Q&A for International Students and Scholars

Q & A International Students & Scholar Services
during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Is ISSS still offering in-person walk-in advising, travel signatures, or document pick up?

ISSS is only open "virtually." If you have specific questions you would like to discuss with your adviser, please reach out to Lucy Hancock by email lucyhancock@creighton.edu. We realize this is a change in the way we all work together and hope to return to normal as soon as the situation allows.

What if I need a travel signature?

To request a new I-20 or DS-2019 with an updated travel signature, please email lucyhancock@creighton.edu  All documents being issued or signed by ISSS must now be sent to you by mail, or a coordinated, no-contact pick up method.

Where can I find information and updates from the University specific to the Coronavirus?

Be sure to review all messages sent by the University. Travel updates and links to official communication are available on the Global Engagement Office's  CORONAVIRUS page.

Visa compliance and travel

How does switching to online instruction affect my immigration status?

The University received guidance from the federal government only allowing students to take their Spring and Summer 2020 courses online without jeopardizing their immigration status. This means you must continue to be enrolled full-time and be making normal progress toward the degree and may do so by taking your summer classes online.

The University is planning to resume classes in person this upcoming Fall 2020 semester. A plan is being devised to meet social distancing requirements in all courses and may include the need for some courses to be delivered in a hybrid (combined in-person and online) or fully online model.

On July 6, 2020 SEVP communicated final guidelines for international students (F visa) for Fall 2020.  According to these guidelines, international students must remain enrolled full-time.  However, they may accomplish the full-time status by being enrolled in at least one in-person course and a combination of hybrid or fully online courses. Also, according to these guidelines, should a university choose to go fully online for any reason during the Fall 2020 semester, international students must either transfer to an in-person or hybrid institution or return to their home countries for the duration of the term.  Failure to do so may result i deportation.

GEO is in contact with all international students and each School/College to make sure students are able to continue to progress in their academic programs in a manner consistent with these guidelines.

Will I be able to maintain my F or J visa status if I go back home and stay away from Creighton University until the fall?

Current federal government guidance indicates that a student enrolling in full-time online courses in the summer is otherwise maintaining F or J visa status. This will also not impact your eligibility for CPT in the fall semester.

If you decide to leave the U.S. and take summer classes online, please review your I-20 and DS-2019 before you depart to ensure your program end-date is in the future and the travel signature provided will be valid for entry back into the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester.

If I decide to leave the U.S., or am currently outside of the U.S., and I want to return, can I?

International students are advised to review travel and visa restrictions and check with their air carriers to determine whether travel will be permitted.  We recommend that they monitor the travel health notices from the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).  It is impossible to predict whether further travel restrictions will be put in place by the U.S. government for travelers returning from abroad or if international travel will be restriction due to the situation within the U.S.  Students should reach out to the GEO at globalengagement@creighton.edu with any questions or concerns regarding a return to the U.S..

Students who choose to travel may have difficulty returning and are reminded that the University?s ability to provide assistance to travelers who wish to return to the U.S. will be limited. Please also note that the U.S. Department of State's suspension of routine visa services worldwide remains in effect. Additionally, the U.S. Government issued a Proclamation restricting entry as immigrants to specific groups of people. If you are an international student on an F-1 or J-1 visa and you have questions about travel, please review the Global Engagement website.

Will I need to Self-Quarantine When I return to the U.S.?

YES.  According to current guidance, you will.  However, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has not indicated when this requirement will expire.

On May 29, 2020 the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services published the Directed Health Measure Order 2020 -- SCHD-002.  Item I.7 indicates that every individual who enters the State of Nebraska as the final destination from any international point of origin, and individuals who reside or resided with an individual who enters the State of Nebraska as the final destination form any international point of origin, shall home quarantine (per Quarantine and Isolation Directions), for a period of no less than fourteen (14) days from time of entry into Nebraska or the duration of the individual's presence in Nebraska, whichever is shorter.  This restriction does not apply to individuals traveling in connection with military service or in connection with employment at a health care facility.

Will I be Able to Self-Quarantine in a Creighton Residence Hall?

YES.  International students who have a contract with Student Housing may quarantine in a Creighton University residence hall at a cost.  Please contact Lucy Hancock at LucyHancock@creighton.edu for details and instructions.

Students who so not have a housing contract with Creighton University will not be able to quarantine in a residence hall. They are encouraged to return to the US no later than two weeks (14 days) before the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester so they can complete the quarantine and be ready to attend classes.  Please note that visa rules require students to begin the semester on time.

