COVID Frequently Asked Questions for International Students

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Because international travel has been changing so quickly and without warning since March 2020, every student's case is unique. This page provides general advice for many diverse groups of students in F-1 visa status, including new and returning students, as well as Canadian and overseas students. Please keep in mind that these are broad guidelines written to fit the needs of large groups of students.

It is important to remember that this information may change without notice, so you will need to carefully and frequently check Minot State’s website and all university communication when making your travel plans. Pay close attention to the communications you receive from Minot State. 

All F-1 students must take a full load of classes in fall 2022 and spring 2023, which is 12 credits for undergraduates and 9 for graduate students. However, the U.S. government has made some short-term temporary exceptions to the face-to-face requirement for the 2022-2023 academic year. 

Remember, normal face-to-face rules will take effect again in Fall 2023.

The number of face-to-face classes you must take in fall 2022 depends on whether you are a returning F-1 student or a new F-1 student on an “initial” I-20.

How do I know if I am an initial student or a continuing student?

  • If you did not attend a U.S. institution in F-1 status in Spring 2022, then you are an initial student. You will see “initial attendance” in the Form Issue Reason on your I-20 in the first box on page 1. This includes new Minot State students and students coming back after a gap in studies on a new SEVIS record.
  • If you attended a U.S. institution in active F-1 status in Spring 2022 on the same SEVIS record, then you are a continuing student. This includes returning MSU students, most transfer students, and change of level students.

How many face-to-face classes do I need to take as part of my fulltime enrollment in fall 2022?

  • Initial F-1 students:
    You must take some face-to-face classes.

    According to the temporary guidance, new initial students may only enter the United States if their class schedule is not 100% online. During fall 2022, we recommend that initial students enroll for a normal F-1 full-time course load if at all possible:

    Undergraduate: 12 credits total (including at least 9 face-to-face credits)
    Graduate: 9 credits total (including at least 6 face-to-face credits)

    The in-person classes could be fully face-to-face courses or hybrid courses that requires significant in-person instruction. You may take additional online credits once you hit the full-time threshold (for example, 9 face-to-face credits and 6 online credits would be fine).
  • Continuing students studying INSIDE the United States:

    You are not required to take face-to-face classes fall 2022 or spring 2023, but must enroll fulltime.You should not take more than the minimum number of online courses necessary for your degree program.

    According to the temporary guidance, continuing international students may take classes in various modes: in-person, hybrid, or fully remote. For somecontinuing students, that will mean a fully online semester, while other students will need to take several face-to-face courses depending on their degree programs. Work with your adviser to determine what mix of online and face-to-face classes meets your academic needs.
  • Continuing students studying OUTSIDE of the United States:
    You do not have a face-to-face requirement, but you must still enroll online fulltime to maintain status.

    You may take a fully online course load in fall 2022 from outside the United States. Your current SEVIS record will remain active as long as you maintain fulltime enrollment. You may need to request a that a new I-20 be sent to your home to use when you enter in August 2023. Please make this request by email in July 2023 to leave enough time for the I-20 to arrive.

    ** Transfer students who are unable to enter the United States for fall 2022 must email the International Student Coordinator right away in order to keep their SEVIS record active.

What if my classes keep switching to online even though I signed up for face-to-face classes?

  • Initial students cannot take a fully online course load, and we recommend taking a full load of face-to-face classes if possible.  
  • Continuing students do not have a face-to-face requirement. We recommend speaking with your advisor to see if more face-to-face classes are available for your degree program.   

Who can I email for help understanding these rules?

We understand that F-1 status can be hard to navigate, and we are happy to help. Please email the International Student Coordinator if you have any questions about whether you have a face-to-face requirement. She will review your campus connection and let you know if your current schedule meets the F-1 requirements.


You will need all of the normal travel documents, including your I-20 with a DSO signature no older than one year on page two. You also need an active visa and passport. Read the full information on travel documents here.

*Effective November 8, 2021, all non-immigrant, non-citizen air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status before boarding an airplane to the United States.  Be sure to check the CDC's website for the most up to date guidance on this issue. 

New Students: In order to enter the U.S. to study at Minot State University, you will need to travel with the following documents. Without proper documentation you will be denied entry until you have all documents present. Please see the full visa and entry information for new students here.

