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Coronavirus/COVID19 Updates and Procedures

We recognize the concern of students and the University community regarding the coronavirus. We are also proud to have international students from all over the world at UAlbany, including from countries who have reported cases of the coronavirus. Please see below for the latest information regarding University and office procedures, maintaining status, and travel and continue to check your Albany.edu email daily

Office Procedures
Due to COVID-19 the ISSS Office will be moving to remote operations through March 31st (with the potential for an extension as needed). This means that while the physical office space will be closed, ISSS will still be conducting normal hours and operations remotely and document requests will continue to be processed. For more details about how to receive remote advising and document processing, please click here. Continue to check you Albany email for updates.

Quick Notes:
• Advisement will be done by Zoom and/or phone appointment. Click here to schedule your appointment.
• All Document Requests should be submitted electronically as an Eform or via email to ISSS@albany.edu through a PDF-fillable form, including Travel Signature Requests, which should be made using the Document Request Processing Form. Visit our Forms page for all forms: https://www.albany.edu/isss/forms.php
• There will be no in-person pickup, students must arrange for mailing. The options are:
o Standard USPS- no fee, no tracking, and takes 3-10 business days to arrive. Email the advisor the address you want the document sent to. This option would not be appropriate if you need the document quickly; if it is an EAD card; or for international mailing
o Order an E-Ship Label- use this option if you want the document quicker; want it tracked; it is an EAD card; or if you need the document sent internationally. Here are the instructions for ordering an E-Ship Label: https://www.albany.edu/isss/91191.php

General University Updates and Procedures

The University has posted a FAQ page on the Coronavirus (COVID19) with additional information.

Students with health related concerns should contact University at Albany Student Health Services.

Degree seeking international students living on campus should read this UAlbany Residence Hall Closure FAQ.


Maintaining Status During Temporary Remote Learning
ISSS has emailed students answers to Frequently Asked Questions, including "Will courses moving remote affect my F-1 or J-1 status?" and "I want to go back to my home country and take my classes remote from there; can I do that?" To view answers to Frequently Asked Questions, please click here.

DHS COVID-19 Guidance for SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) Stakeholders
On Friday, March 13th, 2020 ICE released guidance which you can read online here. Please refer to the FAQ's above for additional information.

Quick Notes
• In general  F-1 and J-1 students who are maintaining full-time registration and continuing to complete their coursework may keep an active F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record, even if they are overseas, during this temporary period.
• Students who are planning to do their coursework from overseas should see the below for travel updates and procedures.
• If you’re graduating this term, remember that you must be physically present in the U.S. in order to apply for post-completion OPT, so if you depart the U.S. at this time you should understand that you will likely not be eligible for post-completion OPT.


