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Office of International Affairs

Welcome from the Office of International Affairs (OIA)! The OIA staff look forward to working with you throughout your academic and immigration journeys. We greatly value the knowledge and perspectives international students bring to our community, and hope that our services will enhance your experience at Pratt and in the United States.

To our new students, congratulations on your admission and welcome to Pratt. Please see special information for new students, including second year students coming in person for the first time here. To our current students and alumni, we look forward to continuing working with you.

All OIA services are offered remotely (OPT, CPT, travel signatures, etc.). Please email us at oia@pratt.edu for assistance and include your Pratt ID. Both virtual and in-person appointments with a Designated School Official (DSO) international student advisor are available upon request.

Warmly,
The OIA staff

Proof of vaccination required for non-immigrant entry to the U.S.

All COVID-related travel bans will end. Instead, all non-immigrants must show proof of vaccination to enter the United States. Only specific vaccines meet the criteria for entry. If you are not properly vaccinated against COVID-19, you will not be allowed to board a flight to the United States, unless you meet the criteria for an exception.

The exception policy is different from Pratt’s institutional policy. There are no exceptions for religious reasons or other moral convictions, while exceptions for medical reasons are extremely limited. For students who have been given a medical or religious exemption at Pratt, you could be denied entry or reentry to the US. If you have questions about exceptions to the vaccination requirements, please contact the OIA’s Director.

Fall 2022 Arrival

New international students (and all those with new initial status I-20s): You are expected to arrive by the start date of your I-20, which is August 21, 2022. We do not recommend students arrive later than this, because you need to attend student orientation events on-campus. Classes begin Monday, August 29, 2022. After you arrive, you need to complete an immigration check-in online. The instructions are here. The deadline is August 29, 2022.

Continuing international students with active status I-20s: You are expected to enter the U.S. by before school begins Monday, August 29, or by the start date of your first in-person course. You do not need to complete an immigration check-in.

Please note OIA does not issue late arrival letters if you are arriving late, the risk is yours to take when deciding to travel later than your I-20 start date and/or the semester start date. You can print this webpage information to take with you and reference it if needed.

COVID-19 ICE Guidance

The ICE guidance about full-time enrollment during COVID-19 is very different depending on whether an international student currently holds INITIAL or ACTIVE SEVIS I-20 status. 

INITIAL status holders are students who have not arrived in the US yet using their current SEVIS I-20. 

ACTIVE status holders are those students who used their I-20 already to arrive in the U.S. for a previous semester. These students attended immigration check-in with OIA and had their current F-1 statuses activated in SEVIS during a previous semester. 

Please review the below information with special care to read the section that applies to your situation, being in Initial or Active status.

Initial status students

If you have not yet entered the U.S. in F-1 status using your current I-20, you are in initial status. Please review the instructions to get a I-20 (Pratt OneKey access required). If you are not sure whether you should request an I-20, please review our Help Tips (Pratt OneKey access required). 

If you wish to arrive and be present in the U.S. on an initial status I-20, you will need to register for and take at least one in-person or hybrid instruction course, to follow the current ICE guidance. It is likely that you will need to take more than one in-person course in your academic program.

Review our New Student FAQs and consider attending I-20 Tuesdays: Please join us weekly on Tuesdays for a Zoom meeting to get your questions answered, 9:30 a.m -10:00 a.m. EST. Convert your time zone here. (Zoom

Active status students

Students with active status SEVIS records are currently allowed to maintain valid active F-1 SEVIS status when studying, either in the U.S. or abroad. Students with active status SEVIS records can be considered in status during this period provided you are full-time enrolled for each semester. You are waived from normal restrictions on counting online study towards full time enrollment.

U.S. visa appointments

We are pleased that nearly all the U.S. Consulates are processing visas worldwide now. If you need a visa appointment, please locate your local U.S. consulate and inquire directly about student appointment availability. You may need to request an expedited or emergency visa appointment if they do not have current availability. Before your visa interview, please review the info from the Department of State and our Pratt F-1 visa guide.

Five Month Rule and your F-1 status/visa

The five-month rule is fully suspended during the pandemic. If your I-20 status is already ACTIVE, your I-20 and current F-1 visa will still be valid to travel into the US, so long as they are still valid on their face according to the printed expiration data AND you are full-time enrolled, even though you have been out of the country more than five months. 

