International Travel Information

Following guidance from Georgia Tech Administration and the University System of Georgia, the Office of International Education has implemented its continuity of operations plan.  This plan moves OIE to email and other internet-based forms of communication until further notice.  When you have questions or require support, please email the following contacts:
    International Students and Scholars:  info@oie.gatech.edu
    Education Abroad:  education.abroad@oie.gatech.edu
    For all other inquiries, please refer to the staff list:  https://oie.gatech.edu/about-us

OIE remains committed to providing excellent service to all of our stakeholders.  We look forward to working with you virtually to continue supporting Tech's global mission. We appreciate your support and understanding as we and the rest of the world respond to the current public health crisis. 

Welcome! We're Glad You're Here!

Welcome to all F-1 and J-1 visa holders at Georgia Tech! Our mission is to serve as a resource and advocate for the large and diverse population of international students and scholars at Georgia Tech. We strive to create an environment where international students and scholars are able to make a well-integrated transition to Georgia Tech through diverse cultural, educational and leadership opportunities. Our goal is to be the model in building and maintaining an international community in a campus environment with the aim to create lifelong global leaders.

Last modified: 
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 8:53am

International Travel Information

COVID19 Frequently Asked Questions

Updated May 4th 2020

General Guidance

Q: How can I request support for updating my SEVIS record or requesting an immigration benefit like OPT or CPT?

A: Please utilize the iStart portal at istart.gatech.edu to submit any requests and visit our website for advising options.

Q: How can I learn more about institutional announcements regarding COVID-19?

A: You can stay up-to-date with all of the latest institutional announcements on COVID-19 shared here: http://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus.

Q: How will I receive copies of my I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility during this time?

A: OIE advisers are continuing to process all benefit requests and updates at this time. Once your request is processed you will receive instructions on how to request shipping. Shipping options include U.S. standard postal service at OIE expense or Express shipping with tracking at your expense.

Q: How can I receive a travel signature?

A: Student and scholar visa holders can submit a request for a travel signature via iStart. Once the travel signature is provided you will receive instructions to request shipping via U.S. postal service (at OIE expense) or Express mailing (at your expense).

Q: How can I meet with an OIE adviser during this time?

A: OIE is providing virtual advising services to support international students and scholars. You can organize an appointment with an OIE adviser by visiting the OIE Advising website.

Q: Will travel restrictions still be in place if I depart the U.S. for a temporary period and attempt to return later?

A: The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation. It is not possible for us to predict what travel restrictions may be in place over the course of the next several months. If you are interested in international travel during this time, please be aware of the following:

  • Many U.S. embassies and consulates are providing emergency services only to U.S. citizens and not issuing student and Exchange Visitor visas. Travel restrictions for non-US persons entering the U.S. are in place for several countries and more countries may be added in the future.
  • Travel disruptions and restrictions are expected to continue and could affect your ability to maintain your student or exchange visitor visa status if you are unable to return to the U.S. and enroll in a full course of study or pursue program objectives. We encourage you to carefully consider avoiding non-essential international travel during this worldwide health crisis.
  • Many countries are implementing mandatory quarantines and re-entry restrictions for individuals attempting to enter with presence inside the U.S. within the last 14 days.

Q: Due to a shelter in place order and/or concerns about COVID-19, I am temporarily staying at a different address, though I am still maintaining my current address. Do I need to update OIE with this address?

A: Federal regulations require F-1 students to update their residential address within 10 days of a change. If you are temporarily relocating to a new residential address for a short period we recommend you update your SEVIS record with your temporary residential address to ensure compliance with federal requirements. You can update your address by completing the Personal Information Update in the iStart portal. 

Q: Am I eligible for the economic stimulus package as an F-1 or J-1 visa holder?

A: You can find additional guidance on tax residency status and eligibility from the IRS. Tech utilizes Glacier software to determine tax residency status and encourages you to use the software to verify your residency status. Please note that OIE is unable to provide tax guidance or support with tax residency information. Individuals who need additional support should speak with a qualified tax attorney.

Q: How does the Presidential Proclamation on April 24, 2020 impact my immigration status or ability to travel?

A: On April 22, 2020, President Trump signed the Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak.

