Fall 2021 - Spring 2022 Guidance & Student and Exchange Visitor Program Updates

Fall 2021 Arrival Information for International Students

Case Western Reserve University will welcome our students to campus in Cleveland for in-person classroom instruction in Fall 2021, and a rich residential experience for undergraduates. We understand, however, that not all of our students will be able to reach Cleveland as a result of circumstances beyond CWRU’s or students’ control, including difficulties with visa appointments. The university is deeply committed to all of our students, and is developing pathways for students who must remain away from Cleveland in Fall 2021 to make progress toward their degrees, such as through remote instructional options. Additional details will be provided as they are available. 

Plans related to your arrival on campus are still being developed.  In the meantime, we encourage you to view the information available on the university's COVID-19 website, particularly what is related to vaccine and travel. If visa challenges prevent you from arriving in Cleveland by the first day of classes, please get in touch with ISS at international@case.edu so that we can help get you connected to the appropriate campus resources.

In a typical year, students’ arrival on campus marks the beginning of a time of significant social interaction—whether through first-year student orientation or returning students’ reunions with friends, staff and faculty. We realize that beginning your semester on campus during a worldwide pandemic is an experience directly opposite of what you would want. At the same time, we hope that you can appreciate that such measures are critical in our efforts to reduce COVID-19 transmission risks across the campus community.

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Updates

On April 26, 2021, it was announced that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will extend the guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the 2021-22 academic year.

The March 2020 federal COVID-19 guidance is on the ICE website.

We want to provide the information below to help provide context as you make plans to enroll at Case Western Reserve for the Fall 20201 semester.

Please take your time to read through it carefully. We welcome any questions you may have. Please email international@case.edu and we will do our best to answer your questions for you.

Please keep in mind that new developments may arise that require changes to this information; we will provide follow-up information as events warrant.

International students who started their programs at CWRU in Fall 2020 and will continue in Spring 2021 maintain their visa status by enrolling fulltime.  Their coursework cannot be fully online.

If CWRU’s operational plans shift to an entirely online model after new students are activated in the system (a process that occurs in the first month of classes), they should be eligible to maintain their visa status. 

Continuing CWRU international students who had a SEVIS record in Active status as of Spring 2020 (when the March 2020 guidance was issued) can maintain their visa status by enrolling fulltime at CWRU.  Their coursework can be a combination of in-person, hybrid, or online learning or it can be exclusively through online learning.  Continuing students will also be able to maintain their visa status through full-time enrollment from on-campus or abroad.  Continuing students who have properly maintained status through full-time enrollment are not affected by the 5-month rule.  When CWRU resumes normal operation and standard procedure, all students must return to campus and comply with all relevant guidance to remain Active in SEVIS and maintain their visa status.

New students who are not able to obtain a visa should remain abroad. The university is deeply committed to all of our students and is developing pathways for students who must remain away from Cleveland in Fall 2021 to make progress toward their degrees, such as through remote instructional options. Additional details will be provided as they are available.  If ISS has already issued an I-20 to you, we will issue a new one to reflect plans for pursuing F-1 student status and arriving at CWRU for the start of a future semester.  ISS has a process through which you will be required to report your plans for Fall 2021 and will communicate more about this closer to the start of the semester.

New students who obtain a visa and enter the United States to start in Fall 2021 must enroll full-time. New students may not enroll in all online coursework.    

If CWRU’s operational plans shift to an entirely online model after new students are activated in the system (a process that occurs in the first month of classes), they should be eligible to maintain their visa status. 

Transfer, undergraduate readmitted, and CEL students, who will begin a program at Case Western Reserve in Fall 2021, will have SEVIS records’ that indicate Initial status, not Active status. Their records transition from Active to Initial status due to systematic processes within SEVIS.  These students must enroll fulltime and may not enroll in all online courses.

If CWRU’s operational plan shift to an entirely online model after transfer and CEL students are activated in the system (a process that occurs in the first month of classes), they should be eligible to maintain their visa status.

Visa Issuance

We are aware that visa services remain limited or are unavailable in some countries.  Each site determines how to resume services and students can get information about specific sites’ plans by visiting https://www.usembassy.gov/.

If new, transfer, readmitted undergraduate, and CEL students cannot enter the United States by the scheduled start of Fall 2021, August 23, they should strongly consider remote education through pathways made available by CWRU.  Arriving after August 23 is not an option.

I-20 Issuance

ISS is hearing from students that consular officials are asking students to present proof that their coursework will not be entirely online. Students should ask their school or department to provide a letter describing the specifics of their curricula.

Travel Restrictions

The Department of State has announced that F-1 international students from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland would be exempt from the proclamations banning certain travelers’ entry to the United States.  Students traveling from India, China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa may also be exempt from the proclamations banning certain travelers.

Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) ultimately has discretion about who is permitted to enter the United States; the Department of State’s announcement does not guarantee that CBP will allow students to enter the United States.

ISS recommends that all students monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website for the most current guidance related to international travel during COVID-19.

Quarantine

CWRU’s most current policies can be found on the university's COVID-19 website.

Information about CWRU's plans for Fall will be forthcoming.

Communications to International Students

You can view a complete log of communications in the Communication Corner.