COVID Frequently Asked Questions for International Students

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Minot State is holding classes in various modes of instructional delivery with emphasis on the face-to-face experience as completely as possible. Please see the below Frequently Asked Questions for F-1 international and Canadian students about coming to Minot State.

Because international travel is changing so quickly and without warning, 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 and the COVID section of Minot State’s website

All F-1 students must take a full load of classes in fall 2021 and spring 2022, 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 2021-2022 academic year. 

Remember, normal face-to-face rules will take effect again in Fall 2022.

The number of face-to-face classes you must take in fall 2021 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 2021, 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 2021 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 2021?

  • 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 2021, 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 2021, 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 2021 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 2021. Please make this request by email in July 2021 to leave enough time for the I-20 to arrive.

    ** Transfer students who are unable to enter the United States for fall 2021 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.



References/disclaimer:

  • On April 26, 2021, ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released an updated FAQ document for universities to follow with respect to international students for the 2021-2022 Academic Year. This guidance enables schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the continuing public health concerns created by COVID-19.
  • The information provided on this webpage represents Minot State's best reading of the ICE guidance and regulations.
  • Please be aware that ICE may change this guidance at any time without warning.    

New students INSIDE of the United States
See the previous tab: "What kind of classes should I enroll in for fall 2021 and spring 2022?"

Continuing students
See the previous tab: "What kind of classes should I enroll in for fall 2021 and spring 2022?"

New Students OUTSIDE of the United States: 
If you are unable to attend Minot State in person, you can request that your I-20 be deferred to Spring 2022. Please inform the International Student Coordinator that you want to defer your I-20 start date to January 2022.

Depending on your situation, you might be eligible to take online classes during Fall 2021 from your home country. You will need to work with your Academic Advisor to identify online classes that you can take from your home country.

  • New undergraduate students:
  • New graduate students:
    • Contact your academic program director to identify online classes. Refer to your acceptance notification to locate your program director’s contact information.

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.

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: The U.S./Canadian border is closed to non-essential travel. F-1 visa students are considered "essential," so they will be allowed entry. However, the B-2 visitor visas utilized by family members are not considered "essential visas" by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Applicants and prospective students are also considered to be on B-2 visas are are not able to enter the U.S. prior to commencing study on an official F-1 I-20.

Please contact your Port of Entry to speak with a CBP agent for any questions about the border closure. 

Negative Test Requirement for Air Travel into the United States
The Center for Disease Control requires a negative COVID test before you board a flight to the U.S. Read more about this rule and testing requirements on the CDC website.

Entry Restrictions into the United States
Before you make travel plans to Minot, you should carefully monitor entry restrictions into the U.S.

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 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: The U.S./Canadian border is still closed to non-essential travel. F-1 visa students are considered "essential," so they will be allowed entry. However, the B-2 visitor visas utilized by family members are not considered "essential visas" by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Applicants and prospective students are also considered to be on B-2 visas are are not able to enter the U.S. prior to commencing study on an official F-1 I-20.

Please contact your Port of Entry to speak with a CBP agent for any questions about the border closure. 

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. 

Students can get tested for Covid at the MSU Dome, click here for the testing schedule

No. Automatic quarantine is not required at this time.

On September 21, 2020 the State of North Dakota revoked the 14-day quarantine order for travelers  arriving in North Dakota countries outside of the U.S. To be clear: students and employees will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days when re-entering North Dakota from Canada or abroad. Please review the following information: MARIANI LIFTS STATE HEALTH OFFICER ORDER REGARDING INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL and REVOCATION OF STATE HEALTH CONFINEMENT ORDER #2020-02.3

Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  Traveler's Map to view the current guidelines regarding entry to the U.S. after traveling through your country and any other countries through which you transit. You will be required to follow CDC guidelines and guidance from the North Dakota Department of Health when you arrive to campus.

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: www.uhcsr.com/faqs.
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*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: www.uhcsr.com/faqs. Email the Director of International Programs to initiate your enrollment into the plan. Include your full name, MSU student ID and date of birth.

All new international and Canadian students, including transfers and graduate students, must complete the Online F-1 Regulations Workshop. The workshop will teach you about the U.S. federal F-1 student regulations and rules you must comply with in order to remain in the country in lawful student status.

We normally hold this session in person, but we are providing the information in an online format to protect against COVID-19 spread.

* You will notice that I use the terms “ Canadian” and “ Overseas International.” These are simplified terms for the two big groups of students we have at Minot State. “Overseas International” encompasses all international students from countries other than Canada. Both Overseas International and Canadian students must follow the same set of F-1 visa regulations.

1. Learn about F-1 Regulations

2. Complete the Online F-1 Workshop

  • Sign into Blackboard and  click on “International Student Orientation Testing” course.
    After you watch the video, be sure to click “make as viewed” so that the test link will pop up.
  • The test is 20 questions long and you must get every question right.
  • You are allowed to take test as many times as is necessary to get %100. Once you fully understand all of the F-1 regulations that apply to you and you get every question right, a certificate will appear.
  • The certificate will signal that you have completed the F-1 Workshop video and test.

3. Submit Required Documents

  • Email the following documents to me using this secure file-drop link.
    You can send pictures from your phone as long as they are crisp, clear images.
    • Passport - personal information page
    • F-1 visa stamp page (Overseas International only)
    • SEVIS Fee Receipt
    • I-94
      • Entered by land (Canadians): please send a picture of the front and back of your I-94, which is the white card that was stapled in your passport
      • Entered by air: If you entered the U.S. through an airport (usually Overseas International), you can access your electronic I-94 here.
    • Email your current address and phone number. (Example: 701-555-1111, 505 Cook Hall) to me: Elizabeth.Sund@MinotStateU.edu

4. I-20 Travel Signature 

  • Drop off your original I-20 off in the lock box outside the Office of International Programs for a travel signature. I will mail it back to you at the address you provided in step 3, with a fresh signature on page 2 of your I-20.

5. Start Your Health Insurance Coverage

  • Overseas International students will be automatically enrolled into the North Dakota University System insurance policy. The automatic enrollment can take up to 6 weeks, during which you will not have access to your policy or ID card. To speed up your enrollment, click the link above and follow the directions to "opt-in" .  
  •  *Canadians: 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 want to enroll in the policy, email the Director of International Programs to initiate your enrollment into the plan. Include your full name, MSU student ID and date of birth.

 Please complete all of the above steps right away. A hold will be placed on your Minot State student account that will stop you from registering for classes for next semester until the entire process is completed.

 

Last Updated 23JULY21, 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.