in the office to assist you. If you have questions or need an immigration document, please email international@msstate.edu and a staff member will be happy to assist you.

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What should I do if I need to travel internationally?

If international travel is unavoidable, please make sure you have a valid travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019. You do not need a valid travel signature on your visa document to depart the U.S., only to re-enter. Travel signatures are typically valid for 1 year (6 months if you’re on OPT). If your signature will be out of date when you plan to reenter, you will need to obtain a new signature by emailing international@msstate.edu.

If you do choose to travel internationally, please keep the following items in mind:

  • Many borders are being closed and It is difficult to know at this point in time, when you will be able to return to the U.S.
  • Currently the U.S. borders are closed to many foreign nationals. Please check the Department of State website to see how you may be impacted.
  • Many US Consulates are currently closed and if you need to renew your visa while you are abroad, this may be difficult to do.

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If I leave the US, will I be able to complete my courses online on my own time?

Requirements for each course will vary. Your professor should have communicated with you or posted something in Canvas to explain how the course will be conducted moving forward. If you have questions about a specific course, you should contact the instructor. You can also view the resources available on the Academic Continuity for Students page.

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What should I do if I suspect that I have COVID-19?

You should contact University Health Services at 662-325-2055 and follow the instructions given. Additional guidance is posted here.

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Will my visa status be impacted if I am out of the US for more than 5 months?

If you are enrolled full-time for the spring semester (or have an authorized reduced course load) and attend your courses for the remainder of the semester, your visa status should not be impacted by being outside the country, even if you do not reenter the US until the fall semester.

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I need to apply for OPT. Can I do so while outside the US?

You must be physically present in the US at the time that your application is mailed to USCIS. We will continue to assist with OPT applications but keep in mind that since we are working remotely, the processing time is slightly longer than usual. Please email international@msstate.edu if you need to apply for OPT and an advisor will be happy to assist you and provide instructions for completing the process.

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I have already applied for OPT. Will my processing be delayed because of COVID-19?

At this point, it is impossible to predict how this may impact USCIS services. Any updates would be posted to the USCIS website. As of March 18, in person services have been suspended but this does not include F-1 OPT applications which are mail-in applications and do not require an interview or in person appointment.

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If I have moved from my residence in Starkville to somewhere else, do I need to inform the International Services Office?

Yes, you still need to update your adress within 10 days of moving. This can be done through your MyState account. Once it is updated there, we will update it with the government.

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I am a newly admitted student. Am I going to be able to get an I-20 and enter the US for August?

As of right now, we are still issuing I-20s/DS-2019s for students who have been admitted and shown the proper financial documentation. While the Student and Exchange Visitor Program is allowing schools to send electronic copies of I-20s, it is not clear if those will be accepted by Department of State and Customs and Border Protection. For that reason, we will still be mailing original I-20s to students for use for visa and entry purposes.

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If I am a graduate student on an assistantship and working remotely, does this affect my status?

No, working remotely does not affect your visa status. As long as you are enrolled full-time and completing your courses, you will maintain your immigration status.

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