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March 1st, 2021 

UA to return to Full, In-Person Classes for Fall 2021 

UA will be resuming In-Person classes for Fall 2021.
For more details please see the UA systems news release here:


International Student & Scholar Services has not received updated guidance from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) regarding Fall 2021 at this time.

While we do not know for certain what allowances there will be for enrollment in Fall 2021, it is ISSS’s expectation that the Department of Homeland Security’s Student Exchange Visitor Program and Department of State of  will end special COVID allowances for majority online and hybrid classes and revert to pre-COVID standard enrollment regulations. 
ISSS encourages all F-1 and J-1 students to follow the standard immigration regulations when registering for classes as outlined here:

F-1 and J-1 students are required to maintain a full-time course load during fall and spring semesters. Full time enrollment generally means Graduate students must enroll for at least 9 credits and Undergraduate students must enroll for at least 12 credits every semester. Full details on enrollment requirements and exceptions can be found here.

For F-1 visa holders only 1 on-line class (i.e. 3 credit hours) per semester may count towards a “full course of study.”  For example, an undergraduate student is required to register for 12 credits per semester to maintain full time status. Of the 12 required hours only 3 credit hours may be on-line. Any additional hours above the 12 required hours for an undergraduate student may be either regular campus classes or on-line.

J-1 visa holders cannot count any online classes toward their full time enrollment requirements.

Regarding Summer 2021, Summer is considered a normal break in academic studies for undergraduate and graduate students. For undergraduate and graduate students who have studied the preceding spring semester (at UA or another institution) and will study at UA in the following fall semester, they are not required to enroll in any summer classes.  If an international student who has met the full-time requirement for the preceding spring semester decides to enroll in classes for summer, there is no minimum enrollment requirement.
For exceptions and other situations, please consult our website at: and contact our international advisers.

TAX FILINGS - April 15

Did you earn money in the United States in 2020 (between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020)?

  • If yes, you may need to file a tax form with the IRS or Alabama Tax Office.
 Did you live in the U.S. in 2020 (between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020) and hold an F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 visa status?
The UA Tax Office provides support for filing taxes –
Tax related questions can be directed to the UA Tax Office:
365-A Rose Administration Building
Box 870136
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0136
Phone: (205) 348-8865
Appointment Scheduler
You can also find some general information on our website –  However, International Student & Scholar Services cannot answer tax questions or help students or scholars with tax filings.
International students and scholars should not use Turbo Tax, HR Block, TaxSlayer, or other similar tax preparation software that you see advertised on the web to file your federal taxes. These services are intended for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents and do not utilize the correct federal tax forms for non-residents.
If you are looking for software to assist you with tax filing, you may want to consider one of the following companies which provide tax preparation specialized for international students and scholars:


Please be aware that there is a high volume of tax and immigration scams this time of year.  Most of these types of scams will spoof a government agency phone number or email address in order to look official.
Please note, the IRS, DHS, and other government agencies will never contact you by phone or email.
Signs of a Scam Phone Call:

  1. Caller requests you to pay a fine using Western Union, PayPal, Green Dot, MoneyGram or some other wire transfer service
  2. Caller threatens your arrest or deportation for failure to act within a very short period of time.
  3. Caller will try to prevent you from hanging up, asking you to visit a retail store to transfer funds while remaining on the phone.

Scam Resources:
•  For more information on immigration scams:    
•  For more information on tax/IRS scams: and  
•  For more information on money transfer and check scams:   
•  In addition to the USCIS, IRS, and Consumer FTC Sites, scams can be reported here:


Spring is lease signing season! If you plan to live off-campus next semester you should be aware of these 10 things. You can access further resources at
Virtual Off-Campus Housing Fair
Wednesday, Mar. 3 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The Off-Campus Housing Fair is an opportunity to speak with more than 30 properties and companies, as well as UA staff. Explore your options and find out about amenities, rates and upcoming deals.



NEW CDC COVID TESTING REQUIREMENT – Effective January 26, 2021, a negative COVID-19 Test Required to enter the U.S.
Also NEW CDC GUIDANCE February 2, 2021 requires a 7 – 10 day quarantine upon re-entry to the United States.
See our website for more information

