COVID-19 Information for International Students

Guide for USI International Students Regarding COVID-19

Page last updated: October 27, 2020

Dear students, we want to welcome you to USI from the bottom of our heart! We know this is a period filled with concern and anxiety for both you and your families; mixed with happiness and excitement about the new adventure that awaits you by being part of the USI community as you pursue your education. We created this page to help answer your questions. Please take your time and read through the page as it contains important information based on USI's plans and regulations from the U.S. government. We hope this will provide some comfort and will make you feel supported through your college journey at USI!

USI is preparing a mix of in-person and online classes for Spring 2021. Stay up to date with university policies on the USI COVID-19 Student page

Visas, immigration and travel

Our office is your primary resource for these questions. The advice we provide one student doesn't always apply to the next student. So you need to contact us if you have questions about your situation instead of following advice from a friend or something you found on social media. 

Please review some common FAQs below. Click the arrow sign for proper next steps related to each questions.

Can I register for online classes in Spring 2021?

We have not received any updated guidance from SEVP, so we advise students to follow the standard immigration requirements. If you are outside of the U.S., you can take all online classes.

  • Undergraduate: If you are in the U.S. on a F-1 or J-1 visa, you must enroll in 12 credit hours minimum and only one class (up to 3 credit hours) can be online out of those 12 hours. If you enroll in additional credits beyond those 12, you can take additional online classes making sure that at least 9 hours of your coursework are in person or hybrid.
  • Graduate: If you are in the U.S. on a F-1 or J-1 visa, you must enroll in 6 credit hours minimum and only 1 class (up to 3 credit hours) can be online out of those 6 hours. If you enroll in additional credits beyond those 6, you can take additional online classes making sure that at least 3 hours of your coursework is in person or hybrid.
  • Current USI students who have been enrolled outside of the U.S. should make plans now to return to USI to resume courses in person in order to maintain your F-1 or J-1 status. Keep in mind that a 14 day quarantine is required if entering from outside of the U.S.
Will my immigration status be impacted if I participate in classes from another country?

No. On March 13, the U.S. government announced that as long as you maintain full-time enrollment online during the COVID-19 emergency, there will be no negative impact on your immigration status, even if you depart the United States and take your USI classes online from abroad. This temporary provision is in effect at least for the Fall 2020 semester.

What about the "5-month rule"?

The 5-month rule does not apply in this situation. As long as you maintain full time enrollment with your USI classes for Fall 2020, you are considered in valid status.

Do I have to leave the U.S. or Evansville?

No, you are not required to leave the U.S. or Evansville. In fact, if you stayed in the U.S. after classes transitioned online, you should remain in the U.S. now because of the difficulties you would experience trying to return.

If I leave the U.S., what documents do I need to take with me?

If you are a continuing student or scholar currently in the U.S., we recommend remaining in the U.S. now because of the difficulties you would experience trying to return.

If you leave, you need to take the following:

  • Signed I-20 (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students or scholars)
  • Passport
  • Print and keep a copy of your most recent I-94
  • Save evidence of your departure from the U.S. (boarding passes, copies of stamps in your passport)
What if my visa is expired and I need a new visa?

Look to be sure that your visa stamp is truly expired. This is the sticker in your passport, given you to by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is only possible to get a new visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. If you are outside of the U.S., and your visa stamp is expired, you will need to apply for a new visa stamp at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 

You do not need to leave the U.S. if your visa stamp is expired. The visa stamp in your passport only needs to be valid to seek re-entry to the U.S. If you are in the U.S. and remain in the U.S. with an expired visa stamp, you do not need to take any action to get a new visa. You may do so on a future trip outside of the U.S.

Can I extend my F-1 or J-1 student status?

You may have heard that you can file Form I-539 to extend your stay in the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student, but that is generally not true for F-1 and J-1 students at USI. It is always best to contact our office with any questions related to your immigration status instead of relying on information you’ve heard from others.

