College of the Extended University

International Student FAQs

UPDATE: July 15, 2020

On July 14, the U.S. government rescinded the guidance from July 6 related to F-1 students. We anticipate further clarification from the U.S. government, but until additional information is available, we return to the guidance from the end of the spring semester.

This means you can enroll in all online courses (with a full course of study - minimum 12 units for undergraduate students, and 6 units for graduate students) and remain in the U.S.

And if you're outside the U.S., you can keep your SEVIS record active by making sure you enroll in a full course of study (minimum 12 units for undergraduate students, and 6 units for graduate students)

Summary of the most important information

Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) will offer both hybrid and online courses in Fall 2020. Make sure you read Provost Alva's message to learn about what you can expect this fall.

  • Continuing Students currently in the United States: Continuing students may enroll in an entirely online program and maintain their visa status. (minimum 12 units for undergraduate students, and 6 units for graduate students)
  • Continuing Students currently outside of the United States: Continuing students now abroad may enroll in an entirely online program and maintain their visa status. (minimum 12 units for undergraduate students, and 6 units for graduate students)
    • NOTE: Continuing students currently outside of the U.S. may have difficulty returning at this time, and may be better off remaining in their home countries.
  • New Students currently in the United States: First-year freshman and transfer students in the United States may enroll in an entirely online program and maintain their visa status.  (minimum 12 units for undergraduate students, and 6 units for graduate students)
  • New Students currently outside of the United States: We advise new students outside of the U.S. not to come to the United States. “If Initial students have not arrived in the United States, they should remain in their home country.” as noted in the July 14 ICE FAQ.
    • NOTE: Your international student advisor will assist you in getting an immigration document when you are able to come to the U.S., but you are eligible to begin your studies at CPP from abroad in the fall semester.

FAQs Below:

1. 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 CPP classes online from elsewhere. This temporary provision is in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

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2. Do I have to leave the U.S.?

No, you are not required to leave the U.S.. 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.

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3. Should I leave the U.S.?

If you stayed in the U.S. after classes transitioned online, we recommend remaining in the U.S. now because of the difficulties you would experience trying to return.

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4. I graduated in May, what should I know?

If you are in F-1 status, your grace period (the time you're allowed to remain in the U.S. after your I-20 expires) ends on July 14, 2020.

You will need to leave the U.S. by July 14 unless you do one of the following by that date:

  • Apply for Optional Practical Training
  • Apply for a Change of Status
  • Transfer to a new school
  • Receive a new I-20 to start a new program at CPP

Learn more: https://www.cpp.edu/international/students/current-students/opt.shtml

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

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.

If you leave, you need to take the following:

  • Signed I-20 (F-1 students)
  • 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)

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6. 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.

Although the U.S. has not resumed routine visa processing, you may be able to obtain a visa through expedited processing. This option is often available for new or continuing students and scholars if there are no regular appointments available and you need to travel to the U.S. within 60 days.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate near you to learn if this option is available.

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.

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7. I heard that you can send my I-20 by email now; is that true?

Yes, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has stated that it is possible for schools to email the scanned I-20s to students.

We have introduced this as an option for any I-20s we created since our office closed to in-person traffic (on March 17) or for any I-20 we create over the next couple of months. It is likely this will be a short-term option from SEVP. We will continuously evaluate any guidance we receive from SEVP, and adjust our processes accordingly.

Students eligible for this option will receive a link from our office so they can request their electronic I-20. The significantly increased number of document requests received by ISSO during this time is impacting processing times. Please be advised that processing of your request may be delayed due to this, but we are working diligently to respond as quickly as possible.

Note: Because the use of electronic I-20 forms are new processes for both the Department of State and Customs and Border Patrol, you may consider requesting the physical I-20 be shipped to you for use at consular appointments or entry into the United States. If you would like both an electronic and physical copy of your I-20, both can be provided. Shipping costs for the physical I-20 form apply.

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8. 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.

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

If you have already been approved for a Reduced Course Load (RCL), 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.

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10. 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 participate in online class, 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.

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11. If I took a class with the Credit/No Credit option, will that impact my immigration status?

No, if a class was graded on a Credit/No Credit (CR or NCR), it will have no impact on your immigration status.

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12. I heard the U.S. is going to pause all immigration; does this impact me?