The proclamation became effective on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM (ET), and suspends the entry of any individual seeking to enter the U.S. as an immigrant who:

· Is outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation;

· Does not have a valid immigrant visa on the effective date; and

· Does not have a valid official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document) on the effective date, or issued on any date thereafter that permits travel to the United States to seek entry or admission.

This executive order does not impact foreign nationals currently in the United States.

Nonimmigrant visa holders (e.g. F-1, H-1B, J-1, O-1, TN) are not included in the entry restrictions of the proclamation.

The proclamation expires 60 days from its effective date and may be continued as necessary. Within 50 days from the effective date, the Secretary of DHS shall, in consultation with the Secretaries of State and Labor, recommend whether the President should continue or modify the proclamation.

Newly Admitted Student Guidance

Q: I’m a new student with an initial I-20. Will OIE send me a scanned copy of my initial I-20?

A: OIE is continuing to print and ship original I-20s during this time via E-Ship Global Express Mail and is not providing scanned copies as a routine service. F and J students need to have the original copy of the I-20 for visa interviews and entry to the U.S.  As you await your original I-20, you can view your program dates, SEVIS ID, Education Level, and I-20 status in iStart at https://istart.gatech.edu.

Q: I am a graduate student and I have been admitted to Georgia Tech for Fall 2020. How can I request my I-20?

A: Congratulations on your admission! Once your academic department has submitted a request for an I-20 to be issued for you, you will receive a link from info@oie.gatech.edu asking you to provide additional information for the process. We ask that you follow up directly with your department if you have questions on when the I-20 process will be initiated. We are looking forward to welcoming you to Georgia Tech!

Q: I am unable to obtain financial support documentation to request my I-20 form from Georgia Tech. When is the latest I can submit financial documentation to request the initial I-20 form from Georgia Tech? 

A: In general, please upload the documents in to Istart as soon as the I-20 Request e-form is sent to you in the Istart portal. If you experience challenges in obtaining financial documents beyond the deadlines listed below, then you are encouraged to contact info@oie.gatech.edu to notify us of the challenges. 

Students expecting to receive their I-20 form for the fall term should submit all materials by July 1. Students inside the U.S. transferring their Active SEVIS record from another U.S. Institution should complete their I-20 form request at least 2 weeks prior to the start of classes.

Q: I am a newly admitted student requiring a visa, but visa services are currently suspended in my region, what options are available to me?

A: On March 18, the U.S. Department of State published an announcement regarding the suspension of standard visa services due to the COVID-19 pandemic at many U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. Students in affected regions have the following options:

  • Locate another U.S. embassy or consulate open for routine visa services and apply there. Please note that due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, changes to travel restrictions and visa services are occurring daily and could interrupt your plans to travel elsewhere for visa processing.
  • Contact the local embassy or consulate to see if any provisions for student visas are in place to support your application for a student visa. Wait patiently for visa services to reopen in your region and keep your intended program start date the same.
  • Request a deferral of your intended program start date. Please follow the process outlined below based on your education level and expected program start date:
    • Undergraduate Students:  We are continuing to monitor the availability of visa appointments as the rapidly evolving situation continues to unfold. If you ultimately need to request a deferral, you must have first paid your enrollment deposit. If you have specific questions concerning your circumstances or need to make a deferral request, contact Undergraduate Admissions at admission@gatech.edu.  

    • Graduate students only: The Office of Graduate Studies provides additional information on remote learning options available to international students in the COVID-19 Guidance for Graduate Education online at  grad.gatech.edu/covid19

Q: I am planning to transfer my SEVIS record from another U.S. institution and planning to depart the U.S. and return prior to my program start date, will it be possible for me to return to the U.S. or will travel restrictions be in place?

A: Travel disruptions and restrictions are expected to continue and could affect your ability to begin your program of study if you depart the U.S. now and attempt to return in summer or fall 2020. We encourage you to carefully consider avoiding non-essential international travel during this worldwide health crisis.

Q: I received admission for summer term and understand classes will be offered online only, will I be able to begin my F-1 student visa program at Georgia Tech in an online format?

A: If you are currently outside the U.S. and planning to enter as an F-1 student visa holder for the first time, your I-20 start date will be deferred to fall 2020 due to government requirements preventing first-time entry for online instruction. You can begin studies in an online format this summer without entering the U.S. and will receive an updated I-20 with the fall start date after OIE defers the start date for your I-20.

