This web page will be updated regularly with answers to frequently asked questions about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, particularly as they relate to our community of international students and scholars.

For additional information about campus coronavirus updates, go to


International Student and Scholar Services is open Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in 1111 University Capitol Centre (UCC).

As always, you should feel free to contact ISSS by visiting ISSS Zoom and In-Person Walk-in Hours with any questions or concerns you may have. 

Updated: 07/29/2022

ISSS understands that this is a stressful time – especially for those of you deciding whether to travel internationally and wondering when you will be able to return. Please know that we are here to help in any way that we can. And if you need additional support, please do not hesitate to contact the sources below:


Students and Scholars:


Updated: 02/19/2021


2022-2023 Academic Year:

During the 2022-2023 academic year, SEVP Guidance from March 2020 still applies. The guidance regulates enrollment as well as the immigration status of continuing international students as follows:

Continuing international students can take online or in-person credits from either inside or outside the U.S. as long as they are registered on a full-time basis or have received part-time authorization.

Students who do not wish to remain enrolled during the spring semester must submit either non-medical or medical immigration withdrawal request. This withdrawal would be processed after the academic withdrawal in MyUI is approved by the academic adviser. Follow UI’s Academic Calendar for withdrawal deadlines and MyUI for withdrawal instructions. Please contact ISSS at with any further questions, concerns.

NOTE: If you are a new student who planned to start school at UI this fall and decided to postpone until spring 2023, please contact about deferring your program in order to obtain a new I-20/ DS-2019 document. If you are a new student who started taking classes while abroad, you will need an immigration document with the correct program start date before traveling to the U.S. Please contact

If you withdrew your immigration status (took a semester or longer gap/ absence from school) and you plan to return to the U.S and UI in the fall 2022 or spring 2023 semester, please follow information on this ISSS web site – you must obtain a new I-20 to travel back to the U.S. so please plan in advance! Contact with any concerns, questions. 

Updated: 07/29/2022

First, please ensure that you have a valid immigration document, either I-20 or DS-2019 with a recent signature from an ISSS advisor. The signature is located on the second page of your I-20 for F-1 students, or on the front of your DS-2019 for J-1 students and scholars.

For students and scholars whose immigration status shows as Active while away from the U.S., please inspect the validity of travel signature given by one of the ISSS advisors. The signature is valid for one year from the date signed, provided you did not graduate or otherwise interrupted your program (six months for F-1 students on OPT).

IMPORTANT: If you withdrew from school and from your F-1 immigration status while you were in your home country, please follow this ISSS web site on how to obtain a new I-20. If you are not sure which process for return to use, please contact ISSS at especially if you may have to apply for new visa.

If you realize that signature is no longer valid, your immigration category determines the document re-print and delivery process:

  • F-1 students**: Your updated I-20 can be shared in a digital format by email from ISSS advisor. Please visit ISSS Zoom and In-Person Walk-Ins to request an updated I-20.
  • J-1 students: Your DS-2019 with updated travel signature must be received in person or mailed as a hard copy to you using eShipGlobal service. Please visit ISSS Zoom and In-Person Walk-Ins with your DS-2019 form to receive a travel signature or submit a request in iHawk under “Other Services” menu if you are not in the Iowa City area.
  • J-1 scholars: Similar to J-1 students, you must obtain hard copy of your DS-2019 with new travel signature before returning to the U.S., provided your status has been kept Active.

**The guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), the U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued in the spring 2020 gives schools permission to send electronic I-20s with digital signatures added. The ISSS Advisor’s digital signature is valid for one year, or until the I-20 is updated and a new physical copy is created. Note:  this permission does not apply to J-1 students and J-1 scholars receiving new DS-2019 form that must still be mailed as hard copy.

If your program is scheduled to end in fall 2022 and:

  1. You do not believe that you will be able to finish this semester for any reason, please apply for Program Extension to obtain new I-20 before traveling back to campus. You can complete the program extension request online from anywhere. ISSS can send I-20 documents by email during fall 2022 semester. The DS-2019 forms must be shipped using eShipGlobal.
  2. You would like to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), please take some time to watch this presentation on how to apply for CPT/OPT. Please note that you must be present in the United States to apply for OPT.
  3. You do not wish to return to, or remain in the U.S., then you do not need to take any further action. 

For any other situations, or any additional questions, you can join our ISSS Zoom and In-Person Walk-Ins and speak to an ISSS advisor.   

Updated: 07/29/2022


COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Requirement:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has guidance requiring all non-U.S. citizen, non-U.S. immigrant air passengers arriving to the United States from traveling internationally must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (or required to attest agreement to get vaccinated and have arranged to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arriving in the U.S. or as soon thereafter as is medically appropriate) before boarding the flight. For information about the proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirement, visit the U.S. CDC website.

New COVID-19 Testing Requirement:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has new travel requirements for all travelers living or traveling through China and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The new requirement applies to all people who have been in these locations within 10 days before their departure to the United States. The new requirements state travelers must present either:

  • Negative COVID-19 PCR or Antigen test taken no more than two days before their flight departs for the U.S.
  • Documentation showing recovery from COVID-19 infection that occurred more than 10 days ago

This evidence (either the negative test or documentation showing recovery) must be shown before boarding flights to the United States. For information about the new requirement, visit the U.S. CDC website.

For information about after you travel, visit the U.S. CDC website.

Updated: 01/05/2023

International students and scholars traveling outside the U.S. may be required to meet international travel requirements for countries requiring both COVID-19 PCR and IgM antibodies negative tests shortly prior to boarding a flight. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) offers these tests. Please expect to pay for these tests from your own pocket.

F-1 and J-1 Students: Students can have these tests arranged through Student Health. For information about these tests, please visit the Student Health website.

J-1 Scholars: Scholars can have these tests arranged by contacting their primary care provider or UI QuickCare.

Updated: 02/22/2022

If the CDC recommends COVID-19 testing for students arriving from an international destination, testing will be administered by Student Health

Updated: 02/22/2022