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COVID-19 Updates for International Students, Scholars, Staff, and Faculty

Other Resources

ISSS Is Here for You

The ISSS staff wishes to express our support for the international students, scholars, staff, and faculty on campus. We know it can be challenging to be away from home when difficult events occur here and in your home country.

All international students and scholars who want to talk to someone are encouraged to contact ISSS to make an appointment to talk to one of our advisers. We are available to answer questions about visa and travel-related issues, and our counselors are available to talk about how the coronavirus is impacting you, your friends, and your family. If you prefer a Mandarin and/or Cantonese speaking counselor, you can request Peiying Shi for an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

ISSS has created a Frequently Asked Questions document that will be updated with answers to the questions we are receiving from international students and scholars. If you have questions that are not answered here, please either complete our form to request a phone call from an ISSS staff person or email isss@umn.edu.

Videos

Dean Meredith McQuaid

Listen or read a transcript to this message from Meredith McQuaid, Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs.

Assistant Dean Barbara Kappler

Listen or read a transcript to this message from Dr. Barbara Kappler, Assistant Dean and Director of International Student and Scholar Services.

Virtual Forums

Please Note: Most Forums will be hosted on Zoom. Links will be posted shortly.

ISSS is hosting a series of Virtual Forums for international students, scholars, and other populations. Speakers from both forums will take questions from you through the chat function and address as many as possible. Please be aware that, depending on the number of questions submitted, we may not be able to answer all of the questions. To help, we encourage students who have individual questions (items related to your personal situation) to contact ISSS through email or by completing our Phone Request Form.

Recordings from Past Virtual Forums

Student Forums (F-1 and J-1 Student Visas)

  • April 7, 2020
    Guest speakers were from Housing & Residential Life and Student Legal Services to share information about on-campus and off-campus housing
  • March 25, 2020
    Guest speakers were from Boynton Health and Student Health Benefits

Scholar Forums (J-1 Scholars and Student-Interns)

  • April 9, 2020
    Guest speakers were from Boynton Health Services, Student Health Benefits, and Employee Benefits

Parent Forums

  • April 23, 2020 (Hosted in English)
    Guest speakers were from Boynton Health Services and the Parent and Family Program
  • April 16, 2020 (Mandarin-Speaking Parents)
    Guest speakers were from Boynton Health Services, Parent and Family Program, the China Office in Beijing, and the UMN China Center

Recent Messages

Below are recent messages ISSS has sent with updates regarding the coronavirus from International Student and Scholar Services. For information regarding UMN's Travel Restrictions, please review the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance website.

04/09: Action Needed for H-1B/E-3 Employees

As a part of an H-1B/E-3 visa petition, the Department of Labor (DOL) regulations require an employer to obtain a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) and provide a notice to employees in all worksite locations. Due to COVID-19, many employees have been asked to work remotely. For these individuals, your home location is now considered a new work-site location, and, as such, employees with an H-1B or E-3 visa need to post an LCA in their home. More information was emailed to H-1B/E-3 Employees.

04/06: Social Security Office Is Closed

The Social Security Office is currently closed. We do not know how long this closure may last. 

For those starting jobs at the University of Minnesota:

UMN Office of Human Resources (HR) has confirmed that new UMN employees can complete the I-9 process without a Social Security Number. For the most up-to-date information about the University’s I-9 process, review OHR’s website. Like everything else, this is a process that is fluid and changes often.

When the Social Security Administration is open again, you will need to apply for a Social Security Number and report it to the HR office for your department.  A Social Security Number is needed for tax treaty purposes and to obtain a W-2, a form you will need to file your tax return.

For those starting jobs elsewhere:

Communicate with the Human Resources department for your new employer. Visit our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

03/23: Be Cautious of COVID-19 Phone, Internet, and Email Scams

Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of major news events especially when there is fear and uncertainty. Please be aware that there are reports nationwide (including here in Minnesota) of new phone, internet, and email scams related to COVID-19. For more information, review the information released by Minnesota’s Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission.

