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

Spring 2021 Full-time Enrollment Rules

The government has not released any official guidance for Spring 2021, so the normal F-1 regulations will apply to full-time enrollment this spring

Undergraduate: 

12 credits total (including at least 9 face-to-face credits)

Graduate:

9 credits total (including at least 6 face-to-face credits)

 

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

Only face-to-face or hybrid classes count toward your full-time requirement. Classes are coded by the Registrar's Office.  If a class is changed to web-based and you do not have enough face-to-face classes, you will need to enroll in additional face-to-face or hybrid credits. You must be physically in the same room as the professor for the course to count as face-to-face. 

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 July 15, 2020, ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued an FAQ document  for universities to follow with respect to international students in Fall 2020 only. This FAQ replaces the now rescinded July 6 directive blocking online only students in the United States. On July 24, 2020, ICE issued clarifying questions to supplement this guidance.   
  • On July 24, 2020, ICE issued Clarifying Questions for Fall 2020.
  • No new official guidance was released for Spring 2021, so regular F-1 rules stand.
  • The information provided on this webpage represents Minot State's best reading of the ICE guidance and regulations.  
  • It is important to note that Minot State is not going fully online.  
  • Please be aware that ICE may change this guidance at any time without warning.    

Continuing Students: If you want to study in your home country, you can choose to forfeit your current F-1 status. You can return home to take classes without F-1 status in Spring 2021. Then if you decide to return to Minot in Fall 2021, you would need to apply for a new I-20. The only downsides are you would need to repay the SEVIS fee (currently $350), overseas students may also need a new visa for travel, and your CPT/OPT clock would restart. That means if you are interested in working in the U.S. after graduation, you would need to spend a full fall and spring semester in Minot studying on the new I-20 before you would be eligible to apply for OPT. If you are not interested in OPT, then there are even fewer downsides to forfeiting your F-1 status.

New Students: If you are unable to attend Minot State in person, you can request that your I-20 be deferred to Fall 2021. Please inform the International Student Coordinator that you want to defer your I-20 start date to August 2021.

Depending on your situation, you might be eligible to take online classes during Spring 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. 

Entry to the United States: The CDC has updated its guidelines to require a negative COVID test before boarding a flight to the U.S. beginning January 26th. You can read more about this rule on the CDC website.

Before you make travel plans to Minot, you should carefully monitor entry restrictions into the U.S. Some students from (or traveling through) Brazil, China, Iran, and certain European countries may be subject to an entry ban unless they have spent 14 days outside any of those countries. Please keep these restrictions in mind when planning your travel to the U.S. 

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 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 9 February 2021, ES

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.