Coronavirus Information for New Students

This page is intended to provide new and incoming international students with timely information and resources regarding Fall 2020 arrival in light of COVID-19.

FALL 2020 CLASSES & ORIENTATION

UA will resume on-site instruction for the Fall 2020 Semester, which will begin on August 19, 2020.

The University of Alabama and the UA System announced their clear plans to resume in-person study for the Fall Semester 2020.

On June 10, 2020, the UA System released its Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan for all university campuses. The plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees, provides an overview of phased returns at the three campuses and includes details on health protocols, featuring the Stay Safe Together Platform with a Healthcheck assessment tool, an exposure notification app and event passport. The full report is available on the System website.

On June 15, 2020, The University of Alabama announced its campus-specific plans to return on https://healthinfo.ua.edu/returnplan/.  You can also access the UA Return Plan as a digital guide.

At this time, there is no anticipation of any change to UA’s plans for on-campus instruction this Fall 2020, but under the July 24 guidance, if UA were to return to 100% remote learning at any point in the Fall 2020 semester in response to COVID-19, all active F-1 and J-1 students would remain in valid immigration status and be able to remain in the U.S.


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


ORIENTATION
International students who have been admitted for Fall 2020 should review the new student Orientation Section for information on their Orientation and International Check-in Processes.

 

 

ARRIVAL, SELF-MONITORING, & TESTING

ENTERING THE U.S.

Please see our general pages for basic information on Arrival to Tuscaloosa.

To be able to enter the U.S. on F-1 or J-1 student visa status, you require:

  1. a valid I-20 or DS-2019,
  2. a valid passport,
  3. a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp.

Also, we suggest you carry the following additional documentation with you:

  1.  the UA ISSS confirmation letter regarding UA Fall 2020 Plans,
  2.  a copy of your Fall 2020 schedule or Enrollment Verification.

 

ENTRY BANS
Please see our Entry Ban section for guidance regarding current COVID-19 Entry Bans from ChinaIranEuropean Schengen Zone, UK and Ireland, and Brazil.

On July 16, 2020 the State Department announced National Interest Exceptions for certain travelers from  European Schengen Zone and UK and Ireland.

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.


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.

 

NEW CDC GUIDANCE – NO MANDATORY 14-DAY SELF-ISOLATION UPON ARRIVAL TO THE U.S.

Following updated CDC Guidance regarding travel that was announced on August 5, students arriving to the United States from international travel are no longer required to self-isolate/quarantine for 14-days after arrival to the U.S. or to report their arrival to the COVID-19 Support Team.

Everyone who arrives from all types of travel — international and domestic — must follow CDC guidance:

  1. When around others, stay at least 6 feet(about 2 arms’ length) from other people who are not from your household. It is important to do this everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.
  2. Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are outside of your home.
  3. Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  4. Watch your health – Look for symptoms of COVID-19.

IN ADDITION FOR INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS: The CDC guidance states that everyone who arrives from any of the countries listed here as high risk (Level 3), must for 14 days do the following in addition to the guidance above:

  1. Stay home as much as possible.
  2. Avoid being around people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  3. Consider getting tested for COVID-19. (NOTE: UA requires a negative test of all students, faculty, and staff before entry to campus—see below.)

Anyone who has engaged in high risk activities must also follow all of the guidance above.

Students with concerning symptoms should call the Student Health Clinic at (205) 348-3854 or (205) 348-0386 before visiting.

 

TEST + TRAIN + CHECK = WELCOME!

All students will need to do the following to be allowed on-campus:

  1. get tested following the UA Protocols for Student Testing,
  2. complete a training module, and
  3. check symptoms regularly through UA’s HealthCheck.

 

 CDC Guidance

CDC Guidance

 

 

STUDENT VISA STATUS – FALL 2020 GUIDANCE UPDATED JULY 24

International Student & Scholar Services has received guidance from the Department of Homeland Security (updated July 24, 2020) and separately from the Department of State that F-1 and J-1 students’ visa status will not be affected by UA’s Fall 2020 plans to offer a mixture of in-person, hybrid, and online courses.

New students (those with new initial I-20s and DS-2019s) must enroll in at least one on-campus class as an in-person or hybrid course to be eligible for an F-1 or J-1 visa or to enter the United States in F-1 or J-1 status. Those on initial I-20s and DS-2019s cannot enter the United States and enroll fully online in Fall 2020.

At this time, there is no anticipation of any change to UA’s plans for on-campus instruction this Fall 2020, but under the July 24 guidance, if UA were to return to 100% remote learning at any point in the Fall 2020 semester in response to COVID-19, all active F-1 and J-1 students would remain in valid immigration status and be able to remain in the U.S.

