International Student Services COVID-19 Updates

The Center for International Affairs and the Office of International Student Services (ISS) understand the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has many implications for Case Western Reserve University's international students so we have compiled information to address many of the questions we have received and help our students transition to a hybrid learning model.

Changes to Our Services

The ISS staff (and the rest of the Center for International Affairs staff) want international students to know that we continue to be available to provide support and guidance through virtual advising hours and appointments conducted through Zoom or on the phone. 

The services mentioned below have been adapted to be offered remotely. If an international student does not see the service they need below, the service continues being offered and there is no new procedure to follow.  As plans evolve, we will continue to provide updates through email and update this website as needed.  

If any international students have questions or concerns, please feel free to email our ISS staff at international@case.edu so we can help.

All advising hours will now be offered virtually, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, from 11 am to 3 pm.  An advisor will be available to answer international students' questions using the chat box here. 

Please be patient if you have to wait to connect with an advisor; there may be times when we are trying to work with multiple students.

International students who would like to request an appointment are asked to do so by emailing international@case.edu and including a brief description of what they would like to discuss.  

An ISS staff member will respond by email to schedule the appointment and give the option to meet via Zoom or phone.

Please note we generally require 24 hours’ notice for appointments and do not schedule same-day appointments. This is so that we can be best prepared to help our students. 
 

The Center for International Affairs is offering limited, in-person appointments for students picking up or dropping off documents only on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, between 10 am and 3 pm ET.

ISS expects students with appointments for picking up or dropping off documents to arrive at the office promptly. Staff members will be masked and students must be as well; staff will not meet with students who are not properly wearing masks and abiding by safety precautions. Upon arriving, students should call 216.368.2517 to check-in. A staff member will meet with them in the lobby to exchange documents.

Students who are picking up documents will receive specific instructions when their documents are ready for pick-up and can schedule their appointments here.

Students who are dropping off documents will need to contact ISS at international@case.edu and make specific arrangements. There may be certain exceptions that do not require emailing international@case.edu to make specific arrangements, and in those instances, instructions about how to drop off documents will be included in an existing request process. Unless otherwise noted, students should not expect same-day service for processing documents that they are dropping off at the office.

Appointments will be managed by all members in the Center for International Affairs so students should not expect to meet with an ISS staff member who can answer specific questions. Students are welcome to use the virtual chat during advising hours, email, or set up a virtual appointment to further discuss their situations with ISS staff.

While ISS staff is working remotely, we will be unavailable to provide travel signatures on current I-20s or DS-2019s. 

ISS will instead reprint these documents for students who need a travel signature.  

The request form for I-20 Reprints and DS-2109 Reprints is here.  

Once a student submits a request, it will be reviewed by an ISS staff member, and the student will be notified by email when their I-20 is ready.  

That email will also include instructions about how to request and pay for FedEx shipping of the new document.
 

We encourage international students who need an extension to start working on their requests now with a goal of submitting them by the beginning of April.

The request form for an extension is located here.  

While the process for an extension request has not changed, we want to be sure that we are able to communicate with students and faculty if there are questions and process requests in accordance with federal regulations.

 You will be notified by email when your new I-20 is ready.  

That email will also include instructions about how to request and pay for FedEx shipping of the new document.

OPT and CPT workshops are available through both a virtual advisor-led format and a self-guided online module.

Additional detailed information about applying for OPT and CPT can be found here and links to applications can be accessed under the Practical Training Related Links.  

You will be notified by email when your new I-20 is ready.  

That email will also include instructions about how to request and pay for FedEx shipping of the new document.

If you have questions, you are welcome to contact us during virtual advising hours or through email.

 

We have been getting a lot of questions from students about their OPT applications.  ISS is still processing OPT requests submitted through Terra Dotta (visas.case.edu) and emailing students with instructions about how to collect their new I-20s when they are ready.  For more detailed information about the OPT application process, please visit this page.

Eligibility

If you are remaining in the United States to finish your semester through online education and have otherwise properly maintained your visa status, you will be eligible to apply for OPT.  ISS will assist you through the process while we are working remotely.

