COVID-19 Updates: Fall Semester

ISSS COVID-19 FAQ and Fall 2020 updates

How will Middlebury courses be offered?

FALL 2020:

As of June 22, 2020, Middlebury issued its initial decision regarding fall term.

  • COLLEGE Students:  We will deliver courses through a hybrid method (featuring in-person, hybrid, or online courses) that could be taken from on campus in Vermont or remotely from abroad.
  • INSTITUTE Students:  We will be a remote-only program, offering courses delivered online or via distance learning methods.

SPRING and SUMMER 2020:

  • COLLEGE Students:  We will deliver courses through distance learning methods beginning March 30. The College will re-evaluate that process in the first two weeks of April, and make a determination as to whether this temporary approach will continue.  In early April, the College determined that students would participate in courses remotely for the duration of Spring Term.
  • INSTITUTE Students:  We will deliver Spring 2020 courses via distance learning methods through May 15, 2020 (from the end of spring break to the end of spring semester).
  • Language Schools & Bread Loaf School of English: We will deliver our programs via online methods for SUMMER 2020.
Can I take classes remotely from my home country?

FALL 2020:

  • For Fall 2020, per the ICE-SEVP guidance issued on July 24, continuing F-1 students may take Middlebury College courses remotely (fully online) and maintain their F-1 status while inside or outside the U.S. (This also applies to continuing F-1 students on approved Middlebury study-abroad programs.)
  • New students or students returning from a Leave of Absence may take courses remotely from outside the U.S. to begin or continue their academic program at Middlebury. However, they will only attain F-1 status upon entry to the U.S. to pursue their studies in person on campus at a future date.
  • F-1 students who were in the U.S. in F-1 status before March 9, 2020 and had their SEVIS record transferred to Middlebury may study remotely from their home country in a full-time course of study online. However, their SEVIS record will need to be adjusted and ISSS will provide an updated I-20 when the student is ready to enter the U.S. to pursue their studies in person on campus at a future date. (The student's SEVIS record will remain in "initial" status until that time.) Technically, the student will not be in F-1 status while outside the U.S.

SPRING 2020:

  • SEVIS Guidance (issued on March 9, 2020) offered U.S. colleges and universities greater flexibility regarding temporary adaptations to the delivery of courses and programs during this worldwide health crisis.
  • The Department of State Academic & Government Exchange Program also offered guidance that acknowledged the need for flexibility with administering J-1 programs.
  • Middlebury has determined that offering our courses through a distance learning method of delivery will be sufficient for making normal progress in a full course of study.
  • Students in F-1 or J-1 visa status will be able to maintain their status while enrolled in a full-time course load delivered remotely.  This applies to students participating in remote learning from within the U.S. or from abroad.
  • This is a temporary accommodation by the U.S. government in light of COVID-19, expected to extend for the duration of the emergency or until further notice.
Can I travel internationally?

ISSS strongly advises students who have chosen to remain in the U.S. not to travel abroad.

As of March 16, 2020, there are travel restrictions related to COVID-19 for non-U.S. citizens who have been physically present in the People’s Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Schengen Area, as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The Schengen Area includes 26 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

If you decide to travel to these countries, you are taking a significant risk regarding your return.  It may be difficult to return to the U.S. until the U.S. government modifies or removes these travel restrictions.

The U.S. government also may enact additional restrictions.  This could happen at any time, even while you are in transit.

Update: As of July 22, the U.S. Department of State granted a blanket exemption (i.e. a National Interest Exception) to F-1 students from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland to enter the U.S. to begin or continue their academic programs. Students in J-1 status need to seek an exemption from the U.S.Consulate official at their visa interview or via a direct request if they do not require a visa appointment.

Do I need to notify ISSS of any international travel?

ISSS would like to ensure that students are aware of any travel restrictions that may affect your ability to the return to the U.S.

If you know that you will travel internationally, and plan to return to the U.S., please let ISSS know in advance of your departure.

Can I travel within the U.S.?

If you decide to travel within the U.S. for personal reasons, ISSS encourages you to be aware of cities and states that could be impacted by the COVID-19 virus. As of March 13, there are no restrictions for domestic travel, however, this situation is changing every day. Check the state and territorial health department websites for the latest information.