Generally speaking, your F-1 or J-1 student status is valid (as long as you follow applicable rules for F-1 students and J-1 students) until you complete your program end date (plus the additional time for your grace period, which is 60 days for F-1 students and 30 days for J-1 students). If you wish to extend your stay in the U.S. beyond the end of your grace period, you only have a few options.

At this time, the U.S. government has not provided any additional grace period benefits because of COVID-19. If you are unable to leave the U.S. or extend your stay through employment authorization or further academic study by the end of your grace period, you need to speak to an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your options. An attorney may be able to identify a non-student immigration status that you can apply for. You can find an immigration lawyer through the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Our office cannot assist you with an application to change to a non-student status.

If I choose to take a semester off, will I be able to travel back to the U.S.?

Contact our office to discuss taking a semester off. There are multiple things to consider, and we can help you work through that process.

If I am approved for a reduced course load, can I remain in status by taking online classes?

If have already been approved for a Reduced Course Load, you are considered to be a full-time student—even if you are enrolled in fewer courses than is typically considered full-time. The update to the academic calendar does not change your approval.

If you have concerns about your enrollment, please contact your academic advisor and the CIP.

If I become ill and am unable to participate in class or attend work, what should I do?

If you are ill for several days and unable to work (scholars) or participate in online class (students), contact us to discuss the immigration options you have. International students may have an option to withdraw for a medical reason, and we would be able to assist you with that process. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus, you also need to complete the Self-Report Form

I want to return home, but I am having problems making arrangements. What should I do?

If you are a continuing student currently in the U.S., we recommend remaining in the U.S. now because of the difficulties you would experience trying to return.

However, if you leave, we suggest you contact your nearest embassy/consulate in the U.S. They may have information to help you find a way back home, even if you cannot find a commercial flight.

I want to enter the U.S.; what do I need to know?

For continuing students, the U.S. government has indicated that you can enter the U.S. even if you are enrolled in only online classes.

For new students, you will need to enroll in at least one class that has an in-person component.

Review entry restrictions

The U.S. has entry restrictions if you are traveling from or have visited certain countries in the 14 days prior to your entry to the U.S. Learn more from the CDC. USI requires a 14 day quarantine upon arrival to meet Indiana State Department of Health requirements. If you will live on campus, USI will help you with the quarantine period, but you do need to apply for housing and submit a housing contract as well as complete our arrival form to let us know when you will be here.  

Documents to carry with you

You will need to carry certain documents with you (i.e., do not put these in checked luggage) when you enter the U.S.

  • Signed I-20 (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students or scholars)
  • Passport (valid for at least six months from the date you plan to enter the U.S.)
  • Valid visa stamp

Additional information for current students or scholars

You need to submit an I-20 Application form marked for Travel Signature if one of these are true for you:

  • Your most recent travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 is going to be older than 12 months from the date you plan to reenter the U.S. in the same program of study
  • You are an undergraduate student with a new major

If you are being asked to produce a letter confirming that you are eligible to return to campus in order to secure travel arrangements,  you should complete a Student Letter Request and include any important details about your request in the notes section. 

Do I need to quarantine if I arrive in Evansville?

Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indiana State Department of Health, all students, staff, and faculty coming to the U.S. from an international location will need to spend 14 days in their residences (on- or off-campus) monitoring their health and practicing physical distancing.

If you cannot arrive 14 days before classes start, contact our office and your course instructors to make arrangements for classes online during quarantine.

Scholars should work with their department and CIP to discuss arrival timing.

Self-quarantine guidelines

  • Remain out of public places.
  • Do not attend in-person classes or events or engage in in-person work, research, or other activities on campus.
  • Limit your interaction with others as much as possible, and keep your distance from others (6 feet or 2 meters).
  • Do not use public transportation, taxis, or ride sharing services (e.g., Lyft, Uber).
  • You can order food and other essentials items for no-contact delivery through Walmart or Schnuck's to be delivered on campus. Sodexo will also provide meal service options for on-campus students in quarantine. New students will 
  • Follow USI guidance on using face coverings.

How to monitor your health:

You have to monitor your health during the 14 day period. Make sure you follow these steps carefully.

  • Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day. Use this temperature log to record the readings.
  • Watch for cough, trouble breathing, and other COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If you develop any symptoms, contact USI's University Health Center for a virtual screening immediately.
I can't return to Evansville because of travel or visa issues; what should I do?

If you are a continuing student and you are unable to return to Evansville, USI will help you continue your degree online to the greatest extent possible—some exceptions may include courses with clinical or laboratory components.

In all cases, you should work with your academic unit for guidance on how to continue making progress toward your degree.

We do not fully know how this may impact your ability to apply for future benefits, like work authorization. We are awaiting guidance from the U.S. government and will provide more details as soon as we can.

I was a USI student in the spring or summer 2020 and am beginning a new program at USI in the fall 2020. What do I need to know?

We are working to determine the impact of the U.S. government's guidance on students outside the U.S. who have a change of level I-20 (new degree program). We will post updated guidance as soon as possible.

Housing and dining

I live in USI housing; what do I need to know?

Housing and Residence Life has the information you need about petitioning to stay in USI housing, moving in, moving out, storing items, etc.

Do I have to break my lease in my non-USI housing?

No, you are not required to leave the U.S. or Indianapolis, and thus, are not required to break your lease with a non-USI housing provider.

Will I be able to eat on campus?

Yes. Sodexo, the University’s food service provider, is taking a cautious, measured approach to give you the flexibility to choose the dining options that make you feel most comfortable.   

See Sodexo’s phased dining approach.

To sign up for, change or cancel your dining plan, please email Emails must come from your USI email address. For additional questions regarding dining plans, please visit   

View all 2020-21 USI Dining Plans 

Academics and classroom

I can't travel back to Evansville in August, what should I do about classes?

USI will help you continue your degree online to the greatest extent possible—some exceptions may include courses with clinical or laboratory components.

In all cases, you should work with your academic unit for guidance on how to continue making progress toward your degree.

Can USI provide a VPN?

A VPN is only needed for certain courses. If you are in a course requiring VPN, email

Will in person classes be too crowded for social distancing?

To accomplish physical distancing in classrooms and other safety measures, the Fall 2020 class schedule has been adapted. Visit the USI COVID-19 page for students for more information.

If I am not coming to campus, how do I get my books?

The USI Campus Store is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and closed Saturday and Sunday. Online textbook ordering for the 2020 Fall Semester opened on August 1 and can be charged to your University account until November 16.  

Textbook ordering information 

Health & safety changes for Fall 2020

Do I need to do anything before coming back to campus?

Yes. All students, faculty, and staff must complete a short training module on COVID-19 whether you return to campus or take classes remotely. The training needs to be completed by Monday, August 24, or your first return to campus, whichever is first.  

Are masks required in class?

While on the USI campus or University-owned and -operated facilities, students, faculty, staff, contractors, vendors and visitors are required to wear face coverings when in buildings, including in classrooms, hallways, lounges, restrooms and all other spaces. Face coverings must also be worn in outdoor areas where physical distancing is not possible. Face coverings are not required in private offices or when in a space alone. Face coverings can be removed for dining, but they should be worn as soon as finished.  

All students (residential and non-residential) will receive USI-branded face coverings (limit one per student). You will need your student ID or your student ID number to pick up a face covering.  

Will there be health screening?


Prior to and after your return to campus, it is important that you self-monitor and check daily for symptoms of COVID-19. This is an important way we can all help keep our campus safe. If you are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19, do not come to campus and see the section below about self-reporting. 

A full list of COVID-19 symptoms can be found on the CDC website. 


If you exhibit symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, or exhibits symptoms of, COVID-19, you are required to fill out the Self-Report Form, remain off campus and contact the University Health Center at 812-465-1250 or your primary care physician for advice. Self-reporting helps the University understand who has been exposed and also to implement contact tracing to protect others who might have been exposed.  

Will I have health insurance that covers COVID-19 testing?

USI requires all international students to have health insurance. You will automatically be enrolled in the Lewer Mark insurance which will be billed to your university account. Your coverage includes COVID-19 testing as well as a telehealth option. For more information, contact Kara Beu at


International Programs - Main office

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