Changes Due to Coronavirus (COVID 19)

Common Questions Regarding Spring 2021 Enrollment and F-1 Immigration Status

Information About Campus Operations

On December 14, 2020, Homeland Security issued guidance regarding enrollment requirements for the Spring 2021 semester. If you will be in the United States for the Spring 2021 semester, you must enroll in a full course of study (12 hours for undergrad, 9 hours for graduate students, and 6 hours for graduate students with a 50% graduate assistantship). If you were in F-1 status on March 9, 2020 and have maintained status ever since, you will be allowed to enroll in 100% on-line/remote courses, either while in the United States or studying outside the U.S. Full-time enrollment will help you maintain your F-1 status during the Spring 2021 semester. If you were not in F-1 status on March 9 or you failed to maintain F-1 status and are re-entering the United States to regain F-1 status, you must enroll in at least one in-person course for the Spring 2021 semester. The mode of classroom instruction is clearly indicated on the class schedule in UAConnect, the University of Arkansas student information system. If you are outside the United States, you may enroll in online or remote courses. Remote enrollment may not be available in all countries. Please check with to have ISS inquire if your country allows on-line education from the U.S. Clarifying Questions for Spring 2021 Based On March 9 Spring Guidance Broadcast

Yes, absolutely! These programs will continue to provide opportunities for involvement in virtual ways during the spring 2021 semester. We encourage you to participate!

The University of Arkansas has a Catastrophic Fund for International Students to which you should apply. F-1 students may qualify for Economic Hardship employment authorization, if they are approved by USCIS. For more information, please see Economic Hardship . J-1 students may also qualify for similar hardship employment authorization. They should contact the program advisor at their Exchange Visitor program for more information.

 Find the latest updates and guidance for the campus community in one place online

Students or Scholars Traveling to Campus from Another Country

Although some protective supplies will be provided to each student, we encourage you to bring a supply of face coverings/masks, a thermometer, sanitizing/disinfecting wipes, and other supplies you need to feel safe in a university environment since such supplies can be hard to find at this time in the local marketplace.

Please ensure that you arrive in Fayetteville, Arkansas by the morning of Friday, January 15, 2020. If you are not able to enter the U.S. by that date, we encourage you to defer to the summer or fall 2021 semester. Please read the FAQ below regarding the process to defer.

You can also explore the possibility of enrolling in remote offered classes. Email and provide your name, your program of study, country in which you will be studying remotely, if you have a graduate assistantship and if you are a sponsored student. This information will be used to determine if the country in which you are studying allows remote learning for the U of A.

Graduate students with a graduate assistantship should contact their Academic Advisor or Graduate Coordinator immediately. See below for the process of beginning your assistantship while you are in your home country. If you are not eligible for this option, you need to discuss with your department the possibility of arriving later in the semester. This will require you to register full time so that when you enter the U.S. you will be maintaining your student status. Late arrivals are not a possibility for undergraduate students or graduate students without assistantships.

Please see the Centers for Disease Control’s website for details about the COVID entry ban. There is an exception for F-1 students to this ban. The U.S. State Department issued a statement that F-1 students may qualify for a blanket exception if you are coming from, or transiting through, European countries. J-1 Exchange Visitors will still need to seek an exception from the visa office. Please print a copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection guidance to carry with your I-20 in case there are questions at the port of entry about your arrival from Europe.

For newly admitted international students, international student orientation will be offered both in-person and virtually. You can find the details on-line. As a new student, if you will be enrolling while living in the United States, you must first attend Immigration Basics. You must register for immigration basics session in your University of Arkansas Admission Portal. Before you attend immigration basics, please confirm that you have uploaded a copy of your passport, visa, I-94, and SIGNED I-20 or DS-2019 in your isslink account. For all students, both new and continuing, you need to check your UAConnect account to see if there are any holds that must be resolved before you can enroll. If you are unsure about a hold, please email for details.

Graduate students should email with the request to defer their acceptance for one consecutive semester, and in some cases it can be one consecutive academic year.

Undergraduate students should follow these instructions: Submit your deferral request to International Admissions at Your message should describe your request, your full name and University of Arkansas student ID, the term to which you wish to defer your admission (ex. Spring 2021 to Fall 2021), and the reason for your request. Please reference "deferral request" in the email subject line.

If you will not be able to arrive to the United States before the start date of your assistantship, you must discuss your options with the department. If your duties are such that they can be fufilled remotely, then your department should contact Shelly Gahagans ( AND Curt Rom ( The final decision rests with the institution whether you will be able to work remotely or need to defer to a semester in which you reside in the United States.

General guidelines are:

  1. We will allow international graduate students on assistantships to enroll and work remotely out-of-country on an assistantship as long as we can confirm all of the following:
    • The student has an active and functioning U.S. bank account
    • The student has a U.S. Social Security number
    • The UA background check for the student is current or has been requested
  2. We will continue to enforce the Graduate School enrollment requirements for these students.
  3. Per current policy, students who do not meet the above criteria may enroll with a full tuition waiver if they arrive and are appointed to an assistantship by Tuesday, March 2, 2020. If the student is not able to be appointed to the graduate assistantship per above policy prior to March 2, 2020, the student will be responsible for paying tuition and fees. If the out-of-country student chooses to withdraw at that time, we will be willing to request that tuition and fees be waived. However, we do not have the authority to guarantee that.
  4. Graduate students enrolling late may not have access to the graduate assistant student health insurance benefit for that semester after March 31. International students will have to pay the full semester insurance fee if they are in the United States and miss March 31 deadline to opt in for this employment benefit.

Requests for exceptions to these guidelines will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Non-COVID Issues: Student Visa Holders

As of December 15, 2020, this has not happened. There are rumors that some changes may be coming to OPT; however, nothing has happened yet. If changes occur, we will announce these accordingly.

Yes, some graduate students and researchers may be affected by a proclamation issued by the president in June, 2020. For more information, please see Proclamation Suspending Entry of Chinese Students and Researchers Connected to PRC “Military-Civil Fusion Strategy"

Non-COVID Issues: Scholar Visa Holders

Yes, some graduate students and researchers may be affected by a proclamation issued by the president in June, 2020. For more information, please see Proclamation Suspending Entry of Chinese Students and Researchers Connected to PRC “Military-Civil Fusion Strategy"

Yes, we are. However, bear in mind that it may take a long time for you to obtain a visa and/or enter the United States, due to travel restrictions which are subject to change at any time.