The following message was sent by email on 7/6/21 to international students with an initial or transfer pending form I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1).

Greetings, JHU International Students!

We hope your summer is going well and that you and your loved ones are remaining safe and healthy. As you make your preparations for the resumption or commencement of your programs in fall, please find below some tips, guidance, and reminders you may find helpful and informative, as well as a request to complete a new eForm once you have secured your F-1 or J-1 student visa.

Visa Appointments and Issuance

Some individuals have reached out to report difficulties in getting a visa appointment at the U.S. consulate in their country. Unfortunately, it is clear consulates around the world are not fully operating at pre-pandemic levels and are only slowly resuming some routine services. A recent article from Inside Higher Ed captures the essence of what has been happening worldwide.

Here are a few key points to remember when attempting to secure a visa appointment:

  • A visa application is personal to the individual, and the consulate will not speak to JHU about your individual case;
  • Consulates are given wide latitude by the U.S. Department of State in how they conduct services, even at different consulates in the same country;
  • Many consulates are still temporarily closed or offering emergency services only, while others are slowly resuming routine services; consular services will vary based on local conditions;
  • Consulates worldwide are backlogged and are currently handling requests from students admitted in fall 2020, spring 2021, and fall 2021, but they are working as best they can to prioritize student volume; and,
  • Student visas are a high priority among all non-immigrant visas, meaning students will be given visa appointments ahead of most other visa applicants.

OK, great, but what can I do to increase my chances of securing a visa appointment?

  • Only you can schedule the appointment via the consulate’s scheduling system, and it may be necessary to visit the consulate’s website daily or several times a day until you see appointments become available; new appointments may become available at any time.
  • You may view general appointment information for each consulate by visiting https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/wait-times.html --check this frequently for updates.
  • Prepare contingency plans should the visa backlog continue past the start of fall; consult with your department’s academic advising team regarding delayed arrival, remote study possibilities, deferral options, etc.—students must be able to arrive and check-in with OIS no later than the 30th day of the term (with their program’s permission) or will need to obtain a new I-20 and plan to arrive the following term.
  • You may be able to request an “expedited visa appointment” with the consulate once you are within 30 days of your program start date as stated on your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1); check the consulate’s website for instructions.
    • Good luck and keep us posted on the status of your visa efforts and if you encounter anything out of the ordinary (as we routinely pass along special issues to our Government Affairs colleagues so they may inform our congressional delegation).

I have obtained my F-1 or J-1 student visa! Now what?

  • Once you have secured your visa, please complete the short “Notification of Student Visa Issuance eForm” located in the “New Students” tab of iHopkins; your program will have access to a report showing that you have received your visa.
  • REMINDER: immediately after your arrival in the U.S., be certain to complete the separate required OIS “Check-In eForm” found in iHopkins. It can be completed up to 30 days before your program start date. If you arrive in the U.S. within the 30-day period after your program start date, you must complete the Check-In eForm as soon as possible. It is critical that all new F-1 and J-1 students, including transfer students and change of degree level students who studied at JHU previously, complete the Check-In eForm to comply with U.S. immigration regulations for international students.

Travel to the U.S.

• COVID travel restrictions and National Interest Exceptions (NIE)

As you have probably heard by now, for programs starting on or after August 1, 2021, students from China, India, Brazil, Iran, South Africa, UK, Ireland, and the Schengen Area of Europe are automatically granted a National Interest Exception (NIE) to the COVID travel restrictions, meaning that you do not need to request an NIE from the consulate in order to travel to the U.S. If you attempt to travel to the U.S. for a program start prior to August 1, you would need to contact the consulate and request an NIE.

• Negative COVID test requirement for air travelers

All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States. More information for international travelers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control can be found here and here.

International Travel for Those Inside the U.S.

We continue to strongly advise against travel outside the U.S. if it can be avoided. It is possible new restrictions may pop up with little or no warning. In any case, please discuss your plans with an advisor in OIS well prior to travel.

For more complete information, visit our COVID Immigration and Travel FAQs here. After reviewing, if you still have uncertainties about your planned arrival for fall, do not hesitate to reach out to ois@jhu.edu.

Sincerely,

The Office of International Services