F-1 International Students
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program and the many federal agencies that oversee international students have begun to issue guidelines for F-1 students to maintain their status for the Fall 2020 semester. Below is an FAQ to assist with understanding the guidance issued thus far. Please note that this is an evolving situation and there may be additional changes and guidance issued. We will update the FAQ’s as new information is available.
Ready to register for classes? Please visit the Road Map for International Students page.
Fall 2020 Semester - FAQs
With the exception of courses that are designated as distance learning (DL), all courses will be offered in a hybrid format so that students can take any course, or portions thereof, online or in-person. International students will be able to meet their F-1 visa regulatory requirements by attending the in-person sections of classes.
Returning students: Iona College is offering in-person classes for the Fall semester. You must attend the in-person classes. The recent lawsuit will allow students to study online if the college or university is providing only online classes for the fall semester. This is not the situation at Iona College. If you choose to study online only, you would be required to leave the U.S. and pursue your online classes from outside the U.S.
New Freshmen/Transfers: SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) has advised that students will not be granted entry into the United States to study online full time. You may begin your Iona College career with online classes in the fall semester from your home country and then join us on your F-1 visa for the spring term. An updated I-20 with a spring 2021 program start date will be issued to you.
Returning students: Continuing students who are abroad but are taking a full course load online will be registered in SEVIS for the Fall 2020 term and remain in “Active” status. A full course load is 12 or more credits for undergraduates and 9 or more credits for graduate students. If you are taking less than a full course load, your I-20 will be terminated and will need to be reactivated/reissued before you can return to the United States to study.
New Freshmen: An updated I-20 with a spring 2021 term start date will be issued to you. Your SEVIS ID would remain the same and as long as your visa was issued with an end date in the future, you would be able to use the visa and updated I-20 for entry into the U.S. in January.
Transfers: Transfers are required to enroll in the next available term. At this time, we would be required to terminate the current Transfer I-20 and issue a new I-20 for the spring semester.
All students must have their SEVIS record registered within the first 30 days of the term. This would require you to be physically present on campus and checked in with a Designated School Official (Victoria Woisin or Jennifer Connolly). If you cannot enter the US and be on campus by the 30-day mark, you would need to remain in your home country and take the semester online. We ask that you keep both the international advisors and your academic advisors apprised of your plans. You may need additional documentation for a late arrival after the add/drop period.
You would need a compelling reason for a 3rd country visa application and while the COVID-19 pandemic may seem compelling, it may not be considered as such for the embassy. Additionally, U.S. embassies worldwide were closed for visa processing and although some are beginning to open with limited services as conditions allow, there is no guarantee that you would be granted an appointment in a 3rd country. There is always a higher chance of denial of your application when applied for through a country that is not your home country.
If you are travelling from a banned country to a non-banned country, you will have to prove that you were in that country for 14 days. This does not include travel days (day of arrival in the non-banned country and day of departure to the U.S.). Your stay will actually be 16 days. There is always a risk that you would be turned away at the U.S. border if you cannot fully prove to the CBP officer that you were in the non-banned country for the appropriate amount of time.
You must have your passport, visa and updated I-20. It is also recommended that you have a letter from the PDSO stating that Iona will be operating in a mixed mode method of teaching that will include an in-classroom presence. This will be scanned to all international students. It is recommended that you have your student schedule for the fall term and any information regarding where you will stay such as on-campus room assignment, off-campus lease, local family information.
For students flying into the U.S., it is recommended that you follow the Department of Homeland Security guidance and enter through one of the designated airports. The list can be found on the DHS website