From the Department of Homeland Security’s Study in the States website, they say, “Students returning to the United States to resume their studies after an authorized temporary absence will not need to renew their visa, if the visa is still valid. The U.S. Department of State’s policy is that a student does not need to apply for a new F-1 visa if the student’s current visa is still valid, regardless of length of time outside the United States.” 

Make sure to check your visa expiration date and if you have a valid travel signature on your I-20 signed within the last 12 months if you plan re-entry.

If you have any questions about this, please contact oia@pratt.edu.

Travel signature 

Active status students who have been abroad and intend to fly back to the US will need a travel signature on page 2 of the I-20 signed within the last 12 months. If you need an updated travel signature, please email oia@pratt.edu with the subject, “Travel signature for: Name, Pratt ID#, SEVIS# N00XXXXXXXX (from your I-20). The I-20 will be emailed to you.

Travel signatures are not needed to leave the U.S., only to re-enter on an active SEVIS I-20. Travel signatures are valid for one year (twelve months) from the date signed for continuing students. While students are on Optional Practical Training (OPT), travel signatures are valid for six months only.

Full time and Exception forms

As a reminder to active status students continuing their studies in Fall 2021, in order to maintain your F-1 status you must be registered full-time (12 credits for undergraduates, 9 credits for graduates, or 18 clock hours per week for certificate students). If you have fewer credits remaining to finish your degree than would be needed to be considered full-time, you will need to submit a completed Exception to Full Course of Study form along with a clean degree audit to OIA in pdf format for approval. Students registered below full-time without approval from OIA will have their SEVIS records terminated and fall out of F-1 status.

Phone scams warning and guide

Please read the Student Guide to Scams and Fraud, which Pratt’s Public Safety has created to help educate students about scams. Beware of the signs of a scam, how to avoid being taken advantage of and who to report to. In general, surprising phone calls that students receive in which the caller is threatening something (potentially about immigration status or anything else scary or important) are a scam, and the caller will start asking for financial information eventually. If you receive such a surprising phone call, just hang up the phone right away and do not answer your phone from that number again (or block it).

The scammers are sophisticated and use masking to make the numbers look legitimate, sometimes use real government official names, and they use convincing psychological techniques. Some students have been scared and have given their financial information to the scammers. Please never give your financial information to a caller you have not called yourself. We receive these scam calls too, regularly, to our cell phones and work phones. If you or a fellow student have been scammed, it should be reported to OIA and Public Safety. If our office, Pratt OIA, ever calls you about your immigration status, we have also emailed you already about your situation and we haven’t heard from you. You can check your email and confirm that before calling us back.

PISA – Join Pratt International Student Association

The Pratt International Students Association (PISA) is a student-run club that is always available for you as a way to meet other students, connect virtually, get advice from peers, give input to Pratt faculty and staff, and have fun. Meetings are open to all students, held bi-weekly. You can find PISA and many other clubs and events listed on Pratt Engage. Follow PISA on Instagram @prattpisa or feel free to email pisa@pratt.edu with any questions, ideas, or interest.

FAQS

What are the vaccine and booster requirements for campus access?

As announced on December 22, 2021, Pratt is requiring all eligible members of its community (excluding those with approved exemptions) to receive and upload proof of a COVID-19 booster shot for campus access.

Eligibility as advised by the CDC depends on when a final dose of the initial vaccine was received:

  • At least five months after the Pfizer or Moderna final dose.
  • At least five months after the final dose of any WHO-listed vaccine.
  • Two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

If you received all the recommended doses of a vaccine that is approved for emergency use by WHO but NOT by the FDA, the CDC advises receiving a booster shot of Pfizer at least five months after the recommended doses. Pratt is not accepting international boosters. At this time, this will not affect your campus access but follow Back to Pratt for updates.

To find a booster shot location near you, visit NYC Health + Hospitals or Vaccines.gov. Following your appointment, submit your proof on the Back to Pratt site or the Pratt Safe App within 14 days of becoming eligible. If you have already received your booster, upload your proof as soon as possible.

Anyone who has already tested positive for COVID-19 must follow the direction of their doctor regarding the booster. Students with any further questions should contact Health Services while faculty and staff should contact Human Resources.

