The Office of International Student Services is continuing to monitor the rapidly evolving situation of the COVID-19 outbreak in light of information from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the spread of the virus in our country and how it may impact our international students. To address the fluid and rapidly changing situation, we have created this resource for international students.

New Students

If no further changes are announced and we move forward with in-person classes in Spring 2021, we will be issuing new I-20 forms in early fall to give students sufficient time to apply for an F-1 Student Visa.

Most international students will need to apply for an F-1 visa at your local United States embassy or consulate. We are closely monitoring the situation with United States consular services having been suspended temporarily worldwide at this time. Since a valid F-1 visa is required to study in the United States, please make sure to continue to stay in close contact with your local US embassy or consulate to know when they will resume their routine visa services.

No, the current guidance does not allow any non-immigrants to enter the US for study at an institution that is operating 100% online. Please begin your studies from your home country and we will provide more guidance once the institution’s plans for Spring 2021 are finalized.

Yes, on July 6, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security announced modifications to the temporary exemptions to the federal regulations for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the Fall 2020 semester. As a student who is transferring into Soka University of America from another SEVP-approved school, the student must report to a DSO at their transfer—in school, in person, or using electronic means—within 15 days of their program start date (8 CFR 214.2(f)(8)(ii)(C)). The DSO will then complete the transfer process and register the student as Active in SEVIS.

Yes. We are available for phone or video advising. Please read through the answers posted here; you will hopefully find answers to most of your questions. If you have other questions, please feel free to email to schedule an appointment with an OISS staff member.

Continuing Students

Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for readmission into the United States. However, because of the changing array of travel restrictions, students should refer to their local embassy’s website for any updates about visa issuance. Also, the Department of Homeland Security and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites provide updated information about current travel restrictions to the United States.

Dependent on Soka’s return to normal operations and any continuing travel restrictions, students should seek to return to the United States within 30 days of the next available session start date. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program also anticipates providing additional guidance after the COVID-19 emergency ends regarding a school’s return to normal operations.

No. Your visa will not be cancelled by the US government unless there has been a violation of status. The current COVID-19 outbreak does not affect the validity of your visa—regardless of whether you’ve remained in the US or returned to your home country.

DHS has not implemented a specific exemption for exceeding the regulatory limits for the 90 days of unemployment rule.

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.

No, students should maintain a full course of study to the extent possible. If a student is unwilling to take online courses or participate in other alternate forms of study as provided in the school’s procedural adaptation plan to SEVP, they should request a temporary absence and their I-20 forms will be terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal.