Coronavirus Information

This page is intended to provide current UA international students and scholars with timely information and resources regarding COVID-19.

STUDENT RETURN TRAVEL DOCUMENT CHECKLIST
Students, please make sure you have the following to be able to return to the U.S. after travel:

  1. proof of FDA-Approved or WHO-Approved vaccination,
  2. a negative viral COVID test within 1 day before flight,
  3. a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019,
  4. a valid passport,
  5. a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp,
  6. a printout of the UA Operation Plans confirmation letter,
  7. a copy of your schedule (from MyBama) or Enrollment Verification.

Review Return Travel Requirements section for latest information on COVID related requirements.

SCHOLAR, FACULTY, & STAFF RETURN TRAVEL DOCUMENT CHECKLIST
Scholars, faculty, and staff, please make sure you have the following to be able to return to the U.S. after travel:

  1. proof of FDA-Approved or WHO-Approved vaccination,
  2. a negative viral COVID test within 1 day before flight,
  3. your I-797 Approval Notice and copy of your related petition (if on H-1B, TN, O-1 or similar status)
  4. a valid travel signature on your DS-2019 (if on J-1 status),
  5. a valid passport,
  6. a valid visa stamp.

Review Return Travel Requirements section for latest information on COVID related requirements.

TRAVEL – REMINDERS AND PRECAUTIONS BEFORE DEPARTURE

International Student & Scholar Services want to urge international students who have plans to travel internationally to carefully consider your travel.  As you consider your travel plans, please refer to Return Travel Requirements and Entry Bans and Restrictions.

NOTE: Do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated.  If you are not vaccinated, return travel may not be possible.  Keep in mind that getting vaccinated will take time for dosage and inoculation, see information on “Meaning of ‘Fully Vaccinated.'”

We ask that you take into account the possibility of travel delay and restrictions, quarantines or prolonged self-isolation requirements when entering or transiting through other cities/countries based on their local guidance for COVID-19.

To find COVID resources abroad and quarantine requirements in other countries, please check that country’s Ministry of Health page or this Department of State Country Specific COVID-19 Resource Page.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a Travel Information website related to COVID-19, and specifically recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to countries at Warning Level 3. Please note that these ratings can change rapidly and without warning.


PRE-DEPARTURE COVID TESTING:

  • Students needing PCR COVID Test or Rapid Testing prior to departure from the U.S. can obtain one through the Student Health Center.  Call 205-348-2778 to make an appointment.
  • Faculty, staff, and scholars needing PCR COVID Test or Rapid Testing prior to departure from the U.S. should contact their main health care provider or a local clinic.


VACCINATIONS AND COVID TEST REQUIRED FOR ENTRY/RE-ENTRY TO U.S.:


STUDENT DOCUMENT CHECKLIST

Students, please make sure you have the following before leaving Tuscaloosa:

  1. a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019,
  2. a valid passport,
  3. a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp.
  4. a printout of the UA ISSS confirmation letter regarding UA Operation Plans,
  5. a copy of your schedule (from MyBama) or Enrollment Verification.

SCHOLAR, FACULTY, & STAFF DOCUMENT CHECKLIST
Scholars, faculty, and staff please make sure you have the following before leaving Tuscaloosa:

  1. your I-797 Approval Notice and copy of your related petition (if on H-1B, TN, O-1 or similar status)
  2. a valid travel signature on your DS-2019 (if on J-1 status),
  3. a valid passport,
  4. a valid visa stamp.

If you are on an F or J visa and need a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, or if your travel signature will be more than 1 year old at the time you plan to return, please submit a Travel Signature Request with the subject line “TRAVEL SIGNATURE REQUEST” via email to international@ua.edu.

  • F-1/F-2 I-20s will be signed and sent as electronic scans per guidance from the Department of Homeland Security Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and can be used for all official purposes – visa applications and renewals, entry to the U.S., applications for OPT, etc.  There is no need for the original, physical I-20 at this time.
  • J-1/J-2 DS-2019s will need to be sent as original, physical documents per guidance from the Department of State for the purpose of visa applications, visa renewals, and entry/re-entry to the U.S. 

For official documents for which you need the original, physical document, such as J-1 DS-2019s needed for visa interview or entry to the U.S., OPT EAD Cards, original USCIS employment approval notices, etc. ISSS will need to arrange for you to pick up the document or have it shipped to you following the steps outlined on our Document Shipping Page.

 

 

ROUTINE VISA PROCESSING SERVICES RESUMING – PRIORITIZATION DECIDED BY EACH CONSULATE AND EMBASSY 

The Department of State announced updates to its Visa Services on November 19, 2021.

“As worldwide restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic begin to ease, and in line with the President’s proclamation regarding the safe resumption of international travel, the Bureau of Consular Affairs will focus on reducing wait times for all consular services at our embassies and consulates overseas while also protecting health and safety of our staff and applicants.  Although local conditions and restrictions at individual consular posts may continue to fluctuate, the guidance to posts for the prioritization of consular services during the pandemic issued in November 2020 has been rescinded. Embassies and consulates have broad discretion to determine how to prioritize visa appointments among the range of visa classes as safely as possible, subject to local conditions and restrictions.”

Some Embassies may ask for proof that The University of Alabama will offer in-person instruction.  Please print this confirmation letter which confirms our in-person instruction.

You will need to check your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to find out if their local process for resumption of visa processing.  Applicants with an urgent matter who need to travel immediately should contact the nearest embassy or consulate to request an emergency appointment.

Visa appointment wait times can be found here.

Contact information for embassies and consulates worldwide is available at usembassy.gov.

Student Visa Renewal J-1 Scholar Visa Renewal H-1B Visa Renewal

 

 

 

RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES

Remember the following are needed to re-enter the U.S.

STUDENT DOCUMENT CHECKLIST

  1. proof of FDA-Approved or WHO-Approved vaccination,
  2. a negative viral COVID test within 1 day before flight,
  3. a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019,
  4. a valid passport,
  5. a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp,
  6. a printout of the UA ISSS confirmation letter regarding UA Operation Plans,
  7. a copy of your schedule (from MyBama) or Enrollment Verification.

SCHOLAR, FACULTY, & STAFF DOCUMENT CHECKLIST

  1. proof of FDA-Approved or WHO-Approved vaccination,
  2. a negative viral COVID test within 1 day before flight,
  3. your I-797 Approval Notice and copy of your related petition (if on H-1B, TN, O-1 or similar status)
  4. a valid travel signature on your DS-2019 (if on J-1 status),
  5. a valid passport,
  6. a valid visa stamp.

If you have already departed the country, and require a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, please submit a Travel Signature Request with the subject line “TRAVEL SIGNATURE REQUEST” via email to international@ua.edu.

For official documents for which you need the original, physical document, such as J-1 DS-2019s needed for visa interview or entry to the U.S., OPT EAD Cards, original USCIS employment approval notices, etc. ISSS will need to arrange shipment to you, following the steps outlined on our Document Shipping Page.

Prior to travel, monitor healthinfo.ua.edu for the most recent campus information about the situation, that you stay aware of CDC travel watches, alerts and warnings, and seek out additional CDC and State Department updates, and that you monitor our website for immigration-related travel updates.

Also, please be aware that transit through other countries may be challenging at the moment.  Many other countries have introduced restrictions on transit and entry.  We recommend that you monitor conditions through your home country’s Embassy page and through resources such as the IATA Travel Page.

 

Before You Travel to the United States – New rules require Vaccination and COVID Testing

On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-⁠19 Pandemic, which requires that “noncitizens who are nonimmigrants” traveling to the United States by air from any part of the world establish that they are fully vaccinated, with some limited exceptions.

A separate CDC requirement issued on December 2, 2021 requires all air travelers to show results of a negative coronavirus test taken one day (regardless of vaccination status) preceding their flight’s departure from a foreign country traveling to the United States.

“Noncitizens who are nonimmigrants” who are traveling by air will have to show both the negative COVID viral test and documentation that they are either fully vaccinated or are eligible for an exception to the vaccination requirement.

MORE INFORMATION ON ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

PROOF OF VACCINATION REQUIRED

All non-U.S. citizen, nonimmigrants traveling to the United States by air are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Only limited exceptions apply. Learn more about this requirement.

Before boarding a flight to the United States, you are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result (i.e., a nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT] or a viral antigen test) taken no more than 1 day before travel.

Children under 2 years old do not need to test. There are also accommodations for people who have documented recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days. Learn more about these requirements.

For more information about CDC COVID Testing Requirement.

To find COVID testing and vaccination resources abroad, please check your country’s Ministry of Health page or this Department of State Country Specific COVID-19 Resource Page.

CONTACT INFORMATION REQUIRED
All air passengers to the United States will also be required to provide contact information to airlines before boarding flights to the United States. This strengthens a travel process already in place to rapidly identify and contact people in the U.S. who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, such as COVID-19. Access to travelers’ contact information will allow U.S. federal, state, and local health departments, and agencies to share appropriate health and public health information necessary to help keep the public safe.

UNDERSTANDING VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS

 

After Arrival to the U.S.

IF YOU ARE FULLY VACCINATED WITH AN FDA-APPROVED VACCINE OR WHO APPROVED EMERGENCY USE LISTING VACCINE

IF YOU ARE NOT FULLY VACCINATED WITH AN FDA-APPROVED OR WHO APPROVED VACCINE BUT ARE ALLOWED TO TRAVEL TO THE U.S. UNDER A SECTION 3(b) EXCEPTION

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after arrival, unless you have documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
  • Stay at home or in your hotel room and self-quarantine for a full 7 days, even if you test negative, unless you have documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
  • Isolate if your test result is positive or if you develop COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If you intend to stay in the United States for 60 days or longer, you must become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arriving in the United States or as soon as medically appropriate, unless you have a medical contraindication or are too young to be vaccinated.
  • Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.

WHERE TO QUARANTINE FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNVACCINATED
Students who will live on-campus will need to contact Housing to secure early move-in up to 2 weeks early in the Spring semester (note: classes begin January 12) in order to self-quarantine in their residence hall or on-campus apartment.

NOTE: There will be no quarantine space available on-campus for those who will live off-campus.  Students, scholars, faculty, and staff living off-campus will either need to self-quarantine in their apartment/home or secure temporary housing where they can complete self-quarantine.

HAVE SYMPTOMS AFTER YOUR TRAVEL?
Students with concerning symptoms should call the Student Health Clinic prior to visiting at (205) 348-3854 or (205) 348-0386.

Employees with concerning symptoms, please call the University Medical Center at (205) 348-4696 or (205) 348-1770 before visiting.

 

PROTECTING YOURSELF DURING TRAVEL

The CDC has guidance on ways to protect yourself via flight and when using public transit, rideshares, and taxis.

Obviously, it is necessary to get from the airport to your home here in Tuscaloosa, and in that case, follow the CDC transportation guidance for the connecting transportation from the airport to Tuscaloosa.

Please see the latest CDC Guidance on what to do before and after travel.

 

 

COVID-19 ENTRY BANS, RESTRICTIONS, AND VACCINE REQUIREMENTS

RESOURCES ON COVID ENTRY RESTRICTIONS

 

(UPDATE) COVID ENTRY BAN FROM CERTAIN SOUTHERN AFRICAN COUNTRIES – REVOKED DECEMBER 31, 2021

On November 26, 2021, the U.S. President announced a ban on entry from certain southern Africa countries, citing the appearance of the COVID Omicron variant.  On December 28, 2021, the U.S. President revoked this travel ban under Proclamation 10329.

At present, there are no geographic (i.e. country-specific) COVID Entry Bans to the U.S.

 

COVID VACCINE AND TESTING REQUIREMENTS FOR ENTRY TO THE U.S. BY AIR

UNDERSTANDING VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS

On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-⁠19 Pandemic, which requires that “noncitizens who are nonimmigrants” traveling to the United States by air from any part of the world establish that they are fully vaccinated, with some limited exceptions.

A separate CDC order requires all air travelers to show results of a negative viral coronavirus test taken one day (regardless of citizenship or vaccination status) preceding their flight’s departure from a foreign country traveling to the United States.

“Noncitizens who are nonimmigrants” who are traveling by air will have to show both the negative COVID viral test and documentation that they are either fully vaccinated or are eligible for an exception to the vaccination requirement.

ACCEPTABLE VACCINES
The CDC webpage Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers lists the approved vaccines as acceptable for this purpose.

Vaccination with a vaccine not on the FDA or WHO Approved lists would not satisfy Presidential Proclamation of October 25, 2021 requirements until the FDA or WHO adds the vaccine to their lists.

MEANING OF “FULLY VACCINATED”
According to CDC webpage Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers, you are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series COVID-19 vaccine; or
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an “active” (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart*

If you don’t meet these requirements, you are NOT considered fully vaccinated.

PROOF OF VACCINATION
CDC Technical Instructions: Types of Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination state that “Airlines or aircraft operators must confirm that every Covered Individual, unless excepted, has presented Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States from any foreign country. Airlines or aircraft operators must review each passenger’s paper or digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination to confirm:

  • the personal identifiers (at a minimum, full name and date of birth) on the proof of vaccination match the personal identifiers on the passenger’s passport or other travel identification document; AND
  • the passenger meets CDC’s definition of Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19.

CDC Technical Instructions: Types of Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination and Table 1. Acceptable Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination describe acceptable proof and provide examples.

EXEMPTIONS
U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. lawful permanent residents (green card holders) are exempt from the vaccination requirement to enter the U.S.

EXCEPTIONS – NOTE: Entry to the U.S. under an exception will generally require Vaccination within 60 Days of Arrival.
There are limited exceptions for the vaccination requirement to enter the U.S.  To be able to enter under an exception, a person claiming an Exception must present a completed Excepted Covered Individual Attestation.

Proclamation Section 3(b) also contains a number of important exceptions for certain covered “noncitizens who are nonimmigrants.” Nonimmigrants who are not fully vaccinated but who are traveling by air to the United States under one of the Section 3(b) exceptions are referred to Excepted Covered Individuals in the CDC Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic. In general see CDC Technical Instructions: Procedures for Confirming Documentation of Excepted Covered Individuals Who Do Not Present Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated.

  1. Exceptions for Citizens of a foreign country with valid non-immigrant visas (except B-1/B-2 visas) where the availability of COVID-19 vaccination is limited (defined by the CDC’s List of Foreign Countries with Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Availability)
  2. Exceptions for Noncitizens who are children under 18 years of age, or noncitizens for whom a COVID-19 vaccination is contraindicated or inappropriate.
  3. Exceptions for any noncitizen or group of noncitizens whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees (NOTE: This has not been defined, but it likely will not be the same as the National Interest Exception allowed for students and academics under the prior COVID Travel Bans).
  4. Exceptions for Diplomats, employees of international organizations, and similar.
  5. Other exceptions are possible for participants in COVID Vaccine clinical trials, members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses or children, and C-1 and D crew members.

No exception for religious reasons or other moral convictions – According to CDC FAQs, “there are no exceptions under the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order for religious reasons or other moral convictions.” Likewise, the CDC Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic states: “Objections to vaccination based on religious or moral convictions do not qualify under this or any other exception listed in the Proclamation or this Order.”

60-Day Vaccination Requirement for Excepted Covered Individuals Admitted to the United States Under a 3(b) Exception
Nonimmigrants who enter the U.S. under an exception and are not fully vaccinated (referred to Excepted Covered Individuals in CDC guidance), are required to “…become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arriving in the United States, within some other timeframe as determined by the Director of the CDC, or as soon as medically appropriate as determined by the Director of the CDC, and must provide proof of having arranged to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after arriving in the United States.

Updated COVID-19 Test Requirements – Additional to Vaccine Requirements

On December 2, 2021, the CDC amended its original January 25, 2021 Order, titled, “Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States.” The amendment updates COVID-19 testing requirements for air passengers 2 years or older boarding a flight to the United States.

 A viral COVID test (i.e., a nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT] or a viral antigen test)  must be conducted on a sample taken no more than 1 day before the flight’s departure from a foreign country. This 1 day test requirement includes all passengers, whether they are U.S. Citizens, permanent residents, or nonimmigrants, regardless of their vaccination status.

 

LAND AND FERRY ENTRY FROM CANADA AND MEXICO – VACCINATION REQUIREMENT – UPDATED JANUARY 22, 2022

Beginning, January 22, 2022, all entry to the United States through land ports and by ferry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders will require that non-U.S. individuals be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  Travelers will be required to have appropriate paperwork that provides proof of vaccination.  Individuals who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel from Canada and Mexico into the United States via land and ferry POEs.  Land and Ferry travelers must meet the same vaccination requirements as air travelers.

 

 

ISSS OFFICE HOURS AND ADVISING

PUBLIC OFFICE HOURS: Monday – Friday, 8 am – 4:45 pm.

NOTE: New Drop-in Advising Hours – Monday-Thursday, 11 am-3 pm – NO APPOINTMENT NEEDED
General advising hours are Monday through Thursday, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm CST via Zoom or In-Person.  No Appointment is needed for drop-in advising.

Note: Effective Spring 2022, there will be no drop-in advising on Fridays.

When seeking advising via Zoom, students and scholars will be connected with one of the UA ISSS Staff.  If there are multiple students and scholars in the queue, you will be placed directly into a waiting room.

Please note, drop-in advising is meant for shorter inquiries of 5 – 10 minutes, and in order to serve all students and scholars, we ask that this be reserved for quick questions.

Have a complicated question? Need a longer appointment? Book an appointment with ISSS online.

For all other questions or inquiries, please email international@ua.edu or call 205-348-5402.

Whether contacting us by phone or email, please be sure to include your name and CWID (if known) with your inquiry.

 

 

DOCUMENT REQUESTS

International students and scholars should submit document requests with the appropriate form and supporting documents via email to international@ua.edu.

Please submit all requests to international@ua.edu, including requests for Driver’s License Verification Letters, Social Security Employment Verification I-20 and DS-2019 replacementsTravel Signatures, Extensions, OPT, CPT, Academic Training, etc.

All verification letters and documents will be fulfilled and sent back as an electronic document via email.

F-1/F-2 I-20s will be signed and sent as electronic scans per guidance from the Department of Homeland Security Student Exchange Visitor Program SEVP Policy Guidance: Use of Electronic Signatures and Transmission for the Form I-20 and can be used for all official purposes – visa applications and renewals, entry to the U.S., applications for OPT, etc.  There is no need for the original, physical I-20.

J-1/J-2 DS-2019s will be signed and sent as electronic scans per guidance from the Department of State and can be used for most purposes except visa applications, renewals, and entry to the U.S.  For visa applications and renewals and entry to the U.S., the original, physical DS-2019 is required.

For official documents for which you need the original, physical document, such as J-1 DS-2019s needed for visa interview or entry to the U.S., OPT EAD Cards, original USCIS employment approval notices, etc., ISSS will need to arrange either an in-person pick-up or shipment to you following the steps outlined on our Document Shipping Page.

 

UNIVERSITY OPERATIONS PLAN

Announced on March 1, 2021, UA resumed full-time, in-person instruction in the Fall 2021 Semester.  All courses and programs are offered in-person.

Operations are in accordance to UA’s return plan, which is governed by the UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan.

Based on The University of Alabama’s return to full-time, in-person instruction under normal operations, all F-1 and J-1 students must resume regular enrollment under standard F-1 and J-1 guidance as outlined on our Full-Time Enrollment Page.

For full details and the latest guidance, please see our Enrollment Guidance section below.


ACADEMIC QUESTIONS
All students should refer to the UA Student FAQ Page for more information.

 

 

ENROLLMENT GUIDANCE – RETURN TO PRE-COVID REQUIREMENTS

Based on The University of Alabama’s return to full-time, in-person instruction under normal operations, all F-1 and J-1 students must resume regular in-person enrollment under standard F-1 and J-1 guidance as outlined on our Full-Time Enrollment Page.

ISSS requires all international students on F-1 and J-1 student visas to follow the standard immigration regulations when registering for classes as outlined on our Full-Time Enrollment Page.

Generally speaking, F-1 and J-1 students are required to maintain a full-time course load during fall and spring semesters. Full-time enrollment generally means graduate students must enroll for at least 9 credits and undergraduate students must enroll for at least 12 credits every semester.

For F-1 visa holders, only 1 online class (i.e. 3 credit hours) per semester may count towards a “full course of study.”  For example, an undergraduate student is required to register for 12 credits per semester to maintain full-time status. Of the 12 required hours only 3 credit hours may be online. After an F-1 student has met the full-time requirement, any additional hours above the 12 required hours may be either regular campus classes or online.

J-1 student visa holders cannot count any online classes toward their full-time enrollment requirements.  For example, an undergraduate student on a J-1 student visa must enroll the first 12 credit hours in main campus, in-person courses, but after meeting the full-time requirement via main campus courses, they may enroll in additional hours above the full-time requirement in on-line courses.

Enrolling Full-time Online From Your Home Country Generally Not Possible

FOR NEW STUDENTS – The University of Alabama resumed on-campus, in-person instruction, and almost all classes are offered as in-person classes.  Thus, it is not possible to begin study online for campus-based degree programs.

If you are facing delays arriving to UA for in-person studies, it is our strong recommendation that you seek to defer your admissions and F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 to a future semester, as outlined below.

If you would like to change your admission from a campus-based degree program to a fully online or distance learning degree program, you will need to contact your Admissions Office (Undergraduate Students – Shelley Moss at shelley.moss@ua.edu ; Graduate Students – Amanda Maltbie at aemaltbie@ua.edu).

Please note, while UA offers many degree programs online, not all of UA’s campus-based programs are available online.  Online and distance degrees offered by UA Online can be found here: https://online.ua.edu/degrees/.

Additionally, if you have been awarded scholarship, assistantship, or fellowship funding, switching from a campus-based degree program to an online degree program will likely invalidate your funding offer, as University of Alabama assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships awarded for campus-based programs do not apply to classes taken in an online program.

Finally, please note that you will not be eligible for F-1 or J-1 student visa sponsorship in an online or distance learning degree program.  Switching to an online or distance learning program will require ISSS to cancel your SEVIS Record and F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 issued to you.

FOR CONTINUING STUDENTS, you must return to UA and study full-time on-campus to be eligible to continue your F-1 or J-1 visa status.  Students who are on active I-20s or DS-2019s cannot continue to enroll online from their home country.

If you will not return to campus for in-person instruction, you will need to end your I-20 or DS-2019 for an authorized leave of absence (also see below in “Deferring Admission/Taking a Leave of Absence – Remaining In Your Home Country”).

Deferring Admission/Taking a Leave of Absence  – Remaining In Your Home Country

FOR NEW STUDENTS (those with new initial I-20s and DS-2019s), if you are unable to arrive to UA for in-person classes, whether due to visa or travel delays or personal reasons, and you wish to defer your admissions and F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 documents, you need to contact the Admissions Office which handled your application:

Once your admissions, as well as any UA funding, have been deferred, UA’s International Student & Scholar Services will process an update to your F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 and provide you with the updated documents.

Generally speaking, deferred F-1 I-20s and J-1 DS-2019s will retain the same SEVIS ID, and students who have paid the SEVIS Fee and have applied for their F-1 or J-1 Visa will not need to pay a new fee or submit a new visa application with the Embassy.

FOR CONTINUING STUDENTS (those who are continuing studies on active I-20s and DS-2019s), if you are not able to return to UA to resume in-person study or if you would like to take a leave of absence, please do the following:

  1. Submit a Leave of Absence Form to international@ua.edu. ISSS will end your SEVIS Record and I-20/DS-2019.
  2. To return to UA in a future semester, submit the following to international@ua.edu:
    1. I-20/DS-2019 Request Form
    2. Proof of Funding
    3. Scan of Passport/Visa
  3. Once you have received your new I-20 (or DS-2019 for those on J-1 status), you will then be able to make plans to return to UA.
    1. You will have to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again since you will receive a new SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 with a new SEVIS ID.
    2. Current Department of State and Homeland Security guidance, states that if your student visa stamp in your passport has not been cancelled or has not expired, you may use it to enter the U.S. on a new SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019.
    3. For those on F-1 Student Visas, since F-1 students returning from a leave of absence enter the U.S. on a new initial I-20, they are required to complete another full academic year in F-1 status in order to be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). If you plan to apply for practical training, you should be enrolled as a full-time student for at least 2 semesters prior to your anticipated CPT/OPT start date.

 

SUMMER 2022 ENROLLMENT GUIDANCE

Regarding Summer 2022 enrollment, summer is considered a normal break in academic studies for continuing undergraduate and graduate students.  For F-1 and J-1 undergraduate and graduate students who have studied in Spring 2022 (at UA or another institution) and will study at UA in Fall 2022, they are not required to enroll in any summer classes.  If an international student who has met the full-time requirement for the preceding spring semester decides to enroll in classes for summer, there is no minimum enrollment requirement nor any restriction on method of delivery.

Only F-1 and J-1 students who will begin studies in the U.S. on a new F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 in Summer 2022 will be required to enroll full-time.

For exceptions and other situations for summer enrollment, please consult our Summer section on Full-time Enrollment or please contact ISSS.

 

VACCINES – GETTING VACCINATED AT UA & REPORTING YOUR VACCINATION STATUS

VACCINE AVAILABILITY FOR STUDENTS
The Student Health Center offers the Pfizer vaccine to all UA students (over age 16) who are able to receive both doses on campus.

Students are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated wherever it’s available, whether on campus or through a variety of other sources. Vaccines.gov provides distribution locations anywhere in the country. Students should report vaccinations received at an external location.

Student Vaccines On-Campus Report Vaccination UA Vaccine Page

 

VACCINE AVAILABILITY FOR SCHOLARS, FACULTY, STAFF, AND FAMILIES
Scholars, faculty, staff, and their families should check with their health care provider regarding vaccine availability or check Vaccines.gov for a vaccination location.  Scholars, faculty, staff, and their families who are patients at the University Medical Center on campus are eligible to book an appointment for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.

Faculty, staff, and scholars should report vaccinations received at an external location.

Scholars, Faculty, and Staff Vaccines On-Campus Report Vaccination Employee Vaccine Management Portal UA Vaccine Page

 

 

STUDENT HEALTH CENTER QUESTIONS

Currently, the Student Health Center and Pharmacy is open Monday – Thursday, 8 am – 5 pm; Friday 9 am – 5 pm.  Students should call 205-348-2778 prior to visiting the Student Health Center.

COVID-19 Screening
All students will be assessed for COVID-19 risks prior to a visit to the Student Health Center.  Students need to call 205-348-2778 (or the main line at 205-348-6262) prior to visiting the Student Health Center.

Information Regarding PCR COVID tests for Travel
The Student Health Center offers both PCR COVID testing and Rapid Testing.  Keep in mind Rapid Testing (aka an “antigen” test) is NOT the same as a PCR test.  Be sure to check with your airline regarding which test is required.

Students requesting PCR testing for travel must call 205-348-2778 and make an appointment. When you call, please inform the staff that your appointment is a PCR test for travel. PCR testing results are usually returned within 24-48 hours. The Student Health Center cannot report results on the weekend (Saturday and Sunday). The SHC recommends that you have the test done Monday – Thursday. Tests done on Fridays will not be reported to the student until the following Monday. Results can be sent to you via the SHC’s secure Patient Portal.

If your travel does not require a PCR test, you can call 205-348-2778 to schedule a Rapid Test any time Monday – Friday, and the results will be reported to you that same day. Please inform the nurse that the Rapid Test is for travel and that you will need a copy of the lab report sent to you. Be sure to check with your airline regarding what test is required. If they will accept an “antigen” test then a rapid test will meet that requirement.

To the best of SHC’s knowledge, international travel requires a PCR test performed 72 hours or less prior to departure. The SHC recommends that you check with your airline regarding health requirements for travel.

Cost for a PCR test with office visit done at the Student Health Center is around $180.00. Cost of the Rapid Test is around $40.00. Your health insurance may cover some or all of the cost, but you will need to contact your medical insurance company and ask them what is covered.

If you have questions please e-mail shc@ua.edu.

Immunizations and Holds
Students requiring immunizations and TB testing to remove their holds can go to the SHC.  After an initial assessment for COVID 19 risks, students seeking immunizations and TB testing will be placed in a well waiting area to isolate them from those students that seeking treatments for illnesses.

For those who have left the country or are not in Tuscaloosa, you can still submit proof of immunization records and TB tests from your personal doctors online.  You would need to submit the documentation via the MyBama Portal using clear pictures or scans.  Please follow the information on https://shc.sa.ua.edu/forms/immunization-form/ .  The SHC will accept official records, but they must be English.

Those with Immunization questions should contact immunizations@ua.edu, but make sure to include your name and CWID in your communication.

 

 

MEDICAL INSURANCE QUESTIONS

Undergraduate and Graduate International Students enrolled in Fall 2021 classes will be covered  under the UA Sponsored UnitedHealthcare Policy (August 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021) and those enrolled in Spring 2022 classes will be covered under the UA Sponsored UnitedHealthcare Policy which covers both Spring and Summer 2022 (January 1, 2022 – July 31, 2022), unless the student processes a waiver.

