Skip to Main Content

International Students Fall 2021 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

All International Students

Please review all the questions and answers below.

Will international students be able to take online/virtual only classes for Fall 2021 term?

UMass Lowell plans to resume full on-campus operations for the Fall 2021 semester, including in-person learning. Students in the US are expected to return to campus to resume in-person learning. In accordance with Federal Regulations, this means that students may only take one online class per semester.  The ISSO is working with campus partners to identify accommodations for students outside of the US, who are unable to return to campus due to COVID-19 visa/travel restrictions. ISSO will continue to monitor CDC guidance regarding travel restrictions, visa issuance and backlogs, and vaccine requirements internationally.

Where can I get updated information on UMass Lowell’s Plan to Return to Campus?

Students should visit the Current Campus Operations page to view current plans and protocols.

Are the U.S. Embassy/Consulates abroad processing routine visa services again?

To find information for the U.S. Embassy in your home country, please search the embassy near you on the U.S. Embassy website.

To find information on Visa Appointment wait times or availability, please check the State Department webpage.

Will international students who have been vaccinated in their countries need to be re-vaccinated with a vaccine that is authorized for use in the U.S.?

UMass Lowell will accept proof of vaccination with vaccines approved by Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO). These organizations are regularly reviewing vaccines for their development processes, safety and efficacy.

What happens if students can’t easily get access to vaccines where they live, either in the U.S. or abroad? Can they get vaccinated when they get to UML?

Given current projections related to vaccine supply, it is our expectation that students in the United States should be able to get fully vaccinated prior to their arrival at UML in Fall 2021. Assuming the continued availability of vaccines, those students who are unable to access the COVID-19 vaccine prior to arrival, especially international students, should be able to get vaccinated when they arrive in Massachusetts. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated is two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose series or single-dose vaccine.

Can I take a leave of absence for the Fall 2021 semester, returning for the Spring 2022 semester?

Yes, although your failure to enroll in any courses for the Fall 2021 semester will require you to depart the U.S. prior to the start of the Fall 2021 semester (if in the U.S. currently). Thereafter, the ISSO would terminate your F-1/J-1 student status and SEVIS record. It may be possible for the ISSO to request reactivation of your SEVIS record, 60 days in advance of your planned return date, should you wish to return for the Spring 2022 semester, though your options may be limited depending on how long your absence from the U.S. lasts. Please consult with an ISSO official before making plans to take a leave of absence for the fall semester.

I am in my home country and unable to arrive to the US due to visa/travel issues and restrictions. Will I be able to enroll from my home country?

The ISSO is working close with our campus partners to identify accommodations for students who are currently outside of the U.S. who are unable to come to the US due to visa issues or travel restrictions.  Students who are unable to arrive in the US for the Fall 2021 semester may request a deferral of their I-20/DS-2019 start date to allow them to arrive for the Spring 2022 semester. ISSO will continue to monitor travel restrictions, visa issuance and backlog.

I am unable to arrive to the U.S. for Fall 2021 and I prefer to not take online courses from my home country this semester. What are my options?

If you are unable or would prefer to not begin your program through online courses from your home country, we recommend you contact the Graduate Admissions or Undergraduate Admissions office to see whether you are eligible to defer your admission to Spring 2022. Once your admission is updated to reflect Spring 2022, ISSO will update your visa document to reflect a start term of Spring 2022 (Jan. 18, 2022).

What are the enrollment requirements for international students for the Fall 2021 term?