If you are already inside the U.S. in F-1 student visa status or have an Active F-1 SEVIS record, you will need to transfer your F-1 SEVIS record to Georgia Institute of Technology and we will activate your SEVIS record after you’ve registered full-time for your summer courses.

Q: When requesting my I-20 I indicated the embassy I would go to for my visa appointment, but now I would like to go to a different embassy. Is that a problem?

Please feel free to go to whichever embassy is most convenient/accessible for you, even if it is different from what you originally indicated to OIE in your I-20 request.  

Q: I can no longer come to Georgia Tech for Summer 2020 or Fall 2020, but would like to come in a later semester. What should I do?

A: It is possible to request a deferral of your intended program start date. Please follow the process outlined below based on your education level and expected program start date.

  • Graduate students only: The Office of Graduate Studies provides additional information on remote learning options available to international students in the COVID-19 Guidance for Graduate Education online at  grad.gatech.edu/covid19  
  • Undergraduate Students: We are continuing to monitor the availability of visa appointments as the rapidly evolving situation continues to unfold. If you ultimately need to request a deferral, you must have first paid your enrollment deposit. If you have specific questions concerning your circumstances or need to make a deferral request, contact Undergraduate Admissions at admission@gatech.edu.

 

Enrolled Student Guidance

Q: Are classes going to be offered online after March 29?

A: Georgia Tech and the University System of Georgia’s 26 institutions will continue to deliver instruction remotely during May and summer semesters, with only limited exceptions.

 Please see Georgia Tech Coronavirus FAQ here: http://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus#faqs

Q: What time zone do I need to consider for distance learning?

A: To minimize conflicts, faculty have been encouraged to offer classes at the regularly scheduled time while being flexible with students who may have difficulty because of varying time zones. Additionally, some classes may move to an asynchronous format where there is no uniform, scheduled class time. Office hours will be held in a modified or remote format as determined by each faculty member.

OIE recommends that you consult with your academic advisor or professor regarding the timing considerations for your courses. You should receive further information from your academic department directly on how the distance learning format will operate.

Q: If I finish my degree program while outside the U.S. am I eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training from abroad?

A: The I-765 is the application you file with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request the Optional Practical Training benefit for pre, post, and STEM extension OPT. On page 4, Part 3 of the I-765, USCIS states you must file the application while in the United States. No special provisions to allow F-1 student visa holders to apply from outside the U.S. during COVID-19 have been communicated by USCIS.

Q: Will the 5 month rule apply if I depart the U.S. and am unable to return within 5 months?

A: Per SEVP Guidance issued on March 23, “Under current conditions, if an active F student leaves the United States to complete the spring term online, their SEVIS record should remain in Active status and not be terminated. While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, students deemed to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. For that reason, the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in Active status.”

Q: Now that the summer semester is online and I don't have to be in the U.S. to take the offered online courses, do I still have to register for at least 12 credits if I wish to take courses in summer?

A: As long as you were enrolled in the spring semester and will be enrolled in the fall semester (in other words a continuing student), there are no government enrollment requirements for the summer term. You may take as few or as many (or zero) online courses as you wish in the summer term. If you are beginning your program of study in the summer term as a F-1 or J-1 student you will be required to enroll full-time in summer courses.

Q: I am graduating this semester and had planned to return to my home country; however, due to travel restrictions around COVID-19, I am unable to do so. What are my options?

A: Options available after finishing your program of study and during your 60 day grace period include the following:

  1. Apply for Optional Practical Training, if eligible: Please see the OIE OPT Website information on important timing considerations, eligibility considerations, and application instructions. 
  2. Transfer your SEVIS record to another U.S. college or university prior to the end of your 60-day grace period. More information about transfers is available on the OIE website here
  3. Request to begin a new program of study at Georgia Institute of Technology. If you have been admitted to a new program at Georgia Tech, you should submit an update using the iStart e-form entitled “Change of Degree Level” within 10 days of the change and no later than 45 days in to your 60-day grace period.
  4. Apply for a change of visa status under the guidance of a qualified immigration attorney, e.g. Visitor visa.
  5. Contact your Embassy to determine if other options might exist for evacuation.
  6. Consult with a qualified immigration attorney about any challenges you may incur as a result of remaining in the U.S. beyond your grace period.