03/20: Embassies and Consulates Suspend Services

The United States Department of State has announced that all US Embassies are closed until further notice. The Department's message states

"In response to worldwide challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of State is suspending routine visa services in most countries worldwide. Embassies and consulates in these countries will cancel all routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments as of March 18, 2020. These embassies and consulates will resume routine visa services as soon as possible, but we are unable to provide a specific date at this time." 

We encourage students to check their embassies websites for updates on when services will resume. It is not known at this time when services will resume.

03/20: Tax Deadline Extended

Both the federal and Minnesota state filing tax deadline have been extended to July 15, 2020. We will provide further information as it becomes available.

03/16: Deciding Whether to Return to Your Home Country

Many students are understandably inquiring about going to their home countries from 3/16 to at least 4/1, or possibly for the remainder of the term. We want you to know that the University and ISSS support you and will do everything we can to assist you in finishing your spring classes. We support you in making the decision that is best for you. Keep these considerations in mind if you make a decision to return to your home country: 

  • Make sure you will have the ability to access online classes and your UMN email from your home country. For some countries, you will need VPN.
  • It is not known at this time whether online instruction will continue for students after April 1.
  • If the U returns to in-person classes and you are not able to return to campus (for example, if there are new travel restrictions), the University is committed to doing everything we can to support you in completing your courses.
  • If you are an F-1 student who is planning to graduate in spring and start Optional Practical Training (OPT), the immigration regulations currently require you to be in the U.S. by the end of semester to apply for OPT.

As the situation is changing rapidly and we are working to keep up with the changes and important questions, we will send more updates as soon as we have more information.

If you do decide to return to your home country amid these uncertainties, please check your UMN email every day for updates and please check the ISSS website frequently for travel and other updates related to COVID-19.

03/16: Update on Travel Restrictions

U.S. President Trump recently extended travel restrictions on individuals who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents coming from Europe. Media reports have also mentioned that Vice President Pence confirmed the UK and Ireland are included beginning Monday, March 16, at midnight EST. This is in addition to the earlier restrictions on entering the U.S. for travelers from China and Iran.

03/16: Tax Clinics Canceled—Preparing Remote Assistance

Following University of Minnesota guidance, all of the remaining Non-resident Tax Clinics have been canceled.

The volunteers are working to determine a remote process to assist everyone whose appointment is being canceled. To be clear, once it is announced, this remote assistance will only be available for those who already made a reservation.

If you do not have an appointment and you have general questions related to filling out your tax forms, you can email nrvtap@umn.edu . They will not, however, answer specific questions (for example, "what number goes on what line 15?"). Please review the information published on the ISSS website as there are solutions to many of the common issues and frequently asked questions.

International students and scholars preparing non-resident tax returns can prepare federal tax return for free through MyISSS with tax software called Sprintax.

Be aware of the following

  • You must use the link available through MyISSS to prepare your tax return for free. You will not get the UMN's discount if you go directly to Sprintax’s website.
  • Sprintax can also be used to create state tax returns, but there is $29.95 fee for this service.

03/12: Restrictions on Travel From Europe

U.S. President Trump last night announced restrictions on travel from Europe for individuals who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. This is in addition to the current restrictions on entering the U.S. for travelers from China and Iran, and it includes travel from and through Europe. Currently, this proclamation

Suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. These countries, known as the Schengen Area, include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. This does not apply to legal U.S. permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.

If you are currently outside of the U.S. with intention to return soon: We strongly encourage those affected by this proclamation to change your travel plans NOW and schedule travel back to the U.S. before the proposed entry restrictions take effect on Friday, March 13, at midnight. In addition, we strongly encourage you to follow the news and subsequent announcements from the White House and the Department of Homeland Security. We understand this is a deadline that may be extremely difficult to meet and if you are not able to return as planned, please contact ISSS as soon as possible.

We recognize we do not have answers to all the potential questions at this time. However, we want to share this information so you can start to work proactively on your travel plans. We will provide further updates as they become available.

