COVID-19 Update

The Office of Global Services (OGS) has prepared the following information regarding Northeastern University’s decision to move to online and remote learning in response to the global COVID-19 outbreak.

For current international students in the US, online study and remote practical training is considered an F1 accommodation that has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) on a temporary basis due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  This means:

  • You can study full-time online in the US and stay in good standing.
  • If you decide to return to your home country or leave the US (you need to submit a Travel Request for COVID-19 e-form), you can do so. We highly recommend you review current global public health advisories and keep track of any travel restrictions in place. Please also consider your ability to access online learning, travel limitations, and remember that this is an evolving situation that is subject to change.
  • You can engage in remote practical training or make other arrangements for successful completion with your employer’s approval.

OGS recognizes that this evolving health crisis is a stressful situation for our international student community. We will support and respect your decision on how best to complete your academic term—either staying in the U.S. or returning to your home country.

Helpful Resources:

If you are in need of immediate assistance, please call the NUPD non-emergency dispatch number at 617-373-2121. The NUPD 24/7 operator will connect you with an international support team member.  

Incoming Students

If I am a new or initial incoming F-1 student what are my options?

If already in the U.S., new students (including transfer students) holding active F-1 status can begin their studies at Northeastern with online classes for the upcoming academic terms due to the current COVID-19 F-1 accommodations.

 

Can a student receive an electronically signed I-20 while they are waiting for their I-20 in the mail?

No. Due to the updated COVID-19 guidance from SEVP and USCIS, OGS’ process is to use electronic signatures effective April 3, 2020.

International students can contact their OGS advisor at OGS@northeastern.edu or email OGS at OGSCoronavirusResponse@northeastern.edu for any specific COVID-19 requests or questions.

Please note: that the new COVID-19 F-1 accommodations do not apply to new or initial F-1 students who are outside of the U.S. and do not currently hold active F-1 status.

 

What if I am delayed in getting my F-1 visa?

Visa appointments and Embassy operations will different from country to country. If a student is unable to get a visa in time to begin their program on-ground in the U.S., they have two options:

  • Defer their program start date
  • Start program of study outside of the U.S. online, and apply for an F-1 visa for Spring 2021.

NUflex planning is in progress, and this may be an option for you. We are waiting for SEVP guidance on how the new academic model will be recognized.

Current Students

Since F-1 students are required to maintain full-time status with majority of courses offered on-ground, does the University’s transition to online delivery affect my visa status as a current student in the US?

During the COVID-19 F-1 accommodation period, current students in the US can take online or remote courses to maintain full-time status in their academic term because the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has approved this on a temporary basis due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This means you can study full-time online in the US and stay in good standing.

 

Am I able to leave campus and complete my classes from my home country?

If you decide to return to your home country or leave the U.S., you can do so. We highly recommend you review current global public health advisories and keep track of any travel restrictions in place. Please also consider your ability to access online learning, travel limitations, and remember that this is an evolving situation that is subject to change. Please review current travel advisories at www.travel.state.gov.

 

What do I need to do before I leave my Northeastern campus?

  • It is imperative that you inform the University and OGS of your travel plans – both domestic and international.
    • Complete the ***Travel Request for COVID-19*** e-form in myOGS.
    • This form, including updated contact and address information, is required for you and the university to document your F-1 accommodation.
  • Make sure that your passport and F-1 visa stamp will be valid for your expected date of return.
    • You should also check if you have a valid travel signature on your I-20. Travel signatures are valid for one year while enrolled in classes, or until your program end date. While on Post-Completion OPT, your travel signature is valid for six months from the date signed. Remember you do not need a new travel signature for each time you travel.
    • To request a travel signature—please log in to myOGS and complete the e-form request. Requests will be will be approved as soon as possible. Remember you only need a travel signature to return to the US. Please complete the travel signature e-form request and follow the instructions for requesting OGS to mail your I-20.
    •  For any additional questions on travel email OGSCoronaVirusResponse@northeastern.edu and include F-1 visa student in the subject line. Please review current travel advisories at www.travel.state.gov.
  • When the university resumes normal operations, you should prepare to return to campus for on-ground study by the start of the next academic term.

 

What is the difference between a Travel Request for COVID-19 and a Travel Signature Request?

  • If you are leaving the US because of the special COVID-19 accommodation, you will need to use the Travel Request for COVID-19. This form is a required procedure for you and the university to document your F1 accommodations.
  • It is important to provide current contact and address information.
  • If you need to renew a travel signature on the I-20, then complete a Travel Signature Request.

 

If I leave the U.S., are there any restrictions on being able to return to campus for the next academic term?

If you decide to return to your home country or leave the US, you can do so. We highly recommend you review current global public health advisories and keep track of any travel restrictions in place. Please also consider your ability to access online learning, travel limitations, and remember that this is an evolving situation that is subject to change. Please see important travel advisory information here.

Please contact OGS to discuss your specific situation or any questions related to registration, maintaining F-1 status, or requesting a non-medical leave of absence via email at OGSCoronaVirusResponse@northeastern.edu.

 

If I am outside of the U.S. for longer than five months, will that violate my F-1 status?

Current F-1 regulations state that students may reenter the U.S. after a temporary absence of no longer than five months. However, the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) continues to issue updated guidance, confirming that international students maintaining active status will not be subject to the five-month temporary absence rule. There is also an exception for students enrolled in an approved full-time study abroad program. Since you are considered to be enrolled at Northeastern University, you can be outside of the U.S. for the remainder of Spring semester/ Winter and Spring quarters as well as Summer terms during the COVID-19 F-1 accommodation period.

