International Student FAQ

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) reflect current university policies and immigration regulations. This page is designed to provide AU international students with up-to-date answers to help navigate their immigration status.

Last updated on May 26, 2022.

General Information (All Students)

  • Does AU require that students be vaccinated? 
    Yes. All students who come to campus for any reason must be vaccinated against COVID-19. On April 14, 2021, President Burwell announced vaccination requirements for all AU students. Additional information was announced on July 30, 2021. Updates will be made in accordance with the university's FAQ on Vaccination Requirements page here
  • How do I submit proof of vaccination? 
    Undergraduate, graduate, and WCL students will be required to provide proof of vaccination. Please see the details regarding the submission of the vaccination record

    All students must provide official documentation of vaccination that includes the name of the vaccine you received and the dates you were vaccinated. This documentation may include your CDC Vaccination Card, World Health Organization Yellow Book, or official documentation from a medical provider. 
  • What COVID-19 vaccines are accepted? 
    The CDC has confirmed that only vaccines approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted.
  • Do I need to submit translated proof of vaccination?  
    We need to be able to read and verify the vaccine records. If we cannot read the records because of legibility or language issues, students will be not in compliance with AU's vaccination requirement. Your proof of vaccination must be easily readable and understandable to avoid putting holds on your registration or on housing (for COVID-19).  
  • Will I be required to quarantine in Washington DC?
    If you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you will NOT be allowed to board a flight to the U.S., unless you meet the criteria for an exception under October 25, 2021, Presidential Proclamation, and the CDC’s Order here and here.

    Other helpful links include:

    1. Department of State: Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing for International Travel
    2. CDC: Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers
  • If I qualify for a COVID-19 exemption for entering the U.S., are there other protocols I need to follow?
    Yes, if you are not fully vaccinated and allowed to travel to the U.S. by air through an exception, you are required to:

    1. Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after arrival unless you have documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days (about 3 months).
    2. Stay at home or in your hotel room and self-quarantine for a full 7 days, even if you test negative, unless you have documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
    3. Isolate if your test result is positive or you develop COVID-19 symptoms.
    4. If you intend to stay in the U.S. for 60 days (about 2 months) or longer, you must become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days (about 2 months) of arriving in the U.S. or as soon as medically appropriate, unless you have a medical contraindication or are too young to be vaccinated.
  • Are there any travel restrictions to enter the U.S. from certain countries regardless of vaccination status?
    No, there are no travel restrictions to enter the U.S. from certain countries.

    Effective December 31, 2021, the travel restriction into the U.S. for individuals who were physically present within the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe in the preceding 14 days was lifted. More information can be found in the Presidential Proclamation on Revoking Proclamation 10315 and on the U.S. Department of State's website about the rescission of travel restrictions to those countries
  • Is there any new documentation that I need to have with me when entering the U.S.?
    To board a plane to the U.S., you will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, unless you meet the exception criteria outlined here, and a negative COVID-19 test. More information on the global vaccination requirement can be found in the questions below.

    In addition, you must always have a valid I-20/DS-2019, an unexpired passport, an unexpired F-1/J-1 visa, your SEVIS fee receipt, and a copy of your unofficial transcript and/or course registration showing enrollment in a few in-person classes.

  • Are there any travel restrictions to enter the U.S. from certain countries regardless of vaccination status?
    No, there are no travel restrictions to enter the U.S. from certain countries.

    Effective December 31, 2021, the travel restriction into the U.S. for individuals who were physically present within the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe in the preceding 14 days was lifted. More information can be found in the Presidential Proclamation here and on the U.S. Department of State's website here

  • If I have an AU Medical/Religious exemption, does it permit me to enter the U.S. from another country?
    No, exemptions granted by AU are for the sole purpose of accessing the AU campus. You will need to use official medical paperwork issued by your licensed medical doctor to enter the U.S. Also, the Presidential Proclamation does not currently include exemptions for religious or moral reasons.

