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CIS Email Updates

These updates were sent from the College of International Studies to international students and other members of the international community.

Spring 2021 Enrollment Guidance

December 16, 2020

Dear international students,
 
On December 14, OU ISS received confirmation from SEVP that guidance for Spring 2021 international student enrollment would remain the same as it was for fall 2020. This means that we are still following the March 2020 guidance. According to the March guidance, the following enrollment will be permitted for the Spring 2021 semester:
 
Continuing students who were physically present in the US on March 9, 2020:

  • If you will enroll from inside the US, you can enroll in any combination of in-person and online coursework, including all online coursework. You will need to otherwise meet F-1 enrollment requirements by maintaining the usual minimum number of credit hours – 12 hours for undergraduate students, 9 hours for graduate students, and 5 hours for graduate students with 0.5 FTE Graduate Assistantships.
  • If you will enroll from outside the US, you can maintain an active SEVIS record if you continue to enroll in the minimum number of credit hours online from abroad. Students who are in their last semester and who plan to apply for OPT should contact their ISS advisor now to discuss their application.

 
Continuing students who arrived in the US with an initial I-20 after March 9, 2020:

  • If you will enroll from inside the US, you must enroll in at least one in-person course if you wish to remain in the US for the Spring 2021 semester.
  • If you will enroll from outside the US, OU ISS cannot keep your SEVIS record active for the Spring 2021 semester. Because you will not have an active SEVIS record, you will not have minimum enrollment requirements to meet. Please contact your ISS advisor now to discuss your plans.

 
New students starting in the Spring 2021 semester:

  • If you will enroll from inside the US, you must enroll in at least one in-person course. Please note that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program is permitting new students to start their programs at hybrid schools inside the US, but cannot guarantee the issuance of a student visa nor entrance into the country. Visa issuance and entry into the US are determined by the Department of State and Customs and Border Protection respectively. Please also note that the University of Oklahoma has set February 15 as the last date that new international students can arrive to campus in order to start the Spring 2021 semester.
  • If you will begin your program online from outside the US, you will not have an active SEVIS record until you arrive to the US so you do not need to maintain a minimum number of credit hours. (Undergraduate students on academic scholarship must enroll in at least 12 credit hours to maintain scholarship eligibility.)

 
If you have questions, or if your enrollment does not meet one of the above scenarios, please contact ISS as soon as possible for advice.
 
Sincerely,
 
International Student Services
Farzaneh Hall Room 144 | 729 Elm Avenue, Norman, OK 73019
405.325.3337 | ou.edu/issiadvise.ou.edu/iss

Winter break survey

December 9, 2020

Dear students,

ISS continues to plan for the Winter Break and upcoming spring semester. Please complete a 2 minute survey at the following link to help us know how best to serve you.

https://ousurvey.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7WXrVlJpuCGAaNL

 

Thank you!

International Student Services

Tips for Travel, Graduation, or Extension

December 7, 2020

Good luck with your final exams and projects!

All administrative offices at the University of Oklahoma, including International Student Services, will close for the winter break the afternoon of Wednesday, December 23, 2020 and will reopen January 4, 2021.

Traveling during the break?
Travel outside of the U.S. requires a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 to return to the U.S. Travel signatures are valid for 6 months after the signature date. Submit travel signature requests to our office at least 3 days before the break. More information on travel and visa renewal. Also review our Coronavirus travel information.

Due to the pandemic, you must request a replacement I-20 for travel to receive a travel signature. Click here to complete the request.

Graduating this semester?
Graduation means your immigration status in the US will expire at the end of your grace period (60 days after graduation for F-1 students and 30 days after graduation for J-1 students).

Before the last day of your grace period, you must do one of the following:

  • Apply for post-completion work authorization (OPT or AT)
  • Be admitted to and receive an I-20 or DS-2019 for a new degree program in the US
  • Depart the US
    • Complete the Departure Form to allow us to properly close your immigration record.


Need more time on your I-20 or DS-2019?
Request an Extension of Stay. For academic extensions, we must contact your academic advisor; make sure your academic advisor is available to respond to our inquiry. We **cannot** extend your I-20 or DS-2019 after it expires.

Let us know if you have questions. Happy holidays!

International Student Services
David L. Boren College of International Studies
Farzaneh Hall Room 144 | 405.325.3337

International Student Town Hall

November 24, 2020

Please join us for an International Student Town Hall today from 2:30-3:30. Panelists include Dean Fritzen, Associate Dean Cruise, ISS Director Robyn Rojas, IFSS Director and immigration attorney Nima Zecavati, and International Student Coordinator Luis Salvatierra from Housing. Special guest Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU’s Chief COVID officer, will also join us for the first half of the meeting. 

Zoom link: https://oklahoma.zoom.us/j/93654906658?pwd=ZkdMYnRicWxWWmlGbUhpMkdHbVpUdz09
Meeting ID: 936 5490 6658
Passcode: 0SyVsR19

We hope you can join us!

International Student Services
Farzaneh Hall Room 144 | 729 Elm Ave., Norman, OK 73019
405.325.3337 | ou.edu/iss | iadvise.ou.edu/iss

 

Travel Information for International Students

October 23, 2020

Dear students,

Many of you may be planning to travel outside the US between Thanksgiving and the start of the spring semester. Since the pandemic situation and travel restrictions can change quickly, we advise you to make any travel plans with caution.

If you decide to travel, please check for any updates of travel restrictions of the countries and areas you are traveling to and from (including the locations you may have a layover). In case of new visa/flight/travel restrictions, we encourage you to make a backup plan for returning to the US or continuing your classes abroad.

