Carnegie Mellon University

Frequently Asked Questions: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  

Updated July 22, 2020

Questions below address general concerns related to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, such as travel issues and questions related to remote learning. 

Immigration regulations and policies are subject to change and may change rapidly without much advance notice.  Students should routinely review our FAQs, the university’s Coronavirus Information page, as well as read all university emails sent to their Andrew account.


Please review our Fall Semester SEVP Guidance for Continuing F-1 Students FAQ page, where we have outlined in detail the various questions, including this one, that continuing students have regarding the new SEVP guidance for fall 2020. 

NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, has compiled a helpful summary of the various travel bans currently in place. You can find that summary here

International students who chose to return to their home country (or other non-U.S. location), are able to retain their current F-1 status provided they remained enrolled full-time and participated in their courses remotely and return to the U.S. for their next academic semester (fall 2020 for most students). The 5 month temporary absence provision does not apply to the students who meet the above requirement. Students who were not able to remain enrolled, who dropped classes and/or who remained outside the U.S. more than 5 months without being enrolled, may need to obtain a new I-20 and should consult with their OIE advisor.


F-1 students who are enrolled full-time and participating in their courses with school authorization are allowed to study remotely and retain their status. F-1 students are also allowed to have temporary absences from the U.S. As long as students remain fully enrolled this semester and return for fall 2020, they will be able to retain their current F-1 status.

OIE recommends that students (from all countries) consider international travel plans carefully as travel bans/restrictions may be in place at the time they want to return to the U.S. Visa processing may be delayed or unavailable due to health and safety concerns at many U.S. Consulates.

We are still waiting for government guidance regarding taking the fall semester classes remotely and maintaining F-1 status. The government guidance we have at this time indicates that students who studied remotely in the spring semester and who are still overseas during the summer are considered to be maintaining their F-1 status. They have not issued any guidance for the fall semester yet.

Once we have any new guidance from SEVP, we will add it to these COVID-19 FAQs.

SEVP has provided guidance regarding electronic issuance and signing of Forms I-20 for the duration of COVID-19 emergency. SEVP has confirmed that both U.S. Department of State (in charge of U.S. consulates and visa issuance) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (in charge of admission into the U.S.) are in support of the use of electronic I-20 Forms.  Please feel free to use SEVP guidance when communicating with either of these agencies, if the question of your electronic I-20 Form comes up.
If you have non-immigration questions, please refer to the University's Coronavirus Information page, which is updated regularly. Students should also read all university emails sent to their Andrew account.