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March 15, 2020: Message to International Students from Dean of International Education

Communication from Mark Daly, Dean of International Education

March 15, 2020

Dear students,

We are sending more information in response to questions we have received.

We understand that some of you are making a difficult decision whether to stay in Emporia and continue classes online or return to your home country and study from there. You should consider several factors including your personal situation, any health or financial concerns, and your ability to access the internet to complete your coursework. 

Given the quickly developing situation and the possibility of further international travel restrictions, we cannot guarantee that you will be allowed to reenter the U.S. to continue studies in the fall semester if you decide to return to your home country now.   

However, if you do decide to return to your home country, you should do the following: 

  • Get your I-20 signed in the OIE before you leave the U.S. 
  • Make sure your passport is valid for six months beyond the date you plan to return to the U.S 
  • Check that the F-1 visa stamp in your passport will be valid for when you plan to return  

F-1 immigration regulations explain that students may reenter the U.S. after a temporary absence of five months or less. There is an exception to this rule for students who are enrolled in approved full-time study abroad. At this time, we believe that, according to the recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, students who choose to return home and continue their studies online will be able to maintain their student status even if they are outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months.  

It's important to consider, however, that if you cannot return to full-time study in the U.S. for the fall semester you would be required to take a leave of absence, which may cause an interruption of your F-1 student status. In this case, you may need a new I-20 and you would not be eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) until you have been in the U.S. in F-1 student status for two full semesters.  You will receive communication from the OIE throughout the summer, and we encourage you to contact us to discuss your individual situation. 

Please refer to the most recent guidance from SEVP and Study in the States when making your decisions. 

Once you make your final decision, please email us your travel plans and help us to support you as much as we can during this challenging time.

Thank you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with question or concerns.  

Best regards,  
Mark Daly