Helpful resources

Travel documents

  • Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your return date to the US.
  • Visa: If your student visa will expire before you return to the US, you must apply for a new visa. For more information, see our page on Visa Delays.
  • I-20 or DS-2019: You don’t need a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 when you depart the U.S. However, you will need a travel signature at the time you reenter the US. If you leave the US before getting a travel signature, please request a Replacement I-20/DS-2019 (select "travel" as the reason for request). You can choose to receive an electronic I-20 by email or a physical I-20 or DS-2019  by courier service. For more information, see our page on Mail and Document Pickup.
  • If this is your last semester and you are planning to apply for Optional Practical Training, apply while you are still in the US. Also see OPT Concerns for additional information about applying for OPT in this unusual situation, and contact your ISS advisor if you have questions. 
  • If you are currently authorized for OPT/STEM, you are allowed to travel outside the US but might face additional scrutiny at a visa appointment or at the US border. Please review our list of recommended OPT documents on our travel page.

Emergency phone numbers

If you have problems at the US border, you can call ISS (or ask a border official to call us). We recommend that you print out this email and carry it with you when you travel.

  • During our normal office hours (Monday - Friday, 8am - 5pm), please call (405) 325-3337.
  • On nights and weekends, please call the College of International Studies emergency phone: (405) 630-5392

If you will travel by plane to return to OU, please note that the OU screening tool currently asks if you wore a mask during your transit to campus and on all flights. In order to pass the screening tool and be allowed onto campus as soon as possible, WEAR A MASK at all times during your travel, including on your flights. If you don’t pass the screening, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days before being allowed onto campus.

For additional information about travel, please see our general Travel information. Please check your OU email regularly during the winter break in case of updates from ISS.

Lastly, let us share the empathy and concern all of us at the College of International Studies feel for you. We know this is a time of great anxiety and stress, and that there are often no easy choices or good options as you make important decisions. We are here to do whatever we can to help you navigate this difficult time. If you have any questions or if there is anything we might be able to help you with, please contact us at iss@ou.edu.

Best regards,

International Student Services
Farzaneh Hall Room 144 | 729 Elm Avenue, Norman, OK 73019
405.325.3337 | ou.edu/iss | iadvise.ou.edu/iss

International Student Town Hall

October 13, 2020

Dear international students,

We invite you all to join us for a Town Hall, where you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts and ask questions to our panelists! This will take place on Wednesday, October 14 from 2:00-3:00 pm.

Panelists will include multiple administrative representatives from the Norman and OKC campuses along with student leaders.

Topics will include the recent visa proposal by ICE and transitioning to full online classes after Thanksgiving Break, among other issues of concern.

Please note that initial questions can be sent to rebeccajcruise@ou.edu, and a recording will be available if you are unable to attend.

Join us via Zoom:

  • Meeting ID: 940 9889 6760
  • Passcode: g4XrjRVD

 We hope you can join us!

Best regards,

International Student Services

Farzaneh Hall Room 144 | 729 Elm Avenue, Norman, OK 73019
405.325.3337 | ou.edu/iss | iadvise.ou.edu/iss

Support over Extended University Break

October 9, 2020

Dear students,

With the announcement of classes moving online after Thanksgiving and the extended winter break, we want you to know that the university has been planning for how to support international students during this period. Initiatives planned and ongoing include the following:

  • Housing and Food Services will continue to accommodate students living in on-campus housing. This cost is included in your fall and spring charges.    
  • The university will work to keep students with on-campus jobs employed after classes move online, and during the winter break if students wish to remain employed. The International Student Response Task Force, led by CIS Dean Fritzen, is coordinating with campus operations to identify alternate opportunities of employment for students working in departments that might move to reduced operations or whose jobs cannot be performed remotely.
  • The International Student Response Task Force is further leading a fundraising campaign to raise emergency funds for international students with pandemic-related financial challenges.  We will be posting a link to the online application next week.
  • The ISS International Student Programming team in collaboration with Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is planning socially-distanced and virtual programming events to help students stay connected.
  • CIS will be holding an International Student Town Hall to discuss these initiatives and listen to your concerns next Wednesday, October 14, from 2-3:30 pm; please save the date and watch this space for a zoom link.


More information about these initiatives will be made available as plans are finalized and we near the Thanksgiving break.

We also want to confirm that the university’s move to all online instruction following the Thanksgiving break will not cause any international student, new or continuing, to be out of compliance with their enrollment requirements.

Lastly, if you are planning to travel outside the US between the Thanksgiving holiday and the start of the spring semester, ISS will send another communication out with important information about traveling. Please be sure to check your email regularly, and as always, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

International Student Services

Message from Dean Fritzen Regarding Proposed Student Visa Rule Change

September 25, 2020

Dear OU International Students,

I write to share our strong objections and evolving response to another proposed change to the student visa regime announced by the U.S. administration this morning.  You can read about the proposed rule on this NAFSA page – and please note that the rule change is only proposed, pending a 30-day public comment period, and not yet official.

It may be helpful first to take stock of the past two months.  The OU International Student Response Task Force was launched in early July, in the wake of what President Joe Harroz and Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Jill Irvine called “incredibly unfair, harmful, and unworkable” changes to student visa regulations proposed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  We worked with universities from across the spectrum of higher education in this country to oppose those changes, joining an amicus brief in support of a legal complaint against the Department of Homeland Security.  That legal action resulted in the administration withdrawing the proposal.  Since then, we have continued our Task Force work to advocate and coordinate services for international students in the incredibly challenging circumstances posed by the pandemic.

Navigating the pandemic is difficult enough for you all as international students.  Yet once again, you face a complex regulatory change that threatens to make your world even more uncertain.  In brief, the proposal is to require all international students to apply for an extension of their visa status after various fixed terms – terms that are typically shorter than the average duration of academic programs in which those students would be enrolled.  The proposed rule changes would also disproportionately affect students from certain countries, by limiting their initial visa status to only two years.  In so doing, they heighten both student anxieties and trigger deep concerns over arbitrary and inequitable treatment certain groups of students over others.

