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January 19th, 2021 

STUDENT VISA STATUS – SPRING 2021 GUIDANCE 
UPDATED DECEMBER 15

International Student & Scholar Services received updated guidance from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) regarding Spring 2021 via email on December 15, 2020.  The Fall 2020 Guidance established on July 24 will continue for the Spring 2021 Semester.  For full details, please see our SEVP Guidance section on the Coronavirus Page.

This reconfirms Department of Homeland Security guidance and separate the Department of State guidance that F-1 and J-1 students’ visa status will not be affected by UA’s Spring 2021 plans to offer a mixture of in-person, hybrid, A/V and online courses.

Please note that F-1 and J-1 students must continue to maintain full-time enrollment (generally, 12 credit hours for undergraduate students and 9 credit hours for graduate students) during the Spring 2021 Semester to maintain visa status.

Exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement are still allowed for students with authorized reduced course loads, those who are in the final semester of study, and graduate students who are in their dissertation or thesis research phase of study.

FOR STUDENTS WITH INITIAL I-20s OR DS-2019s OR WITH I-20/DS-2019 START DATES AFTER MARCH 9, 2020, you must enroll in at least one on-campus class as an in-person or hybrid course to be eligible for an F-1 or J-1 visa, to enter the United States in F-1 or J-1 status, or to remain in the United States in valid F-1 or J-1 status. Those on initial I-20s and DS-2019s or who hold I-20s or DS-2019s with start dates after March 2020 cannot enroll fully online in Spring 2021.

FOR CONTINUING STUDENTS WITH ACTIVE I-20 OR DS-2019 START DATES PRIOR TO MARCH 9, 2020, any combination of enrollment of in-person, hybrid, and online courses (even 100% online) will satisfy the full-time enrollment requirements for F-1 and J-1 status.

Remember that this change in instructional method allowance is temporary, and the suspension of rules will change back to standard enrollment regulations as soon as the COVID-19 Emergency ends.

At this time, there is no anticipation of any change to UA’s plans for on-campus instruction this Spring 2021, but under the current SEVP guidance, if UA were to return to 100% remote learning at any point in the Spring 2021 semester in response to COVID-19, all active F-1 and J-1 students would remain in valid immigration status and be able to remain in the U.S.

SPECIAL NOTE FOR J-1 STUDENTS: Per the U.S. State Department, “The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to facilitate in-person exchanges.” Continuing and initial J-1 students are encouraged to enroll in as many on-campus courses offered in an in-person or hybrid format as possible to satisfy the full-time requirements.

FOR STUDENTS RETURNING FROM ABROAD, the notice here suspends the 5-month rule for absences from the United States.  So, for those students who are returning to the U.S. and have been outside of the U.S. for 5 months or more since March 2020, your I-20/DS-2019 and F-1/J-1 student status are valid for return.  Please refer to the “RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES“ section of this page for more information regarding what documents to carry with you.

Please be aware that travel may be challenging at the moment.  Many other countries have introduced restrictions on transit and entry.  We recommend that you monitor conditions through your home country’s Embassy page and through resources such as the IATA Travel Page.

 

Drop/Add Deadline Extended to Jan. 29

The deadline to add a course or drop a course without a grade of “W” for the full spring term has been extended from Jan. 20 to Jan. 29. 

 

Change of Address

All non-U.S. citizens residing in the U.S. are required update their address within 10 days of any change of address. 

F-1 and J-1 visa holders should update their address in myBama, and ISSS will report the change to the Department of Homeland Security in SEVIS. 

All other visa holders (those not on an F-1 or J-1 visa) should update their address both in myBama and with US Citizenship and Immigration Services by submitting the Form AR-11 online at this website:  https://www.uscis.gov/addresschange.

 
 

Will Spring be your Final Semester?
Submit Final Semester Memo

Are you nearing graduation?  If so, please review the Final Semester Checklist page to make sure you will have a smooth transition into life after Alabama.


If you are in your final semester you may enroll in less than 12 credit hours of classes if you require less than full-time enrollment to graduate.  This exception is only for the final semester of study.  Just remember that you must submit the Final Semester Memo form found here.

 
Have you just graduated in December 2020?
 
  • F-1 STUDENT DEADLINE: If you graduated or completed your studies on 12/12/2020 your 60-day grace period ends on February 10, 2021.
  • J-1 STUDENT DEADLINE: If you graduated or completed your studies on 12/12/2020 your 30-day grace period ends on January 11, 2021.

Special note to thesis master and PhD students who will graduate in Spring 2021:
If your graduation ceremony is in May 2021,  but you are not required to enroll in any credit hours in Spring 2021, your completion date/ I-20 end date would also be 12/12/2020. You should apply for OPT or take action on your immigration status by 02/10/2021 (see article on PT applications below).
J-1 students who are not required to enroll in Spring 2021, but will graduate in May 2021, you should take action by 01/10/2021 or by the end date of your DS-2019, whichever comes earlier .
Please see details on minimum registration hours and I-20/DS-2019 Completion Date on ISSS website 
here

 

F-1 & J-1 Students: Graduated in December 2020?
You may still apply for OPT/Academic Training NOW!!!

 

If you are an F-1 or J-1 students who graduated 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 trang.t.nguyen@ua.edu.

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 international@ua.edu or trang.t.nguyen@ua.edu  . 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.


 


TRAVEL – REMINDERS AND PRECAUTIONS


CDC COVID TESTING REQUIREMENT – Effective January 26, 2021, a negative COVID-19 Test Required to enter the U.S.

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 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 international@ua.edu.

 
COVID-19 Information 
 
To stay up to date on all COVID-19 updates, be sure to regularly check out http://international.ua.edu/isss/coronavirus-information/.