 

Enrolling Online From Your Home Country

New students may begin your degree program by enrolling in online courses for the Fall 2020 semester from your home country and arrive in-person for the Spring 2021 semester, but UA International Student and Scholar Services will have to change your F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 start dates. If you choose to enroll online for the Fall 2020 semester, you must contact Shardá Smith with International Student and Scholar Services at sharda.smith@ua.edu in order to update your F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 immigration documents.

Please note that availability of online courses may be limited. The University of Alabama has committed to resuming on-campus instruction, and many classes are offered as in-person classes or in a hybrid format which requires an in-person component. Any questions regarding your courses available online must be directed to your Academic Advisor or Department.

If you are on a scholarship, assistantship, or fellowship, please contact your sponsor regarding tuition coverage for online studies from your home country.  Any offers of financial support from The University of Alabama for Graduate Students on assistantship, fellowship, or scholarship do not apply to classes taken online while outside of the U.S.

 

Deferring Admission

New students may defer your admission and student documents to the Spring 2021 semester.  If you choose to defer admissions to the Spring 2021 semester, you must contact your Admissions Office (Undergraduate Students – Shelley Moss at shelley.moss@ua.edu ; Graduate Students – Amanda Maltbie at aemaltbie@ua.edu).

 

 

ELI & Pathway Students

The University of Alabama continues to roll forward, admitting students for Fall 1 and Fall 2 Sessions.

UA’s staff are working remotely, but you can still reach the English Language Institute at info@eli.ua.edu or 205-348-7413 or 205-454-8066.

ELI Admission Information:


Term Change/Deferral Requests
If your personal circumstances require that you change your entry term to a later date, it is not necessary for you to complete a new application. You can simply email the English Language Institute at info@eli.ua.edu to request your entry term be changed. The ELI will update your term of admission (or for Conditionally Admitted Students work with Graduate School or Undergraduate Admissions) and have your I-20 or DS-2019 updated.

 

 

Undergraduate Students

The University of Alabama continues to roll forward, admitting students for Fall 2020.

UA’s staff are working remotely, but you can still reach International Undergraduate Admissions  at international.admissions@ua.edu or 205-348-7026.

International Undergraduate Admissions are also available for individual Tide Chats.  To speak with an International Undergraduate Admissions staff member 1-on-1, sign up online for a Tide Chat.  The sessions are for students who may have in-depth questions and would like to video chat with Admissions.

In the meantime, be sure to check out our 360 view of campus. We are also offering virtual info sessions for your convenience.

Undergraduate Admission Information:

 

FALL 2020 INSTRUCTION PLANS

The University of Alabama intends to open for a combination of in-person, hybrid, and online classes for the semester beginning in August 2020.

If you are already in the United States, already have a visa, or are confident that you will have a visa by start of classes in August:

  1. Please confirm whether you intend to enroll in person for classes that begin on August 19 by emailing ISSS at international@ua.edu.
  2. Based on CDC Recommendations, anyone entering the U.S. after international travel should self-isolate and self-monitor for 14 days. Upon arrival, you must contact the UA COVID Support Program at 205-348-2819 (348-CV19), to identify yourself and set up follow-up calls and testing.  Please see our arrival section for more information.


If you cannot, or prefer not to, enroll in-person in August, please let us know your preference among the following options:

  1. You may defer your admission to a subsequent semester. To defer your admission to a future semester, please contact Shelley Moss at shelley.moss@ua.edu.
  1. You may begin your degree program by enrolling in online courses for the fall semester and arrive in-person for the spring semester. If you choose to enroll online for the fall semester, you must contact Shardá Smith with International Student and Scholar Services at sharda.smith@ua.edu in order to update your F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 immigration documents.

 

 

Graduate Students

The University of Alabama looks forward to welcoming students for Fall 2020.  UA’s staff are working remotely, but you can still reach the Graduate School at https://graduate.ua.edu/contact-us/ or 205-348-5921.

Graduate Admission Information:

 

FALL 2020 INSTRUCTION PLANS

The University of Alabama intends to open for a combination of in-person, hybrid, and online classes for the semester beginning in August 2020.

If you are already in the United States, already have a visa, or are confident that you will have a visa by start of classes in August:

  1. Please confirm whether you intend to enroll in person for classes that begin on August 19 (please email Andrew Goodliffe).
  2. Based on CDC Recommendations, anyone entering the U.S. after international travel should self-isolate and self-monitor for 14 days. Upon arrival, you must contact the UA COVID Support Program at 205-348-2819 (348-CV19), to identify yourself and set up follow-up calls and testing.  Please see our arrival section for more information.
  3. Please make sure that you register for classes as soon as possible. It is very important that you are registered prior to traveling to the US. For details on how to register, please see the Graduate School’s Getting Started guide or contact your program director.


If you cannot, or prefer not to, enroll in-person in August, please let us know your preference among the following options:

  1. You may defer your admission to January 2021 or August 2021. To defer your admission to a future semester, please contact Amanda Maltbie at aemaltbie@ua.edu.
  2. If you have an offer of financial support , contact your program director (for assistantship or scholarship) or contact the Dr. Andrew Goodliffe in Graduate School (for fellowships) to discuss deferral of your financial support to a future semester.
  3. You may enroll full-time or part-time in Fall 2020 courses online.  Any courses taken must count towards your degree and you must enroll in person at UA beginning in either January or August 2021. Please contact your program director for advice on which courses to take. Any offers of financial support (assistantship, fellowship, or scholarship) do not apply to classes taken online while outside of the U.S.
  4. If you choose to enroll online for the fall semester, you must contact Shardá Smith with International Student and Scholar Services at sharda.smith@ua.edu in order to update your F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019 immigration documents.

If you have further questions, please contact your program director.

 

 

ROUTINE VISA PROCESSING SERVICES RESUMING – UPDATED JULY 14

On July 14, The Department of State announced that Routine Visa Services would resume in a phased plan.

“The resumption of routine visa services will occur on a post-by-post basis, in coordination with the Department’s Diplomacy Strong framework for safely returning our workforce to Department facilities.  U.S. Embassies and Consulates have continued to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services since March and will continue to do so as they are able.  As post-specific conditions improve, our missions will begin providing additional services, culminating eventually in a complete resumption of routine visa services.”

Some Embassies may ask for proof that The University of Alabama will offer in-person instruction.  Please print this confirmation letter to submit to the Embassy.

You will need to check your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to find out if their local process for resumption of visa processing.  Contact information for embassies and consulates worldwide is available at usembassy.gov.

This reverses the March 22, 2020 announcement that the U.S. State Department suspended visa services.  

For those who are applying for an F-1 or J-1 student visa, we encourage you to continue your effort to obtain a visa. If you can only get an appointment close to your semester start date, we still suggest you book and attend this appointment as you may be able to report late.

International Student & Scholar Services has been reassured in recent virtual meetings with The Department of State that as visa processing resumes, priority for visa appointments will be given to student and scholar visa applications.

If you are unable to obtain a visa appointment before the semester begins, we can work with the Admissions Office (English Language Institute, Undergraduate International Admissions, Graduate School, or Law School) to change your start term and issue an updated I-20 or DS-2019. We will work with you on an individual basis if you find you are unable to obtain a visa in time.

 

Restrictions on Travel to the U.S. from China, Iran, Europe, and Brazil

Please see our Entry Ban section for guidance regarding current COVID-19 Entry Bans from China, Iran, Europe, and Brazil and restrictions on travel between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada and about exceptions to the Entry Bans and Restrictions.

 

Executive Order On Immigrant Visas and Certain J, H, and L Non-Immigrant Visas – NO IMPACT ON STUDENTS

We know many students have been very concerned about the April 22 April 22 Executive Order on Immigration Visas and the June 22 Executive Order on Immigrant Visas and Certain J, H, and L Non-Immigrant Visas issued by the U.S. President, and media reports both in the U.S. and abroad may be confusing and provide incomplete or sometimes inaccurate information.

NO IMPACT ON STUDENT VISAS
UA ISSS want to reassure everyone that the Executive Orders have no impact on The University of Alabama’s ability to admit international students or sponsor student visas and will not impact new, current, or returning international students.

NO IMPACT ON UNIVERSITY SPONSORED J-1 VISAS
Likewise, while the June 22 Executive Order suspends a few J-1 visa categories, in the context of The University of Alabama, the suspension DOES NOT APPLY to the J-1 visas sponsored by The University of Alabama.

The J-1 Visa suspension impacts only a small number of non-university categories: Intern, Trainee, Teacher, Camp counselor, Au Pair, and Summer work travel program.  UA does not sponsor any of these J-1 categories.

The University of Alabama continues to be able to sponsor all of our J-1 Students and Scholars under all of the following categories: Research Scholar, Professor, Short-term Scholar, Specialist, Physician, Student, and Student Intern.

For more information, please see this section.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Even if someone is exempt from the June 22 Executive Order, they may still be subject to one of the country-specific COVID-19 proclamations (i.e., if present in China, Iran, European Schengen Area, U.K, Ireland, or Brazil in the 14-day period before attempting entry to the U.S.) unless specifically exempt from those as well.