03/11: Regarding Courses Moving Online

The University of Minnesota has decided to temporarily transition classroom learning to alternative and online learning. We want to assure you that this decision will not negatively impact a student’s F-1 immigration status (and J-1 students are not negatively impacted as they are not subject to this regulation). 

03/02: Spring Break Travel Update

We recognize that spring break is approaching, and some students may have concerns about traveling during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you are going abroad for personal travel — whether a vacation or returning home — we ask you to consider the following:

  • Know that situations and conditions surrounding COVID-19 could change while you are traveling, potentially complicating your ability to return to Minnesota. The U.S. already has some restrictions on travelers returning from China, and the restrictions could be expanded to including other countries.
  • Before leaving, notify a family member or friend to share your destination and contact information.
  • While traveling, take steps to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus by practicing good hygiene, such as regularly washing your hands.
  • If you seek further advice about travel, please contact ISSS.

We regret the stress and disruption the virus has brought to so many lives, and we will work to update you as this continues to evolve. Remember that you can contact ISSS for counseling support, as well.

02/25: Financial Impact and Support

International students who have financial need due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) may apply for financial help through the ISSS Funding Program. All ISSS funds are limited. Applications will only be considered until funds are allocated.

Please carefully review our information including the eligibility requirements and and application process. If you have any questions, please contact an ISSS Funding Counselor at isssfund@umn.edu. For questions about how to pay your student account, registration holds, late payments, and payment plan options, please contact One Stop.

02/24: Support for Dealing with Stress Due to Coronavirus

We are writing to express our deep support for you, your families and communities who have been impacted by the coronavirus. For many, the worry about the wellbeing of families due to the spread of the virus has created heightened feelings of stress and anxiety and/or difficulty with studying or working. It can be especially stressful and difficult if you have friends and family back home facing challenges due to the virus. Even though these are common emotions that people experience, we want you to know that you are not alone and that we at ISSS are here for you.

The University of Minnesota upholds the values of being a welcoming and inclusive campus. We hope that you are finding support with your friends, the organizations you belong to, and in the campus community. If, however, you have experienced bias, discrimination, misunderstanding, or differential treatment related to the reactions and fears of coronavirus, please reach out to our office and report to the Bias Response and Referral Network as soon as possible. The bias and discrimination might be against your race, nationality, identity as an international student, and/or your relationship with the impacted regions, and it is valid to feel angry, confused, sad, and disappointed. By contacting ISSS, we will be able to provide you support or connect you to other services on campus. It will also help us understand where and how bias is occurring, so we can be informed advocates for our International student and scholar community during this time.

To make an appointment with an ISSS counselor, please call 612-626-7100. If you prefer a Mandarin and/or Cantonese speaking counselor, you can request Peiying Shi for an appointment.

01/26: Message to Students, Scholars, Staff, and Faculty From China

We are writing to express our support in this difficult time and to make sure you are aware of important information from public health experts about the coronavirus. While evidence currently suggests this virus is a low health risk for the general public, the University of Minnesota is working to ensure the health and wellbeing of our campus community.

According to University health experts, if you have a fever, cough, diarrhea, or shortness of breath, you should consider staying home and away from school or work to prevent spreading it to others. If you have recently traveled to Wuhan or been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, you should contact your doctor or healthcare provider. Additional information can be found on the health emergency section of the Safe Campus website.

These suggestions have been shared with University community members and we are sending to you to ensure you have seen this information. There are no confirmed cases of the virus at any of the University’s five campuses.

We know it can be very challenging to be watching the news from far away and also know that some of you have family and friends who are greatly impacted by the quarantine. We regret how this outbreak can overshadow what should be a celebratory time with the new year.

Know that you have support on campus. ISSS advisers and counselors are here for you, as are other resources on campus, to discuss these events or other personal or academic issues. To make an appointment with an ISSS counselor, please call 612-626-7100. Additional resources are listed below.

GPS