Ohio University has announced plans to return to campus for the Fall 2020 semester. Details about the plan and safety precautions can be found on the Fall 2020 Planning website. We know that you may have many additional questions beyond what was shared in the announcement about the coming semester. In this email, we will do our best to acknowledge these questions and provide the information we have. As the summer progresses, we will update these answers as needed.
When will visa appointments resume?
At this time, U.S. embassies and consulates are not open for visa processing beyond emergency situations; however, many have begun scheduling visa interviews. Many new students have asked what they can do to get a visa in time to arrive for fall.
The U.S. Department of State has not made any announcements about the reopening of embassies for visa processing. Our expectation is that the timeline will vary based on the conditions in the country where the embassy is located. Once embassies reopen, there is likely to be extremely high demand. It may be difficult to get a visa and arrive by the orientation date printed on your I-20 form. For this reason, we recommend that you do not purchase a (non-refundable) flight to the U.S. until you have your visa.
Please be aware that International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) and Ohio University do not have any connections with the U.S. embassies, nor do we have the ability to help you obtain an earlier visa appointment.
Can I arrive later than August 12?
Undergraduate students are permitted to arrive up until the day before classes begin (August 23). If you are unable to arrive by that date, please contact Undergraduate Admissions to learn how to defer your admission to begin in a future semester.
Graduate students, please let us know when you are able to secure a visa appointment. ISFS is discussing this situation with the Graduate College and academic departments. In some cases, it may be possible to accommodate a late arrival. We can begin that conversation with you once we know your visa appointment date. Alternately, you can speak with your department about the possibility of deferring to the spring semester. If you have been awarded any financial support, you will need to ask if that will be retained if you defer to the spring semester.
Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE) students should contact OPIE to ask about the possibility of late arrival.
What should I do if I’m from a country with a COVID-19 related travel ban?
At this time, the U.S. government has barred entry to any individual who has spent time in the following locations within the preceding 14 days: Brazil, China, European Schengen Area, Iran, Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom. We do not know when these bars will be lifted. If the bars remain in place, the only way you will be allowed to enter is if you spend 14 days in a country that is not included on this list, and then travel directly to the U.S. from that location. Students should also avoid flights with connections through the countries with a bar. Please note that this list is subject to change at any time.
Will I be required to quarantine upon reaching Ohio University?
Ohio University is reviewing all federal and state public health and safety guidelines, including those on testing, tracing, and quarantine plans. We will provide more information as soon as details are available.
Will I be able to take enough in-person classes to adhere to F or J visa requirements?
Under normal circumstances, F and J visa regulations restrict enrollment in online classes. Due to COVID-19 precautions, it is likely that more classes than usual will be offered online this fall. The U.S. government has not yet issued guidance to schools and universities on the visa requirements and exceptions for the fall semester. The government gave universities significant flexibility for students to maintain their status with online classes in the spring and summer semesters. It is our hope that this flexibility will continue to be offered through the fall semester. We will update you as more information becomes available.
Will I be able to find a job this fall?
Visa regulations strictly prohibit most off-campus employment. (There are a few exceptions tied to required internships that you will learn about at orientation.) This means that our students are often eager to find on-campus employment opportunities. We do expect that on-campus jobs will be available this fall semester; however, there is no guarantee that every student who is interested in a job will be able to find one. November 20, 2020, will be the last day on campus for fall semester, and the final portion of instruction, including exams, will take place online, This may impact the number of on-campus jobs available during the last few weeks of the semester.
How will housing be handled this fall?
Students who will live on-campus should refer questions to Housing and Residence Life. For those who will live off-campus, we highly recommend that you refrain from signing a lease until you have your visa and know you will be able to enter the U.S. Signing a lease obligates you to pay for rent, even if you do not live on the premises. In the meantime, you can continue to research housing options, so that you can act quickly when you are ready to sign.