For information on medical care, visit http://international.ua.edu/isss/coronavirus-information/#shc
 

Looking for something fun to do from the comfort of your own bedroom? Then join us for a Virtual Movie Night on Thursday, Jan. 21st! At 6pm we will be watching The Joy Luck Club, and at 8:15pm, we will be talking about the movie on Zoom together. Pre-register for this by filling out this form: https://universityofalabama.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0MwMKSLt7kCWxpA. Registration will close at 5pm on Jan. 21st. We will email you instructions on how to access the movie and this event 30 minutes prior to it starting.

Join us for the first International Coffee Hour of the year! Bring your own coffee, and join us for some fun conversation on Jan. 29th from 11:30am-12pm on Zoom.
To register for this virtual event, fill out this form:
https://universityofalabama.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cYESfWKITwfG02p.

Interested in applying for the UA Honors College?

New students, transfer students, and current UA students are eligible to apply!


 

Current Student Requirements: At least 12 UA credit hours with a 3.5 GPA

 New Student Requirements: 30 ACT or 1360 SAT and 3.5 GPA OR if you do not meet test score requirements/do not have a test score, you may apply with a 3.7 GPA and additional application materials
 
Transfer Student Requirements: At least 12 credit hours from previous institution and a 3.5 GPA
 
Application deadline for Spring 2021: January 29th – Add/Drop Deadline
 
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Haleigh Sandlin at hbsandlin@ua.edu


International Peer Advisory Council 

Have you ever wanted to help new international students at The University of Alabama? Do you enjoy international student events and want to give back? Then joining IPAC may be the right fit for you. Our International Peer Advisory Council (IPAC) is made up of international and American students who want to serve our international student population here at UA, and applications are now open for the 2021-2022 academic year. Learn more about IPAC and find the application at: http://international.ua.edu/programs-activities/ipac/. Applications are due via email to international@ua.edu by Feb. 19th.

 

If you are currently involved in Tuscaloosa’s International Friends (TIF), you are eligible to apply for a TIF Scholarship!
You can access the TIF Scholarship application here: https://tinyurl.com/tifscholarship
 Applications can be emailed to international@ua.edu and are due by Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.

Success and Growth in the U.S.

"I would like to invite you to a workshop that will help you adjust better in the US and provide you opportunities to share your experiences with fellow international students. This workshop will benefit anyone who wants to explore and understand self in the US and is interested in striving for personal growth. I will offer the workshop every Thursday from 4:00 to 5:00 for 9 weeks.  If you are interested in this workshop, please e-mail me application. We will have a virtual drop in orientation meeting on Jan 28 from 3 to 5. It will be a short drop in meeting and you can stop by at any time between 3 to 5. You have to attend the orientation meeting in order to attend the workshop. We will start the workshop on Feb. 4th, and you need to send me the application form before the orientation meeting on Jan.28th.

 Those of you who have attended this workshop previously can also join the workshop again. Attached you will find the schedule and application form. I can only accept up to 8 students this semester, so it will be helpful to e-mail me the application form ASAP. After 8 applications, I will put you on the waitlist.

 Hope many of you consider joining the workshop.
"


Nahree Doh, Ph.D


Success and Growth in the U.S. is a 9 week virtual workshop designed to facilitate international students’ adjustment, academic success and personal growth. This workshop will be done as a closed group of 5-8 members. Members will have opportunities to learn useful skills for successful life in America, to develop understanding about American culture and life, and to explore their experiences of living and studying in America. We will meet every Thursday from 4 pm to 5pm on Zoom.
Weekly schedule
week Topic Activities
0
(1/28)
Orientation meeting
(from 3 to 5)
Drop in session to meet the group facilitator and ask questions about the group
1
(2/4)
Introduction Program orientation
Getting to know each other
2
(2/11)
Leaving home
 
My culture and me (Cultural identity)
Cultural explorations
3
(2/18)
What to expect in the US Acculturation model
Social, cultural, and personal
Potential psychological challenges
4
(2/25)
Surviving in the US 1 In town and campus resources
self-care and Sleep hygiene
5
(3/4)
Academic success in the US I Multiple intelligence
Effective study strategies
6
(3/11)
Surviving in the US II Stress management
7
(3/18)
Academic success in the US II Time management techniques
Procrastination
8
(3/25)
Relationship building
in the US
Challenging relationship situations in the US
Four communication styles
9
(4/1)
Growing in the US2 My developmental tasks
Value and identity exploration
 
Please go to the following link to sign the forms if you are interested in joining the workshop.
counseling.sa.ua.edu/groups

Virtual Gathering Global Café:

Welcome for Old friends and New Friends  

Tuesday, February 2nd, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Students, staff, and community members are welcome.

 
Our first Spring event is a chance to meet one another and hear about how our lives are going.

We are Global Café, http://ccbp.ua.edu/global-cafe/news/ 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, http://ccbp.ua.edu/global-cafe/news/ We provide a welcome to international scholars and students, and we connect US students with international visitors on campus.

Click here for a link to the Language partner Sign Up for Spring 2021:



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: http://international.ua.edu/eli/yes/
 
 


TeleHealth 
 

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: https://shc.sa.ua.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2019/07/2019-2020-Student-Health-Insurance-Summary-Brochure.pdf

PUBLIC HOURS FOR ISSS


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 international@ua.edu 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 international@ua.edu.


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:

VIRTUAL ADVISING

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 01/15/2021 but could be modified as needed.
Please double check https://registrar.ua.edu/academiccalendar/ for any changes/updates.
Copyright © 2021 International Student & Scholar Services, All rights reserved.


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