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COVID-19 FAQs for International Students and Scholars

The FAQs below cover questions specific to international students and scholars for the spring 2020 and summer 2020 semester. Click here for fall 2020 FAQs. The general Tulane FAQs on COVID-19, visit this page. This website will be updated as questions and answers arise.

General FAQs

Will the OISS be open?

The OISS is taking measures to reduce contact due to COVID-19. As of Monday, March 16, 2020 the physical location of OISS is no longer open. OISS staff members will be working remotely in alignment with Tulane recommendations related to social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19. Students and scholars can continue to make virtual appointments with an advisor through our appointments website or by emailing The advisor will email you details about the online or phone appointment before the scheduled meeting time. If you have a document you need to get from OISS, you will be contacted about shipment options.

Please view our OISS Operations During COVID-19 page for more details regarding our virtual operations.

How can I get documents from the OISS if the office is closed?

OISS has a new process for requesting immigration documents for the following reasons:

  • Travel signature
  • Change of major
  • Change of level (for a new degree program)
  • Loss of document
  • Program extension
  • Driver's License or Social Security Application

 Fill in and submit this form. OISS will print a new I-20 or DS-2019 and send you an email that includes the following information:

Will the OISS hold events and workshops?

In-person events like the Global Café are all cancelled for now. We will replace in-person workshops with online webinars and advertise the links to students.


International Student FAQs

Will the university make allowances if students are not able to get to New Orleans to attend classes?

The university is aware that a variety of students might not be able to be present physically for classes in the fall.  While we are planning for fall classes to be in person, we are also planning on supporting students who can not attend in person, even students who may be outside of the United States.

What will the immigration implications be for international students having to take all or part of the fall semester online, perhaps outside of the United States?

So far, during the COVID-19 situation, government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, have been understanding about the need to attend classes online as well as out of the country.  At this time, we do not know if these allowances will be extended for the fall semester. The OISS will notify international students of any updates that could impact their immigration status.

What if many of the classes at Tulane in the summer or fall are going to be online? Can I take all online classes?

The U.S. government has temporarily removed the restrictions on online classes for F-1 and J-1 students. At this time, we do not know if this allowance will be extended for the fall semester. 

Can I leave the U.S. and continue my online classes?

Yes. The latest guidance from the US government states that students "can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19."  Students may decide whether to continue their online classes in the US or abroad. Before you leave the U.S. make sure you have a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019. The signature must be less than one year old on the date you return.

Will online courses make accommodations for the time difference between the U.S. and my home country?

It is our understanding that professors have been asked to make accommodations for time zone differences. We will share updates with you when they are available.

Can I still travel outside the U.S. and re-enter?

If you are planning on short-term travel outside the U.S. and you are maintaining your current immigration status through Tulane, please see our travel guidance page for more information about potential travel bans and suggested additional travel documentation.

Can I return to the U.S. in the fall if I have been gone for more than 5 months?

Yes. Normally there can be difficulty returning to the U.S. if you have been abroad for more than 5 months, but the U.S. government has confirmed that F-1 and J-1 students who have maintained full-time enrollment during the spring smester will be eligible to re-enter the US even if they have been gone more than 5 months. 

Note: while you can return to the US after being gone more than 5 months, we cannot predict whether the travel bans for China and Iran will still be in place, whether new travel bans will be implemented, when US embassies will reopen in China, or where the virus will have spread. If you are planning on going home for the semester or traveling internationally anytime soon, please be sure you are aware of the risks of travel during this time. You can read more about it on our travel guidance page.

If I leave the US, can I apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

If you are graduating this semester and you have not applied for OPT yet, you may lose eligibility for OPT if you leave the U.S. now. Current regulations require you to apply for OPT from within the U.S. The U.S. government has temporarily adjusted some F-1 requirements, but we do not have information yet about how OPT will be handled for those students who return home now before applying.

Note: if you apply for OPT before you leave, you will need proof of employment, your EAD card, and an I-20 with a travel signature less than 6 months old in order to re-enter the US.

My current student visa is expired. If I leave the U.S., can I renew it?

Due to U.S. consulate and embassy closures and limited staffing in some areas affected by COVID-19, it may be difficult to obtain a new visa if you are hoping to return in the summer or fall. Continue to check on the availability of U.S. consular or embassy services in your home country because conditions are changing rapidly worldwide.

Can I stay in the U.S.?

Yes. You must continue with your online classes and/or other program requirements to make progress toward your degree and/or program objectives. Note that attendance in the summer is optional, unless it is required by your academic program, and you can stay in the U.S. during the Tulane summer break.

If I live on campus can I stay on campus?

Any student who lives on campus now and wants to stay must submit this online application. Deming residents do not need to fill out the form in order to stay in Deming.

If I stay on campus, will there be campus services?

Services are still being provided, but with some limitations. Visit the individual website for Tulane dining, shuttles, library, the Reily Center gym, and the general campus services website for current information.

I am planning to start another academic program at Tulane after I complete my current one. How can I get an I-20 for the new program?

In general, your department will inform the OISS when you are starting a new academic program. If you are concerned about when you will receive a new I-20, you can reach out to the admissions office for the new program for more information.

I am planning to transfer to another school after I complete my Tulane degree. How can I transfer my SEVIS record?

To transfer your SEVIS record to your new school, obtain a letter of admission and a SEVIS transfer form from your new school. Email these documents to and the OISS will work with your new school to transfer your SEVIS record.

International Scholar FAQs

Can I continue my work or research at Tulane? Can I work from home?

Yes. The U.S. government has removed restrictions on your work site of activity, so you may continue your work or research at Tulane or remotely from home through teleconferencing, virtual online meetings, etc. Be sure to work with your department for approval for any alternative work arrangements.

If I want to leave the U.S., what immigration steps should I take?

Inform the OISS scholar advisor Nancy Lauland ( and your department immediately if you are planning on leaving the U.S. earlier than your scheduled program end date. The OISS will work with you to shorten your program for authorized withdrawal. Please note that some J-1 scholars who shorten their program may be prevented from returning to the U.S. in J-1 status for 12 or 24 months. These are known as the 12 / 24 month bars on repeat participation; read more here.