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Get info about VCU's phased approach to reopening campus at together.vcu.edu.
International students, click here for a list of FAQs about coming or returning to VCU.

ELP students

Welcome Back to VCU!

We look forward to welcoming new and returning international students to campus. While many decisions have been made regarding our return to campus, we know you may still have unanswered questions. Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers that we hope will help you in your planning.

International Student return to campus FAQs

Starting the Semester

Important Dates

All Students:

  • First Day of Classes: August 17, 2020
  • Last Day of Classes: November 24, 2020

New F-1 student (initial I-20) currently abroad

  • Earliest date to enter the US: See "Earliest Admission Date" on your I-20 (either July 10 or July 11)
  • Latest Dates to Enter the US: If you cannot enter the US earlier, you must enter the US between August 1, 2020 (for quarantine requirements) and August 24, 2020 

Returning F-1 student currently abroad

  • Earliest date to enter the US: You may enter the US as early as you are able to do so. We encourage you to return to the US as soon as possible.
  • Latest Dates to Enter the US: If you cannot enter the US earlier, you must enter the US between August 1, 2020 (for quarantine requirements) and August 24, 2020.

Late Arrival

Late arrival means you will arrive in the US between August 17, 2020 (start of classes) and August 24, 2020. If you will be arriving in the US between these 2 dates, email GEOIS@vcu.edu asking for guidance for immigration compliance purposes.

If you cannot arrive in the US before August 24, 2020, please email us at GEOIS@vcu.edu  as soon as possible for specific guidance.

When will International Student Orientation be held for new students?
International Student Orientation (ISO) for Fall 2020 will be online only. View more information on ISO.

When will new international students be able to check-in with Immigration Services? 
Checking in with Immigration Services is legally required for new students only. Immigration Check-In for Fall 2020 will be online only. More information about immigration check-in will be available by late June.

How will VCU's fall semester dates affect on-campus housing for international students?
Students residing in residence halls with 9-month contracts will be required to vacate campus by Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 12 noon. You are welcome to find alternative housing or return home for the winter break. For the latest updates regarding on-campus housing, visit: https://housing.vcu.edu/announcements/coronavirus/

Are there any quarantine requirements for arriving on campus?
VCU is recommending that all students who have traveled or are arriving from outside of the U.S. follow CDC guidelines and self-isolate for fourteen (14) days upon arrival in the United States. For more information visit www.CDC.gov

New and returning international students should arrive in the U.S. no later than Aug. 1 in order to complete fourteen days of self-isolation before classes begin on Aug. 17. A student arriving less than two weeks before the start of classes should contact their faculty no later than Aug. 12 to discuss options for remote learning during the quarantine.

Students should be prepared to self-isolate immediately upon arriving in the U.S. Those without permanent housing arranged before arriving should make plans for appropriate temporary housing. Students should plan to seek permanent housing only after completing self-isolation.

Safety

What safety precautions will be implemented when the semester starts?

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the VCU community is of utmost importance. To support this, VCU has established safety protocols for students, faculty and staff, which include required return-to-campus training, daily health monitoring and the wearing of face coverings in common areas.

 

Travel

When can new international students enter the U.S.?

For new students (Initial I-20) currently outside the U.S., the “Earliest Admission Date” on your I-20 is the earliest date you can enter the U.S. For the latest date you can enter the U.S., see “Start of Classes” on your I-20. 

When can returning international students enter the U.S.?

Continuing VCU student currently outside the U.S. may enter the U.S. as soon as they are able to travel to the U.S. The latest date you can enter the U.S. is the last day of Add/Drop for Fall 2020. For more information regarding important dates, visit the VCU Fall 2020 Academic Calendar.

What should I do if I am arriving late?

If you cannot arrive at VCU by the latest date you can enter the U.S. above, please send an email to GEOIS@vcu.edu asking for guidance.

How should I deal with current travel restrictions?

We expect that international travel will be complicated for the predictable future. Students currently outside the US should plan for the following:

 

What if I am traveling to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico?

For the predictable future, only citizens and permanent residents of Canada or Mexico should try to enter the U.S. from those countries. (Canadian citizens should enter from Canada, citizens of Mexico should enter from Mexico.) If you are not a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or Mexico do not try to enter the U.S. from either of those countries at this time.

Citizens of Canada

Only citizens or permanent residents of Canada should consider entering the U.S. from Canada, whether by air or land. For a number of practical reasons, citizens or permanent residents of Canada may find entering the US by air from Canada easier at this time. You are not forbidden from entering the US from Canada by land, but current CBP processing may be less stressful if you arrive in the US by air. NOTE: Citizens of Canada (only) do not require F-1 visa stamps in their passports in order to enter the US. All other CBP Process document requirements apply.

