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COVID-19 Related FAQs for International Students

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FAQ page - updated 02-13-2023

Contacting an ISS Advisor

I really want to talk with an ISS advisor. How can I set up a meeting?

ISS advisors are still available via phone and email as usual ( We are also available for Zoom video meetings, if you would like to do so. In-person appointments are also available.

If you are a new student to Boise State University then please reach out to International Admissions, who are available to meet with you (remotely by video) and answer any questions you may have.

I’ve read all the FAQs and my question/answer isn’t listed here. Please can you help?

We’re here to help! We can chat by phone or video conference, and we’re also available by email.

Course Registration & Immigration Requirements

What are the course formats for Spring 2023?

Courses are being taught in four different formats: in-person, hybrid, remote and online.

If you would like to learn more about each mode of instruction, visit the Course Delivery Types webpage.

For F-1 and J-1 student visa purposes hybrid and in-person courses count as on-campus courses. Unless you are ill, you must be genuinely attending the in-person elements of the class to count it as on-campus for immigration.

Remote and online classes, even if you are taking them while you are personally present at Boise State, do not count as in-person classes for immigration purposes.

What are the enrollment requirements for Spring 2023?

Enrollment requirements will return to the regular F1/J1 enrollment requirements, as stated by U.S. Immigration. That severely limits the number of online and remote courses you can take as an international student. Therefore you must enroll as follows:

Undergraduate – at least 12 credits. Of those 12 credits, at least 9 credits must be on-campus/in-person.

Graduate – at least 9 credits. Of those 9 credits, at least 6 credits must be on-campus/in-person

There are limited exceptions to being less than full time, such as final semester, only thesis/dissertation remaining, or medical reasons. ALL exceptions must be pre-authorized by an ISS advisor in the Center for Global Engagement. Please contact us before dropping below full-time.

It will be extremely important to register for classes as soon as you have your enrollment appointment so that you get the courses you need, as not all sections of courses are offered in-person.

Are thesis and dissertation credits on-campus?

In most cases, thesis and dissertation credits are coded as in-person. Once you enroll you can see the mode of instruction within your Student Center.

As in regular semesters, you should plan to take the credits from the Boise area, unless your research requires you to be elsewhere in the United States. If you are doing research from outside the U.S. then please contact International Student Services ( for the appropriate form for research abroad.

This is my final semester. Do I need to be enrolled full-time?

You can request permission to be enrolled less than full-time if it is your final semester. You can read more about Final Semester requirements here.

You can also take your final courses online from outside the U.S.. However, if your final semester is outside the U.S. then you will not be able to apply for post-completion OPT work authorization.

If you want to take your final semester online from outside the U.S. then please complete our Leave of Absence from Campus Form as soon as possible so that we can correctly update your immigration record.

Travel and Visas

What documents do I need to re-enter the U.S.?

First, check the travel restrictions for any country that you are transiting through, as you travel back to the U.S.

Proof of vaccination is required to enter the U.S. (see the CDC website about entry for non-immigrants). Please note that a negative COVID test is also required for entry to the U.S. from certain destinations (see CDC website).  There are very limited exceptions. COVID-19 vaccinations are available through the Boise State University Vaccination clinic and many other providers in the Boise area.

We recommend that continuing students have the following documentation to enter the U.S. (required items are in bold):

  1. Valid passport (generally must be at least 6 months left, but some countries must have 1 year of validity left)
  2. Valid I-20, with a valid travel signature (a valid travel signature is less than 12 months old). If you need a travel signature on your I-20, please request one via our I-20 request form. J-1 students should have a valid DS-2019 with a valid travel endorsement. J-1 students can set up a time to get a travel signature via the DS-2019 travel signature request form.
  3. Valid F-1 visa stamp (Canadians are exempt from this requirement). J-1 students should have a valid J-1 visa stamp.
  4. EAD card (ONLY for students on OPT or STEM OPT) as well as evidence of employment, and a travel signature that is less than 6 months old
  5. Unofficial Boise State University transcript. This helps show that you are an active student making full-time progress towards your degree. It also helps to show that you were enrolled full-time. You may be required to show the mode of instruction for your courses, so be prepared to provide that information.

Please note: travel restrictions can change rapidly and without notice. It is your responsibility to check requirements before you travel. Please always check the travel requirements and any additional protocols with your U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you travel.

Can I travel outside the US?

We encourage you to review the Boise State COVID Travel page. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a Travel Information website related to COVID-19. Please note that information on travel conditions, recommendations and requirements can change rapidly and without warning.

Here are some other considerations:

  1. Airlines are still restricting and cancelling many routes, often with little notice. If you wish to travel home, please check for the earliest possible departure and routes. Keep in mind that this may also make it difficult to find a flight to return to the U.S.
  2. Check that you are able to to enter your destination and transit countries (travel restrictions and transit visa requirements) and if there are any self-isolation requirements. The Embassy for your home country is one source of information on travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
  3. Check if your visa stamp has expired, or if it will expire soon. Some Embassies still have very long wait lists for visa appointments. You may qualify for a visa renewal via mail (ONLY possible from outside the U.S.) so check if your Embassy has this option. If it takes a long time to renew your visa, then this could delay your return to the U.S.
  4. You can only apply for OPT work authorization from inside the U.S. If you are outside the U.S. for your final semester then you may not be able to apply for OPT if you leave the U.S.
  5. A negative COVID test is required for entry from some destinations. Additionally, proof of COVID vaccination is required for U.S. entry (see CDC website on vaccination requirements) with extremely limited exceptions.
  6. If you are planning to work for Boise State University while outside the U.S. then please note that you must request approval from your department. Not all positions are eligible for non-U.S. work, due to source of funding, topics being researched etc.