In short, this proposal appears to be as “unfair, inequitable and unworkable” as ICE’s ill-fated July proposal was.  We will be submitting comments to the Department of Homeland Security denouncing the proposed rule, and OU is prepared once again to join other universities in advocating strongly against any regulatory changes that are opposed to our core values and harmful to our community– a community that will always include you, our remarkable international students.

We will stay in close touch with you to share further updates, advocacy efforts and practical measures that we are taking. We fully realize that in the middle of a uniquely stressful time, this adds further unnecessary stress, and that is unacceptable and upsetting to us as well.  We want you to know that we are here to support you in every way possible.  As usual, if you have any specific questions about your own situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us at this International Student Services email address.

Take care and stay safe in the meantime – 

Scott Fritzen 

Dean, David L. Boren College of International Studies 
International Student Response Task Force Chair

ISS Fall 2020 Enrollment Survey

September 14, 2020

Please report your Fall 2020 enrollment plans as soon as possible before Friday, September 18! To report, please complete this quick online form: www.ou.edu/cis/iss/forms/continuing-student-survey

Your response will help us provide you with important information about your immigration status and student health insurance.

If you have questions, please let us know.

Thank you,

International Student Services
Farzaneh Hall Room 144 | 729 Elm Avenue, Norman, OK 73019
405.325.3337 | ou.edu/iss | iadvise.ou.edu/iss

Welcome Letter from College of International Studies Dean Scott Fritzen

August 27, 2020

Dear OU International Students,

Greetings and welcome to Fall Semester! We are thrilled to be welcoming you back to your studies, whether you are a new or returning student joining us online or on campus.

These are of course anxious times for all of us, and particularly for you as international students.  We are keenly aware of the hardships many of you have had to overcome in order to get where you are today, and applaud the determination and grit that you have shown. And we know that you continue to face many challenges and worries in a volatile and uncertain environment.

In this context, I write as Chair of OU’s International Student Response Task Force. This Task Force, comprised of leaders from across OU’s three campuses, was launched by OU President Joe Harroz and Interim Provost Jill Irvine in early July, with a mandate:

  • To coordinate advocacy for international students with state and federal partners, specifically to urge the reconsideration of the proposed visa changes (which were in fact later rescinded);
  • To monitor and recommend effective university responses to issues that may affect international students in particular ways during the pandemic, including food and housing insecurity, bursar bills, employment and mental health, among others;
  • To engage in regular dialogue with international students and other members of the OU community to understand and respond to their concerns, and to provide up-to-date information to our community; and
  • To take immediate actions where possible and to make timely recommendations to the OU leadership on all of the above.


The Task Force has been meeting regularly since that time, working behind the scenes to coordinate the resources and policies of the university to provide every support to you as international students as you go through this difficult time. We are also working with an International Students Advisory Group composed of international students across OU’s three campuses to ensure that we stay close to the voices and needs of the international student community.

I would like to emphasize that the university is deeply committed to your success at OU.  Regardless of what happens in the coming weeks, we would like to assure you that OU will continue to provide housing and food options, and make health and counseling services available, to students living on or near campus. We will also continue to monitor the regulatory environment to ensure that students can remain in compliance with their visa enrollment requirements.

I would encourage you to regularly check the OU International Student Services page at https://ou.edu/cis/iss/coronavirus-information as well as the student section of https://www.ou.edu/together, and to write to iss@ou.edu if you have questions on your situation. This is not a time to be quiet or shy; if you have questions or are experiencing hardship, we want to hear from you.             

As President Harroz and Interim Provost Irvine wrote in July, “We are the OU family, and together, we will emerge stronger beyond the pandemic, complete with our remarkable international student community.” We once again welcome you, new and returning international students, to the OU family. May this academic year, strange as it is in many respects, be one of learning, discovery and progress for each of you individually, and for us as a community.

Warmly,

Scott Fritzen
Dean, David L. Boren College of International Studies
Chair, International Student Response Task Force
sfritzen@ou.edu

International Student Town Hall

August 11, 2020

Dear international students,

We invite you all to join us for a Town Hall, where you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts and ask questions to our panelists! This will take place on Wednesday, August 12 at 3:00 pm.

Hosted by Dr. Rebecca Cruise and Craig Hayes, the panelists include:

  • Dr. Scott Fritzen, Dean of the College of International Studies
  • Robyn Rojas, ISS Director
  • Nima Zecavati, OU immigration attorney
  • Dr. Sherri Irvin, Senior Associate Dean for the Graduate College
     

Join us via Zoom:

 
We hope you can join us!

Best regards,

International Student Services

Recording available

You can now view the recording of this event here: https://mymedia.ou.edu/cis

Returning to Campus – Continuing Student Information

August 11, 2020

Dear international students,

We miss you and hope you are well! If you are planning to return to campus for the fall semester, we want to be sure that you are aware of the university’s required screening process that all students, faculty, and staff must complete in order to be cleared to come back onto campus. You cannot come onto campus until you have received an official approval from the university. You can complete the screening tool here as soon as you arrive in Oklahoma. Please review the university’s Mandatory COVID-19 Screening and Reporting information which includes required screening any time you are away from campus for any reason for 7 consecutive calendar days or more.  

If you will travel by plane to return to OU, please note that the screening tool will ask if you wore a mask during your transit to campus and on all flights. In order to pass the screening tool and be allowed onto campus as soon as possible, WEAR A MASK at all times during your travel, including on your flights. If you don’t pass the screening, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days before being allowed onto campus.