International Student & Scholar Services want to urge international students who have plans to travel internationally to carefully consider their travel.
As you consider your travel plans, please use our Coronavirus Information Page for the latest information on the Spring Semester Plans, Return Travel, Visa and Entry Bans, and CDC Guidance & Campus Testing.
We ask that you take into account the possibility of travel delay and restrictions, quarantines or prolonged self-isolation requirements when entering or transiting through other cities/countries based on their local guidance for COVID-19.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a Travel Information website related to COVID-19, and specifically recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to countries at Warning Level 3. Please note that these ratings can change rapidly and without warning.
Airlines have been offering to waive their change or cancellation fees in an effort to curb non-essential travel to places which may be deemed high risk. Please contact your travel agent or respective airlines for your options. If you have travel insurance, you should closely review your plan to assure it does not exclude pandemics in the case of need for medical evacuation.
Should you choose to travel outside the U.S., please make sure you have the following before leaving Tuscaloosa:

  1. a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019,
  2. a valid passport,
  3. a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp.
  4. a printout of the UA ISSS confirmation letter regarding UA Spring 2021 Plans,
  5. a copy of your Spring 2021 schedule (from MyBama) or Enrollment Verification.

If you need a travel signature or your travel signature will be more than 1 year old at the time you plan to return, please submit a Travel Signature Request with the subject line “TRAVEL SIGNATURE REQUEST” via email to


Mandatory OPT / CPT Training Course


Students studying at the University of Alabama are required to complete the training course about work authorization and on-campus employment. Students who begin their studies in spring 2021 have been assigned the training course in Blackboard. Complete the training and passing the quiz are the requirements to apply for OPT and CPT. The deadline to complete the training is the end of the spring semester May 01, 2021.

Apply for OPT/Academic Training NOW!!!


If you are an F-1 or J-1 students graduating in Mayr 2021, and plan to work in the U.S, you may file for Optional Practical Training ( for F-1 students) or Academic Training (for J-1 students) work authorization now. 

Processing time at USCIS for OPT ranges from 3-5 months. You can give your application a head start by putting your documents together now. 

USCIS can accept your OPT application as early as 90 days prior to your completion date and as late as 60 days after your completion date. J-1 students must apply before the program completion date.

Please note: F-1 students do not need to have a job offer in hand before applying for OPT. You may apply as long as you are eligible for OPT and INTEND to work in the U.S. J-1 students, however, need to obtain job offer prior to apply for academic training.

If you have questions while filling out forms, please contact one of our international advisers during virtual advising hours via Zoom.  
Trang Nguyen (Student Employment and Practical Training) is doing Virtual advising on Mondays (1-3pm), Tuesdays (11am-1pm), and Thursdays (11am-1pm).
Special appointments outside those hours can be made by emailing

As we follow preventive health strategies related to COVID-19, ISSS operations have now moved online. OPT and AT applications will still be processed as usual, only not in person during this time.

To apply for OPT or AT, please scan all of the documents in one (1) single PDF file to or  . Due to the limitation of our database, please limit your file size to 4MB or less if possible. To ensure quick processing, only scan an application when all forms are completed and properly signed. Electronic signatures are acceptable on certain forms. Form I-765 (for OPT applications) must contain a hand-signed, “wet” signature.
USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants
Filing Form I-765 for OPT


On February 26, 2021, USCIS announced  flexibilities for certain foreign students affected by delayed receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. These flexibilities apply only to applications received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, inclusive.

USCIS has experienced delays at certain lockboxes in issuing receipt notices for Form I-765 for optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 students. These delays are a result of COVID-19 restrictions, a dramatic increase in filings of certain benefit requests, postal service volume and delays, and other external factors. While we have made progress in addressing the problem, we are extending the following flexibilities to assist certain applicants for OPT impacted by the delays.

14-month OPT Period Flexibilities

F-1 students may participate in up to 12 months of post-completion OPT, which must be completed within 14 months from the end of their program. Due to the delays at the lockbox, some applicants may only be eligible for a shortened period of OPT within that 14-month period. To allow F-1 students to complete the full period of requested OPT (up to 12 months), USCIS will allow the 14-month period to commence from the date of approval of the Form I-765 for applications for post-completion OPT.

Beginning today, USCIS will approve applications for post-completion OPT with validity dates reflecting the same amount of time originally recommended by the designated school official (DSO) from their school on the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.

F-1 students requesting post-completion OPT who receive an approval of Form I-765 for less than the full amount of OPT time requested (not to exceed 12 months) due to the requirement that the OPT be completed within 14 months of the program end date may request a correction of the EAD due to USCIS error. USCIS will issue a corrected EAD with a new end date, as requested, to cover the full amount of OPT time recommended in the original application.

Refiling Following Rejection

Applicants for OPT must file the Form I-765 during certain timeframes. However, we recognize that due to the lockbox delays, some applicants who timely filed Form I-765 for OPT and whose applications were later rejected are unable to timely refile within the required application timeframes.

