International Scholar FAQs on COVID-19

Last updated on October 21, 2020

Spring 2021

Emory University has announced its plan for the Spring 2021 semesterAs new announcements and immigration resources develop, this page will be updated with relevant information. Check back frequently for any updates.   

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your ISSS advisor with any questions or concerns.

If you are an international student, visit: FAQs for international students >>>   


The COVID-19 public health crisis requires people to do a few things differently. It can be challenging to navigate these new circumstances, and we are here to support you. The following FAQs have been compiled from questions we have received. Please continue to let us know if you have any other questions or concerns. 

Note: Please carefully review and follow  the CDC guidelines  and  Emory guidelines  to keep you safe and healthy during this time.

Due to COVID-19, can I telecommute within the US?

  • Due to the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis, it may be allowed within certain parameters.
  • If you have not, please submit the Temporary Telecommuting Schedule Due to COVID-19 e-form in ISSS Link immediately as you might be required to take time-sensitive actions depending on your plan. If you have any questions about this, contact your ISSS advisor
  • Filing of an amended H-1B petition may be required, so do not change your work location away from your approved H-1B worksite without ISSS's analysis of your situation first. 

Can I telecommute for Emory from my home country outside the US?

  • Telecommuting from abroad involves multiple compliance considerations and may not be possible. From a US immigration compliance perspective, as long as you are prepared to return to Atlanta and to Emory as soon as social distancing requirements have been lifted, working for Emory from abroad does not present challenges at this point.  
  • However, performing work for Emory from outside the US can have significant tax and legal implications for you and for Emory that are outside the ISSS purview. Due to the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak, telecommuting from outside the US may be permitted within certain parameters. Requests to do so must be considered on a case-by-case basis. 
  • If you have not, you should immediately submit the Temporary Telecommuting Schedule Due to COVID-19 e-form in ISSS Link to share your desire to work for Emory from abroad. We will then connect your hiring department with Global Services to review tax and other legal implications for you and your hiring unit.

I am a J-1 scholar. Can I get a travel signature?  

If you need a travel signature on your DS-2019, please complete the travel information update e-form in ISSS Link with a shipping eform. Once your e-form has been approved, it will be mailed to you.

Can I travel internationally? 

Please carefully review  the CDC guidelines and  Emory guidelines before you decide to travel - whether domestically or internationally.  If you choose to leave the US, please closely monitor the entry requirements related to COVID-19 for your destination country abroad. 

When you are ready to return to the US, please visit our website for temporary US entry restrictions due to COVID-19. If you are in one of the travel restricted countries, you may travel to a third country that is not travel restricted, spend at least two weeks in that country, and then apply to enter the US. Please complete our Travel e-form in ISSS Link if you did not before leaving the US.

Before returning to campus after international travel, read general information from Emory (click here). We recommend that you contact your departmental HR person for any COVID-19 related policy for faculty and staff.   

I just arrived in the US. When should I attend a new scholar orientation?

Welcome to Emory! Please complete the New Scholar Arrival e-form in  ISSS Link and wait for our email instructions for next steps. You can get detailed information here.

I am a prospective scholar/employee. Should I still come to Emory?

Emory University remains open although students are transitioning to remote learning. As long as your Emory supervisor can accommodate you during this time of transitions, you are welcome here! But if you need to delay your arrival date, please let your ISSS advisor know.  

Due to COVID-19, I am moving to a different apartment. Do I need to report my address change?

Yes, you need to report your address change within 10 calendar days of moving. You can find the instructions here

Are US Consulates and Embassies open?  

On July 13, US Department of State announced that US embassies and consulates are beginning the phased resumption of routine visa services. The dates for each embassy or consulate will depend on local conditions including COVID-19, so check your nearest US consulate's website. You may also look up current visa wait times for all embassies and consulates here.

Visa appointment considerations:
1. The posted visa appointment wait time may be an estimate for all types of visas (F-1, B-2, J-1, H-1B, etc.) So, do not be discouraged. 
2. Refresh your preferred consulate’s website often to view the current availability as more and more appointments are becoming available. 
3. If possible, check appointment availability of other US consulates in addition to you preferred consulate. 
4. For J-1 scholars, your consulate of choice might offer an expedite appointment scheduling option based on your DS-2019 start date. 

Special notes to scholars working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19:

DOS has announced that they will allow visa appointments for scholars who are coming to the US to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19 (click here). You as a visa applicant needs to call or email the US consulate near you to request an emergency visa appointment.

If you are an MD, please obtain a letter from your department chair, describing your role in treating COVID-19 patients and educating medical school students and interns in the fight against COVID-19. 

If you are a researcher, you will need a letter from your department chair, describing the research and how it relates to COVID-19 and referencing this DOS announcement.

Has there been a suspension of USCIS Premium Processing due to COVID-19?

After a temporary suspension, USCIS has resumed Premium Processing. 

Is USCIS closed due to COVID-19?

USCIS Service Centers that adjudicate immigration applications like OPT, H-1B, etc. have remained open. 

However, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended routine in-person services in their local field offices and application support centers until June 4, to help slow the spread of COVID-19. They will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. They will provide emergency services for limited situations.

Can I apply for a Social Security Number or Georgia driver's license? 

Georgia Department of Driver Services has announced a 120-day extensions for most licenses. Visit their FAQ website for more information. All customers must schedule an appointment for in-person services.

US Social Security Administration has a dedicated FAQ website with services available during COVID-19. International scholars who have never applied for a SSN before are advised to call their local office to see if an in-office appointment is necessary and possible. To contact your local office, please look for the general inquiry telephone number at Social Security Office Locator under “Show Additional Office Information” for the office you select. Based on feedback, Emory students and scholars have been successful scheduling an appointment at the SSA office in Norcross, Georgia. For the Norcross office address and phone number, enter "30093" into the Social Security Office Locator

Note: Some scholars who have contacted SSA have been given the option to mail their documents to SSA to apply for a SSN. ISSS does not recommend scholars apply for a SSN by mail to prevent original immigration documents from getting lost.

Additionally, ISSS is working with a local Social Security Administration office to coordinate emergency appointments for Emory's international community. If you will need to apply for an SSN because you are being paid by Emory, please email Meg Popick, Associate Director for Client Services at In your email please provide: Your full legal name, Emory ID number, Date of birth, US mailing address (including street address, city, state and zip code), Hiring department, Employment start date, If you have ever received a SSN before, and if so, reason for applying again.

How does the 4/22/20 executive proclamation on immigration impact me?

Read our summary and analysis of the executive proclamation and its impact on international students and scholars.

Is ISSS open? 

ISSS remains operational although we must do a few things differently in light of the coronavirus outbreak. You can contact your ISSS advisor by phone, email, or Zoom, and submit your e-form requests online as usual.  You can also call our main office number, 404-727-3300, or email For more details such as advising appointments, virtual walk-in advising hours, virtual programs and events, etc., visit here

If you are wondering about mail delivery, ISSS can receive mail from Emory Mail Services and/or mail couriers (DHL, FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc.) Monday through Friday. After receiving and processing your mail, ISSS will notify you by email. This email will include instructions on how to request to have the document mailed to you.

Will ISSS continue to file H-1B petitions during the remote advising period?  

As long as your hiring department and US government agencies remain open, ISSS can continue to file H-1B petitions. 


We understand that this unprecedented situation will cause inconvenience and concerns. The Emory community is resilient and will come out of this crisis stronger than ever before. We are committed to helping you find solutions and connecting you to resources that will support you through this unusual semester. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or need our assistance.