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COVID-19 FAQs for International Students

How do I speak to an International Student Advisor?

Instead of coming into the office, please email your questions to iss@wichita.edu. If you would prefer that the advisor call you instead of replying by email, please be sure to include your telephone number in your message.

Can I come to your office and speak to an advisor during walk-in hours?

Walk-in/call-in advising normally offered on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons is temporarily suspended.  Rest assured that the International Student Advisors are still here to serve you – you can reach us by email at iss@wichita.edu.  If you prefer that an advisor call you instead of responding by email, please include your phone number in your email message.

Since WSU is changing all classes to online for the rest of the semester, do I need to worry about the restrictions that international students have in taking online classes?

No. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recently notified all U.S. universities that it will be flexible during the Coronavirus outbreak. SEVP let us know what paperwork needs to be completed. WSU has submitted the required notification to SEVP.

I need a travel signature. What should I do?

If you need a travel signature, we can mail or email you a new I-20 (SEVP is allowing digital copies due to COVID-19). Before contacting International Education about needing a travel signature, please check the date of your last travel signature (page 2 of the I-20). As noted in the Travel Endorsement section of the Form I-20, "Each endorsement is valid for one year." If the signature will be more than one year old at the time of your planned reentry, please email iss@wichita.edu and specify if you prefer to have a paper I-20 mailed to you or a scanned copy sent to your WSU email address. Be sure to include your complete postal mailing address if you want the original I-20 mailed to you, and plan ahead to allow for 3 to 4 business days for mail time. Keep in mind that if we send you a scanned copy, you must have access to a printer to be able to print the I-20 and store it with your passport like normal.

I need to submit something. How should I do that?

Scan whatever you need to submit and email it to iss@wichita.edu.

I need to pick something up. What should I do?

Email iss@wichita.edu to let us know what you need and we will mail it to you. Be sure to include your complete postal mailing address in your email.

I have a personal or financial matter to discuss. What should I do?

If you need to discuss something that is NOT related to your immigration status, visa, I-20, or employment authorization, please contact Ms. Tonya Baldwin at tonya.baldwin@wichita.edu or call (316) 978-6037. To minimize your potential risk, Tonya will not be staffing the Info Table in the RSC for the next few weeks.

I need an application packet for a friend or I have an admissions-related question?

Email your question to international@wichita.edu. If you would like a staff member to call you back instead of responding by email, please include your telephone number in your message.

I am thinking about leaving the U.S. for a vacation. Is that a problem?

Due to continued uncertainty over COVID-19, we are discouraging all international travel at this time. If you must travel, please exercise caution and be aware that you could encounter restrictions or delays when returning to the U.S. If you travel from a country that has a CDC Level 3 Travel Notice when you return to the U.S., you will be required to be self-isolated for 14 days and must be monitored by the Sedgwick County Health Department. In addition, the U.S. has banned all travel from Europe (except for travel from the U.K.) through April 12. We recommend getting a new Form I-20 (DS-2019 for J-1 students) before departing the U.S. Don’t forget that all international students leaving the U.S. need to submit a Travel Notification form to iss@wichita.edu.  If you will be traveling to another city in the U.S., we recommend that you reconsider your travel plans.  If you must travel, we recommend that you monitor the outbreak conditions in the city where you plan to visit.  KDHE has issued a mandatory 14-day self quarantine for anyone returning from certain areas of the U.S.  Please visit KDHE for the latest guidance.

Can I go home for the remainder of the semester and return to WSU in the fall?

We understand why you might want to leave to go home. If you wish to leave, you may do so but you must understand the risks:
● Your country could impose a 14-day quarantine on you when you return to your country.
● Due to COVID-19, various U.S. embassies and consulates have closed around the world. Some may not be taking visa appointments for months. If your visa has expired and you must re-apply for a visa, you run the risk of not being able to get a visa in time to return to Wichita for the Fall Semester.
● We do not know what the U.S. government might do to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. They have already imposed a 30-day travel ban on several European countries. That travel ban could be extended for additional weeks or months if the outbreak continues to grow in Europe. If the outbreak worsens in your home country, you could be subject to a travel ban when you need to return to the U.S. this fall.
● If the outbreak gets worse in your country, you need to consider whether or not the healthcare system in your country can handle a widespread outbreak and whether or not you would have access to adequate medical care in your hometown.
● After you return home, will you have access to a computer with high-speed internet in order to complete your online classes for the remainder of the semester? It is not recommended for students to use a mobile phone to complete online classes.