My visa is expiring, and I am unable to travel to my home country currently. What should I do?

You may remain in the U.S. on an expired F-1 or J-1 visa as long as you maintain your immigration status by being in possession of a valid I-20 or DS-2019 and by meeting normal enrollment requirements. (Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S.). 

My visa is expiring/has expired. If I leave the U.S. now, but must come back after the expiration date of my visa, will I need a new visa, or can I re-enter on an expired visa?

We do not advise you leave the U.S.  If you leave the U.S. and your visa will have expired by the date you wish to re-enter the U.S., then you will need to obtain a new visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you can re-enter the U.S. (Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S.).  Currently, U.S. visa services have been suspended worldwide and you may encounter significant delays in obtaining a new visa.

Instead of traveling back to my home country, may I go elsewhere in the U.S. to take my online courses?

NO, during all 2020 you must be in residence in Omaha and be enrolled full-time. 

During Summer 2020, and as long as you are maintaining your student visa status (e.g. enrolling in online courses equivalent to full-time), you may do so from somewhere else in the U.S. If you change your U.S. address, please follow the instructions in the following question.

If I move, do I have to update my address? If so, where do I report?

Yes, U.S. immigration regulations require F-1 and J-1 international students and J-1 and H-1B international scholars and employees to report any change of residential address in the U.S. to the federal government within 10 days.

  • For current students: report an address change through the NEST;
  • For students on OPT, or current H-1B or J-1 scholars/employees, you may update your address by either changing it in your SEVP Portal, or by emailing lucyhancock@creghton.edu.

OPT, CPT and Academic Training (AT)

I still need to apply for OPT. Can I do this remotely from elsewhere in the U.S.? Can I do it from outside the U.S.?

You must be physically in the U.S. at the time you submit your Optional Practical Training (OPT) application to USCIS. OIA will continue to process OPT applications and will communicate with you about how to receive your OPT recommendation (new I-20) and mail your application to USCIS. If you have not applied for OPT yet, but plan to do so, we strongly encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible to start that process in the Global Jays Portal .  Contact lucyhancock@creighton.edu to get started.

If I am in the U.S., can I submit my OPT application to ISSS remotely?

Yes. If you will be in the U.S., but not in the Omaha area, you can still submit your application to ISSS, have a Zoom meeting to review your application with Lucy, and then submit to USCIS once ready. Remember, you can submit your application up to 90 days before your I-20 program end date, but not earlier.  Please do not send your application any earlier or you risk the application being rejected. For more on this process, the application, and timing, email lucyhancock@creighton.edu.

I have not submitted my OPT application to USCIS just yet, but notice the address I used on the I-765 is my friends, and now they are leaving. What should I do?

Please confirm that the address you indicated on the I-765 when applying for OPT will be valid for the estimated time it may take USCIS to approve your OPT application. If you previously listed the address of a friend who is now planning to leave the U.S., you should identify another recipient within the U.S. who is planning to remain here and can receive correspondence on your behalf from USCIS.

Once I submit my application to USCIS, can I leave the U.S.?

Yes. You must be physically present in the U.S. at the time you put your application in the mail. Once you?ve mailed your OPT application to USCIS, you may depart the U.S. without incident to your OPT application.

Will USCIS processing times for OPT be affected by coronavirus closings?

At this time we have no way of knowing what might be affected as the global, national and local situations are constantly changing.

I will graduate in June 2020?what are my options to stay in the U.S. after graduation?

You have three options:

  1. Remain in the U.S. and apply for Optional Practical Training (for F-1 students) or Academic Training (for J-1 students).
  2. Remain in the U.S. during the grace-period after your program end date (which you can find on your I-20 or DS-2019), and then depart the U.S. The grace period is 60 days for F-1 students and 30 days for J-1 students.
  3. Pursue another degree in the United States and transfer (if eligible) your SEVIS record to another institution.

Can I apply for CPT and receive CPT authorization virtually?

Yes. You may submit your CPT Application in the Global Jays Portal and have the new I-20 reflecting CPT authorization shipped to you.

Can I do remote work for my CPT or OPT employer right now due to COVID19 implications?

Yes, if your employer has temporarily moved your work to an online, remote option due to COVID19 impacts, you may work remotely.

My employer registered me for H-1B lottery. Can I leave the U.S. now?

If your employer is planning to register or has already registered you for the H-1B lottery, please consult your employer and your employer's immigration counsel before you make any international travel plans. GEO's ISSS advisers cannot answer travel related questions regarding your H-1B petition sponsored by your employer.