IPO News

August 7 Immigration Update

Friday, August 7, 2020

Dear New International Students,            

As you have likely heard, on Thursday August 6 UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy has revised our reopening guidance for new first-year students who were otherwise planning to come to campus in-person.                

The International Programs Office wishes to reiterate what was stated in the Chancellor’s updated campus reopening guidance on August 6, which is to say that new international students (first semester enrollees) who are otherwise able to obtain an F-1 visa and travel to the US are still allowed to come to campus if your visa and travel conditions allow. The University will likewise abide by its commitment to supporting your existing arrangements to stay on campus, as well as ensuring access to the appropriate in-person, face-to-face coursework as is now required by federal immigration policies for new F-1 visa holders. Additional academic information regarding (in-person), face-to-face registration is forthcoming soon.            

The IPO will continue to post additional information and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on our home page. Please continue to monitor this site for the most updated information related to your F-1 immigration situation. As a reminder, the coordinated and centralized UMass Amherst campus reopening site can be found here. 

Please review the IPO FAQ page for answers to common questions. Below are some additional questions that you may have arising from yesterday’s announcement:

August 7 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I still come to campus/live in the Amherst, Massachusetts area if I am a first-year international undergraduate or graduate student?

A: Yes, new international students may still come to campus if visa and travel conditions allow. Please contact iss[at]umass[dot]edu if you have any immigration-related questions regarding your arrival.        

Q: I may now consider beginning my UMass studies (matriculate) online in the fall, stay in my home country, and wait until January before trying to come to the U.S. and to campus. What should I do?

A: If you do not plan to enter the U.S. this fall but intend to begin your studies online, you do not need to secure an F-1 visa to begin remote UMass Amherst online studies outside of the U.S. Please continue to follow the advice of your undergraduate academic advisor or Graduate Program Director for graduate students*. The IPO would also be grateful for a confirmation of your plans to join us in January (contact: iss[at]umass[dot]edu ), and we will gladly provide you with an updated I-20 form upon request to indicate a revised January starting date. Please be patient for these requests. Your existing I-20 contains all of the same information you will need to schedule a U.S. consular appointment and to continue your upcoming travel plans.

(*A limited number of nationalities are unfortunately prohibited from overseas remote online instruction by Federal regulations. You will have been already contacted by the IPO if these restrictions apply to you)

Q: I would prefer to not start my degree program online this fall semester, stay in my home country, and begin formal studies in January instead. What should I do?                         

A: If you do not intend to enter the U.S. this fall, and also do not intend to begin your studies online in fall semester, 2020; you will need to formally defer your admission to Spring semester (January, 2021). Undergraduate students must contact: (international[at]admissions.umass[dot]edu); Graduate students must contact your Graduate Program Director to request academic deferral.    

Q: Does the Chancellor’s August 6 update regarding revised campus reopening guidance change anything related to my upcoming U.S. consular visa appointment and/or entry into the U.S.?

A: No. You should continue with the F-1 visa application process and make travel plans to the U.S. if you intend to come to Amherst this fall. Please note: If you will be delayed, it is not recommended that you come to campus any later than the fall semester drop/add deadline of Monday, September 7, 2020.

Q: Will UMass make in-person coursework available for new F-1 international students (first semester enrollees)?

A: Yes. As stated previously, all new international students in F-1 status are now required to enroll in some face-to-face (in-person) coursework to comply with recently revised federal regulations. UMass will provide such coursework for you, and you will be enrolled in appropriate face-to-face academic coursework. Further information and details are forthcoming and will be provided very soon.        

Q: As an international student, am I required to quarantine upon arrival in Amherst?

A: Yes. All students, domestic and international alike, are required to quarantine upon arrival based on Massachusetts state guidelines unless arriving from a nearby regional New England state that is exempted. Complete and updated quarantine information is posted here.

Kenneth J. Reade
Director of International Student & Scholar Services International Programs Office
University of Massachusetts Amherst