Spring 2021 Update
December 22, 2020 Update
The ICE guidance from Fall 2020 remains the same for Spring 2021. ICE has verbally confirmed that this guidance from Fall will still be applied for Spring without official written update.
Please note that the OIA will be closed for winter break after Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020 until we return Monday, Jan. 4. Please email us at oia@pratt with any questions and we will respond to you as quickly as we can upon our return.
The ICE guidance is very different depending on whether an international student currently holds INITIAL or ACTIVE SEVIS I-20 status. Active status holders are students who already arrived in the United States in F-1 status using your current I-20, checked in with OIA for immigration purposes, and we activated your SEVIS record upon your arrival and check-in. INITIAL status holders are students who have not arrived in the US yet using your current SEVIS I-20. If you are not sure if your I-20 is in initial or active status, check your recent messages from OIA specifying which status you are currently in, as we have targeted our messaging to the appropriate student status each person holds.
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 I-20 HOLDERS
If you still need an initial I-20 to enter the US for the Spring 2021 semester, please contact OIA immediately. You only need an I-20 for Spring at this point if you are in fact arriving in the U.S. for the Spring 2021 semester or you are transferring your SEVIS I-20 record to Pratt from your previous institution. If you have your Spring I-20 already and plan to remain online for Spring 2021 from outside the US, please email us with your Pratt ID and your stated intent to take online courses from outside the U.S. Otherwise, we will continue to expect your U.S. arrival for Spring 2021.
If you are interested and able to enter the U.S. this spring, you need to have at least one hybrid class to follow the ICE guidance. Note that Pratt is now offering a one-credit elective hybrid class that is available to all students, both grad and undergrad, at all levels, including first-year Foundation. Do keep in mind, when deciding to arrive in the U.S. or not, that in-person engagement on-campus will be extremely limited this spring for public health and safety reasons.
The latest U.S. arrival date for entry on an initial I-20 would be EITHER February 1, 2021 the drop/add deadline at Pratt, OR at least 14 days before the first date your hybrid class meets, whichever is earlier. The 14-day marker is to allow you time for quarantine and COVID testing before attending your hybrid class in person. Unfortunately, entry to the U.S. after February 1, 2020 is not permitted due to SEVIS registration deadlines. As mid-semester entry is not permitted, the next semester you could arrive would be for Fall 2021. Please check further down this page for the dates of our new student orientation/arrival sessions which are required for initial status students entering the United States this Spring.
ACTIVE STATUS I-20 HOLDERS
Through their guidance, ICE has provided relief to normal full time enrollment requirements requiring full-time in-person classes for international students. Students with active status SEVIS records are currently allowed to maintain valid their 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.
View a recording of our July 17 OIA Advising Briefing for Current Students with Active SEVIS Records. This webinar was for current Pratt students with active SEVIS records and discussed immigration questions about F-1 status only. The information still applies now for Spring 2021 semester.
Travel bans and visa processing
Travel bans may still affect your ability to arrive in the U.S., no matter if you currently hold initial or active SEVIS status. Travel to the U.S. for the Spring semester may not be possible because a travel ban may still be in place for the country you are currently in. Travel bans are still in effect for foreign national entry to the U.S. from China, Iran, Brazil, UK, Ireland, and European Schengen countries. Europeans may apply for an exception waiver. We have seen some European students reporting success in applying for their visas and getting waivers.
Some students impacted by the travel ban have explored traveling to a third country for 14 days and entering the US from that third country. We cannot confirm that this is a viable and recommended idea, particularly because of the high cost, resources involved, and potential risk to students if something goes wrong. If you have entered the US successfully from a third country, we welcome your experience report to OIA.
Most consulates around the world are processing student visas now, although procedures and requirements are varying greatly between country posts. Please check with your local consulate for their current policies, and check back regularly. U.S. consulates in Mainland China are not currently issuing new visas yet, to our understanding. We do encourage you to attempt making contact with the consulate and scheduling an appointment regularly. If you have received a visa appointment or a visa in China recently, please let OIA know this. We welcome visa issuance experience reports from all students worldwide, as this helps us advise other students as to what to expect.
Research the quarantine policy of your winter break destination if you are choosing to travel. Know the quarantine policy for returning to Pratt in Spring if you plan to arrive.
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. Make sure to check if you have a valid travel signature if you plan re-entry.
Travel signatures are not needed to leave the U.S., only to re-enter on an active SEVIS I-20. If your travel signature is older than 1 year or if you don’t have one on your I-20 page 2, please email OIA with your name, Pratt ID number and SEVIS number to request one. One piece of good news from the pandemic is that we can do signatures electronically now on electronic I-20s and the process is much faster than the previous paper documents. 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 Spring 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 as of February 1.
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, and will resume in January 2021. You can find PISA and many other clubs and events listed on Pratt Engage. Follow PISA on Instagram @prattpisa or feel free to email email@example.com with any questions, ideas, or interest.
OIA New Arrival Orientation Sessions
(includes students returning from leave of absence)
New Student Orientation - Save the Date - January 14-15, 2021
Student Involvement will be sharing more information about Orientation. Pratt highly recommends utilizing the app “Guidebook” to help you plan your orientation schedule. There may be sessions specific to your academic program that you will need to attend as well.
*Required OIA Info Sessions During Orientation*
Session #1: Outside U.S.: Thursday, January 14, 2021, 10-11 am EST via Zoom
For students who will begin their studies at Pratt online from outside the U.S. for Spring 2021 semester
Session #2: Inside U.S. or Arriving to U.S.: Friday, January 15, 2021, 1-2 pm EST via Zoom
For students who have already arrived or will arrive in the U.S. for the Spring 2021 semester, beginning their F-1 student status
If you are a new student or a student returning from leave, you MUST attend the session above that pertains to your situation.