If you intend to apply for OPT and have plans to depart the United States soon, ISS strongly recommends that you apply for OPT before leaving. The Form I-765 application currently states, "You must file Form I-765 while in the United States" in Part 3, Applicant's Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature. 

If you intend to apply for OPT but have already departed the United States, contact ISS at international@case.edu so that you can consult with an advisor about your specific situation.  

If SEVP and USCIS provide additional guidance about OPT eligibility, ISS will share that information with all students through email.

 

Mailing Your Application

If you are planning to apply for OPT this semester and are planning to use ISS’ address, we strongly urge you to reconsider and use another address at which you can receive your mail.  There could be delays in ISS receiving mail and delays in ISS notifying you about received mail. Using another address will minimize any inconvenience in you receiving your mail from ISS.

If you have already submitted your application to USCIS and used ISS’ mailing address, you should update your mailing address with USCIS immediately so that you can receive your materials elsewhere.  You can change your address here:

  • click Continue
  • click Yes
  • selecting I765
  • selecting I765- Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student
  • Entering your receipt number
  • Entering the zip code you used when you filed
  • Click Add
  • Entering all of your personal information in the fields below.
  • Click box to electronically sign
  • Click Submit

We know that applying for OPT is complicated even when COVID-19 is not a factor.  ISS will continue to do everything we can to make this a smooth process for you.

If you have used ISS’ mailing address to receive mail and it is waiting for you at ISS now, make an appointment to collect it by Tuesday, November 24 or you can submit a non-refundable FedEx Request.

If your mail has not yet arrived, a staff member will check campus mail on a weekly basis and notify students of anything that arrives for them.  Students will then be provided with instructions about how to have their mail sent to them by FedEx.  Students will not have the option to go to campus to collect their mail.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through this process. We are doing our best to notify and send things to you as fast as we are able.

FedEx shipping is the only option for ISS to provide international students with their documents at this time.  

When a document is ready, the student is sent an email with instructions to request and pay for FedEx shipping.  

If you have already been notified that your document is ready, you can follow the FedEx instructions in that email. If you are still waiting for your email notification, your FedEx instructions will be included.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information for International Students

As of Monday, March 29, all residents of Ohio ages 16 and older can receive the vaccine. 

International students at Case Western Reserve University are considered residents of Ohio. That means all international students at Case Western Reserve are now able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The university is working with officials in Cleveland and elsewhere to determine whether we will be able to distribute additional doses for students at our campus site. As soon as we have details, we will inform the campus community. International students will be eligible for these opportunities, as long as they meet the other criteria set by the City of Cleveland.

For now, we encourage everyone who is eligible - including international students - to schedule an appointment wherever they can obtain a dose. Students should visit the State of Ohio Department of Health’s website to find and schedule an appointment to be vaccinated. 

If you have any questions or concerns about the vaccine, please visit the university’s COVID-19 website for more information.

Student and Exchange Visitor Program Updates

On December 9, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program's (SEVP) plans to keep spring 2021 guidance the same as fall 2020 were reported in an article from Inside Higher Education. A spokesperson for SEVP, Carissa Cutrell was quoted as saying, “Nonimmigrant students should continue to abide by SEVP guidance originally issued in March 2020.”

The continuation of this guidance will allow schools and students to engage in distance learning that exceeds regulatory limits while public health and safety concerns exist due to the pandemic.

We have compiled information to provide context for our international students as they evaluate their options for Case Western Reserve's spring 2021 semester. You can view that information at the link below.

Spring 2021 SEVP Guidance Details

On July 14, 2020, the U.S. government agreed to rescind the July 6 guidance indicating that international students taking only online courses would imperil their visa status.

After the agreement regarding the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) was announced, the federal government issued a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document regarding the fall semester and then posted a second document with additional clarifications

We have compiled information to provide context for our international students as they evaluate their options for Case Western Reserve's fall 2020  semester. You can view that information at the link below.

Fall 2020 SEVP Guidance Details