If you have any questions about the fall and are unsure who to ask, you can email iss@ou.edu and we’ll get you connected to answers.

Sincerely,

International Student Services

New Student Information

August 7, 2020

Dear new students,

We hope you all are well during these challenging times! We apologize for this very important communication coming so late. The university has been finalizing details regarding your arrival up until this week. If you are still planning to enroll as an OU student for the fall 2020 semester, please continue reading. If you have decided to attend another university, you can stop reading here.

If you have decided not to start taking classes this fall and plan to enroll in a later semester, you need to officially defer your admission. Please email iss@ou.edu if you need to defer your admission. 

If you will not arrive to Norman for the fall semester, but plan to begin your program from abroad taking online courses, please contact iss@ou.edu to defer your SEVIS record (I-20 document). International students who begin their studies outside the US do not need an active SEVIS record to enroll from abroad. Although you won’t arrive to the physical campus in Norman, you are still a part of the OU community! Be sure to sign up for Crimson Connection in the Mandatory Internet Orientation (MIO) where you will be assigned to a small group of new students led by returning students. You will find MIO when you log into canvas.ou.edu.

If you are planning to arrive to Norman to start your program this fall, please note that the university has set a latest arrival date for international students of Monday, September 14. If you cannot arrive by September 14, you should plan to take online courses from abroad or defer your admission to the spring 2021 semester. If you can arrive by September 14, please read and complete the following important steps:

  1. Sign up for Airport Transport in MIO through canvas.ou.edu. 
  2. Complete MIO and plan to participate in Crimson Connection through canvas.ou.edu. 
  3. If you will live in on-campus housing, read the email you received from Housing on Wednesday, August 5th. It contains important information about the hotel you will stay at while you go through the university’s COVID testing process. You will also be required to complete the university’s COVID screening tool after you receive a negative COVID test result. The screening tool will ask if you wore a mask during your international transit to campus and on all flights. In order to pass the screening tool and be allowed onto campus as soon as possible, WEAR A MASK at all times during your transit to the US, including on your flights. If you don’t pass the screening, you will be required to self-isolate for an additional 14 days even if you get a negative COVID test result after arriving to Norman.
  4. If you will live off-campus, you must complete the university’s screening process in order to be cleared to come onto campus. The screening tool will ask if you wore a mask during your international transit to campus and on all flights. In order to pass the screening tool and be allowed onto campus as soon as possible, WEAR A MASK at all times during your transit to the US, including on your flights. If you don’t pass the screening, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days before being allowed onto campus. Complete the screening tool located here as soon as you arrive to Norman. It is important to have your housing arranged before arrival. If you have not yet found a place you expect to live, be sure to make a hotel reservation or arrange to stay with friends at a specific address before you begin your travel.
  5. Federal rules pertaining to your international student visa require you to enroll in at least one in-person (face-to-face) course. This course can include any course that has some in-person component to it, like an in-person lab even if the lecture is online, for example. If you have any questions about enrolling in an in-person course, please contact your academic advisor in your academic department. Academic advisors across campus are aware of the in-person enrollment requirement for new international students and should be able to assist you with adjusting your class schedule to accommodate this requirement if you need to make changes to your schedule.  

We look forward to welcoming you to OU, whenever and however you plan to start your studies!

Sincerely,

International Student Services

Fall 2020 Enrollment Guidelines

July 28, 2020

Dear international students,

On July 24, ICE released clarification on the spring guidance for fall 2020 international student enrollment at hybrid schools (schools offering coursework via both in-person and online delivery). According to the information provided, the following enrollment is permitted for international students enrolled at OU for the fall semester:

Continuing students physically present at OU or another location in the US

Continuing students inside the US can enroll in any combination of in-person and online coursework, including all online coursework. Students will need to otherwise meet F-1 enrollment requirements by maintaining the usual minimum number of credit hours – 12 hours for undergraduate students, 9 hours for graduate students, and 5 hours for graduate students with Graduate Assistantships.

Continuing students completing coursework online from abroad

Continuing students who are either outside the US and plan to remain outside the US or who plan to return home for the fall semester can maintain active SEVIS records if they continue to enroll in their minimum number of credit hours online from abroad. Students who are in their last semester and who plan to apply for OPT should contact their ISS advisor now to discuss their application.

New students coming to OU

New students who plan to enter the US and attend OU must enroll in at least one in-person course. Please note that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program is permitting new students to start their programs at hybrid schools inside the US, but cannot guarantee the issuance of a student visa nor entrance into the country. Visa issuance and entry into the US are determined by the Department of State and Customs and Border Protection respectively. Please also note that the University of Oklahoma has set September 14 as the last date that new international students can arrive to campus in order to start the fall semester.

New students beginning their programs online from abroad

New students who plan to begin their program outside the US can enroll online from abroad. They will not have active SEVIS records until they arrive to the US so do not need to maintain a minimum number of credit hours. (Undergraduate students on academic scholarship must enroll in at least 12 credit hours to maintain scholarship eligibility.)

For additional information, please see these Clarifying Questions for Fall 2020. If you have questions, or if your enrollment does not meet one of the above scenarios, please contact ISS as soon as possible for advice.

Sincerely,

International Student Services

International Student Town Hall

July 20, 2020

Dear international students,

We know that international students may have unique concerns and unanswered questions regarding the Fall 2020 semester. OU ISS is currently working to clarify how federal guidance issued in the spring will apply to the Fall semester for OU international students, and we will communicate this information to students and the OU community as soon as possible.

Additionally, the College of International Studies in collaboration with Student Affairs is hosting an online Town Hall to discuss your immigration concerns. This will take place on Wednesday, July 22 from 2:00-3:30 pm.
 