More information about the UA Sponsored UnitedHealthcare Policy can be found on the Student Health Center’s Sponsored Insurance Page.

Students are encouraged to access their insurance cards and plan details through the UnitedHealthcare Student Resources Portal: http://www.uhcsr.com/ua.

All questions regarding student insurance should be directed to the Student Health Insurance Office at 205-348-4086 or via email to shc@bama.ua.edu.

Other Insurance Policies:

  • Students who are covered under separate insurance policies through their sponsoring government scholarship (e.g. Kuwait Cultural Office Scholarship and Saudi Arabian Cultural Missions Scholarship students) will need to direct insurance questions to their sponsors.
  • Students who request and receive a waiver due to external coverage will need to direct insurance questions to their independent insurer.
  • UA Employees, Faculty, and Staff should refer to their Medical Insurance policy regarding their coverages.
  • Unpaid Visiting Scholars who have independent insurance policies will need to direct insurance questions to their sponsors and to their independent insurance provider.

 

 

GRADUATION QUESTIONS – IMPORTANT REMINDERS

For information regarding Commencement Ceremonies, please refer to the UA Student FAQ Page and UA Commencement page.

Students who will be graduating should review our information regarding the final term here.

F-1 students who wish to apply for OPT should refer to the OPT Employment section of our website.

J-1 students who wish to apply for Academic Training should refer to the J-1 Academic Training section of our website.

International Student & Scholar Services will still process OPT and Academic Training applications and are able to do so via email and distance.

Please note: Students applying for OPT or Academic Training must be inside the United States at the time of application.

 

UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA ASSISTANCE

The UA Emergency Assistance program allows students the opportunity to access short term assistance in times of need. Potential assistance may be in the form of gift cards, meal allotments, referrals, and other kinds of financial assistance through the support and compassion of our UA community.

Students who are in need of emergency assistance should see the Emergency Assistance page on Student Care & Well-Being’s website.

Additionally, students who are in severe crisis and need assistance are encouraged to reach out directly to International Student & Scholar Services at international@ua.edu.

FEDERAL & STATE ASSISTANCE AND PUBLIC CHARGE IMPLICATIONS

NOTE: On March 9, 2021, DHS announced that it would stop enforcement of the 2019 Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Rule and has submitted formal notice to implement the vacatur of the 2019 Rule.  DHS has reverted to the 1999 Interim Field Guidance on Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.

There were some exceptions to the now-vacated 2019 Public Charge rules with regard to international student and scholar eligibility for assistance for health care, unemployment payments, and even funds from the federal COVID-19 stimulus.

TESTING, TREATMENT, AND PREVENTIVE MEDICAL CARE
USCIS and DHS made it clear that COVID-19 testing, treatment, and preventive care would not be considered a violation of the vacated 2019 Public Charge Rules.

COVID-19 ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS
Eligibility for CARES Act and American Rescue Plan COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments from the IRS depend on a number of factors related to your tax status in the U.S.  Eligibility depends on whether or not an international student or scholar qualifies as a U.S. resident alien for tax purposes, has an SSN that is valid for employment, and meets the income requirements.

Please refer to the UA International Tax Office Page regarding eligibility.

HIGHER EDUCATION EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND (HEERF)
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the American Rescue Plan contain sections that allow for distribution of funds to higher education institutions through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). These funds are to be used by colleges and universities to provide aid directly to students who have experienced a disruption because of the coronavirus crisis.

In the first two HEERF fund approvals, Department of Education (DOE) policy and guidance stated that international students on F-1 or J-1 student visas are not eligible for any payments from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) was signed into law on March 11, 2021, providing support to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Unlike prior HEERF Funds disbursements, international students are eligible to apply for HEERF III Funds.

Students who would like to request HEERF III funds may submit an application by clicking the button below.

HEERF III FUNDS APPLICATION

Students who are in need of additional emergency assistance should see the Emergency Assistance page on Student Care & Well-Being’s website.


UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Immigration-related eligibility requirements for Unemployment Insurance under the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan are less clear than the eligibility for Stimulus Payment and Tax Credits, and it is possible that eligibility may be restricted only to those who are defined as a “Qualified Alien”.

It is important that you review Public Charge rules and other resources to determine both eligibility and potential Public Charge considerations with regard to Unemployment Insurance.