Where can I check current travel restrictions?

Although we cannot guarantee the up-to-the-minute accuracy of these websites, many people have found these websites to be useful. You may also wish to check with your airline before booking travel or traveling.

IATA website

US Department of State – on travel to other countries

CDC – on travel to the U.S.

Are Embassies and Consulates open for visa appointments?

Plan before you travel. The U.S. State Department has indicated that most Embassies are open for visa appointments. However, the availability for visa appointments varies depending on staffing and volume of requests. Continue to check the website for your Embassy or Consulate for more details, including if they are offering visa interview waivers. It can be difficult to obtain a timely visa appointment, and expedited appointments are not always available.

Remember that you only need to apply for a new visa stamp if your current visa stamp has expired and you are outside the U.S. You can remain in the U.S. with an expired visa stamp in your passport, so long as your I-20 or DS-2019 is valid, and you are following all the rules of your F-1 or J-1 status.

If you are having difficulty getting a visa appointment and are unable to get to Boise State then please contact us (

I am in the U.S. and my visa has expired. How do I renew my visa from within the U.S.?

You cannot apply for a new visa stamp from within the U.S.

However, you do not need to reapply for your visa if you are not leaving the U.S. It’s alright to be in the U.S. with an expired visa, so long as your I-20 or DS-2019 has not expired and you continue to follow all the rules and regulations for your visa status.

I am in the U.S. and my passport is expiring soon. How do I renew my passport from within the U.S.?

Please contact your local Embassy or Consulate inside the US for passport renewal requirements. Even if your Embassy or Consulate is not accepting applications be sure to document your attempts to renew your passport. Make sure you keep a photocopy of your current passport before you send it for renewal.

I-20 Updates & Reprint Requests

I’ve moved to another room or apartment. Do I need to update anything?

Yes, the regulations have not changed about contact information updates.  If you’ve moved to another address within the U.S. then please complete our Change of Address form within 10 days of the move. Students on OPT or STEM OPT should update their address using the SEVP OPT Portal.

What do I do if I’ve lost my I-20 or updated my I-20 and I need a new one?

Complete our online request for a new I-20. If you have changed your major or minor, complete our change of major/minor request for a new I-20.

I forgot to get a travel signature on my I-20. Can I get one now?

Please complete our online request for a new I-20.

U.S. Immigration is now allowing students to use emailed I-20s with travel signatures for travel. If you have received an I-20 by email then remember to print it out and sign it in ink before using it for travel. Please note that we can only email I-20s to your Boise State student email address.

Employment and Finances

Has U.S. Immigration allowed students to work off-campus due to COVID-19?

The F1 student visa regulations regarding employment have not changed.

International students on F-1 student visas are restricted to 20 hours/week of on-campus work only. No off-campus work is allowed, unless you are authorized under CPT (used for academic internships) or OPT (used for working after your degree).

There are some very limited options for work permits based on Unexpected Economic Hardship.

OPT - Optional Practical Training

How do I apply for OPT during this period?

OPT is the work authorization students use to work in the US after completing their academic program.

USCIS still requires students to apply for OPT from within the U.S. The I-765 application form also requires a U.S. mailing address for your EAD (work authorization card) and any other OPT-related correspondence. You can get further information on OPT on our website.

If you are completing your degree then it is very important to attend an OPT informational workshop early in the semester so that you can learn more about OPT. Then you will be ready to apply when your application window opens. The application window opens 90 days before the semester ends. You cannot apply for OPT if you have not attended an OPT informational workshop within the last academic year.

All informational workshops are offered online via zoom. Applying for OPT early in the application window is very important. You do not need a job in place to apply for OPT. You do not have to be ready to file the OPT application (or even planning to file for OPT) to attend the informational workshop.

I’ve applied for OPT but I want to leave the U.S. Will that affect my OPT application?

You can depart the U.S. while your application is pending, but you should be aware that there are some potential risks in doing so.

  • Any OPT-related mail will go to the mailing address that you put on your I-765 form. If no-one will be able to receive your mail then you should find another reliable U.S. mailing address and update USCIS and the ISS office with your address change.  If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) at that address then you will need to be able to review it and respond to it very quickly, as they are time-sensitive.  If you do not respond to the RFE by the deadline provided then your OPT will be denied.
  • If your OPT is approved while you are outside the U.S. then you will need your EAD card and updated I-20 (with travel signature) to return. You may have difficulties re-entering the U.S. after the program end date on your I-20 if your OPT is still pending.
  • If your F-1 visa has expired then you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, most of which are currently closed. It can be difficult to renew an F-1 visa without your OPT approval and verified future employment.

I’ve already left the U.S. and plan to finish my program online. Can I apply for OPT?

If you have already left the U.S. then you are no longer able to apply for OPT.

I am working remotely on OPT / STEM OPT during COVID-19. Do I have to update my place of employment in the SEVP Portal?

SEVP has confirmed that you do not have to update your worksite address while temporarily working remotely during the COVID-19 period. If you work remotely on a permanent or long-term basis even after your company returns to working onsite, then you will need to update your worksite address at that time. Students on STEM OPT who have a worksite address change should contact Ruth Prince ( for more guidance.

Government-sponsored students

I am a student sponsored by SACM or KCO. How will I request my letters and documents?

The letter request process will not change. If you need to submit a letter request, please visit Sponsored student letter requests.

Health and Wellness

What are my resources for health and wellness in this time?

As an international student at Boise State, your health and well being are our first priority. Please continue to check Boise State University’s main page for the latest Campus updates regarding COVID-19. In this section we have some helpful links we have found to help you address stress and anxiety you may be feeling. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you feel you have any questions or concerns.

Coronavirus Resource Center

University Health Services

Bronco Fit