Continuing Students

Q. If I am not able to get the COVID-19 vaccine in my home country by July 23rd, will a hold be placed on my account?

A: There will be no holds placed on accounts of international students who cannot get access to a WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine before the July 23rd deadline.To prevent an account hold, please email testing[at]umass[dot]edu describing your circumstances.

Q: How can I satisfy UMass vaccine requirements?

A: Based on recent guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, international students who are inoculated with a vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (currently Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm) will satisfy the UMass requirement for vaccinations. Arriving students who have not received a vaccine or who have received a vaccine not approved by the WHO will need to follow Massachusetts guidelines for quarantine that are in place at the time of arrival. More information and updates will be available in the campus COVID-19 Frequently asked Questions. Please continue to monitor this specific link for updates throughout the summer. Note, there are currently no federal US requirements to provide vaccination or COVID test results to US immigration officers upon arrival, nor will you be directed to quarantine at an airport. Individual US states do, however, maintain their own specific guidance and requirements. For UMass guidelines, please see the UMass FAQs.

Q: I began my UMass studies remotely online and have not yet entered the US. Do I need a student visa and/or an updated I-20 form to enter the US?

A: Yes, you will need to secure an F-1 visa and updated I-20 form in order to enter the US. Please complete the Funding Update requirements. For questions please contact visarequest[at]umass[dot]edu (undergraduates) or gradvisarequest[at]umass[dot]edu (graduate students).

Q: Who should plan to return to campus this fall?

A: All faculty, staff and students should plan to return to campus in-person this fall. The university intends to offer a full college experience, featuring face-to-face instruction, full residence halls, a complement of student events and activities, and active research facilities.

Q: I’m a continuing international student. Can I return to campus for the fall semester?

A: All new and continuing international students who are able to travel to the U.S. are strongly urged to attend campus in person. The International Programs Office is monitoring travel restrictions, visa issuance and backlogs, and vaccine requirements across the globe. For international students unable to come to campus to start the semester on Sept. 1, the university will pursue technology options in the classrooms for individual student accommodations that may be needed (e.g., Echo360 asynchronous recordings or synchronous laptop/microphone Zoom sessions). The university will also explore fully remote options and assist international students with access to courses, but UMass will not have a fully remote curriculum in place.

Q: I am a current international student and because of visa/travel restrictions, I don’t have the choice to return to the UMass Amherst campus this fall. Can I attend remotely?

A: The International Programs Office is monitoring travel restrictions, visa issuance and backlogs. After August 15, we will have a better idea of where backlogs are most problematic. For international students unable to come to campus to start the semester on Sept. 1 because of visa issues or travel restrictions, the university will pursue technology options for some classes and individual student accommodations (e.g., Echo360 asynchronous recordings or synchronous laptop/microphone Zoom sessions). However, UMass will not have a fully remote curriculum in place for the fall. If you have not yet done so, please consult with your academic advisor to create an in-person fall semester registration.

Q: I am a continuing international student who held F-1 students prior to March 2020. Are there any new restrictions or regulations that I should be aware of?

A: No, unless you are from China, Iran, Brazil or South Africa, then see below. If you are from one of these countries it is highly unlikely that you will be able to return to the United States prior to August 1, 2021.

Q: I am from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa or India. Do I need special permission to enter the US called a “National Interest Exemption (NIE)?”

A: If you are from one of these countries you do not need a NIE for travel to the US after August 1, 2021. If you are attempting to enter the US prior to August 1, 2021 you may not enter unless you have a NIE. You will need to contact your local US Consulate to request an NIE.

Q: I am from the Schengen Area of the European Union, United Kingdom or Ireland. Do I need special permission to enter the US called a “National Interest Exemption (NIE)?”

A: No, F-1 and J-1 students with valid visas are automatically granted a NIE and there are no restrictions on travel dates to the US.

Q: Do I need a letter that confirms that UMass Amherst is a hybrid instructional model and provides some in-person (“face-to-face”) courses for new F-1 students?

A: No, this is not necessary for either a US consular interview or for arrival and inspection by US immigration officers upon arrival.

Q: Can I request a letter for the Expedited Visa Appointment (EA)?

A: No, since the expedited appointment is not applicable to you at this time.

Q: How can I arrange a flight to the US?

A: Please follow the advice and updates of your airline or travel agent and other local travel advisories. International airline operations continue to be severely disrupted because of COVID-19 and international flights schedules are very much subject to change. Please continue to check directly with your airline or travel agent, including possible COVID-19 testing requirements, as this information is very much subject to change.

Q: What are the COVID-19 testing requirements for entry into the United States?

A: Please see the CDC website.

Q: I am a Mexican or Canadian student. Can I enter the US through a land border crossing?

A: Yes. If a Mexican citizen has a valid F-1 or J-1 student visa, you may enter the US either at a US border crossing or at a US airport. Canadian citizens are visa-exempt and do not need an F-1 visa stamp, only a valid I-20 form or DS-2019 form issued by the IPO. Educational purposes are considered “essential” travel during the temporary US land border closure with Mexico and Canada.

Q: What documents do I need to enter the US?

A: To enter the US in F-1 or J-1 student immigration status you will need a valid passport, a valid F-1 or J-1 student visa stamp issued by a US consulate and a printed version of the I-20 form (F-1) sent to you by the IPO, or a physical copy of a DS-2019 form (J-1). Canadian citizens are exempt from visa requirements but will need an I-20 or DS-2019 form to enter the US. You cannot and should not enter the US in B-2 visitor/tourist status (or ESTA) and begin academic studies, without exception. 

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