Community members who previously received an approved exemption from Pratt will continue to be exempt from the COVID-19 booster requirement but will be required to participate in the weekly on-campus COVID-19 testing program.

Five months have not passed since my vaccination, how do I fulfill Pratt’s booster requirement for campus access?

Pratt community members must have received a booster shot and uploaded proof within 14 days of becoming eligible. Eligibility depends on when a final dose of the initial vaccine was received. Please see the CDC’s chart for the latest information as this guidance can change:

  • At least five months after the Pfizer or Moderna final dose.
  • At least five months after the final dose of any WHO-listed vaccine.
  • Two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

If you received all the recommended doses of a vaccine that is approved for emergency use by WHO but NOT by the FDA, the CDC advises receiving a booster shot of Pfizer at least five months after the recommended doses. Pratt is not accepting international boosters. At this time, this will not affect your campus access but follow Back to Pratt for updates.

Am I eligible for a booster dose?

See the CDC’s booster chart for the latest eligibility information.

If you received all the recommended doses of a vaccine that is on WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) but NOT approved by the FDA, the CDC advises receiving a booster shot of Pfizer at least five months after the recommended doses. Pratt is not accepting international boosters. At this time, this will not affect your campus access but follow Back to Pratt for updates.

Is Pratt requiring the vaccine for students, faculty, and staff?

Yes, Pratt Institute is requiring all students, faculty, and staff who are on campus to be fully vaccinated and have a booster vaccine. All vaccines authorized for emergency use or approved in the United States by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are acceptable. For international students, Pratt also will accept vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) (see the WHO site for the latest list of authorized vaccines). The CDC has guidance on booster shots for people who have completed WHO-approved vaccine doses. Pratt is not accepting international boosters. At this time, this will not affect your campus access but follow Back to Pratt for updates.

Everyone arriving on campus is required to submit proof of their vaccination and booster. Pratt is offering its faculty and staff up to four hours of excused leave per injection that will not be charged against any other leave. Details can be found in the vaccination time off policy.

Pratt asks all students, faculty, and staff to upload their vaccination and booster proof into our secure database for contact tracing purposes, proof of eligibility for using the vaccination day accrual, and to aggregate data about the progress that our community has made towards vaccination against COVID-19.

Students who receive vaccines approved for emergency use by WHO must submit proof of vaccination even if they submitted documentation in the past. Once the new submission has been approved, weekly testing to access campus will no longer be required.

For the latest information, visit the Back to Pratt COVID-19 Vaccine page.

I am a student who cannot get vaccinated in my home state or country. How can I get fully vaccinated when I arrive in New York?

Pratt strongly encourages its students to make every effort to get vaccinated before they arrive in New York. If that is not a possibility, New York State’s vaccination eligibility now includes all United States residents five years of age and older, as well as non-residents (including international students). All students will be eligible to be vaccinated under these New York State guidelines.

The vaccine is free to everyone who is eligible. New York State has an online tool to schedule an appointment at a New York State-run vaccination site. Appointments can also be scheduled by calling New York State’s hotline at 1-833-697-4829. Find a city or state-run site near you for walk-in information.

The Back to Pratt COVID-19 Vaccine page has further information including vaccination appointment tips, different methods to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in New York City, and useful websites and numbers.

I am a student (international or domestic), faculty, or staff member who will not be fully vaccinated until I arrive in New York. What steps should I take?

Students, faculty, or staff members who cannot be vaccinated before arriving in New York, or who have only received one dose of a two-dose vaccine, or who have not met the requirements of full vaccination, must follow these guidelines:

  • Submit a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days prior to their arrival on campus or to the residence halls.
  • Participate in weekly COVID-19 testing until fully vaccinated. After the initial test is completed prior to arrival, ongoing COVID-19 testing will be provided by Pratt at no cost. Detailed instructions on weekly testing are available on Back to Pratt.
  • Have the first vaccine dose within the first week of the semester (or arrival in the residence halls) and submit proof using your OneKey ID. Those waiting for a second dose must schedule an appointment as soon as possible based on their individual dose regimen.

What are Pratt’s vaccination recommendations for international students?

Do not delay vaccination if it is available to you. With the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in New York, international students who cannot receive a vaccine before arrival will be able to do so upon entering the United States. Pratt will assist international students in complying with the Institute’s requirements as needed.