  • Do I need a COVID-19 test prior to boarding my flight to the U.S.?
    Yes, the U.S. government requires all air passengers entering the U.S. (Including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken no more than one day before travel into the U.S., or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days (about 3 months) if fully vaccinated.

  • Have U.S. embassies and consulates resumed routine visa services?    

    Most U.S. consulates abroad have resumed routine visa services. Please refer to usembassy.gov for more information on embassies' and consulates' operating status in your area.  
  • May I apply for or renew my F-1 or J-1 visa in a third country? 
    Applying for or renewing a F-1 or J-1 visa outside your home country is possible but it increases the visa processing time. Please consult with the U.S. embassy or consulate where you are planning to apply for a visa for more information.
  • I received an electronicallysigned I-20, do I need to receive a paper one to apply for a visa or to travel?
    While we will continue sending you electronic I-20s as permitted by the Department of Homeland Security, please print a copy for your visa interview at the U.S. consulate and also the port of entry officer at the U.S. port of entry on arrival. 
  • What course modalities are available (e.g. live/synchronous, asynchronous, etc.)? What classes will have an in-person component?
    American University will continue providing mostly in-person education in Fall 2022 while also offering limited online classes in various programs for students who cannot be on campus due to COVID-19 health and safety measures around the world. Please consult with your academic advisor for your enrollment options, as not all courses and programs will have online options.

  • How do I know if my classes are online, in-person, or hybrid?    
    The course delivery mode appears on the class schedule in Eagle Service. If not clear, please consult with your academic unit.  

Currently Enrolled Students

TRAVEL AND IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS:

  • I have been outside the U.S. for more than 5 months. May I use my unexpired student visa to return to the U.S.?
    Yes. If you have maintained full-time enrollment and good academic status while abroad and have a valid I-20 or DS-2019, then you can use the unexpired, multiple entry visa in your passport to return to the U.S. Please also review any travel and health restrictions that are in place to verify your eligibility for travel.

    While the U.S. Department of State issues visas, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at the U.S. port of entry ultimately make the decision to admit people into the country. Therefore, a valid visa does not always guarantee entrance into the U.S.
  • If I have a visa appointment, do I need to be enrolled in face-to-face courses and present a new I-20/DS-2019 with remarks about AU’s mode of learning?
    Yes, you must have face-to-face courses for the visa application. Your I-20/DS-2019 will not have enrollment remarks, but you may always print your course enrollment from Eagle Service to prove that you have face-to-face courses.
  • I will be taking classes from outside the U.S. in my final semester. May I return to the U.S. to attend graduation?
    We recommend you try to return prior to the last day of classes on your F-1 or J-1 visa to preserve immigration benefits associated with the visa type.

    Otherwise, you may try to re-enter on another visa classification after you have finished your academic program (i.e., B-2 visitor visa).

COURSE ENROLLMENT

  • Will I be able to take online classes and keep my immigration status active?
    Enrolled students inside or outside the U.S. can continue taking online classes, although there will be a limited number available. Students must explore full-time enrollment options with academic units if they stay outside the U.S. with good immigration status. 
  • I am an undergraduate student approved for study abroad. What is the impact of study abroad on my active immigration status?
    Current students on authorized study abroad can keep their immigration status active. If you are studying abroad in your final semester, you must return to the U.S. prior to the end of your program if you wish to apply for post-completion OPT.
  • I am a PhD student authorized for field research abroad. Will my immigration status stay active?
    Current PhD students who are authorized for field research abroad or outside the DMV area can keep their immigration status active.
  • How can I maintain my immigration status if I do not have full course of study left in my last semester?
    If it is your final semester, and you have only partial credits left to complete the program, please first enroll in your classes, and submit reduced course load (RCL) authorization e-form request to ISSS. To submit the RCL e-Form, please login to iEagle, click Current Student, and click Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request.

