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
- As of July 14, 2020, the July 6 ICE Broadcast message has been rescinded, and the policy reverts back to the March 9 broadcast message.
Do I have to attend classes in person?
HBU is offering a mix of both hybrid and online courses for fall 2020, and many of the hybrid courses will offer an option of completely remote attendance as well. ALL international students must enroll full time (12 hours for undergraduate and 9 hours for graduate). Whether you have to attend classes in person depends on your current situation:
If an international student was enrolled in a course of study in the U.S. on March 9, 2020 and has remained inside the U.S. since then, they may be able to enroll completely online for fall 2020 if they wish to do so. This includes international students NEW to HBU for fall 2020 but who were enrolled in a course of study at another institution on March 9, 2020 and have remained inside the U.S.
Newly admitted (not current) international students entering the U.S. on an I-20 to attend HBU for fall 2020 are not allowed to take classes fully online. However, there is flexibility for these students to take a mix of both hybrid and online courses. It is highly recommended that these students travel to the U.S. with a letter stating that HBU is offering hybrid courses and with a printout of their fall class schedule.
Current HBU students who were enrolled in a course of study on March 9, 2020 and have not changed programs (i.e. bachelors to masters degree) will be able to return to the U.S. to study for fall 2020, as long as they have a valid visa stamp and are otherwise admissible. According to the July 24, 2020 ICE FAQ, these students may return to the U.S. to study completely online.
Students who were enrolled in a course of study on March 9, 2020 but have left the U.S. and are returning to begin a new program at HBU (i.e. bachelors to masters degree) must enroll in at least one on-campus/hybrid course for fall 2020.
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.
What if I have health problems that keep me from attending on campus?
If you have health problems that keep you from attending any on campus classes, you may attend online if you were enrolled in a course of study as an international student on March 9, 2020. If you are a new international student entering the U.S. on an initial attendance I-20 for fall 2020 and need to attend only online, you 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 fall 2020 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 fall 2020. 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 Fall 2020. 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 Fall 2020. Consulates are slowly opening around the world, so if you are able to receive a valid F-1 visa stamp prior to August 24, 2020, you are welcome on campus, as long as you can register for at least some hybrid/on-campus classes. 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.