International Student Information COVID-19

March 19, 2020

Important information for international students and scholars regarding the extended spring break and COVID-19 Response can be found here.  

We understand that this is a stressful and uncertain time for you and your family. The COVID-19 situation is quickly evolving in our local, national, and global communities. We know the difficult position this has put you in, especially to be away from your support networks at home. The information below is to help you make informed decisions about your academic and immigration status.  We know there has also been a lot of information and change over the last few weeks.  We hope you are all ok and will continue to stay in touch with us as you have concerns or needs. 

As you know, yesterday, President Bogart announced that beginning March 30th, all classes will be moved to distance learning/online formats.  We have also moved the end date of classes to April 29. The Study Day is scheduled for April 30, with exams held May 1-6.

What does this mean for current international students in F-1 and J-1 student status?

  • Online Classes – this is OK. There are temporary rules in place that let you maintain your status during this period of online instruction just as though you were taking the classes on campus.  The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has confirmed that international students may temporarily take their classes online during MC’s period of modified instructional format, either from within the United States or outside the country without impacting their immigration status. International students are still required to maintain a full course load during this temporary transition to online instruction. They should not fall below the full course requirement unless they have been permitted to do so either through an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).
  • Housing & Meals – international students in F-1 & J-1 status may remain on campus. We will continue services for students approved to live on campus.
  • I-20 & DS-2019 End Dates – we will extend the end date for all international students to reflect new dates.
  • Insurance – as we posted earlier on the Facebook group, Maryville College international student insurance will cover medically-necessary, prescribed diagnostic testing for the COVID-19 virus.
  • Communication – all meetings with advisors, professors , other staff at the College and the CIE will be held through email, video call or phone call. Most campus employees can be reached by SKYPE with their username as their email address (e.g.  lastname@maryvillecollege.edu)
  • Traveling – You have a few options for the spring semester
    • Stay in the US
      • Courses will be remote until the end of the semester.
      • The Center for International Education will be available to support you from online, but we will have little to no time in the office at least through April 6th as we are working from home. Please email us or post on the facebook group if you have questions.  I am sure many of you have the same questions
    • Can I study from home?
      • The short answer to this is yes. The decision whether to return to your home country is a personal one and should be considered carefully, in consultation with family when possible. We want you to be where you will feel most comfortable in the coming weeks. There are challenges that come with traveling at this point, including:
        • Please keep in mind that international travel is in a fluid state, and new travel restrictions could arise at any moment.
        • International travel carries the risk of transmission between communities.
        • At this point we can not predict when students will be allowed to return, and this could mean that you may encounter disruptions to your students due to travel delays or self-isolation requirements.
        • If you choose to go home, we would like to have a short discussion with you via Skype, Zoom, or telephone to advise you of the risks if you are not able to complete your semester.
        • F-1 students choosing to return home and who need a travel signature will need to reach out to Kirsten Sheppard, Micki Pruitt, Ahmed Abdelrahman or Delie Bullock to arrange for a time to get your document signed.
      • 5-month Rule
        • We are receiving mixed guidance about whether or not you will need to return within 5-months if you leave now.  Please give us a few days to determine whether or not it will be possible to be gone for 5 months.  We recommend until we are sure that you make plans to return to the USA within 5 months.
      • Resources:

 

 

We know this is a challenging time for people across the world. Maryville College and the staff of the Center for International Education are here to help answer your questions and support you making informed decisions.

We will update this page as we have more information to share.

FAQsclick or touch to open

My immigration status is set to expire at the end of this semester and there are no flights to my home country. How long can I stay in the US?

At the completion of your program you have either an additional ‘grace period’ of 30 days as a J-1 student or 60 days after your graduation or program end date. If you wish to stay longer than this, you could consider applying for Optional Practical Training as an F-1 student  (non-ESL) or Academic Training as a J-1 student which could extend your legal status in the United States for employment purposes. Alternatively, you may be eligible to file an application with USCIS to change to another non-immigrant status. The discretion of approval falls to United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the CIE cannot assist in moving your request forward.

I will graduate in May 2020, and my plan was to return to my home country. I would prefer to stay in the United States for now. What are my options?

You have three options:

1) Remain in the United States and apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). This applies to F-1 students.

2) Remain in the United States until 7/14/2020 during the 60-day grace period after graduation.

