International COVID-19 Travel and Attendance FAQ
Please note that information is changing as we receive updates from Department of Homeland Security.
Where can I find more information about the ICE announcement?
- ICE Broadcast Message from March 9, 2020 for COVID-19
- ICE FAQ released on July 15, 2020
- ICE Fall 2020 Guidance
- HBU’s regional DHS contact released information that the ICE fall 2020 guidance will remain in effect for the spring 2021 semester.
Do I have to attend classes in person?
We have received notice from our regional DHS representative that F-1 students should continue to abide by SEVP guidance originally issued in March 2020. The guidance applies to nonimmigrant students who were actively enrolled at a U.S. school on March 9, 2020 and are otherwise complying with the terms of their nonimmigrant status, whether from inside the U.S. or abroad.
Schools have been advised to continue to follow the March 2020 (updated August 2020) guidance for spring 2021. This means that initial students (students entering the U.S. for the first time) must have at least 1 face to face class. Any student who entered the U.S. on a new F-1 status since March 9, 2020 should have at least 1 face to face class.
Undergraduate students must be enrolled for at least 12 hours, and graduate students must be enrolled for at least 9 hours for spring 2021.
- If you were an active F-1 student and enrolled at a U.S. school on March 9, 2020: you may take 100% online classes
- If you began your program (new F-1 status) in summer or fall 2020: you must take at least 1 course in-person
- If you are a brand new F-1 student in the U.S. for spring 2021: you must take at least 1 course in-person
HBU will continue to offer remote hybrid classes for spring 2021. If a class is designated as hybrid, that class can be counted toward the “in person” requirement for international students. More information about HBU’s academic policies for spring 2021 can be found here.
Do I need a new I-20?
If your I-20 is current, you do NOT need a new I-20 because the government is reverting back to the March 9, 2020 COVID-19 guidance. If you are a new, incoming Husky, you will need to officially meet with the International Office to check in and receive a “continuing attendance” I-20 after arrival in the U.S. or transfer into HBU from another U.S. institution.
If you are traveling, please make sure that your I-20 is signed for travel within the last 6 months.
What if I have health problems that keep me from attending on campus?
If you were a current F-1 international student enrolled in an academic program for spring 2020, you may take all of your classes online. If you were an initial (new) F-1 student since that time (summer 2020, fall 2020, or spring 2021), you must take at least 1 class on campus.
Some students may need to work with Disability Services to provide documentation from a doctor or licensed psychologist to receive a reduced course load for medical reasons. You can also reach out to Disability Services if you cannot enroll full time for spring 2021 due to health concerns.
What if I cannot return to the U.S.?
You can still attend classes at HBU online. Please work with your academic advisor to ensure you are registered for classes that you can take from overseas. Please keep in mind time differences and possible attendance requirements. According to the March 9 ICE COVID-19 guidance, international students enrolled in a course of study on March 9, 2020 will be able to maintain their F-1 immigration status, as long as they are attending full time.
Newly admitted international students to HBU will defer the program start date on the I-20 to the next available semester, but they can still attend HBU online for spring 2021. They will just not begin their F-1 status until they receive a valid F-1 visa stamp and then enter the U.S. prior to the semester they plan to attend in person.
I’m a new student for Spring 2021. Can I still come to HBU?
Yes! Welcome to the Husky family. If you are currently in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, you can have your SEVIS record (I-20) transferred to HBU. If you are a new student from outside the U.S., you can choose to attend online for spring 2021.
Consulates are slowly opening around the world, so if you are able to receive a valid F-1 visa stamp prior to January 19, 2021, you are welcome on campus, as long as you can register for at least 1 hybrid/on-campus class. The HBU international office can provide a letter verifying your on campus registration, and we recommend that you print your class schedule and travel with that as well as other documentation.
What are the travel bans?
F-1 students traveling in and through Europe are now considered a national interest waiver from the travel ban. It is highly recommended that students print and travel with this page that lists F-1 international students as part of the waiver on the travel ban.
A travel ban is still in effect for other countries. If a non-immigrant has spent any time (including a layover) in one of the countries listed on the NAFSA travel restrictions website within the last 14 days, they will not be able to enter the U.S. There are a few exceptions listed, so please read this carefully. If you are one of the exceptions to the travel ban, we suggest you print out the proclamation, highlight the section that shows your exception, and travel with this document, in addition to your other documents.
Do international students have to quarantine after an international flight?
All travelers from the Houston Baptist University community are urged to educate themselves regarding the hazards of travel during the pandemic, as well as current conditions at your destination, before embarking on nonessential travel. If you are returning to HBU from an international location, you are asked to begin the symptom self-monitoring process 14 days prior to your return, and not to come onto campus if you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19. As a reminder, there will be no university sponsored international travel for the 2020-2021 school year.
The CDC requires a negative COVID test within 3 days for travel to the U.S. Please see the official CDC website for more information.