If you have any questions or concerns about these options, we encourage you to contact us at your earliest opportunity. Contact information is available here: https://oie.gatech.edu/isss_advising.

 

Curricular Practical Training Guidance

Q: I am approved for practical training and need a social security card. The Social Security Administration office is currently closed for appointments. What are my options?

A: Georgia Institute of Technology is working closely with the Social Security Administration to make arrangements for in-person applications for individuals who have never applied for a social security card inside the U.S. Individuals who have already applied for a social security card in the past are eligible to apply for a renewal card via the mail-in application process. More information is available about this process at the following link.

Q: Can I continue curricular practical training in a remote environment?

A: Yes, it is possible to continue practical training in a remote environment with your supervisor’s permission and continued supervision of your practical training experience. Students may engage in CPT during their time abroad, provided they are:

 • Enrolled in a program of study in which CPT is integral to the program of study;

• Their DSO authorized CPT in advance of the CPT start date; and

• Either the employer has an office outside the United States or the employer can assess student engagement and attainment of learning objectives electronically.

Please contact C2D2 to update them with any changes to your employment via CareerBuzz. They will determine if an update is necessary to submit via the Istart portal during this time.

Q: Which address do I use to apply for CPT if I am working remotely this summer?

A: You will be prompted to answer both your employer’s work address and your residential address when you register your practical training experience on CareerBuzz. The CareerBuzz form will ask you to clarify if you are authorized for remote work. If you indicate you are authorized for remote work, a field will appear allowing you to enter the address where you will be working remotely.

When you complete the CPT request in iStart, you will be prompted for more information regarding your remote employment, including the residential address where the remote employment will take place. OIE will utilize the information you submit in the e-form to update your SEVIS record with the correct residential address and list the employer’s main address with the CPT authorization in SEVIS.

Q: If my internship becomes remote after I have already received my CPT authorization, do I need to update OIE?

A: OIE has a process in place to notify the U.S. government that students participating in CPT will either be participating at the employer address on file in SEVIS or the residential address on file in SEVIS. If your residential address changes, you are required to report this change to OIE within ten days via the Personal Information Update e-form.

Q: If I need to make an update to my current CPT authorization, will I need to pay the Practical Training Fee again?

A: If you have already been authorized for CPT and C2D2 is just submitting an update to that existing authorization, then you will not be sent a new link to provide information and you will not need to pay the practical training fee again.

Q: How do I make changes to my Curricular Practical Training dates?

A: Please notify C2D2 via CareerBuzz of any changes to your CPT dates. C2D2 will share this information with OIE and will work to support you with those changes. Please note you will not be eligible to work outside of the dates listed on your CPT approval.

 

Optional Practical Training Guidance

Q: Can I use the OIE address as my mailing address on the I-765?

A: OIE discourages students from utilizing the OIE address on the I-765 at this time to prevent shipping challenges while the physical campus offices are closed.

Q: I received confirmation that my I-797 was mailed to the OIE office. How can I collect my I-797 from OIE?

A: Following guidance from USG, the OIE physical office is closed at this time. All mail shipped to the OIE office will be retained at the U.S. post office at Georgia Institute of Technology and available when the office resumes mail pick-up services. We ask that all students applying for Optional Practical Training discontinue the use of the OIE mailing address on the I-765 and instead use an address where they are able to personally receive mail.

While you await the ability to pick up the I-797 when the campus returns to normal operations, please utilize the G-1145 electronic receipt notice and track the application via the USCIS website using the receipt number on the G-1145. If you did not file G-1145, then you can request emergency support by contacting info@oie.gatech.edu. The I-797 is not required to begin your employment, but your Employment Authorization document will be required to begin work inside the U.S. on OPT.

Q: My Employment Authorization Document (EAD) was mailed to the OIE office, how do I collect it?

