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 currently offered remotely (OPT, CPT, travel signatures, etc.). Please email us at email@example.com 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.
The OIA staff
Proof of vaccination required for non-immigrant entry to the U.S.
As of November 8, 2021, all COVID-related travel bans will end. Instead, all non-immigrants must show proof of vaccination to enter the United States. This is particularly important if you are traveling internationally for the holidays. 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.
Spring 2022 Arrival
New international students (and all those with new initial status I-20s): The latest date to arrive in the United States for immigration purposes is Monday, January 31, 2022. You are expected to be prepared to begin in-person classes on Pratt campus immediately following your late arrival on Monday, January 31. After you arrive, you need to complete immigration check-in online. The instructions are here. The deadline is Feb. 1.
Continuing international students with active status I-20s: You are expected to enter the U.S. by January 31, 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. We are currently processing I-20s for students to arrive for Spring 2022 semester. 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.
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 fully online, 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 so you can take fully online classes. Whether you are inside or outside the US does not matter.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, ideas, or interest.
Office of International Affairs
Myrtle Hall, 2nd floor
For any issues or questions that arise outside of the above schedule, please email email@example.com for guidance.
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