Initial Students
All “new” (initial) students are required to be in the U.S. and enrolled in in-person courses (no more than one online course per term) in order to have their SEVIS record activated and otherwise maintain their status. Should an initial student not be able to arrive for the Fall 2021 term, they must either:
  1. Work with admissions to defer their I-20 to a subsequent term, at which point ISSO can issue an updated I-20 reflecting the new term start; or
  2. Begin their program remotely from their home country during the fall with plans to arrive to the U.S. for a subsequent term. You will need to work with the ISSO to amend your I-20 and SEVIS record to reflect the appropriate term start by which you will be present in the U.S.
Active Students
All students in active F-1 or J-1 students are expected to be in the U.S. and enrolled in in-person courses (no more than one online course per term) in order to be SEVIS registered for the Fall 2021 term and otherwise maintain their status. If an active student is unable to arrive to the U.S. for the Fall 2021 term, they have three options:
  1. If you were in “active” F-1/J-1 status as of March 9, 2020 and will enroll on a full-time basis in online courses from abroad, the ISSO can permit you to maintain “active” SEVIS status;
  2. If you were not in “active” F-1 or J-1 status as of March 9, 2020, you can enroll in online courses from abroad, though the ISSO must terminate your status as an Authorized Early Withdrawal. The ISSO can later attempt to reactivate your SEVIS record no earlier than 60 days from the term you intend to return to the U.S. Should a reactivation not be possible, you may be able to return to the U.S. on a new “initial” SEVIS record;
  3. Choose not to enroll in courses, resulting in the termination of your SEVIS record (a leave of absence). The ISSO can later attempt to reactivate your SEVIS record no earlier than 60 days from the term you intend to return to the U.S. Should a reactivation not be possible, you may be able to return to the U.S. on a new “initial” SEVIS record.
Newly Reactivated Students
If you are a student returning to the U.S. to resume your studies after having your SEVIS record reactivated (in “initial” status), you are expected to be in the U.S. and enrolled in in-person courses (no more than one online course per term) in order to be SEVIS registered for the Fall 2021 term and otherwise maintain their status. The inability to arrive for the Fall 2021 term will result in the automatic cancellation of your SEVIS record. The ISSO can later attempt to reactivate your SEVIS record no earlier than 60 days from the term you intend to return to the U.S. Should a reactivation not be possible, you may be able to return to the U.S. on a new “initial” SEVIS record.
Transfer-In Students
New transfer students are expected to be in the U.S. and enrolled in in-person courses (no more than one online course per term) in order to be SEVIS registered for the Fall 2021 term and otherwise maintain their status, regardless of whether you were or were not in “active” SEVIS status as of March 9, 2020. The inability to arrive for the Fall 2021 term will result in the automatic cancellation of your SEVIS record. The ISSO can later attempt to reactivate your SEVIS record no earlier than 60 days from the term you intend to return to the U.S. Should a reactivation not be possible, you may be able to return to the U.S. on a new “initial” SEVIS record.
Change of Level Students
Students in “active” F-1 or J-1 student starting a new program of study in the fall after completing a different program in a previous term (change of academic level cases) are expected to be in the U.S. and enrolled in in-person courses (no more than one online course per term) in order to be SEVIS registered for the Fall 2021 term and otherwise maintain their status. If this student is unable to arrive to the U.S. for the Fall 2021 term, they have three options:
  1. If you were in “active” F-1/J-1 status as of March 9, 2020 and will enroll on a full-time basis in online courses from abroad, the ISSO can permit you to maintain “active” SEVIS status, SEVIS registering at the start of the Fall 2021 term;
  2. If you were not in “active” F-1 or J-1 status as of March 9, 2020, you can enroll in online courses from abroad, though the ISSO must cancel your SEVIS record. The ISSO can later attempt to reactivate your SEVIS record no earlier than 60 days from the term you intend to return to the U.S., though the approval of a reactivation is up to the discretion of SEVP. Should a reactivation not be possible, you may be able to return to the U.S. on a new “initial” SEVIS record;
  3. Choose not to enroll in courses, resulting in the cancellation of your SEVIS record. The ISSO can later attempt to reactivate your SEVIS record no earlier than 60 days from the term you intend to return to the U.S., though the approval of a reactivation is up to the discretion of SEVP. To that, proof that you were enrolled, even from abroad, during that term may be helpful when attempting a reactivation. Should a reactivation not be possible, you may be able to return to the U.S. on a new “initial” SEVIS record once the ISSO receives confirmation from the department that you will be permitted to resume your studies.

What if I am unable to arrive to the U.S. for the start of the Fall 2021 term (Sept. 1, 2021)?

Under F-1 or J-1 student visa regulations, you are required to arrive to the university by the start of the semester. We are also unable to issue late arrival letters, as the ISSO cannot "approve" a late arrival to the U.S. We would refer you to the guidance below as to what you will need if arriving later than the upcoming term start date:
Arrival During the Add/Drop Period (Sept. 1-15, 2021): You must be enrolled-full time and travel with proof of registration, as well as collect a letter from your academic advisor acknowledging and approving your arrival after the start of the given term.
Arrival After the Add/Drop Period (Sept. 16–30): You must be enrolled on a full-time basis and have written approval from your academic department acknowledging and approving your late arrival, and describing their plan to get you up to speed upon your arrival to campus.
If you are unable to arrive within 30 days of the start of a given term, you may have some options (please see the above guidance in our FAQ). In some instances, you may be able to maintain your F-1 status, though in most cases a termination or cancellation of your SEVIS record is likely.
Please note that all international students are required to report to the ISSO within 30 days of a term's start so that we may SEVIS register you for that term. Failure to be SEVIS registered will result in the termination of your SEVIS record.