The U.S. president signed an executive order on April 22, 2020, putting a 60-day pause (although it can be extended) on those wishing to permanently immigrate to the U.S. This impacts individuals who are currently outside the U.S., who are seeking to apply for immigrant status (i.e., permanent residence or green card), and who do not currently have a valid non-immigrant visa (e.g., H-1B, F-1, J-1, etc.) or have not previously been granted permanent resident status to enter the U.S.

Because of these specific guidelines, the executive order does not impact:

  • Non-immigrant visa issuance (e.g., H-1B, F-1, J-1, etc.)
    • Please note, however, that routine visa services remain closed at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide because of COVID-19; only visas for medical personnel providing medical care to COVID-19 patients or conducting research on the virus are being issued at this time.
  • Non-immigrants who remain in legal status in the U.S.
  • Individuals who have already been granted permanent resident status (regardless of whether you're inside or outside the U.S.)
  • Applications that are currently being filed with or processed by USCIS (OPT applications, H-1B applications, I-485 petitions)

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

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.

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)
  • 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 online Travel Signature Request to the ISSO if one of these are true for you:

  • Your most recent travel signature on your I-20 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

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14. I want to return home, but I am having problems making arrangements; what can 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 need to leave and are having difficulty doing so, 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.

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Academics and Classroom

Many questions about academics will need to be addressed by your professors or academic department. We will continue to provide information shared by the campus or university, but always look to guidance from these other sources.

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

Cal Poly Pomona will help you continue your degree online to the greatest extent possible—some exceptions may include courses with studio, or performance components.

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

  1. I am concerned about internet access in my home country, what should I do?

Cal Poly Pomona provides a VPN to all students but you will likely have access to many campus resources (Blackboard, BroncoDirect, etc.) without the need for a VPN. Zoom has some restrictions in China, but there is a workaround so you can access Zoom from China.

If you have questions or concerns, contact CPP’s Information Technology Services.

Definition of common terms

We think it is useful to review some common terms to help you better understand the language we use.

  • F-1 visa stamp

The F-1 visa stamp in your passport is just a stamp that you show at the U.S. border to ask to enter the U.S. in F-1 status. It has no purpose again unless you choose to travel outside the U.S. and want to apply again to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status. It is not required to be valid to remain inside the U.S. in F-1 status; you do need a valid F-1 visa stamp to enter the U.S.

Please note some U.S. embassy and consulates around the world may be closed or offering limited services as the COVID-19 challenges are global and not limited to the U.S., and an F-1 visa stamp can only be obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside of the U.S.

  • F-1 status

Your F-1 status is what allows you to remain legally inside the U.S. and continue to remain in the U.S. even with an expired F-1 visa stamp. Your F-1 status is shown by your I-94 that indicates you’ve been granted F-1 status and you are admitted in F-1 status for “D/S”. “D/S” means duration of status. That means you can continue to remain inside the U.S. in F-1 status for as long as you have a valid I-20 and you are continuing to meet all of the F-1 status requirements.

Otherwise, your F-1 status stay in the U.S. only ends once you’ve completed your study for the degree listed on your I-20 or until your OPT authorization ends. If you are on OPT, your F-1 status would remain valid as long as you continue to meet the F-1 status OPT requirements including working full-time in your field of study and reporting that employment.

  • SEVIS record

This is a record in the U.S. government’s SEVIS database. To maintain the SEVIS record, an F-1 student must maintain all the U.S. government’s F-1 status requirements, including enrollment requirements.

Please note the F-1 status requirements are not the requirements of the ISSO or of Cal Poly Pomona. They are the requirements of the U.S. government directly to each F-1 student in the U.S. If the F-1 status requirements cannot be maintained, this is a SEVIS violation and the SEVIS record must be ended.

If the SEVIS record is ended while an F-1 student is inside the U.S., this reflects that there is a problem with the student’s F-1 status in the U.S. If the SEVIS record is ended while the student is outside the U.S., a new SEVIS record has to be created before the student can return to the U.S. again in F-1 student status.

  • I-20

The document created by the university’s Designated School Officials (DSO) in the U.S. government’s SEVIS database.

A valid I-20 is required to:

  • apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for an F-1 visa stamp
  • enter the U.S.
  • and maintain F-1 status while inside the U.S.

The I-20 is issued for a specific program of study for a specific length of time for study in that program. If a student is maintaining F-1 status requirements, the I-20 ends on the date the student completes the final academic requirements for the degree program listed on the I-20, even if that is earlier than the estimated program end date printed on the I-20. If a SEVIS record is ended, that also ends the validity of the I-20.