Moderated by Dr. Rebecca Cruise, the panelists include:

  • Dr. Scott Fritzen, Dean of the College of International Studies
  • Robyn Rojas, ISS Director
  • Nima Zecavati, OU immigration attorney
  • Dr. David Surratt, Vice President of Student Affairs & Dean of Students

Please register in advance for the town hall here:
https://oklahoma.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0pc-2uqz8sGtRJZReCo2TOOidzNwleKn5j  
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the town hall.
 
We hope you can join us!

Best regards,

International Student Services

ICE Guidance Rescinded

July 16, 2020

Dear international students,

As you have likely heard, on Tuesday, July 14, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded July 6 guidance regarding Fall 2020 enrollment. This means that the enrollment information we emailed to you on July 7 is no longer in effect. Instead, the previous ICE guidance issued in March 2020 is now in effect. OU ISS is now working to clarify how the March guidance will apply to the Fall semester for OU international students. We will communicate this information to students and the OU community as soon as possible.

Best regards,

International Student Services

Fall 2020 Enrollment Guidance

July 7, 2020

 On July 6, 2020, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced its intention to publish revised procedures and rules related to international student enrollment in the US for the fall 2020 semester. While these changes are not finalized, the guidance contained in the announcement would, if put into effect, have significant implications for international students.  Already, the announcement has caused anxiety and confusion. We are closely reviewing the situation to assess how it might impact OU’s international students.  

Based on OU’s current instructional plan as of 7/7/2020 and our understanding of the guidance that ICE issued yesterday, the following are among the enrollment scenarios that may apply to international students at OU, should the rule take effect. Please note as you read what follows that OU is currently making every attempt to ensure there are sufficient in-person course options available for international students to remain in good standing with these new guidelines.

Scenario 1: Continuing international students inside the US: 

Continuing students can take more than one online course per semester but cannot take all of their courses online; they must have at least one in-person course in order to maintain F-1 status. In fact, students should take as many of their courses “in-person” as possible, and, according to the SEVP guidance, only take online courses if those courses are necessary to make normal progress in their degree program. 

  • OU ISS will issue each student an updated I-20 with a remark indicating that OU’s fall semester will be delivered via hybrid instruction and that the student can enroll in both in-person and online courses.  
  • If at any point OU’s instructional plan moves to all online instruction, students will have to either depart the US or transfer to an institution where they could receive in-person instruction.  
  • If an international student’s only in-person course converts to an online course, the student must transfer to an in-person course to maintain their immigration status.  
     

Scenario 2: Continuing international students outside the US: 

Continuing students who are outside the US and plan to take courses from abroad cannot maintain an active I-20 in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). These students’ SEVIS records will be terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal (this is a nonnegative termination reason and should not hurt future US visa applications). These students can enroll in online coursework at OU from their home country if they wish to.  

  • If a student will complete their program in the fall semester and wishes to apply for OPT, they should contact their ISS advisor immediately.  
  • If the student will return to the US for a later semester, they should contact their ISS advisor to discuss their options for returning.  
     

Scenario 3: New international students arriving to Norman:

New students can take more than one online course per semester but cannot take all of their courses online; they must have at least one in-person course in order to maintain F-1 status. In fact, students should take as many of their courses “in-person” as possible, and, according to the SEVP guidance, only take online courses if those courses are necessary to make normal progress in their degree program.  

  • OU ISS will issue each student an updated I-20 with a remark indicating that OU’s fall semester will be delivered via hybrid instruction and that the student is enrolled in both in-person and online courses. 
  • If at any point OU’s instructional plan moves to all online instruction, students will have to either depart the US or transfer to an institution where they could receive in-person instruction. 
  • If an international student’s only in-person course converts to an online course, the student must transfer to an in-person course to maintain their immigration status.  
     

Scenario 4: New international students who will not arrive to Norman:

New students enrolling from abroad will not have active SEVIS records/I-20s. If a student cannot arrive in-person but wishes to take classes from abroad, they should contact their academic department to see what options they may have. 

 Aside from the updates above, normal full-time enrollment requirements apply.  

Again, we understand that this is an uncertain and stressful situation on many levels for you.  We are committed both to keeping you updated and to actively working with state, federal and campus partners to create meaningful solutions that will address your needs.  If you have questions about how this policy affects your specific situation, please contact ISS at iss@ou.edu.  

SEVP Fall Guidance

July 6, 2020

On July 6, 2020 the Student and Exchange Visitor Program issued COVID-19 and Fall 2020 guidance. OU ISS is currently working to determine exactly how this guidance will affect international students under OU’s instructional plan for the fall semester. We appreciate your patience as we seek clarification from experts in the field on this important issue.

Message of Support from CIS

May 5, 2020

As we head into finals week, we write with our well-wishes on your exams and projects and to assure you that we and many others across campus continue to advocate for you. Going into a time of potentially even greater uncertainty, you are not alone.

As you know, the transition to online teaching and the “closure” of OU’s campus were immense undertakings. We understand that you have been impacted by the COVID-19 response in a number of ways and that this has been a source of enhanced anxiety. Some of you have not been able to return home when planned or have not known where you are going to live in the summer and how you are going to pay your bills. Others have continued to study while managing children who are no longer in school. As the fallout of the pandemic continues, these concerns remain and, in many ways, grow. While we do not have all of the answers, please know that we have been working for you and will continue to do so.

The week before Spring Break an International Student Working Group came together in an effort to understand your many concerns and to advocate for you where we could. This group includes members of the CIS team (including ISS), as well as representatives from UWC, Student Life, OU Housing and Food Services, and the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion as well as your International Student Advisory Committee. Over the past few weeks, we invited colleagues from OU Counseling, Sooners Helping Sooners, and the Bursar’s Office so that we could hear about their processes and procedures and so that we could convey some of the ongoing concerns we are hearing from you and your peers. We will continue to meet for the foreseeable future.