USCIS will accept a refiled Form I-765 for OPT and STEM OPT as filed on the original filing date if:

  • The original, timely filed application was received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, inclusive; and
  • USCIS subsequently rejected it.

Refiled applications must be received by May 31, 2021, for USCIS to treat the application as though filed on the original received date.

Applicants refiling a Form I-765 for OPT or STEM OPT do not need to obtain a new Form I-20 with an updated OPT recommendation from the DSO, as long as they originally submitted an application for post-completion OPT within 30 days of the DSO’s recommendation or an application for STEM OPT within 60 days of the DSO’s recommendation as required by the regulations.

Applicants refiling an application should include a copy of the rejection notice to facilitate review of the case.

Missing or Deficient Signatures

Applications with missing or deficient signatures are generally rejected at the lockbox. This policy remains unchanged. However, if the lockbox accepts a Form I-765 application for OPT or STEM OPT with a missing or deficient signature, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence rather than deny the application, to give the applicant the opportunity to respond and provide the necessary signature or correct the deficiency. We encourage applicants filing Form I-765 to review the form instructions on our website to ensure their application is complete before filing it.

OPT & CPT Seminar and Q&A with UA ISSS

We want to thank all the amazing students who attended the February, 25 OPT & CPT Work Authorization Seminar and Q&A.
We had so many amazing questions submitted both before and during the event, and hopefully we have addressed them all.
In case you missed it, attached is a PDF of the presentation, and we have uploaded the recording of the session on our YouTube Channel here:
Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions, and as always, you can find plenty of student employment information on our website:

Work Visas & Permanent Residency Seminar
for International Students

We are so very thankful to Carol Armstrong and Armstrong Law, LLC ( and to Amy Bramlett and the UA Career Center and all of the attendees of the Work Visa and Permanent Residency Seminar held on February 11, 2021.
Also, for those of  you not familiar with the Career Center’s services, please do check out their amazing Handshake tool to connect with employers who will sponsor international employees.
In case you missed it, attached is a PDF of the presentation, and we have uploaded the recording of the session on our YouTube Channel here:

Employment in the U.S. - Q&A Session
with University of Alabama Career Center, Co-Op, and ISSS

On October 29, 2020, ISSS collaborated with the Career Center and Co-Op Office to host a Q&A for international students about the job search process.
In case you missed it, we have uploaded the recording of the session on our YouTube Channel here:
Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions, and as always, you can find plenty of student employment information on our website:


We invite you to join us next week for a virtual International Coffee Hour, March 5th from 11:30- 12pm on Zoom. Bring your own coffee or tea, and join us online to learn about Japan, and Japan’s Sakura Festival! Register for this event:


International Women's Day
Film Screening: RAFIKI

International Student & Scholar Services, and the Women & Gender Resource Center are celebrating International Women's Day! Join us for a virtual screening of the movie 'Rafiki' and movie discussion on March 8th from 5 pm to 7 pm. Register with this link:


ISSS needs your help! 


 We are in the process of determining how we can better serve and support you while you are pursuing your studies here. We need your help to do this. This is what you can do: 

  1. Remember to complete the short survey that was emailed to you. This takes five minutes, and it will really help us plan how best to help you in the coming year.
  2. We would also like to conduct interviews with 100 international students to ask some more in-depth questions about your experience here. If you are willing to do this, please email and let us know. We are scheduling these interviews over the next few weeks.

Are you a graduate student
doing research?

We would love to feature you on our social media accounts!!!

Fill out this form, and tell us more about your research, and you might see yourself featured on our Facebook and Instagram accounts:

(Please note this picture was taken pre-pandemic)

Dr. Fran Oneal, teaching the Intro to Global Studies course, is seeking a few more international students at UA to partner with her current students as a conversation partner. 

As a partner, you'll meet for one-on-one for conversations about your worldview, interests, and opinions.  You'll video chat 8 times with the same partner--and that's it!  No assignments or tasks for you other than to tell someone else about yourself.  It's guaranteed to be very eye-opening for the Global Studies student and for you as well.  
This semester there are partners from Chile, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Poland, Germany, Nigeria, Mexico, Bangladesh, India, and more.  You can be next!

International Students partners!!!

Please email Dr. Oneal at if you are interested.  This opportunity is open to any UA international student or spouse, ELI students, and even to persons currently living overseas.

Fulbright Celebration

Everyone with an Interest in International Education is Invited to Celebrate!!!