Please remember that this is an evolving situation that is subject to change and OGS will provide updated guidance. For any further questions or to discuss your unique situation, please contact your OGS advisor at OGS@northeastern.edu so that the university is able to comprehensively advise and support you with your travel plans.

 

Will any action be taken on my SEVIS record?

During this temporary COVID-19 F-1 accommodation period, your F-1 record will not be impacted because you are taking online courses or engaging in remote practical training as a current student. This COVID-19 F-1 accommodation period currently applies through Summer 1 academic term.

To be eligible for the COVID-19 F-1 student accommodations, please be sure submit the Travel Request for COVID-19 e-form. It is important to provide current contact and address information.

 

What do I need to know if I am graduating or my I-20 is expiring soon?

You may need to complete several tasks before you depart the U.S. if you intend to return. If you need to update your programend date listed on your I-20, or if you want to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), please complete these processes before departing so that when you return you will have an I-20 that is up to date and reflects your academic intentions. Please keep in mind that OPT is adjudicated by USCIS. OGS will share updated guidance from USCIS when they become available. The university continues to advocate for relief from the federal government’s regulatory requirements to support our international students.

Please remember that this is an evolving situation that is subject to change and OGS will continue to share updated guidance. For any further questions or to discuss your unique situation, please contact your OGS advisor at OGS@northeastern.edu so that the university is able to comprehensively advise and support you with your travel plans.

 

I do not want to return home right now—can I stay on campus?

Northeastern University has requested that all students who reside in Northeastern residence halls in Boston complete their end of semester move-out no later than Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

Campus housing will remain closed through the end of Summer I—except for those with special circumstances, who may remain until the end of the Spring semester. A decision about Summer II campus housing availability will be communicated later this Spring.

Special circumstances: Any student who is concerned about their ability to move out by Tuesday—or has other concerns— should email wecare@northeastern.edu. They can also call the university’s call center at 617-373-2000.

We are fully aware that international students will have particular challenges based on the circumstances in their home countries and new travel restrictions. Like all students with specific hardships, international students can petition the university toremain in residence halls; each case will receive individual attention.

All university wide messaging can be found here.

 

Will I have any problems returning to the U.S. when the university resumes on-ground classes?

Please make sure that you are eligible and have valid travel documents (passport, F-1 visa, I-20 with travel signature) when you return to the U.S. Please continue to follow updates regarding travel and visa issuance at www.travel.state.gov

 

There are no travel restrictions stopping me from returning to the U.S. Can I return soon?

If you are able to travel, it is your choice to return. Please be advised that while the university’s operations are remote/online, you may not have access to campus buildings, labs, etc. Please register your travel through the Travel Registry to keep us informed of your intended arrival in the U.S.

 

What travel considerations do I need to have, if I am a Ph.D. student?

If you are a Ph.D. student and planning to conduct research abroad during COVID-19, please visit the Ph.D. Network page before you finalize your travel abroad.

 

If students take online classes from their respective countries, do they still need a student visa and if not what will be the conditions of the visa?

Please stay tuned for SEVP guidance on the Fall academic term. We will post updates on our website as soon as it becomes available.

 

Am I eligible for CARES ACT funding? 

The CARES Act can be claimed by US citizens, permanent residents and residents for tax purposes (individuals who can pass the Substantial Presence Test) who have a valid Social Security Number (SSN) and who have filed their 2018 tax return (in 2019), or their 2019 return (in 2020) and who will be considered a qualifying resident alien for the 2020 tax year.

 Nonresident aliens are not eligible to receive this stimulus.

If you received funding from the CARES act, you may have mistakenly filed as a resident. If this is the case, you may have to return the money to the Internal Revenue Service.

Please contact the Sprintax live chat with any tax-related questions.

Please see our tax page for more info about this topic.

 

Employment Authorization

I am currently on Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Can I participate in remote practical training and do I need to report changes to my practical training due to COVID-19?

Yes. You can participate remotely in practical training working with your employer to review available options.

OGS has created easy ways for F-1 students on co-op or OPT to report updated accommodation information (e.g. updated worksite location) during the current COVID-19 public health emergency. Please report all changes on the CPT Update Form. This form is a required procedure for you and the university to document your F1 accommodations.

 

I am currently on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). Are there any accommodations if I am not able to work and exceed my 90-day limit on unemployment?

The Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has recognized that the spread of COVID-19 may impact students engaging in OPT. Changes to workplace requirements may impact international students engaging in practical training. SEVP encourages such students to consult with their employer to seek alternative ways to maintain employment, suchas teleworking or other arrangements. Please fill out the accommodations for students on practical training e-form. This form is a required procedure for you and the university to document your F1 accommodations.

* Please remember that this is an evolving situation that is subject to change.

 

If students enroll online for the Fall term, what will be the eligibility criteria for co-op?

We are waiting for SEVP guidance on CPT eligibility on Fall 2020 accommodations for COVID-19 and NUflex.

Generally, an F-1 student must have completed at least one academic year of full-time enrollment, which is defined as two full-time semesters or three full-time quarters on-ground. More information about CPT eligibility can be found here.

If a student cannot get an F-1 visa for their Fall 2020 program start date, they should contact OGS for the most recent SEVP guidance. OGS will post information on our website as soon as it becomes available.

Contact OGS

Contact Information

405 Ell Hall
+1-617-373-2310
ogs@northeastern.edu
OGSCoronaVirusResponse@northeastern.edu

Office Hours

During this temporary transition:
Starting Monday March 23, OGS will be offering remote services only.

Phone Hours

Monday-Friday:
8:30am to 5:00pm
Please note: Phone lines are closed on
Tuesday from 3:00pm to 4:00pm and
Fridays from 8:30am to 10:30am