For many, the most pressing concerns are summer housing and food insecurity associated with lost campus jobs. The College of International Studies has been in constant communication with Dean of Students, David Surratt, whose team is equally committed to addressing these needs. For the time being, if you live on campus and need to stay over the summer due to the COVID-19 response and issues beyond your control, it is crucial that you communicate with OU Housing and Food. For any OU student facing food scarcity, know that the OU Food Pantry is available to you.

With all of the uncertainty, it is understandable and normal to feel anxious and scared. Please remember that OU Counseling is available and in many cases for same-day counseling. There are also group sessions every Friday specifically designed for international students. These services will be available throughout the summer for students who have graduated as well. Should you face a mental health emergency outside of open hours, please call the national hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Additionally, Goddard Health Services remains open, as does the pharmacy.

Finally, the College of International Studies and your International Student Services team are here to support you. Please communicate with your ISS advisor if you have visa related questions and feel free to communicate to them or to the International Programmers within ISS (Mary Beth Polk and Courtney Crowder) should you need additional assistance. Although we are not in Farzaneh Hall, we continue to answer emails, so email your advisors and the program coordinators whenever you need to at iss@ou.edu. Additionally, should you have an emergency -- something requiring immediate attention such as getting stuck at the airport as you head home or requiring paperwork overnight -- you can call the CIS Emergency number at (405) 630-5392 where the person answering the phone will get the right people involved to deal with your immediate situation. Please check out our ISS COVID-19 information page to get the latest information about additional resources available to you.

In this extraordinary and difficult time, know that we and others continue to support you and advocate for you as a valued member of the OU community.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mitchell Smith, Interim Dean College of International Studies
Dr. Rebecca Cruise, Associate Dean of Student Services, College of International Studies
Robyn Rojas, Director, International Student Services
Caroline Serce, Assistant Director, International Student Services
Mary Beth Polk, Assistant Director of International Programing, International Student Services

COVID-19 Response Survey Opportunity

April 13, 2020

Dear International Students,

Please see the below email from Professor Alisa Hicklin Fryar regarding a COVID-19 response survey her class is conducting. Please note that this survey does not originate from ISS, we are passing it along to you at the request of the professor. 

 

Last week, an OUMM was sent out with a survey on the response to the coronavirus outbreak, and we are hoping to include more student responses in the data. We would like to hear from YOU about how your classes have shifted, any issues you’ve had with access, the extent to which you have received flexibility and/or accommodations from faculty, the effects of the outbreak on your health and financial well-being, what questions you still have, and a few other related topics. These data will be used in projects that are designed to report on OU's response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the needs that our students are facing right now.

The survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, and your identity will remain anonymous. If you have already completed the survey, thank you so much for doing so! And if you have any questions, please contact our professor, Dr. Alisa Hicklin Fryar at ahicklin@ou.edu.

Here’s the link: https://ousurvey.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_06qUZbgEikx5qLP

Best wishes,

Students in the PSC 3220 Higher Education Policy class

Alisa Hicklin Fryar
Associate Professor
Programs in Public Administration and Policy
Department of Political Science
University of Oklahoma

Please Tell OU ISS Your Plans

April 9, 2020

ISS sent out a quick survey a couple weeks ago to gather information about OU international students’ plans for the 2020 spring and summer semesters. We have not yet received a response from you! As soon as possible, can you please complete the survey here? It will take less than one minute to complete. Responses to the survey will help us make recommendations to university leadership and the Norman community as they make decisions that affect international students.

If you have any questions or need support, please let me know. I hope you are staying safe and healthy.

Best regards,

International Student Services

Avoid COVID-19 Scams

April 6, 2020

Dear students,

You might have heard in the news that scammers have been trying to take advantage of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hard to believe that scammers are still preying on people when humanity should be taking care of one another during this difficult time. So we wanted to remind you that it is important to protect yourself from people who might try to scam you for money or steal your identity. Please review the information below from the US Department of Justice:

“Be aware that criminals are attempting to exploit COVID-19 worldwide through a variety of scams.  There have been reports of:

  • Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
  • Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Malicious websites and apps that appear to share virus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
  • Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.

Criminals will likely continue to use new methods to exploit COVID-19 worldwide.

If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home though a number of platforms. Go to:

https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus

Sincerely,

International Student Services

Updates for FIS Host Families

March 27, 2020

Dear Host Families, 

We hope you are doing well during these challenging times. We wanted to reach out to touch base with all of you and also let you know the support that international students will continue to receive through the remainder of the semester. 

We recognize that many students have opted to return to their home countries. They will be able to finish their courses from home and still have access to their OU email addresses; if you are having issues reaching them we can work to get their updated contact information. Many students will be staying in Norman / on campus for the remainder of the semester. We request that you maintain the CDC-recommended six-foot social distancing practice but encourage you to still provide support to your students- this could be chats via Skype or Facetime, offering to pick up and drop of supplies/groceries, virtual movie nights, etc.  

 

OU and the College of International Studies will continue to support international students throughout the remainder of the semester. We are working remotely, but are still available to all of you and to our students. There is a working committee with members from the College of International Studies, Student Affairs, Housing, UWC and IAC leadership that meets regularly to identify the needs of the international student community; the situation is changing rapidly and we are in regular communication on how to best support our students during this time. Some additional steps being taken: 

  • All international students who live on campus and are not able to return home will be able to stay in on-campus housing through the end of the semester.  
  • Couch Restaurants (the Caf) are open 8 am – 7 pm, to-go only. 
  • The OU Food Pantry will be open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4:30-6:30 pm. Students can fill out an online request form on OrgSync
  • OU Counseling is offering counseling services virtually. 
  • The International Advisory Committee has set up a website with resources available to international students as well as a GoFundMe to help students with unexpected costs and loss of employment hours. 
  • Sooners Helping Sooners will also be assisting students who have lost income with the campus closure; these funds will be available to all impacted students including international students. 


