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

We are continuing to monitor the current climate and will be reaching out to each of you as more guidance is provided from the Department of Homeland Security. 

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 oiss@soka.edu to schedule an appointment with an OISS staff member.

It is difficult to know at this time if travel restrictions will have lifted by this summer. Currently, the United States borders are closed to many foreign nationals. Please check the Department of State website to see how you may be impacted.

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.

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.

A student must maintain a passport’s validity at all times. If you find yourself in this situation, you should contact your country’s embassy or consulate to identify options for passport extension or renewal. But please note that if you decide to depart from the United States with an expired passport, you will not be eligible to return to the US until you renew and have a valid passport.

No. You may remain in the US for the duration of your F-1 status, even after your visa has expired. If you leave the US however, you cannot re-enter on an expired visa. You will need to renew your visa prior to coming back to the US.

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 is evaluating this issue but has not yet determined whether to implement a specific exemption for exceeding the regulatory limits for unemployment of 90 days.

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.