Coronavirus (COVID 19) Information for International Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Information about Campus Operations

While all university updates related to COVID-19 continue to be posted at the university’s main response page U of A Coronavirus (COVID 19) page, we are adding specific details here as well that are related uniquely to our international students and scholars.

Yes, but you must email housing to let them know you plan to stay on campus. Please email housing@uark.edu.

For questions about how COVID-19 is affecting visa holders, please see the FAQ sections below. For other updates and information about the disease and the university’s response, visit the University of Arkansas COVID-19 webpage.

Student Visa Holders

Yes. If you are enrolled full-time in classes this spring semester then you are still considered in good immigration status. This does not change even though the courses are moved to online. Due to this unprecedented situation, an exception is being made for students to complete their spring courses online while continuing to remain in the U.S. (or if returning home to complete courses online).

Please note that you must remain enrolled in your spring semester classes. If you choose to drop below full time this could negatively impact your immigration status. Please contact the International Students and Scholars office to discuss your options BEFORE you drop a class or withdraw from the University of Arkansas.

Questions to Ask Yourself if Returning Home:
  • Are you able to access the technology used at the U of A for online coursework in your home country (e.g., BlackBoard, Zoom)? Will you require a VPN to access it?
  • Have you considered the difference in time zones between Arkansas and your home country?
    • For example, if your professor chooses to keep the same class time and date but will hold the class virtually, and you will still need to participate fully as if you were physically in the classroom. Also, keep in mind the time zone impacts of this. Discuss these concerns directly with your professor, and receive confirmation prior to travel.
  • Is your passport valid for a return in August? Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your return date to the U.S.
  • Is your visa still valid for a return in August?
    • Be mindful that US Embassies and Consulates are currently CLOSED for routine visa processing, and that we anticipate significant delays in renewing your visa.
  • Does your I-20 have a recent travel signature that has been signed AFTER September 1, 2019? If not, you need to have a new travel signature from our office. Visit our website for further instructions.
  • Is this your last semester? If so, then please contact ISS by chat, Monday through Friday at 8:30, 11:00 (except Wednesdays), noon or 4:00.
  • Have you reviewed the University's COVID-19 webpage?
  • Have you discussed the potential risks associated with travel with your family back home?

Please Be Aware: We do not know how long any travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place. If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return. If your travel is related to your academic program, please consult your department or academic advisor about your travel plans.

If you have questions, our office advising team is available to answer your questions through chat , Monday-Friday, 8:30, 11:00 (except Wednesdays), noon or 4:00 or by phone appointment.

Essential functions will remain open at this time.   Our advising/compliance area will be partially staffed in person, while most of our staff will continue working from home.  We will continue to check office mail daily to the extent possible, and notify students when they have mail or documents to be picked up at the office.  Designated pickup hours are from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and documents will be passed to students under the advising area door to avoid contact. Information is subject to change and we will update our office availability as new information comes in.

As of April 7, 2020, all advising appointments will be conducted by phone or videoconferencing (Microsoft Teams).  If you have a question please call 479-575-5003 or contact an advisor via our extended online chat hours at 8:30, 11:00 (except Wednesdays), noon or 4:00.

If you leave the U.S. and then plan to reenter then you will need to renew your F-1 visa. If you plan to remain in U.S. then you do not need to renew your F-1 visa.

We do not know how long travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place. If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return. If your travel is related to your academic program, please consult your department or academic advisor about your travel plans.

No, ISS does not recommend returning home if you plan to apply for Post-Completion OPT. You will not be able to return to the U.S. past the program end date on your I-20 if you have not applied for Post-Completion OPT. If you have questions, please request an appointment with an ISS advisor at http://uaiss.setmore.com

Our office will remain open on a limited basis for students to pick up their documents. Designated pick up times will be from 1:00 to 4:00, Monday through Friday; to minimize contact, documents will be passed to students under the advising area door.  You will be notified through your university email account when your documents are ready for pick-up. If you do not receive an email to pick up your documents, contact our office by phone, 479-575-5003.  If you have questions, make a phone appointment with one of our advisors or contact us by chat Monday through Friday at 8:30, 11:00 (except Wednesdays), noon or 4:00. 

Please note that our office will work to expedite documents as quickly as possible during this time, but our normal processing times will remain in effect.

To request express mail service, go to the eShipGlobal website at: https://study.eshipglobal.com The site works best with Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox browsers. Do not go to the DHL or FedEx sites directly. You will be required to create your own username and password in order to create an account.

Be sure you have the following items ready:

  • Your university ID
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Credit card information
  • Chose Department/Contact “International Students and Scholars” as the sender upon completing your request.

eShipGlobal will send you an email that includes a tracking number for your shipment. If you experience any problems when using the online service, please use the help feature on their website.

Please note: Information is subject to change and we will update our office availability as new information comes in.

Scholar Visa Holders

Contact your host department and ISS. Additionally, we recommend monitoring the news, airline travel information and this page for updates.

If you are able to continue to collaborate with your supervisor and make progress in your goals, you will be able to maintain your status, even if you are located off-campus.

We do not know how long these travel restrictions will last and what additional countries may be added to the restrictions already in place. If you decide to travel, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised that you might not be able to return to the U.S. for an unknown period of time, your trip could be disrupted, or you may be quarantined upon your return.

  • If you depart the U.S. and are still able to collaborate with your supervisor and make progress in your goals, you will be able to maintain your status. If you will be outside of the U.S. for more than 30 days and are eligible for a Temporary Absence, you will be able to maintain your status. This would be considered a continuation of your program activities. Please note: You must have a valid J-1 visa to re-enter the U.S. after a temporary absence.
  • If your program activities (such as research, observation, teaching, and/or collaboration) are suspended, your program will be considered complete, and you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. on your current J-1 visa. Upon return for a new J-1 exchange program, you may be subject to a 12 or 24-month bar. Some exchange visitors will also be subject to the 212(e) home residency requirement, which would impact anyone interested in an H-1b visa or legal permanent residence (green card).

If you leave permanently without an intent to return, but still plan to collaborate with your department while abroad, please submit a “Departure Request Form” e-form through issLink. Although you can still pursue your program objective while abroad, you will not be able to return to the U.S. on your current J-1 visa.