Special Announcement

Spring 2021 Updates

Dear SMU International Community:

Happy New Year! Please see the following updates: 

  1. Notify ISSS: If you are out of the country and will continue to stay enrolled remotely, please notify our office by completing the REQUEST TO CONTINUE ACTIVE STATUS:
  2. Enrollment: International students with a current Active status are eligible to enroll fully remotely for the Spring semester. If you will be arriving to the U.S. for the first time for the Spring semester, you must enroll in at least one in-person class, per current guidelines.
  3. Government Check-In (arrival to the U.S for the first time): If you deferred your arrival from the Fall semester to the Spring semester, please remember, you must complete a mandatory government check-in. Failure to complete a government check-in, will result in termination of your status. For more information about government check-in dates, please visit:
  4. Travel Signatures:  IF YOU NEED A TRAVEL SIGNATURE.  

    1. Please submit a travel endorsement request form.
    2. You are required to submit a mailing label (through eShip Global) so that we can mail your I20/DS2019 document to your home country.  
    3. If you are in the United States, please note, you can submit your original document (I20/DS2019) for travel endorsement.
    4. Please note, you must return your current I20/DS2019 document when you are able return to the U.S. and SMU.
      If you already have a current travel signature, remember that your endorsement is good for one year from the last day it was signed (page 2 of your I20 and page 1 of your DS2019).

You do not need a current signature to depart the United States. You only need a valid travel signature to re-enter the U.S.

Please check the Department of State for any travel restrictions that affect your home country: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html

OPT for Students graduating in the Spring semester 2021:  Per current regulations, you must be a current F1 student to be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization. If you are expecting to complete your degree this May 2021, and you are currently in your home country, please keep in mind:

  • As of today, students maintaining full-time status, must be physically in the U.S., to apply for OPT.
  • The regulations require that students are physically in the U.S. on F1 status in order to submit an OPT application within the 60-day grace period which begins after you complete your program requirements. Per current regulations, a complete OPT application must be submitted and received by USCIS before the end date of your 60-day grace period. For example, if you complete your program by May 15th, 2021, a complete OPT application must be received by USCIS by July 14th, 2021.
  • If we receive further guidance, we will notify you by SMU email.

SCAMS ABOUT WORK AUTHORIZATION: Students, please remember that there may be individuals trying to take advantage of the situation.  As of today, there are no additional work authorization benefits for international students due to COVID-19 outbreak. International students are eligible to apply for Economic Hardship work authorization under current regulations. Please refer to our website for more information on the eligibility requirements.

Please refer to this website for any future updates regarding enrollment, as well as any other updates from the Department of Homeland Security. As the Director of the Office, I am committed to working with colleagues at SMU and with government representatives to request flexibility so you can receive all your benefits as an F/J visa holder. 

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly at claudiahart@smu.edu or any of our team members at isss@smu.edu

Fall 2020 Updates

F and J Visa Holder Considerations for Fall 2020: 

7/31/2020: International Student and Scholar Services hosted an update on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Fall 2020 Guidelines along with a question and answer session with students. 

  

Spring 2020 Update:

Dear SMU International Community:

We have all now received communication from President Turner regarding the continuation of online instruction until the end of the Spring semester. I can only imagine the many questions you and your loved ones have, and this email is intended to address some of your immediate concerns. Please know that my team, the leadership in the Division of Enrollment Services, and every member of the SMU administration is committed to supporting you through this difficult time while also following guidelines set forth by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.

  1. Notify ISSS: If you desire to return to your home country and intend to continue with full-time enrollment between March 23rd through May 16th, please complete the following form: “Request to continue Active status while continuing with online instruction outside the U.S. (Spring 2020)”.
  2. Travel Signatures: Because the University is closed until April 30th, the form linked in #1 above will also serve as your official request for a travel endorsement, IF YOU NEED A TRAVEL SIGNATURE.  
    1. After receiving the form, ISSS will reprint your I20/DS2019 document which will include a travel endorsement.  
    2. You are required to submit a mailing label (through eShip Global) so that we can mail your I20/DS2019 document to your home country.  
    3. Please note, you must return your current I20/DS2019 document when you are able return to the U.S. and SMU.
  1. If you already have a current travel signature, remember that your endorsement is good for one year from the last day it was signed (page 2 of your I20 and page 1 of your DS2019).
  2. You do not need a current signature to depart the United States. You only need a valid travel signature to re-enter the U.S.

We do not know whether travel restrictions will continue into the summer. If travel restrictions continue, please be aware that you may not be able to return to the United States. Our office and the administration will work with all international students who are unable to return to the U.S. by the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester. We are committed to supporting all students regarding your future enrollment at the University.

OPT for Students graduating in the Spring semester 2020:  Per current regulations, you must be a current F1 student to be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization. If you are expecting to complete your degree this May 2020, and you decide to return to your home country, here are some things you need to keep in mind:

  • As of today, we have not received any further guidance for students who will be maintaining full-time enrollment while studying from their home countries AND are not present in the U.S to apply for OPT. 
  • The regulations require that students are physically in the U.S. on F1 status in order to submit an OPT application within the 60-day grace period which begins May 16th, 2020. Per current regulations, a complete OPT application must be submitted and received by USCIS by July 15th, 2020.
  •  Because this is an unprecedented situation, our office will continue to communicate with our government representatives about this potential scenario. Again, we do not know what will happen if students are not able to be physically in the U.S. on an F1 status.
  • If we receive further guidance, we will notify you by SMU email.

SCAMS ABOUT WORK AUTHORIZATION: Students, please remember that there may be individuals trying to take advantage of the situation.  As of today, there are no additional work authorization benefits for international students due to COVID-19 outbreak. International students are eligible to apply for Economic Hardship work authorization under current regulations. Please refer to our website for more information on the eligibility requirements.

This is an evolving situation, and I know many of you want to make decisions. We will continue to provide virtual advising during the time that the University is closed. If you have specific questions regarding your status, please email isss@smu.edu to schedule an appointment.

Finally, if you have applied for OPT and you are waiting to pick up your OPT packet, a Designated School Official will be in touch with you regarding a pick-up time.

We are working arduously to stay informed about guidelines that pertain to your status. As the Director of the Office, I am committed to working with colleagues at SMU and with government representatives to request flexibility so you can receive all your benefits as an F/J visa holder. 

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly at claudiahart@smu.edu or any of our team members at isss@smu.edu