3) Pursue another degree in the United States and transfer your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record to another institution.

I'm graduating in May and invited my parents to graduation. What do I do?

We know this is very disappointing.  Until we know more about when / if graduation activities will happen, we recommend that plans for travel to be put on hold.  At this point, there are many countries restricted from travel to the US and many embassies are closed.  We will provide updates on this as we have them.

I plan to return to my home country this summer. What should I be aware of?

If you need to reenter in August, then international travel may mean that you may not be allowed to re-enter. Keep in mind that response to COVID-19 is developing rapidly and that international students outside of the U.S. will be subject to any travel restrictions announced by the U.S. government.

What happens if I can’t connect to my online classes remotely (i.e., unreliable internet connection, time zone issues, online restrictions)? Can I choose to take a Leave of Absence instead?

Please contact your professors to discuss any connectivity concerns.

Students who anticipate connectivity issues abroad should consider remaining in the U.S. to participate in online classes for the remainder of the term. For students who are unable or not interested in maintaining their current course load, we believe that all academic options remain in place to withdraw from classes or declare a temporary leave. However, failure to maintain full-time enrollment will require a termination of your SEVIS record. While you are abroad, no F/J record is necessary, but a new record and new I-20/DS-2019 are needed before you can return.

I'm feeling very anxious about the COVID-19 virus.  What should I do?

f you are experiencing stress or anxiety about this situation, we encourage you to reach out to counselors, advisers, or friends to talk about your feelings. The Maryville College Counseling Center can help you: https://www.maryvillecollege.edu/campus-life/student-services/student-development-services/counseling/

 

What does this mean for Fall 2020 NEW International Students?

Will MC be doing face-to-face classes in Fall 2020?
Of course, we want to be fully back to normal by Fall 2020, and we are watching the evolving situation in the USA and worldwide closely to make informed decisions about this.  For now, we are planning for a regular fall semester, and will re-evaluate as needed.

COVID-19 closure of businesses has meant that I can't get all the documents needed to obtain an I-20 or DS-2019. Can you help me speed up the process? 
Unfortunately, the college has no authority over external agencies, so we can not intervene and request they issue the required documents.

US Embassies and consulates are currently closed or have long wait times.  Can you help me get an appointment?

If Maryville College has issued you an I-20 or DS-2019 document, this demonstrates our wish to have you join our MC Scots Family. We cannot issue any other documents to assist in obtaining an entry visa, nor can we ask the U.S. Consulate or Embassy to prioritize your visa application.

I haven't been able to take the ACT/SAT. Can I still be admitted?
Good news! Yes - we do not require these tests for international students.  

British-Patterned Exams Cancelled!  Help!

Cambridge and other UK exam bodies have announced the cancellation of their May/June 2020 exams. This includes GCSE, IGCSE, O-Level, International AS & A-Level. Students enrolled in one of these programs will still be awarded results and a certificate in the absence of the exams and will have the opportunity to enroll. Incoming students will also have the opportunity to take departmental proficiency exams.

IB Exams

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program has announced its May 2020 exams are cancelled. Students enrolled in the Diploma Programme will still be awarded that credential in the absence of the exams and will have the opportunity to enroll.  Incoming students will also have the opportunity to take departmental proficiency exams.

TOEFL & IELTS exams were cancelled in my country. What do I do?

We can admit you through our Pathway program and once admitted can provide you with our online proficiency test.  This will allow you to start on your degree this fall regardless of language proficiency results.

Course Delivery & Grading Changes at Your Current School

We understand many high schools and colleges have moved to online instruction, alternative grading processes, no final exams, or shortened semesters. We'll rely on the expertise of the previous high school or college when determining successful completion of academic credit and if high school graduation requirements have been met. Applicants won't be penalized for system process changes at their school. If the school decides to change the educational delivery method, including grading, this change won’t impact admission or the rescission of admission offers.

Transferable college coursework  fulfilling major, minor, or general education requirements taken during the spring 2020 term and graded using a pass/fail or credit/no-credit-type grading system will be applied to degree requirements.

Regardless of changes to course delivery or grading, we still expect students to pass their classes. Negative changes in academic performance in courses listed as in-progress on the application, such as failing one or more classes, will continue to be a reason for Maryville College to rescind admission.