If your student(s) have already returned home it is important to have a final goodbye to ease the transition process. Typically, when students return to their passport countries, they have a period of reentry stress that can be exacerbated in this current time. A closure can look like an email, phone call, Skype, etc.  

We appreciate all you do to support the international community! Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns! We want to continue to be in communication with you all through this time. 

Thank you, 

Mary Beth Polk and Courtney Crowder 
Friends to International Students
International Student Services
College of International Studies
fis@ou.edu

Checking on You

March 27, 2020

If we haven’t met yet, I’m your ISS advisor. I’m reaching out to check on how you’re doing during these difficult and uncertain times.

First, if you are in immediate financial need for housing or food assistance, please note that there are some funds that have been set up to assist you during this time. You can apply to Sooners Helping Sooners here. The International Advisory Committee (IAC) also has created a fundraiser and you can apply for funds here.

ISS has a very quick survey we need you to complete. It will take less than one minute to complete. Responses to the survey will help us make recommendations to university leadership and the Norman community as they make decisions that affect international students. Please complete the survey here as soon as possible.

If you live on campus, please be sure to complete the Housing Special Circumstances form here by 5:00 pm today.

ISS has created a page on our website here for COVID-19 updates and questions. It includes information about the Norman Stay at Home order and what it means for you.

I hope you are well and staying safe. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns. You can reply to this email or log into iAdvise (iadvise.ou.edu/iss) to schedule a phone/Zoom appointment with me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

International Student Services
David L. Boren College of International Studies
Farzaneh Hall Room 144
405.325.3337 | ‪ou.edu/cis/iss‪

IAC Student Needs Survey

March 19, 2020

Dear International Students,

IAC put together a survey to gather information about how international students are being affected by the COVID-19 disruption and to identify what the most urgent needs of international students are at this time. IAC will share the information collected in the survey with various departments across campus including CIS, Housing, and Student Affairs to help university officials know how best to assist you. Please complete the survey at the link below:

https://ousurvey.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8kUQlr0T5Bbnhv7

Sincerely,

International Student Services

Updates Regarding Academics, Housing, and Travel

March 19, 2020

Dear international students,

As you've already heard by now, classes will remain online for the remainder of the semester. Many departments will also be operating remotely, including ISS and the rest of the CIS staff. In light of this new information, we wanted to follow up with you to answer questions and address concerns you might have.

The last few weeks have surely left many of you with feelings of uncertainty and with unanswered questions. Many of you are trying to decide if you can or should go home during these difficult times, or if you should stay. For some, your financial situation is determining the answer to this question. It is our hope that last night’s announcement, and the earlier message regarding the ability to complete your classes online, made the decision easier for some of you- in particular exchange students. For others the answers may remain unclear. Ultimately, staying or going is a personal decision. Regardless of your plans, we are committed to supporting you in the weeks and months ahead. 

Those who choose to stay in the US will not be left alone. As you know, efforts are under way to provide continuity in housing and food services on campus. If you plan to remain on campus, please complete the Special Circumstance form on the Housing portal. Also know that a working group with members from CIS, Student Affairs, Housing, UWC and IAC leadership is identifying the needs of the international student community and strategizing about how best to deliver that support. 

If you are planning to return home, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. If you are an exchange student or graduating student, we are sorry that your experience is ending this way. Thank you for being part of the OU community these last months and years. We wish you luck as you finish your courses online and move on to other opportunities. Please do let ISS know your plans for departure and if you live in campus housing, be sure to go through the housing check out process. If you are not graduating but would like to go home with plans of returning for the fall semester be aware of the current travel restrictions in the US, in your home country and in any country that you might transit through. 

If you decide to depart and cannot obtain a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, know that you can leave the US without the travel signature. However, before you return to the US, you should request a Replacement I-20 or DS-2019 here and select 'Travel' as the reason for the request. We will ship your document to you via eShipGlobal. When possible, please plan ahead and allow at least 3 weeks for processing and shipping your document to you. Please be aware that if your visa is expired or will expire prior to your return to the US, you could be delayed returning for the fall semester depending on what the global COVID-19 landscape looks like this summer. Many US Consulates have suspended visa appointments until further notice.

Important note- If you are a GRA/GTA with OU, please communicate with Dr. Sherri Irvin (sirvin@ou.edu) in the Graduate College, as you may need to consider additional factors regarding your employment. You may not be able to continue working remotely and receiving your stipend if you leave the US due to legal concerns, but your spring 2020 tuition waiver will not be canceled.

In closing, a reminder. While the College of International Studies and International Student Services will not physically be open, we will all be working from home to support you and advocate for you. Do continue to communicate with our staff and please be looking for more information about these efforts in the coming days.

Sincerely,

Deans Smith and Cruise and Robyn Rojas

Completing Semester at Home

March 17, 2020

Dear International Students,

We understand that this is a time of concern and anxiety for all of you. Under these extraordinary circumstances, we want to help in every way should you wish to make plans to leave the OU campus to return home. 

Please do not let academic continuity be the sole obstacle to your return home should that be your preference. OU's Vice Provost for Instruction and Student Success has asked all faculty to work with students that may be affected by travel restrictions or concerns about possible restrictions, especially international students. Faculty should be willing to work with you to make arrangements for you to finish your spring coursework remotely should you choose to return home.