A: Following guidance from USG, the OIE physical office is closed at this time. All mail shipped to the OIE office will be retained at the U.S. post office at Georgia Institute of Technology and available when the office resumes mail pick-up services. We ask that all students applying for Optional Practical Training discontinue the use of the OIE mailing address on the I-765 and instead use an address where they are able to personally receive mail. Emergency pick up options are available on a case-by-case basis, please email info@oie.gatech.edu to outline your emergency situation and our team will review your request for emergency pick-up.

Q: Will the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) allow more than 90 day of unemployment and 150 day cumulative total for 24 month STEM Optional Practical Training due to COVID-19?

A: SEVP has not issued any temporary provisions to allow F-1 student visa holders to exceed the current unemployment limits of 90 days for 12 month post-completion OPT or cumulative total of 150 days for the 24 Month STEM Optional Practical Training Extension period. Students are advised to continue to report employment changes via Istart.gatech.edu within 10 days of the change.

Q: If my employer requires me to work remotely for a temporary period, does this constitute a Material Change of Employment which requires me to update OIE via Istart.gatech.edu?

A: A temporary move to a remote environment due to COVID-19 social distancing measures does not constitute a permanent transfer from one location to another and is not considered a material change which requires reporting to OIE and update in SEVIS.

Q: If I leave the U.S. for a temporary period during my 12 month Post-Completion OPT or 24 Month STEM Optional Practical Training and I am unable to return will I accrue unemployment for the time spent outside the U.S.?

A: SEVP policy guidance states, "Time spent outside the United States during an approved period of post-completion OPT counts as unemployment against the 90/150-day limits, unless the student is either:

Employed during a period of leave authorized by an employer; or Traveling as part of his or her employment.”

If you are unable to return to the U.S. and your employer authorizes you to continue your Optional Practical Training while abroad, you are encouraged to request a letter from your employer stating that you are in a period of travel which is part of your OPT employment.

Q: Can I do an internship and/or volunteer work on OPT? If so, will I stop accumulating unemployment days?

A: It is possible for students on OPT to do internships and volunteer work, as long as you are working at least 20 hours per week and all work is directly related to your major. In that case, the work can count as OPT employment and you would not accumulate unemployment days. You want to be sure that any volunteer work is truly volunteer work and that it does not violate US labor laws. For instance, it is not possible to do work that is normally paid on a volunteer/unpaid basis. Doing paid work for free would violate labor laws and not count as OPT employment. Typically, volunteer work should be with a non-profit organization/charity. When doing volunteer work, we recommend that you carefully document the volunteer-nature of the work and the hours worked, in case you ever need evidence of this in the future. Please work with the organization that you volunteer with to determine how to best document this.

Q: Can I volunteer without pay for a GT professor to help avoid accruing unemployment days?

A: It is possible to engage in Optional Practical Training in an unpaid role that is compliant with U.S. laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Georgia Tech does not have a policy that prohibits volunteering, but it is important in order to ensure compliance with U.S. laws and institutional hiring policies. We encourage you to contact Georgia Tech’s Human Resources Service Now to request review and approval of the volunteer appointment prior to engaging in any projects associated with your practical training experience.

Q: If I move while my OPT is pending, how can I update my mailing address with USCIS?

A: Once you have received your receipt number, you can use the USCIS My Case Status website to request your mailing address be updated.

Q: Since USCIS is no longer offering in-person services, does that impact OPT processing?

A: No. The USCIS Service Centers are continuing to process OPT requests at this time.

Q: My OPT/STEM OPT is ending and I had planned to return to my home country; however, due to travel restrictions around COVID-19, I am unable to do so. What are my options?

A: Options available for those with upcoming Post-Completion OPT expirations and during your sixty day grace period include the following:

  1. Transfer your SEVIS record to another U.S. college or university prior to the end of your sixty day grace period, and begin a new course of study.
  2. Request to begin a new program of study at Georgia Institute of Technology.  If you have been admitted to a new program at Georgia Tech, you should submit an update using the iStart e-form entitled “Change of Degree Level” within 10 days of the change and no later than 45 days in to your 60-day grace period.  
  3. Apply for a change of visa status under the guidance of a qualified immigration attorney
  4. Contact your Embassy to determine if other options might exist for evacuation.
  5. Consult with a qualified immigration attorney about any challenges you may incur as a result of remaining in the U.S. beyond your grace period.

Q: If I am furloughed, or placed in a period of temporary unpaid leave, while in a period of post-completion OPT, will OIE count this as unemployment time towards the maximum limit?

