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COVID-19: FAQ for International Students

Updated: 8/3/2020

New York State (GLOW Region) is in Phase 4 of Reopening.

SUNY Geneseo will continue to encourage the use of the telecommuting policy, where appropriate, through October 2nd, in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Concurrently, we are planning for the phased return (throughout the summer) of our employees who are essential in serving our students. All plans for our employees’ phased return to on-campus employment shall be arranged between the employee and their supervisor.

Please contact our office at 585-245-5404 or for any questions you may have.

I am returning to the U.S. this fall for hybrid classes, do I need to quarantine?

Yes, Geneseo will provided a dorm for international students to quarantine (Jones Hall) before the start of classes. Professors will accommodate students who are in quarantine during the start of classes.

If you live off campus, you can quarantine on campus until your landlord allows you to move in to your apartment.

I am not returning to campus this fall. I will be taking all online classes from home. How do I maintain active status?

In order to maintain an active status, you must enroll in 12 credits or more at Geneseo. Currently, we do not have guidance from SEVP that specifies requirements for concurrent enrollment with another college to equal 12 credits. It is best to enroll all 12 at Geneseo.

If you choose not to enroll in full time classes, guidance suggests that you request a temporary withdrawal. If you would still like to take part time online classes, you would not be able to remain in active status. Your I-20 will be terminated and when you choose to return, we then can then reactivate your I-20.

Please keep in mind, if you remain in terminated status for more than 1 semester you will need a new I20 and visa.

As an international student, can I remain in the U.S. if Geneseo goes completely online?  Will this impact my visa? 

Yes, you may remain in the United States. Current guidance from spring suggests that SEVP will allow and temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study. The Fall 2020 guidance has been rescinded.

Will the five-month rule apply to my visa if I remain home during the fall 2020 semester?

Due to the ongoing uncertainty, we are unsure if the 5-month rule will apply to students studying online only from their home country.

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

You may stay 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.)

I am graduating this semester, how can I apply for Optional Practical Training?

The ISSS Office can assist you with preparing your OPT application.  At this time, it appears that USCIS is continuing to process applications, although no official guidance has been issued pertaining to OPT applications.  To begin the application, please visit the ISSS website for details about how to proceed at this time.

Classes have moved online and I have returned home to my home country.  Can I still apply from OPT from outside the U.S.?  Will this affect my application? 

We are still waiting for more guidance about this, but at this time it does appear that USCIS will accept OPT applications from outside the U.S. and leaving the U.S. while your OPT application is pending should not have a negative impact.  The remaining question is the best time to return to the U.S. for your OPT if you have been out of the country.  SEVP has reached out to CBP about this and we hope to have more information soon.

OPT requires 2 semesters of consecutive status.  What happens to visa status if fall 2020 starts in-person, changes to online.  What happens to my visa status if  I'm required to return to my home country? 

An F student accrues eligibility for practical training whether they are inside or outside of the United States during the COVID-19 emergency if the student is in Active status in SEVIS and meets the requirements of their school’s procedural change plans submitted to SEVP.

There is no current guidance if you are studying online only and if your I20 has been terminated. We are waiting for further information on this matter.

Does the SUNY UHC International Student Health Insurance plan cover Covid-19 testing and treatment?

Yes.  We have been assured that both testing and treatment are covered by your insurance plan.  For specific information about Covid-19-related plan coverage, please download this UHC Covid-19 Highlight Brochure

For additional FAQs from UHC please visit:

Please continue to check SUNY Geneseo's COVID-19 information page for future updates and information related to COVID-19.

Additional Critical Resources for International Students:

Study in the States


Department of State

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Please email if you have additional questions.