    If you only have one class left to complete in your final semester, it may be online under the COVID-19 exception.
  • If I decide to take the semester off as a current student, what are my options?
    Please consult with your academic advisor for advice about temporary leave. Students on approved temporary leave must leave the U.S. and will have their immigration record terminated and lose immigration benefits. They will need a new initial I-20 to return to AU in the next semester and will not be eligible for CPT or OPT until completing full-time enrollment for one academic year upon return to AU. Students cannot return from temporary leave during summer.
  • I am a student in a country that doesn’t support Google and Blackboard. Is there another way for me to access online resources through AU?    Students in countries where Google and Blackboard are not supported can use the AU Virtual Private Network (VPN). We have added user licenses to expand our VPN capacity. Students can either go to help.american.edu and search “VPN” or enroll your mobile device with the Duo two-factor authentication app. See the How to Enroll in 2-Factor Authentication video on YouTube; then access the VPN following the steps for your device.    

EMPLOYMENT & PRACTICAL TRAINING:

  • Can I continue my on-campus employment remotely?   
    If the current on-campus employment opportunity has transitioned to remote work or the employment can be done through remote means, students may continue to engage in on-campus employment remotely.  
  • Can I telework inside the U.S. to fulfill my internship requirements for credit internships?
    Students may engage in remote work during CPT inside the U.S., provided they are:   
    • Enrolled in a program of study in which CPT is integral to the program of study;   and 
    • ISSS authorized CPT in advance of the CPT start date. 
  • Do I need CPT authorization if I am outside the U.S. for the semester?
    You do not need CPT authorization if you are not physically in the U.S. and your internship will start and end outside the U.S. If you enter the U.S. to continue your internship without CPT authorization, you will be in violation of your immigration status. 
  • I am authorized for off-campus practical training (CPT or OPT). Is there any guidance from DHS for situations like this?     
    Students with authorized practical training off-campus are encouraged to consult with their employer to seek alternative ways to maintain employment, such as teleworking or other arrangements. If working remotely from outside the U.S., students must ensure that the employer either has an office outside the U.S. or the employer can assess student engagement and attainment of learning objectives electronically.   Students participating in STEM OPT do not need to submit an updated Form I-983 to report remote work.   
  • If I am graduating, could I apply for Post-completion OPT from outside of the U.S.?
    Current federal regulations affecting F-1 students do not allow for OPT applications from outside of the U.S.
  • Does time spent studying outside of the U.S. in active SEVIS status during the COVID-19 emergency count toward the one-year requirement for CPT and OPT? 
    Yes. F-1 students who maintain normal academic progress while outside of the U.S. will accrue eligibility for practical training whether they are inside or outside of the U.S.    
  • Will I be considered maintaining status if I cannot work for at least 20 hours/week on OPT due to the COVID-19 emergency?   
    For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, students who are working fewer than 20 hours a week while on OPT will be considered maintaining valid immigration status.   

TRAVEL AND IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS:

  • If I have a visa appointment, do I need to be enrolled in at least one face-to-face course and present a new I-20/DS-2019 with remarks about AU’s mode of learning?
    Yes, you must have face-to-face courses for the visa application. Your I-20/DS-2019 will not have enrollment remarks, but you may always print your course enrollment from Eagle Service to prove that you have face-to-face courses.
  • My F-1 or J-1 visa is unexpired, but I have been outside the U.S. for more than 5 months. Can I use it to re-enter the U.S.?
    If you have a valid visa with multiple entry based on your previous AU I-20/DS-2019, you can use that unexpired visa with a new AU I-20/DS-2019 if you are able to transfer the SEVIS fee. You may be able to transfer the SEVIS fee from the previous SEVIS ID to the new one within a year of the first payment. For more information about how to transfer your SEVIS fee, please review the website here.
  • When do I need to arrive in the U.S. for my classes? 
    Students can enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date shown on their I-20/DS-2019. Please contact your academic advisor and ISSS immediately if you anticipate delays. If you are permitted to arrive late by your academic advisor, ISSS will update your program start date on the I-20 or DS-2019 to facilitate your U.S. entry.
  • If I transferred to or changed level at AU in the last year but remained outside the U.S. and either lost my immigration status or my new I-20 was cancelled. Do I need a new I-20 to return?
    You need a new AU I-20. For more information about how to receive a new I-20, please follow up with ISSS at isssdocuments@american.edu. 