A: If your employment is not terminated, but rather you are placed in a period of unpaid administrative leave with the expectation that you will return to full time paid employment after the temporary period, you are still maintaining OPT employment. We encourage individuals on Optional Practical Training to consult with a qualified immigration attorney about this question.

Temporary leaves of absence as outlined above do not need to be reported to OIE. However if your employment is terminated by your employer during the furlough/temporary leave period, this must be reported to OIE using the iStart portal. F-1 visa holders participating in 12-month post-completion OPT must complete the OPT Personal Contact/Employment Update and those participating in 24 Month OPT STEM Extensions must complete the Material Change to Employment e-form.

Q: If my employer reduces my OPT employment to less than 20 hours per week due to COVID-19, am I still considered to be maintaining status?

A: Yes, SEVP issued guidance on April 30 that states, “For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT.”

Exchange Visitor Guidance

Q: I’m unable to arrive in the U.S. in time to begin my program, what options are available to support me?

A: You may request to change your program start date and program end date by contacting the HR manager in your host department, who will provide the relevant information to OIE. You will be notified by e-mail once your program start/end date(s) are updated. Please note the following: Georgia Tech’s ability to host J-1 Exchange Visitors is subject to federal, state, and institutional policies. In order to support the research reduction to essential research projects and personnel only, Georgia Tech will postpone inviting J-1 Exchange Visitors to participate in research projects until further notice. The Office of International Education (OIE) will work with departments to update existing requests for J-1 Exchange Visitors to start on or after Sept. 21, 2020. The Sept. 21, 2020 arrival date is subject to change based on federal, state, or institutional policy. All J-1 Exchange Visitors are encouraged to purchase travel insurance to mitigate the risk of financial loss should the ability to host J-1 Exchange Visitors change.

Q: As an Exchange Visitor am I able to move to a remote environment in pursuit of my program objective?

A: All exchange visitors in Active status remaining inside the U.S. will be given the option to pursue program objectives remotely inside the U.S. Exchange Visitors should work with their host supervisors to ensure support for remote work accommodations. Any changes to the research activity such as topic, supervision, and international travel should be reviewed to ensure compliance with US laws and regulations. Please report any changes to OIE and please send a request for an export review to the Office of General Counsel, Counsel - Export and Trade, to asklegal@gatech.edu.

Q: I wish to return home and not continue my EV program, how do I notify OIE of my intent to depart?

A: Please notify your academic department HR coordinator that you wish to end your Exchange Visitor program early. Your academic department will notify OIE of the change to program dates.

Q: How can I request an extension of my program within the maximum duration of status?

A: Each exchange visitor category has a maximum duration of stay outlined within the federal regulations as per the chart below. Exchange Visitors with additional time remaining in the maximum duration of stay who wish to continue program objectives are eligible to request an extension. In order to request an extension, the Exchange Visitor should discuss their request to extend their program with their supervisor. The supervisor will request support from the academic department HR coordinator. The HR coordinator will enter a “J Scholar/Student Intern Extension Request” e-form request and work closely with OIE, Global HR, and the Office of General Counsel to request an extension of program end date within the maximum duration of the Exchange Visitor category. Exchange visitors will need to demonstrate proof of funding and evidence of existing health insurance meeting U.S. Department of State requirements with their request for extension.

Table 1: Maximum Duration of Exchange Visitor Categories

Exchange Visitor Category

Maximum Duration

Professor/Research Scholar

5 years

Short-Term Scholar

6 months

Specialist

1 year

Student Intern

1 year

 

Q: What options exist to remain beyond my program end date?

A: Exchange Visitors are eligible to remain inside the U.S. for 30 days after their program end date, this period of time is referred to as the 30-day grace period. Exchange Visitors are ineligible to continue working during the 30-day grace period, but can travel freely inside the U.S. Once you depart the U.S. in the 30-day grace period, you are ineligible to re-enter the U.S. within the 30-day grace period in J-1 status.

Q: My program ended and I have utilized the 30-day grace period to remain in the U.S.   I want to return home but I cannot.  Flights to my home country are very limited, making it difficult for me to depart the U.S. at the conclusion of the grace period – what are my options? 