As the U.S. government has given new guidance during COVID times, the OIA info session is going to be very important for you to attend. We will address critical details about F-1 student status that would be specific to your situation.
Please add your session to your calendar now. The Zoom link will be available in the Guidebook app (orientation schedule). For reference, the web version of the guide is available here: http://guidebook.com/guide/178082
Required Immigration Check-In
For students who will be in the U.S. for the Spring 2021 semester, you must submit check-in documents so you can be registered in SEVIS. This is ONLY for students who will be inside the U.S. We will send you instructions for this process in January. It is extremely important that you complete check-in in a timely manner or your SEVIS record will be automatically terminated by the system. Check in is due February 2, 2021.
Fall 2020 Update
July 27, 2020 Update
Pratt is providing options for international students who are unable to arrive in the United States due to visa or travel restrictions to enroll in fully online classes during the Fall semester. We also are providing hybrid (in-person) course options for students who are able to attend Pratt in-person. Recently there have been many updates to how these online and in-person options relate to international students’ immigration status.
On July 6, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of the Department of Homeland Security announced updated guidance for the Fall semester. On July 14, this guidance was rescinded. On July 15, ICE replaced their guidance with their former Spring guidance. On July 24, ICE posted a broadcast message and new “clarifying questions” on the ICE COVID-19 web page on certain aspects of applying the March 2020 "status quo" guidance in the context of the Fall 2020 term. Thank you for your patience as the information continues changing.
Under normal conditions, international students are required to be full-time enrolled in regular in-person classes to maintain valid immigration status. Usually only one online class (or three credits) can count towards full-time enrollment status. Homeland Security (ICE) provided relief generally speaking during the Spring semester to allow current students to maintain valid F-1 SEVIS status when studying remotely, either in the U.S. or abroad, due to COVID-19. Based on the July 6 guidance being rescinded, it appears ICE will continue to allow for this flexibility for current students.
ICE has reverted their online FAQ document to the Spring term FAQ. This older guidance is the same one we had for Spring operations. The Spring guidance says that students with active status SEVIS records can be considered in status during Pratt’s modified COVID-19 operations. You will be considered in valid status provided you are full-time enrolled. You are waived from normal restrictions on counting online study towards full time enrollment due to our modified instruction. Whether you are inside or outside the US does not matter. Any five month rule should not apply with this guidance version.
View a recording of our July 17 OIA Advising Briefing for Current Students with Active SEVIS Records. This webinar was for current Pratt students with active SEVIS records and discussed immigration questions about F-1 status only.
The new July 24 ICE guidance document indicates that new students with initial I-20s may be permitted to receive a visa and enter the United States for Fall semester if the student will engage in hybrid coursework. Since hybrid coursework has in-person components, if you take a hybrid class in Fall it will potentially allow you to enter the US for Fall. You would also need to have a valid F-1 visa to enter the U.S. and not be traveling from a country currently under COVID-19 U.S. travel ban. Students who will be taking all online coursework with no hybrid classes will not be able to enter the U.S.
If you will start your study in Fall remotely from outside the US with full-time online classes, we will need to change your SEVIS I-20 start date to accommodate in-person arrival for the Spring 2021 term. The Spring semester start date is January 19, 2021. Your SEVIS ID would remain the same, so you can keep any standing visa appointment you may have scheduled at the consulate. Mid-semester entry to the U.S. is not an option for new students with initial I-20s, due to the I-20 start date being fixed at the beginning of the semester. You may arrive up to 30 days before the start date of Spring term if you receive an updated I-20 for Spring arrival.
Transfer Pending Students
If you are currently inside the U.S. as an F-1 transfer pending student, you should be able to remain in the U.S. and begin your full-time study at Pratt. If you are inside the U.S. you will need to report to OIA for an immigration check-in at the beginning of the semester. So long as you report to OIA and are full-time enrolled, you will maintain your status having either online or hybrid courses according to present guidance.
The new July 24 ICE guidance document indicates that new students with initial I-20s may be permitted to receive a visa and enter the United States for Fall semester if the student will engage in hybrid coursework. Since hybrid coursework has in-person components, if you take a hybrid class in Fall it will potentially allow you to enter the US for Fall. You would also need to have a valid F-1 visa to enter the U.S. and not be traveling from a country currently under COVID-19 U.S. travel ban. Students who will be taking all online coursework with no hybrid class will not be able to enter the U.S.
For people taking class full-time outside the US online for Fall, we will need to follow a different procedure than people inside the US. The guidance says we will need to request a manual data fix of your SEVIS record to accommodate in-person arrival for the Spring 2021 term. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you will be outside the US and need a manual data fix of your record with the subject line “transfer pending student.”
Travel and Quarantine
If you are traveling to campus in-person this Fall, please review Pratt’s quarantine policy. Please be aware that per CDC guidelines, all community members arriving to the U.S. from international locations should self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Our Fall semester begins Monday, August 24.
We recommend all new and current students arrive from any international location by August 9 leaving ample time to self-quarantine for 14 days before classes begin on August 24. Students who are already present in the US in a different state than New York should follow the domestic quarantine policy for return to campus.
The latest possible date to arrive to the U.S. from an international location to self-quarantine is August 24. You must be present in all in-person academic engagements after the drop/add deadline, September 7. Keep in mind that there may be academic implications to absence in hybrid classes if you self-quarantine late. You should communicate with your professors directly about your situation.
The Office of International Affairs (OIA) will continue to communicate further instructions to the international student community on this page. We are collecting FAQs for both new and current students; this webpage will be updated with new answers as they emerge. Please email OIA@pratt.edu with any questions or concerns.
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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