Tuesday, March 9th , 4:00-5:00 pm


Fulbright Scholarships fund students, faculty, and professionals to go abroad.  The University of Alabama has been nationally recognized as a Top Producer of U.S. Student Fulbright Award Winners for five of the last six years. Come and learn about this opportunity. 
Everyone with an interest in international education is invited to celebrate Fulbright opportunities.  Fulbright Alumni will share their experiences and offer valuable advice for applicants. Fulbright Visitors to Alabama, Fulbright Alumni, Global Café Partners, and Potential Fulbright Applicants will create an inspiring conversation. For more information, visit or email
Virtual conversations at Global Café are opportunities to relax, visit, and meet leaders from campus and community organizations.   Global Café provides a local welcome for world visitors, an international connection for American travelers, and a resource for conversation partners practicing language. 
All events are free. Pre-registration is required.
Register early.

Global Café, an initiative of The University of Alabama Center for Community-Based Partnerships, is created by campus and community partners working together: Capstone International Center, Tuscaloosa’s One Place, the CCBP Student Leadership Team, Shelton State Community College, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa City Schools, the Tuscaloosa County School System, and Tuscaloosa Public Library.  For more information see or email

Virtual Game Nights

UA International Students Association is hosting Virtual Game Nights.
Virtual game nights will take place on Wednesdays (Feb. 17th, Feb. 24th and March 3rd). 
Here is the Zoom link:

Did you know that current UA students can apply to the Honors College? All you need to apply is 12 hours of UA credit and a 3.5 GPA!
What do you get by being in the Honors College? Some benefits include: priority registration, access to smaller sections of many classes, Honors seminar courses on unique topics, and additional involvement opportunities on campus.
To apply, visit and apply to the University Honors Program.
If you have any questions, please contact Haleigh Sandlin at

Online English Classes
Online 3-week non-credit certificate course provide an opportunity for you to improve your English and learn about southern US culture. The course length and schedule is ideal for busy professionals and their families. The course are offered by the University of Alabama (UA) English Language Institute (ELI).
For more information:
COVID-19 Information 
To stay up to date on all COVID-19 updates, be sure to regularly check out

For information on medical care, visit


If you are enrolled in The University of Alabama's healthcare plan, you are also able to use the 24/7 tele-doc (a doctor through the phone) for doctor access and counseling support, which is fully covered. If you are not on the UA Plan, you can use these services for a fee. To find out more information, please visit:


STARTING JANUARY 19, PUBLIC HOURS: Monday – Friday, 8 am – 4:45 pm.

VIRTUAL ADVISING AVAILABLE (see instructions below)

APPOINTMENTS REQUIRED FOR IN-PERSON MEETINGS - To make an appointment, please email or call 205-348-5402.
Whether contacting us by phone or email, please be sure to include your name and CWID (if known) with your inquiry.

UA International Student & Scholar Services encourages everyone to help us stay safe, and submit documents and requests via email to

Specific Inquiries and Requests
For students and scholars who have specific requests for information, advisement, or virtual appointments, please direct your inquiries to UA ISSS Staff as follows:


If you have immigration questions, our staff is holding virtual advising Monday - Friday from 11am-3pm.
When seeking advising via Zoom, students and scholars will be connected with one of the UA ISSS Staff.  If there are multiple students and scholars in the queue, you will be placed directly into a waiting room.
Please note, virtual advising is meant for shorter inquiries, and in order to serve all students and scholars, we ask that advising be limited to 5 minutes. 


January 13th, 2021

January 18th, 2021

January 21st, 2021 

January 29th, 2021

February 15th, 2021

February 18th, 2021

March 15th, 2021

March 20th, 2021

March 31st, 2021

April 5th - April 9th, 2021 

April 9th,2021

April 23rd, 2021

April 23rd, 2021

April 26th - April 30th, 2021

April 30 - May 01

May 04
 Academic Calendar

Classes Begin for Full Term

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (UA closed)

Registration for Spring 2 Begins

Last Day to Add a Course or Drop a Course Without a Grade of "W" for Spring Full Term

Classes Begin for Spring 2

Last Day to Add a Course or Drop a Course Without a Grade of "W" for Spring 2

Classes Dismissed - Mid-Semester Study Break (UA offices open)

Last Day to Drop a Course with a Grade of "W" for Spring Full Term

Last Day to Drop a Course with a Grade of "W" for Spring 2

Honors Week

Honors Day - Classes Dismissed (UA offices open)

Classes End for Full Term and Spring 2

Last Day to Withdraw from the Spring Full/Spring 2 Terms

Final Exams

Spring Commencement

Final Grade Entry Deadline (11:59 p.m.)
These dates are valid as of 02/12/2021 but could be modified as needed.
Please double check for any changes/updates.
Copyright © 2021 International Student & Scholar Services, All rights reserved.

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