It is very important that you carefully consider all of the above risks before deciding to go home.

I have considered all of the risks and have decided to go home to complete the remainder of the semester. What should I do?

Please check the date of your last travel signature (page 2 of the I-20) to see if you will need an update signature.  As noted in the Travel Endorsement section of the Form I-20, "Each endorsement is valid for one year."  If the signature will be more than one year old at the time of your planned reentry, we will need to issue you a new I-20.  Please email iss@wichita.edu and specify if you prefer to have a paper I-20 mailed to you or a scanned copy sent to your WSU email address.  Be sure to include your complete postal mailing address if you want the original I-20 mailed to you, and plan ahead to allow for 3 to 4 business days for mail time.  Keep in mind that if we send you a scanned copy, you must have access to a printer to be able to print the I-20 and store it with your passport like normal.  

I have decided to drop all of my classes and go home. What should I do?

With proper notification and completion of the required form, your SEVIS record will be terminated for a positive reason called "Authorized Early Withdrawal (AEW)." Termination of your SEVIS record for AEW should not have an adverse effect on your ability to return to WSU for a future semester. To request AEW, please do the following:
1) Complete an Authorized Early Withdrawal Form.
2) Submit the form to iss@wichita.edu before you drop below a full course of study. If you need to speak with an International Student Advisor, please indicate in your email that you would like the advisor to call you and include your phone number in your email message.
3) Once an International Student Advisor has processed your request, she will notify you by email. You will then have 15 days to leave the U.S.

I need to apply for OPT.  What should I do?
 The Office of International Education has made updates to the OPT tutorial to include instructions about how to prepare your OPT application packet without meeting in-person with an International Student Advisor.
I live in one of the residence halls. Do I have to move out?

No. International students may continue to live in the residence halls.
● Students who want to stay in the residence halls: You must complete a Housing Request Form by 5:00pm on Friday, March 20 in order to remain in the residence halls.
● Students who want to move out of the residence halls: Please notify the Office of Housing and Residence Life to let them know. If you would like assistance in contacting the Housing Office because you plan to leave the U.S. or live someplace else, please email Tonya Baldwin at tonya.baldwin@wichita.edu or call (316) 978-6037.

Housing Refunds: The University is in the process of determining how to address housing and dining refund requests. Once a decision is made, WSU will update https://www.wichita.edu/covid19news.

If I stay in the U.S. this summer, will I be required to purchase medical insurance?

If you are in the U.S. this summer AND you enroll in classes, you will be required to have medical insurance through WSU or another insurance provider like normal. If you are in the U.S. AND NOT ENROLLED, however, you will not be required to purchase medical insurance. With COVID-19, it would be very irresponsible of you to not have medical insurance coverage! The cost of insurance this summer will be $296 – which is far less than the tens of thousands of dollars that you might owe if you have to be hospitalized without medical insurance. We will send out instructions on how to opt-in for medical insurance sometime in late April.

What if my I-20 is expiring in May 2020?

Please check the program end date listed on your most recently issued I-20. If your I-20 will be expiring in May 2020 and you will not be completing your program of study in the Spring 2020 semester, you must request an I-20 extension. The extension form requires your academic/faculty advisor’s signature which may difficult to obtain at this time because of COVID-19 protocols. OIE will accept a digital signature on the form or, if your advisor is unable to sign the form, they may send an email to iss@wichita.edu. The email should include the reason why the extension is needed and the expected semester of completion. A list of acceptable reasons for extension are listed on the form. Please note we cannot extend your I-20 after your program end date has passed.

I’ve heard the USCIS is allowing F-1 students to work off-campus due to COVID-19. Is that true?

Despite rumors circulating on the internet, USCIS has not made any special employment provisions for F-1 students due to COVID-19. 

As always, F-1 students experiencing a temporary and unforeseeable hardship may apply for off-campus employment authorization from USCIS. The application involves submitting a Form I-765 with $410 filing fee and extensive supporting documentation to demonstrate the hardship. It normally takes several months for this type of application to be processed by USCIS, and processing times will likely increase due to the anticipated increase in the volume of applications. If approved for economic hardship authorization, a student is granted an Employment Authorization Document which will allow them to work off-campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. The authorization is valid for one year, though it becomes invalid if a student completes their program of study, transfers to another school, or violates their F-1 status.

Please email iss@wichita.edu if you are interested in receiving more information about the economic hardship authorization process.

As always, the Office of International Education will notify students if USCIS makes any new announcements affecting F-1 students.