A: The U.S. Department of State announced an automatic extension of all Exchange Visitor records ending in March, April, and May. Exchange visitors with program end dates in March will have their program end dates extended through May 31, 2020. An automatic sixty day extension was added to Exchange Visitor program end dates in April and May. OIE will work with the U.S. Department of State to provide support for the process and reprint DS-2019s for those who receive extensions. This is the extent of the information we have available to us at this time. OIE  will reach out to individual exchange visitors with additional details as they become available. 

Q: I left the U.S. for a temporary period and am now unable to return to the U.S. to pursue my program objectives, what options are available to me to keep my SEVIS record in Active status?

Exchange Visitors in the Research Scholars and Professor categories currently outside the U.S. and unable to return will be provided with the option of either extending the period of their personal leave on Out-of-Country Travel Authorization or continuing their research program objectives after a review of Export Control and Global HR related issues. Exchange Visitors in the Professor and Research Scholar category can request support with extending the period of the Out-of-Country Authorization by submitting the “J Scholar Travel Signature” e-form request.  Exchange visitors interested in pursuing research abroad must receive approval for research plans in advance of beginning research with the Office of General Counsel by emailing asklegal@gatech.edu.

Q: I am planning to depart the U.S. and return home for a temporary period, what options are available to me to keep my SEVIS record in Active status?

Exchange Visitors interested in pursuing Out-of-Country travel authorizations during this time should request an Out-of-Country Travel Authorization utilizing the “J Scholar Travel Signature” e-form available at istart.gatech.edu. Temporary exceptions to the 30 day limit on personal travel will be considered during this time to help support Exchange Visitors interested in returning home during the pandemic. Continuing research program objectives while abroad will require approval from Export Control. Please contact asklegal@gatech.edu to request approval of out-of-country research.

Q: I plan to return to the U.S. to pursue my program objectives after a temporary time abroad, will I be required to self-quarantine?

A: Please follow current guidance available at http://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus#faqs

Q: What other responsibilities do I have to maintain status during this temporary move to a remote environment?

A: Exchange visitors must continue to maintain all Exchange Visitor requirements listed here.

Q: How can I request support from OIE with updating my SEVIS record?

A: OIE advisers are continuing to process all benefit requests and updates at this time. Once your request is processed you will receive instructions on how to request shipping. Shipping options include U.S. standard postal service at OIE expense or Express shipping with tracking at your expense.

Q: How can I meet with an OIE adviser during this time?

A: OIE is providing virtual advising services to support international students and scholars. You can organize an appointment with an OIE adviser by visiting the OIE Advising website.

Q:  My J-1 program end date is approaching and my funding support is ending.  Neither I nor my PI have the funds to continue to support an extension and I’m unable to return home due to the current situation.  What are my options?

A: In order to be eligible for an extension of the J-1 program end date, Exchange visitors must demonstrate all of the following evidence:

  • Continued pursuit of original program objectives
  • Adequate financial support for the duration of the extension
  • Proof of insurance coverage meeting U.S. Department of State requirements for the J-1 primary visa holder and any J-2 visa holders

If you are unable to satisfy these conditions you will be ineligible for an extension. Options that exist include the following:

-Transfer to another institution to continue program objectives with funding from that institution prior to the J-1 program end date

-Departure prior to the 30 day grace period after the J-1 program end date

-Change of status within the U.S.

Q: Will I be subject to the 12 month or 24 month bar if I received a J-1 visa but was unable to enter the U.S. due to COVID-19 entry challenges?

A: The 12 and 24 month bar do not apply to individuals with less than 6 months of physical presence inside the U.S. in J-1 status. Because you were unable to enter the U.S. in J-1 status, you will not be subject to these bars. Please contact your host department to request a cancellation of your J-1 SEVIS record.

We encourage you to consult with a qualified immigration attorney if you are unable to pursue the options above and need additional support.

Q: Will it be possible for me to change my status within the U.S. if I am subject to 212(e)?

A: Individuals subject to 212(e) are required to receive approval for a waiver of this requirement from their home country and the U.S. government before they are eligible to apply for a change of status within the U.S. Georgia Tech is unable to provide legal counsel on the waiver application or change of status process to Exchange Visitors. 

 

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