Fall 2020 International Student FAQ

This FAQ is based on the information we have available as of July 30. New information will be added as it becomes available.


What is GW’s plan for the fall semester?

On July 27, GW made the difficult decision to hold undergraduate courses online for the fall semester, with some exceptions. Additionally, most graduate programs will be conducted online, with certain programs holding discipline-specific in-person classes. As such, the university will not be 100 percent online. More information can be found here.


I am a J-1 student. Can I take online coursework this fall?

The Department of State continues to accept online coursework for J-1 students that remain in active SEVIS status. J-1 students taking coursework online outside of the U.S. will continue to have an active SEVIS record until they are able to return to the U.S. to continue program objectives. Please be mindful of the validity dates of your J-1 visa; you may need to renew it before returning to the U.S. if it expires while you are abroad. More information for J-1 visa holders can be found here.


I am a new F-1 student in initial status in the United States. Can I attend coursework this fall at GW? 

If you will be physically present as an F-1 student in the United States for the fall 2020 semester, you must be enrolled in at least one in-person course at GW. Please work with your Academic Advisor or School to determine in-person coursework opportunities. If you cannot enroll in in-person coursework, you will be out of status, and need to depart the U.S.


I am a new initial student outside of the United States. Will my F-1 status be active if I do not come to the U.S. for coursework this fall?

No, under current guidance if you do not enter the U.S. your F-1 record will not be activated until you enter the U.S. If new information becomes available, we will share it as soon as possible. If you are outside the U.S., you may still enroll in online courses if your program allows it, but you will not have a non-immigration F status until you enter the U.S.


I am a transfer student. What do I need to know?

Transfer students coming to the U.S. for the fall 2020 semester: If you were actively enrolled since March 9, 2020 in any U.S. institution, and otherwise maintained status, then you are considered to be in continuing F-1 status, and can enroll in online coursework at GW while in the U.S. with no limitation.

Transfer students inside the U.S.: Transfer students inside the U.S. must complete the check in process through isogateway within 15 days of your program start date.
If you were actively enrolled since March 9, 2020 in any U.S. institution, and otherwise maintained status, then you are considered to be in continuing F-1 status, and can enroll in online coursework while in the U.S. with no limitation.

Transfer students who will remain outside of the U.S.: For students outside of the U.S. who are currently in initial Transfer status and who will remain outside the U.S., please contact the ISO to arrange a record correction with DHS when you decide to enter. The time period for correction may vary and is outside of the ISO’s control. We encourage you to not book flights to the U.S. until the correction is approved. If new information becomes available, we will share it as soon as possible.


How will the five-month rule apply to student transfers?

Current DHS guidance notes that the five-month rule related to student transfers will not apply to students affected by COVID-19. For transfer students that exceed the five-month period, please contact the ISO to arrange a record correction with DHS. The time period for correction may vary and is outside of the ISOs control. We encourage you to not book flights to the U.S. until the correction is approved. If new information becomes available, we will share it as soon as possible.


I am student changing academic levels. What do I need to know?

Students changing academic levels who were actively enrolled as an F-1 student on March 9, 2020, and who have otherwise maintained status are considered to be in continuing F-1 status, and can enroll in online coursework while in the U.S., with no limitation.


I am a continuing student in the United States and am otherwise maintaining F-1 status. Can I enroll in online coursework this fall?

Yes, per the current guidance in place, you can enroll in online coursework with no limitation as long as you have not otherwise violated status since March 9, 2020.


I am a continuing student outside of the United States. If I enroll in online coursework and remain outside of the United States, will my F-1 status remain active?

If you are a continuing student who decides to remain abroad for fall 2020 and continue coursework online, your F-1 status is considered to be active under current DHS guidance. If new information becomes available, we will share it as soon as possible.


If I begin my full course of study from outside the United States, can I count that time towards the CPT or OPT 1 year requirement?

An F student accrues eligibility for practical training whether they are inside or outside of the U.S. during the COVID-19 emergency if the student is in Active status in SEVIS.


How can I tell if a class is going to be in person or virtual?

This information is made available to students in the schedule of classes through the meeting location fields or on Banner. In-person classes note the physical location of the class meeting. Courses offered virtually only, are designated as REMOTE INSTR.


I am a continuing international student and am considering taking a leave of absence for fall semester 2020. Is this possible?

Yes, this is possible. After you consult with your Academic Advisor to determine if a leave of absence is possible, please contact your ISO Advisor for guidance on how to handle this process in regards to your immigration record.

Undergraduate Students

Incoming international undergraduate students should work with the academic advising team in their school to select courses that meet their needs, whether that is on campus or online for the fall 2020 semester.

Graduate Students 
For your fall 2020 semester, our schools/colleges have different options for graduate students to accommodate starting from abroad. Please consult your school or see below for more information:

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Elliott School of International Affairs

School of Business

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

GW Law School

Graduate School of Education and Human Development
Milken Institute School of Public Health

 

Travel and Visa Questions

Will my current and valid F-1 visa stamp be cancelled if I am studying from my home country in fall 2020?

No. If you have a valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport, your visa should not be cancelled or revoked because you are studying from your home country.


My F-1 visa stamp is expiring/expired and I am in the U.S. I am currently unable to travel to my home country. What should I do to renew it?

The F-1 visa stamp does not control your stay in the U.S. The Form I-20 controls how long you can stay based on your program end date and/or OPT/STEM OPT recommendations. The F-1 visa stamp is only is a document used to enter the US and must be valid when entering the U.S. It does not matter if it expires while you are in the U.S. You will only need to obtain a new visa stamp to reenter the U.S. after traveling internationally. You can only renew an F-1 visa from outside the U.S. Please note that Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S.


Can I re-enter the U.S. on an expired F-1 visa stamp?

No. Your F-1 visa must be valid at the time you enter the U.S. 


Which countries are prohibited from entry to the United States due to COVID-19?

The U.S. Center for Disease Control maintains the list of prohibited travelers. After arriving to the United States from one of these countries, the CDC recommends that travelers stay home and monitor their health for 14 days.


What are GW’s plans for testing returning international students (and/or U.S. Citizens) living abroad?

GW intends to have COVID-19 testing available on arrival to campus for the community. Anyone who tests positive will receive guidance about specific steps to take from the D.C. Department of Health (or local health department where you reside, e.g., Virginia or Maryland). The University’s Campus COVID Support Team (CCST) will reach out to offer assistance and can help answer questions and provide support as well.

Anyone who tests positive will be required to isolate. Students who live in residence halls on campus will be housed in a separate facility reserved solely for isolation. Off-campus students will isolate in their residence.

The U.S. government may require those traveling from abroad to quarantine for some period of time. In general, both on and off-campus students will quarantine in their residence. The CCST will work with students to provide any support necessary during that time.