Citizens of Mexico

Only citizens or permanent residents of Mexico should consider entering the US from Mexico, whether by air or land. For a number of practical reasons, citizens or permanent residents of Mexico may find entering the US by air from Mexico easier at this time. You are not forbidden from entering the US from Mexico by land, but current CBP processing may be less stressful if you arrive in the US by air.

Do I need a travel signature?

If you are a VCU student returning to the U.S., you need an I-20 travel signature no older than 12 months on the date you intend to enter the U.S. New students entering the U.S. to commence studies at VCU do not need a travel signature. If you need an I-20 travel signature, please send an email to GEOIS@vcu.edu (Subject line: I-20 signature).

Registering for Classes

How will VCU courses be offered in Fall 2020?

For Fall 2020, VCU courses will be offered in the following instructional modes:

In-PersonOnlineBlended
(sometimes called Hybrid)
The course is taught in a traditional in-person classroom setting only (no online instruction component) The course is taught online only (no in-person instruction component) The course mode of instruction is a blend (hybrid) of in-person and online instruction. 

Although VCU as an institution will be offering instruction in all three modes, individual courses will be offered in one mode only.

You will have a choice of courses, but you will not have a choice of instruction mode. The instructor for each course determines the instruction mode for that course.

Current U.S. Government Policy

On July 24, 2020, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its sub-agency, Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), issued updated F-1 visa directive for Fall 2020.

Guidance to VCU Students

Based on the July 24 ICE/SEVP directive:

Student StatusContinuingTransferNew
Definition You were enrolled as an F-1 student at VCU in Spring 2020 and will be continuing your VCU studies in Fall 2020 You were enrolled as an F-1 student at another U.S. university in Spring 2020 but will be continuing your studies at VCU in Fall 2020  You were not enrolled as an F-1 student in the U.S. in Spring 2020 but will be enrolling as an F-1 student for the first time at VCU in Fall 2020
Fall 2020 Guidance Maintain a Full Course of Study (FCS, an F-1 visa concept, see below). To meet your FCS, you may register for credits in any combination of in-person, hybrid, or online credits.

To be clear:
To meet your FCS, you may register for all online credits if you want.
This applies to continuing students who are currently either in the U.S. or abroad.

Maintain a Full Course of Study (FCS, an F-1 visa concept, see below). To meet your FCS, you may register for credits in any combination of in-person, hybrid, or online credits.

 

To be clear:
To meet your FCS, you may register for all online credits if you want.
This applies to transfer students who are currently either in the U.S. or abroad.

Maintain a Full Course of Study (FCS, an F-1 visa concept, see below). If you want to come to, or remain in, the U.S for Fall 2020, you cannot register for more than 3 online credits. The rest of your credits need to be in in-person or hybrid classes.

If you want to remain outside the U.S. for Fall 2020, you can register for all online credits.

        

Full Course of Study

All F-1 students (continuing, transfer, or new; in the U.S. or abroad) must maintain a Full Course of Study (FCS, an F-1 visa concept) for Fall 2020. FCS is related to, but different from, similar sounding academic concepts, such as full-time student or full-time enrollment.

Undergraduate FCS Graduate FCS
Minimum of 12 credits per semester Minimum of 9 credits per semester

 If you cannot maintain your FCS, you need to obtain written Reduced Course Load (RCL) or Full Time Equivalent (FTE) authorization from a Designated School Official (DSO) in the Global Education Office (GEO) in advance.

RCL and FTE options are limited by F-1 regulations and include both academic and medical circumstances. To request RCL or FTE, please send an email to GEOIS@vcu.edu.

If you cannot meet your FCS or obtain written RCL or FTE authorization from a GEO DSO we are required by law to terminate your SEVIS record. If you are in the U.S. when we terminate your SEVIS record, you will immediately lose your F-1 status and need to depart the U.S.


If I do not return to the US to study at VCU in person, what will happen to my F-1 visa?

If you are a continuing or transfer student and do not return to the US to study at VCU in person for Fall 2020 but you maintain FCS by registering for all online credits, your I-20 will remain active in SEVIS.

If you are a new student and do not come to the US to study at VCU in person for Fall 2020 you should maintain FCS by registering for all online credits. Please contact International Admissions to request a deferred-admission I-20 with a new start date for Spring 2021.