The CDC has guidance on booster shots for people 12 and older who have completed WHO-approved vaccine doses. If you received all the recommended doses of a vaccine that is approved for emergency use by WHO but NOT by the FDA, the CDC advises receiving a booster shot of Pfizer at least five months after the recommended doses. Pratt is not accepting international boosters. At this time, this will not affect your campus access but follow Back to Pratt for updates.

If I get vaccinated internationally with a vaccine that is not approved for Emergency Use Authorization in the United States, do I need to be vaccinated again when I arrive in New York?

For international students, Pratt is only accepting vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) (see the WHO site for the latest list of authorized vaccines) as well as those authorized for such use by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States.

At this time, no other vaccines will be accepted for campus access. However, students who have received vaccines that are not approved can still access the campus by arriving with a negative COVID-19 test and adhering to a regimen of weekly testing until their vaccine is approved or until full vaccination with a WHO/CDC approved vaccine.

Students who receive vaccines approved for emergency use by WHO must submit proof of vaccination even if they submitted documentation in the past. Once the new submission has been approved, weekly testing to access campus will no longer be required.

The CDC has guidance on booster shots for people 12 and older who have completed WHO-approved vaccine doses. If you received all the recommended doses of a vaccine that is approved for emergency use by WHO but NOT by the FDA, the CDC advises receiving a booster shot of Pfizer at least five months after the recommended doses. Pratt is not accepting international boosters. At this time, this will not affect your campus access but follow Back to Pratt for updates.

I am an international student and am not sure I want to travel to the United States this semester. Is this a reasonable plan?

Students need to be enrolled full-time in order to not jeopardize their visa status. The best way to make progress toward your degree is to study on campus.

If I left the US earlier this year, is my current visa in my passport still valid?

Yes, your existing student visa in your passport should remain valid for future use, until the expiration date printed. There is NOT a five-month rule to be concerned about regarding your visa. For reference, see the Homeland Security guidance: Do students need new visas?

If I take a leave of absence for the fall, what are the impacts to my SEVIS status?

If you are a current student planning to take a leave of absence, we will need to end your current I-20 for the period of leave. You will need to later apply for a new I-20 with updated financial documentation to return to the U.S. to continue your studies. You cannot stay in the U.S. during your leave. You will have to pay a new SEVIS I-901 fee for the new I-20, and your eligibility for practical training (Curricular Practical Training – CPT, and Optional Practical Training – OPT) will be reset. This means you will not be eligible for CPT and/or OPT until 1) after you return to the U.S in your new F-1 status and 2) you are re-enrolled full-time for two full semesters (one academic year) after your return. Students who are close to graduation should consider this carefully. You will not be eligible for post-completion OPT if you restart your status with less than two semesters remaining of required coursework.

I need to get a new travel signature on my I-20 to re-enter the US. How can I get one from the Office of International Affairs (OIA)?

The Office of International Affairs (OIA) is closed physically, but we are still providing services remotely. Travel signatures are valid for 12 months from the date signed on page two of your I-20 (six months for alumni on OPT). You can request a new travel signature by writing to oia@pratt.edu and including your name as printed on your passport and Pratt ID number. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, the Department of Homeland Security has provided us special authorization to send students I-20s electronically with e-signatures. Any new electronic I-20 you receive will remain valid for your use beyond the COVID-19 emergency, until you need an updated I-20 for another purpose. Please print your I-20 on letter-sized paper and sign it at the bottom so you have a paper copy to carry with you.

If my visa is expired does this impact my ability to do online coursework?

No, the F-1 visa inside the passport is only used to enter the United States at a port-of-entry. The visa expiration is not relevant to a student’s ability to study.

As an international student, can I take a part-time course load while I am taking online classes in my home country?

We highly recommend students remain full-time enrolled or else your SEVIS record will need to be terminated. We also recommend new students be full-time enrolled in case of future work authorization eligibility.


Office of International Affairs

tel: 718.636.3674
fax: 718.636.3497
oia@pratt.edu

Location

Myrtle Hall, 2nd floor
Room 2E.5

For any issues or questions that arise outside of the above schedule, please email oia@pratt.edu for guidance.

Please consult our Campus Directory for a complete list of our staff, simply search by department if you don’t know the name of the individual you’re trying to reach.