How long will these travel restrictions last?

This is currently unknown.  There are two types of restrictions:

1.  Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidelines:

  • For the CDC guidance, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will advise on whether the restrictions continue, change or end on the 1st and 15th of every month, or as needed.  Information about travel restrictions can be found on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

2.  U.S. Department of State (DoS) travel restrictions:

How do I maintain my U.S. visa status under these conditions?

FALL 2020: Please see the ISSS Update and enrollment options information at the top of this page. The PDF outlines specific details for students for fall term, based on July 24 SEVP guidance.

In general, much of the information for spring semester 2020 remains true. The exception is that new students, students returning from a Leave of Absence and SEVIS "transfer in" students who will begin their studies in the fall with an "initial" I-20 will be required to enroll in at least one course that is not online . This course must require in-person presence or physical attendance in an intergral aspect of the course.

Continuing F-1 students are still able to pursue a full-time course load of all online courses in the U.S. or from abroad and still maintain their F-1 status. (Students may enroll in either online, in-person or hybrid courses to meet their full-time enrollment requirement.) This is a temporary exemption to the F-1 regulations that usually limit online enrollment to one online course that can count towards full-time enrollment. This is a temporary regulatory exception for the duration of the COVID-19 worldwide emergency.

SPRING 2020: We expect students to continue maintaining their F-1 and J-1 status during the spring semester, while engaging in classes remotely.

Maintaining your status requires you to:

  • Participate in a “full course of study” (i.e. full time) for the duration of Spring Term. 
    • We expect you to continue participating in all courses in which you are enrolled.
    • If you relocate to another U.S. state or return to your home country to engage in remote courses, you must take the necessary steps to ensure that you can “attend” your courses.
    • If you are unable to continue with your coursework, please alert ISSS prior to dropping a course or stopping your participation in courses.
  • Report changes to your physical location:
    • As is outlined in the federal regulations, F-1 and J-1 students are required to notify ISSS within 10 days of moving to their new address.  ISSS must maintain information regarding your current address and report it in SEVIS. 
    • Given the unique situation that we are in, and knowing that some students may return to their home country, ISSS will request that you complete a physical location form so we know where our international students are located during this time. We will send this form the week of March 30. This form will allow you to indicate if your location update will also serve as your address update for Spring Term.
    • For any subsequent address changes (to your permanent foreign address or your U.S. address), you will be expected to complete a revised SEVIS Address Update Form, to be posted by April 1.  The updated Address Form will allow you to indicate a non-U.S. location as your primary address.

  • Off-campus employment approval:
    • F-1 and J-1 students MUST have authorization to work off-campus in the U.S.
    • Students are not eligible to engage in any off-campus work without prior approval in the form of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).
    • Students may only apply for OPT from within the U.S.  We recommend that students who have a pending OPT application with USCIS remain in the U.S.
    • ISSS will provide further guidance with regard to pending and approved OPT cases in a future communication and FAQ.
    • ISSS will also offer advice about pursuing CPT and OPT  while being enrolled in courses remotely, and about travel and re-entry while OPT is pending.
What travel documents do I need for re-entry to the U.S.?

For any international travel, please carry with you the following documents, which you will need to request re-entry to the U.S.:

  • Valid Passport (valid 6 months into the future)

  • Valid Form I-20 or DS-2019, with valid travel signature
    • An I-20 travel signature is valid for 12 months and a DS2019 signature is valid for 6 months. Even so, ISSS recommends obtaining a signature every semester (Fall & Spring).
    • For Spring Term 2020, ISSS recommends that you obtain a new travel signature (on page 2 of the I-20 or bottom right corner of page 1 of the DS-2019), dated after February 10, 2020, ideally.
    • If your document does not have a signature dated after that, please contact ISSS to determine if you need one.

  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa– (if applicable)
    • You will need to apply for a new visa before returning to the U.S. if you are outside the U.S. and your F-1 or J-1 visa has expired—unless you qualify for automatic visa revalidation or are from a country that does not require a visa (Canada or Bermuda).
    • If you have questions about the visa application process, please contact ISSS

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)

Service Building - Second Floor
84 South Service Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
P: 802 443-5858
F: 802 443-2063
isss@middlebury.edu