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November 16th, 2020 


With Spring 2021 Registration opening on October 26, we know that many of you are planning to begin registering for Spring 2021 classes and may have questions about what classes to register and how many online classes will be allowed for those on F-1 or J-1 student visas.
Announced on September 30, 2020, UA will continue on-site, in-person instruction for the Spring 2021 Semester, with minor changes to the academic calendar.  Please remember that Spring classes will begin on Wednesday, January 13, 2020.
At this time, International Student & Scholar Services is awaiting updated guidance from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) regarding Spring 2021, but it is ISSS’s expectation that the Fall 2020 Guidance established on July 24 (which we outline here) will continue for the Spring 2021 Semester. 
As you schedule your classes for Spring 2021, please use the Fall 2020 Guidance when making course selections.
ISSS will update our information on SEVP Guidance and send a message out to all students once SEVP posts new guidance.



As we grow closer to the holiday season and the end of the semester, I and the staff of International Student & Scholar Services want to urge international students who have plans to travel internationally to carefully consider their travel.
We understand that many of you are eager to reconnect with family and friends as you would in any other year during the holiday season. If you do choose to travel, please be safe and take the necessary precautions to remain healthy.
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 guidances 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
Remember, UA and ISSS will remain open through 4:45 PM on Friday, December 18, 2020, and then will close for the Winter Break.  UA and ISSS will reopen on Thursday, January 7, 2021.


UA to Offer Free Exit Testing to Students

As students leave campus for the Thanksgiving and Winter breaks, The University of Alabama is offering free exit testing to those students who want it. This new option joins COVID-19 exposure and symptomatic testing available to UA students, as well as sentinel testing.

Weekday exposure, symptomatic and exit testing are currently available at Coleman Coliseum at these dates and times:
Now through Nov. 13: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Nov. 16-20:  8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Nov. 23-24:  9 a.m. to noon

Schedule an appointment for testing online. Students should bring their ACT card, CWID, and driver’s license or government-issued ID.

Beginning Nov. 30 and continuing through Dec. 11, weekday exposure, symptomatic and exit testing will be available at the East Campus Storm Shelter at these dates and times:
Nov. 30-Dec. 4:  9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dec. 7-11: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Schedule an appointment for testing online. Students should bring their ACT card, CWID, and driver’s license or government-issued ID.

From Dec. 14 through Dec. 18, students should make an appointment at the Student Health Center for symptomatic and exit testing. Call 205-348-2778 to schedule an appointment. Students should bring their ACT card, CWID, and driver’s license or government-issued ID. While exit testing is free, exposure and symptomatic testing will be billed to students’ health insurance with remaining balances posted to their student accounts.

For more information, contact the UA COVID-19 Hotline at 205-348-CV19 (2819).

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

F-1 & J-1 Students: Graduating in December 2020?
Apply for OPT/Academic Training NOW!!!


If you are an F-1 or J-1 students graduating in December 2020, 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 is doing Virtual advising on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays Tuesdays 3:00PM -4:45 PM.

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.


Scams: Be Alert!!!

Please be aware that there are a large number of tax, Social Security, immigration, and housing scams in the U.S. which target both Americans and international students and scholars.  Most of these types of scams will spoof a government agency phone number in order to look official.  Often they will attempt to steal personal information (identity theft) or attempt to get you to pay a fictitious fee or fine.

The IRS, DHS, and other government agencies will never contact you by phone or email.
A UAPD officer will not call you and ask for personal information over the phone.

Signs of a Scam Phone Call:

  1. Automated call/robocall notifies you that your Social Security Number has been suspended, requesting you to call back.
  2. A live caller requests you to pay a fine using Western Union, PayPal, Green Dot, MoneyGram or some other wire transfer service.
  3. Often the caller threatens your arrest or deportation for failure to act within a very short period of time.
  4. If it is a live caller, they will try to prevent you from hanging up, asking you to visit a retail store to transfer funds while remaining on the phone.
More information is available on our website at:

Virtual Gathering Global Café:

Cultural Understanding through Language Learning 

Tuesday, November 17, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Students, staff, and community members are welcome.


We will join language teachers and learners in a discussion of how we share cultures and create friendships when we learn English. We will share opportunities for free language study and community engagement here in Tuscaloosa.  We welcome Fulbright Visitors and UA Fulbright Award winners.  Join us for this celebration of International Education Week that belongs to us all.  Bring your experiences to share.

We are Global Café, We provide a welcome to international scholars and students, and we connect US students with international visitors on campus.

All Global Café participants have a chance to meet one another and enjoy the support of a warm community through our afternoon events. Our first event is a chance to meet one another and hear about how our lives are going. Join us for a visit.  Attendees will mostly be tutors and international students and scholars.

We are Global Café, We provide a welcome to international scholars and students, and we connect US students with international visitors on campus.


International Student Panel

Learn what it is like to be an international student at UA from students like you! Join our International Student Panel on Zoom where you can ask international students your questions.
RSVP using this link before 8 am on Nov. 18th.

International Coffee Hour is Back!!!

Bring your own coffee (or tea), and join us for a virtual coffee hour every Fridays at 11:30am. If you would like to attend, register using this link, and on the day of the event, we will send you a link to join us:
(Please note this picture was taken pre-pandemic)

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:


The College of Community Health Sciences leads The University of Alabama’s annual campus-wide effort to vaccinate students, faculty and staff against the flu.

The quadrivalent flu shots are free to students, faculty, staff and spouses; insurance is not required. Employees and students must have their CWID.

In addition to the locations indicated on the CCHS website (, faculty and staff can visit the Faculty-Staff Clinic at University Medical Center for their free flu shot, and students can visit the Student Health Center.



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:


UA International Student & Scholar Services has resumed on-campus operations.

PUBLIC HOURS: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 12 noon and 1 – 3 pm CST (by appointment only).


During this time, UA International Student & Scholar Services will be open for appointments only.

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.

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-4:45pm.
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. 


October 26th, 2020

November 11th, 2020

November 20th, 2020

November 20th,2020

November 21st-29th, 2020  

November 26th-27th, 2020

December 4th, 2020 

December 4th, 2020

December 7th-11th, 2020

December 14th, 2020

January 5th, 2021

January 7th, 2021

January 13th, 2021

January 18th, 2021

January 20th, 2021

February 15th, 2021

March 15th, 2021

March 20th, 2021

 Academic Calendar

Registration for Spring 2021 Begins

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

In-person instruction ends; all remaining Fall 2020 instruction will be conducted remotely
Classes Dismissed - Independence Day (UA offices closed)


Last Day for All Examinations and Extended Assignments

Thanksgiving Week - Classes Dismissed

Thanksgiving Holidays (UA closed)

Classes End

Last Day to Withdraw from the Fall Full Term

Final Exams

Classes Begin for Winter Interim

Classes End for Winter Interim

UA Offices Resume Normal Business Hours

Classes Begin for Full Term

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (UA closed)

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

Classes Begin 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
These dates are valid as of 11/02/2020 but could be modified as needed.
Please double check for any changes/updates.
Copyright © 2020 International Student & Scholar Services, All rights reserved.

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