Travel Updates & Procedures

Special Announcement on Worldwide Travel Advisory- U.S. DOS Level 4 Advisory- Do Not Travel
As of March 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory urging individuals not to travel. We urge students to consider this health and safety advisory before making the choice to travel. International travel is highly discouraged at this time. Below are some of the current travel restrictions in place, though more may be imposed at any time:
  • On March 18, 2020, U.S. Department of State announced that "In response to worldwide challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of State is suspending routine visa services in most countries worldwide."  This includes immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments.  To read more, click here.
  • On March 18, 2020, President Trump announced that the northern border to Canada will be closed to non-essential travel.  More details should be forthcoming.
  • On March 11th, 2020, President Trump announced a 30-day ban on travelers returning from Europe from entering the U.S. This ban begins on Friday, March 13th. The ban will be expanded to include travelers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, effective midnight (EST) on Monday, March 16th. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are exempted but non-immigrants are not. In this case, F, J and other non-immigrant international students are subject to this ban.
  •  Indefinite travel bans continue to be in place for travelers from China or Iran who have been present in either country within the past 14 days
  •  Based on the Albany County and NY State Departments of Health guidance, the University at Albany is highly discouraging travel to countries or regions impacted by the coronavirus. If you must travel, please note that NYS Department of Health has advised that “Student and faculty returning from currently impacted countries or regions of impacted countries will be required to be quarantined for 14 days upon return.” What constitutes a currently impacted country or region may continue to expand as the situation develops.
We understand that choosing whether to stay in the U.S. or depart the U.S. is a difficult decision. If you choose to depart the U.S. during this Spring term, please do the following:
  1. Complete the Travel Information Form to let ISSS know you travel plans
  2. Check the travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 (F-1) or page 1 of your DS-2019 (J-1). Travel signatures are valid for 1 year for F-1 enrolled students, 6 months for J-1 exchange visitors and F-1 students on OPT. This means that if you are an enrolled F-1 student and hope to return for Fall term the signature must be dated as September 2019 or later.  If you need a new travel signature, please:
    • Complete the Document Request Processing Form and submit it to ISSS@albany.edu.
    • Indicate in your email submission how you want the form mailed (see Office Procedures above for mailing options). If you are departing within the next few weeks, you will likely need to order an E-Ship label to have the I-20 sent to you overseas (remember that you only need the travel signature to re-enter, not to depart).
  3.  Consider carefully whether or not you will have the academic resources to be able to complete your coursework from home (technology, WiFi, server access, time differences which may impact your ability to participate). Download the Authenticator App to access your email and download the GlobalProtect VPN to your laptop or other device so that you can securely connect to the UAlbany network.
  4. Remember that we do not know what travel restrictions may be in place come August. While ICE is temporarily allowing students to maintain status while studying remotely, this guidance could update as we approach the Fall term, which may require you to be participating in in-person study as well as in the U.S. in order to maintain an active F-1/J-1 student status.  Before returning to the U.S., check ISSS for the latest information.
Additional Resources
Reminders for Students Travelling (including documentation requirements)
Resources for International Students from COVID-19 Affected Areas
Psychological Tips for COVID-19 Concerns


Follow ISSS on Instagram @ualbanyisss

ISSS is now on Instagram! Follow us to get the latest updates on events and other important announcements @ualbanyisss

ISSS is now Using E-Forms

ISSS is going electronic! Students will be able to submit some requests online through AccessISSS, the UAlbany ISSS student portal.

The following requests should be submitted online using an E-Form:

  • OPT & STEM OPT Requests
  • I-20/DS-2019 Extension Requests
  • Departure and/or Transfer Out Requests
  • Status Letter Requests (including SSN status letter requests)
  • Reduced Course Load Authorization
  • OPT/STEM OPT Employer Updates (formerly “OPT Data Form”)
  • New Student Arrival Form

ISSS will continue to release new E-Forms throughout this academic year. Please visit the Forms page on the ISSS website to access all Forms, including E-Forms: https://www.albany.edu/isss/forms.php


OPT & CPT Workshops- Spring 2020

Graduating this May?  ISSS offers several workshops to help you prepare your OPT application.  Please attend one of these workshops prior to applying.  
If you are graduating this May, filing for OPT opens with USCIS on February 14 2020 and closes on July 11, 2020.

Students planning to do an internship should attend one of the CPT workshops offered this semester to learn more about the application process.  

Due to our temporary remote learning environment, we are offering all workshops on Zoom.  Please see below for the schedule: 

OPT Workshop
Monday, March 30th at 3pm
Join Zoom Meeting: https://albany.zoom.us/j/567558309 

OPT Workshop
Thursday, April 9th at 3pm
Join Zoom Meeting: https://albany.zoom.us/j/451014586

CPT Workshop
Monday, April 13th at 3pm
Join Zoom Meeting: https://albany.zoom.us/j/133496031

OPT Workshop
Tuesday, April 21st at 3pm
Join Zoom Meeting: https://albany.zoom.us/j/846420247

OPT Workshop
Wednesday, April 29th at 3pm
Join Zoom Meeting: https://albany.zoom.us/j/189048137

OPT Workshop
Thursday, May 7th at 3pm
Join Zoom Meeting: https://albany.zoom.us/j/181393769



Reporting Requirements for Students

As we approach a new academic year, now is a good time to remind yourself of your reporting requirements as an international student.  Our Reporting Requirements webpage also features information for OPT and STEM OPT students.  Visit it here