  • Form I-20: you will need to print your name, sign and date the bottom of page one of the I-20 that was sent to you.
  • Passport.
  • Visa (Except for Canadian Citizens) 
  • Admission letter: Sent by Enrollment Services with your I-20.
  • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt: Pay the SEVIS fee and print your receipt here. Watch the SEVIS fee tutorial, look at the Frequently Asked Questions, and contact I-901 Customer Support if you need help.
  • Financial documentation: Carry the same documents you sent to Enrollment Services to prove eligibility to receive an I-20.

Continuing Students: Continuing F-1 students who leave the United States must show the following documents to re-enter the U.S.:

  • Valid U.S. visa stamp (except for Canadian citizens)
  • Passport
  • Valid I-20 with a DSO travel signature within the last calendar year.
  • I-94. If you arrived by land, you will have a physical I-94 stapled in your passport. 
  • Verification of enrollment or a printout of your classes from campus connection just to show you are enrolled in on-campus classes.

Students with pending or approved Optional Practical Training have further travel restrictions.

Canadian Parents, Applicants, and Prospective Students:
U.S./Canadian land borders re-opened to non-essential travelers on November 8, 2021. When arriving at a U.S. land Port of Entry, you should be prepared to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDC website; and verbally attest to your non-essential travel and COVID-19 vaccination status. More information can be found on this U.S. Department of Homeland Security fact sheet.

You may also contact your Port of Entry to speak with a CBP agent for any questions about border crossing requirements. 

Update on U.S. Travel Policy Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing
(Last updated: December 22, 2021)

* Minot State will make every effort to monitor rules for entry into the U.S. But be advised that the government may make changes without notice. As you make your travel plans you should frequently check the below linked websites to make sure you to have the most up-to-date information. 


National Interest Exceptions for Visas

International students on F-1 visas who are subject to geographic COVID proclamations (India, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa or certain European countries) may qualify for a National Interest Exception, which allows entry into the U.S.  You should check the status of visa services at your nearest embassy or consulate AND confirm that you are automatically considered for a national interest exception to travel.

Reference: Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019

Remember that this information on this tab may change without warning, so you should check the following resources frequently before your travel takes place. Carefully research the situation before purchasing a ticket to the U.S. and remember that changes may occur.


Canadian Parents, Applicants, and Prospective Students: U.S./Canadian land borders re-opened to non-essential travelers on November 8, 2021. When arriving at a U.S. land Port of Entry, you should be prepared to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDC website; and verbally attest to your non-essential travel and COVID-19 vaccination status. More information can be found on this U.S. Department of Homeland Security fact sheet.

You may also contact your Port of Entry to speak with a CBP agent for any questions about border crossing requirements. 

The Office of International Programs cannot advise on entry to your home country, including Canada. Please keep in mind that the rules for entry to every country are changing quickly without notice. Border restrictions can tighten and borders can close without warning. Carefully consider every possibility when deciding if travel is necessary.

Some Minot State students have become stuck in their home countries because of COVID related restrictions. Please use caution when deciding to travel internationally.

We recommend that Canadians contact the Canadian border with questions about entry that are not covered on the Canadian government's website. 

Yes. International students* at Minot State University in F-1 status are required to carry the official health insurance provider for North Dakota public institutions through United Healthcare. The policy is comprehensive and provide excellent benefits. General information about the insurance policy and enrollment process can be found here: Health Insurance for International Students.

Specific information regarding COVID-19 coverage can be found here:
*Canadian citizens are not required to carry the North Dakota University System insurance policy through United Healthcare. You should refer to your Canadian private and provincial health insurance providers for more information about what sort of coverage you have while attending university in the United States. 

*During the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important that you contact your Canadian health insurance provider to learn if testing for COVID-19 and treatment for COVID-19 related illnesses will be covered while you are in the United States.  If testing and treatments for COVID-19 are not covered in the U.S., Minot State strongly recommends that you purchase the North Dakota University System insurance policy.   

If you are interested in purchasing the North Dakota University System insurance policy, read through the policy details on this webpage. Information regarding COVID-19 coverage can be found here: Email the Director of International Programs to initiate your enrollment into the plan. Include your full name, MSU student ID and date of birth.


Last Updated July 13, 2022 (lc)

Disclaimer: The Office of International Programs is able to provide you with general guidance.  However, any advice provided to you by our office, as well as the information on this website, should not be construed as legal advice. Additionally, due to the fluid nature of governmental interpretation, USCIS may change its interpretation of these immigration laws/regulations and eligibility requirements for benefits, at any time.  We will do our best to provide you with the most current guidance.  Each case is fact-specific and it is advised that you contact an experienced immigration attorney if you have questions regarding your situation.