    If your unexpired visa was issued for another U.S. institution, then you must apply for a new visa with your new AU I-20.

    If your unexpired visa was issued to attend AU, then you can use the valid visa with multiple entry to return if you transfer the SEVIS fee from the previous SEVIS ID to the new one.

    If your visa expired, you must apply for a new visa with your new AU I-20.

COURSE ENROLLMENT : 

  • Will I be able to take online classes without an immigration status from outside the US?
    Please inquire about enrollment options with your academic advisor if you plan to be outside the U.S.
  • If I decide to take the semester off, what are my options?
    Please consult with your academic advisor for advice about temporary leave. Students will not be issued immigration documents to return from temporary leave.

EMPLOYMENT:

  • Does time spent studying outside of the U.S. without an immigration status count toward the one-year requirement for CPT and OPT?
    No. Once you regain your immigration status, you will be eligible for CPT and OPT after one academic year of full-time enrollment .

New Students

TRAVEL AND IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS:

  • If I have a visa appointment, do I need to be enrolled in at least one face-to-face course and present a new I-20/DS-2019 with remarks about AU’s mode of learning?
    Yes, you must have face-to-face course enrollment as proof for the visa application. Your I-20/DS-2019 will not have remarks, but you may always print your course enrollment from Eagle Service to prove that you have face-to-face courses.
  • I received an F-1 visa in a previous semester but never used it to enter the U.S. ISSS has now issued me a new I-20 for the current semester. The SEVIS number on my new I-20 does not match the SEVIS number on the F-1 visa I previously received. Do I need to apply for a new visa?
    No. If you have a valid visa based on your previous AU I-20, you can use that unexpired visa with a new AU I-20 if you transfer the SEVIS fee from the previous SEVIS ID to the new one. For more information about how to transfer your SEVIS fee, please review the website here.
  • If I defer my admission to the next semester, do I need a new immigration document? Do I need to pay the SEVIS again?    
    If you defer your admission, ISSS will update your I-20 program start date for next semester and you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again. Please contact your admissions office for more information on deferring your admission.
  • When do I need to arrive in the U.S. for my classes? 
    Students can enter the U.S. up to 30 days before but no later than the program start date shown on their I-20/DS-2019. Please contact your academic advisor and ISSS immediately if you anticipate delays. If you are permitted to arrive late by your academic advisor, ISSS will update your program start date on the I-20 or DS-2019 and provide it to you.

EMPLOYMENT:

  • How will my future off-campus employment benefits (CPT and OPT) be impacted if I enrolled online from my home county and plan to enter the U.S. on an F-1 visa for the fall semester?
    To become eligible for CPT or OPT, students must have had both a valid immigration status and full-time enrollment in a degree-seeking program for at least one academic year (fall and spring semesters). Your enrollment from abroad will not count towards your one year of full-time enrollment requirement for CPT or OPT eligibility.   

OTHER:

  • If I defer my admission to a later semester due to visa delays or health and safety reasons, will my scholarhip also be deferred?
    All questions regarding scholarships should be directed to your admission contact at AU. 
  • Are there any specific scholarships for international students?    
    AU offers scholarships at the time of admissions and notifies students with the admission decision. You may find more information and sources of external funding opportunities on ISSS' Scholarship page.    
  • Do I pay for AU health insurance if I remain in my home country?  
    If you are not in the U.S., you will not have to pay for AU health insurance. Please contact AU Central at AUCentral@american.edu with further questions.   
  • I am transferring to AU for the next semester in ACTIVE SEVIS status but currently reside outside the U.S. Is my SEVIS record still valid?
    You can keep your active SEVIS status at AU provided your immigration transfer has been completed in a timely manner and you are enrolled in full course of study of mostly in face-to-face classes to re-enter the U.S.
  • I am in the U.S. and will transfer to AU for the next semester. How do I maintain my immigration status?
    To maintain a valid immigration status, you must be enrolled in full course of face-to-face classes and stay in the U.S. for the next semester.