Of course, if you choose to remain on campus and we can help in any way, please contact us.

If you have plans or are making plans to return home, please contact your ISS advisor by emailing iss@ou.edu. If you live on campus, please also contact Luis Salvatierra at luis@ou.edu.

Thank you,

Mitchell P. Smith                             Rebecca Cruise                                Robyn Rojas
Interim Dean                                    Associate Dean for Students         Director of ISS
College of International Studies   College of International Studies   College of International Studies

Update from CIS

March 16, 2020

Dear Valued Members of the OU International Community, 

The past few weeks have been a time of great uncertainty, to put this mildly. As you know, the OU campus has closed for the next week and the OU administration will continue to assess the situation in consultation with health and government officials. 

While the Norman campus is closed, Housing and Goddard services remain available. Although no one will be in Farzaneh Hall this week, we will continue our efforts to advocate and serve you. College deans and administrators, including ISS Director Robyn Rojas, are continuing to work from home and staff are contributing from a distance where able. In order for us to best serve you in this new configuration, please send all inquiries to iss@ou.edu. You can also utilize the International Studies Emergency Phone at 405-630-5392 or helpabroad@ou.edu in cases where you need an immediate response.

Please know that we continue to be here for you in these difficult times, and there are others across campus willing to help where needed. Take care of yourselves and please keep checking your OU email for updates from us or other campus units. 

Best wishes, 

Deans Smith and Cruise, ISS Director Robyn Rojas and the whole team at CIS

Travel Information for International Students

March 13, 2020

A lot of new information has come out since our last email to you on Tuesday, so we wanted to summarize important information for you in this email and answer some questions we are hearing from you. If you have not already completed the Housing and Food Services survey that was sent Thursday morning regarding Spring Break plans, please do so now.

Important travel information:

  1. Europe travel ban - The US announced yesterday that it will not receive travelers (excluding US citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, and other special groups) coming from the 26 European countries of the Schengen Area for the next 30 days. This means that you should not travel to Schengen Area countries if you want to return to campus this spring.
  2. OU’s international travel restriction - OU recently announced that all travelers who have had any international travel in the past 14 days or who complete international travel thereafter must complete a telephone screening and possibly self-isolate off-campus for two weeks following their return to Norman. Anyone who traveled internationally will be told whether or not they have to self-isolate when they call for their telephone screening: 325-8732. If you travel internationally or have recently done so (i.e., within the past 14 days), you should complete the telephone screening prior to returning to campus (if you've recently traveled abroad and returned to campus prior to the announcement of the new policy, complete the telephone screening immediately). Currently, travel to the following countries automatically requires off-campus self-isolation: China (including Hong Kong), Iran, South Korea, Italy, and Japan. However, the Coronavirus landscape is changing every day, so it is possible that countries not currently on OU’s self-isolation list could be added. 
  3. China travel ban - The US ban on travelers (excluding US citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, and other special groups) coming from China within the last 14 days is still in effect.
  4. Iran travel ban - The US ban on travelers (excluding US citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, and other special groups) coming from Iran within the last 14 days is still in effect.

After Spring Break:

  1. At the time of this email, if you live in on-campus housing and are traveling internationally over spring break, it is likely that you will be cleared to return to your dorm/apartment if you have not traveled to China, Hong Kong, Iran, South Korea, Italy, or Japan, unless you have flu-like symptoms. If you have flu-like symptoms following any international travel, you will have to self-isolate off campus.
  2. Participating in online coursework during OU’s temporary move to online classes during the two weeks following Spring Break will not violate your F-1/J-1 status. SEVP has issued guidance to school officials that permits international students to continue their coursework remotely if their university moves classes online due to COVID-19.
  3. Answers to graduate student questions (such as continuation of assistantships, defenses, etc.) can be found at the following link: www.ou.edu/gradcollege/about/coronavirus-faq

 

Please keep closely informed of evolving OU policies: www.ou.edu/coronavirus

If you have any questions or concerns or are feeling worried about anything, please contact your advisor in ISS. You are not alone. We are here to help you!

Sincerely,

International Student Services
‪Farzaneh Hall Room 144 | 729 Elm Avenue, Norman, OK 73019
405.325.3337 | ‪ou.edu/iss‪ | iadvise.ou.edu/iss ‪

Spring Break Travel Information

March 10, 2020

Hopefully, you have all read the university wide email regarding travel over Spring Break and the COVID-19 Coronavirus (if you have not done so, please click here). Additionally, we want to answer some general questions international students might have about travel over Spring Break:

  • While international travel is cautioned, travel within the US is not restricted at the time of this email. If you have travel planned inside the US, you can follow Coronavirus updates for the US here.
  • If you do have international travel planned over Spring Break, you are still allowed to travel. However, please be mindful of OU’s travel restrictions located here. Travel to any of the countries on OU’s restricted travel list, including a layover flight in one of the countries, will require 14 days of self-isolation before you are permitted to return to campus. Also, keep in mind that the University may add countries to the restricted travel list as more information becomes available. 


If you are planning to leave the US over Spring Break, ISS can provide a letter to you confirming that you have been present at OU attending classes since the start of the Spring 2020 semester. The purpose of this letter is to corroborate information about your travel history that US Customs and Border Protection should already be able to verify at the time of your return to the US. If you would like to request this letter, please complete the ISS Letter Request form and select Other for the type of letter you are requesting. In the Additional information box type, “Spring Break travel letter.”

If you have any questions about upcoming travel, please email iss@ou.edu and your ISS advisor will respond to you.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mitchell P. Smith
Interim Dean
David L. Boren College of International Studies
The University of Oklahoma

Updated 8/19/20