The University of MissouriSt. Louis and UMSL Global is fully committed to supporting you during the Covid-19 related closures.

As part of our efforts to serve you, here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that may help you understand your rights and obligations as an international student.

You should understand that the United States government has made a number of temporary changes to regulations over the past few weeks and we expect more before this is over.  UMSL Global will communicate changes as necessary.  For more information about these FAQs, please contact Jason Marquart at or Lenka Garimella at

Immigration, Travel

YES. SEVP has provided guidance that your immigration status will not be affected by studying outside the US during the Spring 2020 semester. Please note that this guidance is for the Spring 2020 semester only and is subject to change.

You are eligible to spend the remainder of the semester outside of the St. Louis area; however, if you remain in the US you are required to update your address in MyView within 10 days of the change.

YES. According to the regulations, you must continue to be enrolled full-time for the Spring 2020 in order to maintain your F-1 or J-1 visa status. This is true even if you complete your courses from abroad.

As a reminder, undergraduates must complete at least 12 credit hours to be full-time while graduate students need 9 credit hours. There are exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement for students who are graduating this semester as well as students who have a medical reason. Please email with questions specific to your case.

If you are planning to enroll in the Fall 2020, you can return at any time prior to August 24, 2020.  You are welcome to return earlier to complete Summer 2020 courses, though please note that UMSL has moved all Summer 2020 courses online.

At this point, we are planning for students to return to on-campus classes in Fall 2020; however, as the COVID-19 situation develops, you should refer to UMSL COVID-19 website for latest updates.

Due to St. Louis County and Missouri stay-at-home orders, and to support the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, the Spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies have been postponed until December 2020. For more information, please visit the UMSL Commencement website.

UMSL will confer degrees as planned, so as long as you complete all requirements for the degree, you will be a May or August graduates and will receive your diploma accordingly.

YES. If you have not obtained a recent signature, UMSL Global does recommend that you obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 prior to returning.  To request a new document with a travel signature, first read then complete our Travel Signature Form and e-mail it to Lenka Garimella at

Please note: you do not need to have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed prior to departing the United States; UMSL Global can ship the new form to you wherever you are in the world by using eShipGlobal.

NO. SEVP did clarify that they are temporarily allowing colleges and universities to e-mail the I-20.  However, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has not change their policy of requiring students to present an I-20 with an original signature at the border.

Your F-1 or J-1 stamp can expire while you are in the US. You do not need to travel back to your home country to renew your visa. However, if you are planning to leave the US and your visa has expired (or will expire prior to your return), you should plan to renew your visa at a US consulate or embassy. 

As a reminder, Canadian citizens do not need an F-1 or J-1 visa to enter the US.

YES. You are welcome to take classes in the Summer 2020 though you are not required to do so unless you are planning to graduate in August 2020. Please note: UMSL has moved all Summer 2020 courses to online-only.

NO. SEVP has said that they will not apply the 5-month rule for students who departed the United States during the Spring 2020 semester.  However, under the current rules, you will need to return to campus for the Fall 2020 semester in order to keep your SEVIS record active.

If the current COVID-19 situation doesn’t improve in time for you to return for the Fall 2020 semester, UMSL Global will likely need to terminate your SEVIS record.  In order to return in the Fall, you will need to obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 along with a new visa stamp.  This policy may be subject to change so please check with your International Student Advisor if you determine that you are unable to return on time.

If you remain home for the Fall, you are welcome to enroll in online coursework, pending availability of the online courses you require.

If you graduate in May, you will have grace period, during which you have to choose one of the following options below:

  • Return home
  • Apply for a new degree program at UMSL and request a Change of Level.
  • Transfer to another college or university
  • Apply for Optional Practical Training before July 15, 2020
  • Change to a different non-immigration visa category such as the B-1/B-2 or H-1B

UMSL Global currently plans to reopen in conjunction with the rest of the campus. We remain operational and will continue to offer Zoom appointments, respond to email, process paperwork, and other services as required.

Off-Campus Work Authorization

NO. You must be physically present in the US at the time you submit your OPT application. If you have not applied for OPT, but plan to do so, we strongly encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible.

YES. You are allowed to leave the U.S. when your OPT application is pending at USCIS, but there is an element of risk so please discuss this with your International Student Advisor before making travel plans.

The USCIS has closed local offices but the service centers continue to operate as usual.  At this point, we have no reason to believe that the service centers will be closed.  If you are graduating in May, you should apply for OPT as soon as possible.  Please contact Lenka Garimella at to get started.

YES. USCIS has agree to accept forms and other documents with reproduced original signatures.  For the most part, this changes very little.  If you are applying for OPT, you would need to mail a hard copy to USCIS.

Unfortunately, at this point, you are still subject to the 90 day unemployment provision. If you reach 90 days of unemployment, there is no grace period and you must do one of the options below:

  • Return home
  • Apply for a new degree program at UMSL and request a Change of Level.
  • Transfer to another college or university
  • Apply for Optional Practical Training before July 15, 2020
  • Change to a different non-immigration visa category such as the B-1/B-2 or H-1B
At this time, CPT applications will be processed as normal.

Income Taxes

The IRS has extended the deadline for filing federal tax returns from April 15 to July 15, 2020. For more information and assistance in filing your 2019 tax returns, please contact Jim Webb at

You may be eligible for a CARES Act rebate if you were a US resident for tax purposes and filed a US income tax return in 2018 or 2019.  Unfortunately, non-resident aliens are not eligible for the rebate.  For more information, please contact Jim Webb at