COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Updated January 21, 2022
We understand that unprecedented circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused inconveniences and concerns. The Emory community is strengthened through the contributions of international students and scholars. We are committed to helping you find solutions and connecting you to resources that will support you through this period. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your ISSS advisor with any questions or concerns.
As new COVID-19 related announcements and immigration resources develop, this page will be updated with relevant information. Check back frequently for any updates.
Can I remain in the US as an F-1 or J-1 student even though I will start my spring semester remotely?Yes. Since the remote start is a campus-wide change necessitated by the pandemic, your immigration status will not be negatively impacted as long as (1) you are enrolled full time at Emory for the Spring semester, and (2) you plan to resume full-time on campus learning that meets immigration enrollment requirements starting January 31, 2022, assuming health and safety conditions permit.
I completed the Travel Information Update e-form, but in light of the President’s announcement, I plan to delay my return to the US. How do I inform ISSS?
If you have already reported your travel plans in ISSS Link but you will change your return date to the US, please e-mail your ISSS advisor with the new date that you will re-enter the US, and we will update this information in your record. If you have not yet reported your travel plans to ISSS, please complete the Travel Information Update e-form in ISSS Link.
My I-20/DS-2019 start date corresponds to the start of the spring 2022 semester, but I will enter the US after this date to start my program from abroad. Is that ok? (For spring 2022 admitted students, continuing students who have only enrolled at Emory from abroad, and students returning from a leave of absence only)
If you are a new student (or are returning from a leave of absence), please complete the International Student Check-In e-form in ISSS Link to notify our office of your plans. If you will arrive in the US after the official start date on your I-20/DS-2019, our office will follow up with you with additional instructions after you complete this form.
My manager/supervisor is providing additional flexibility for remote work during this time. As an international scholar/employee, may I work remotely?
As an international scholar/employee, if you are required to work from off-campus, please email your ISSS advisor by January 10, 2022. Starting January 4, we will review your individual situation and respond with immigration advice.
Does Emory University require students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19?Yes. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine requirements for students, faculty, and staff at Emory.
Does Emory University require students, faculty and staff to receive a COVID vaccine booster?
Yes. All students, faculty, and staff are required to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 for the spring semester, with exemptions only for those with approved medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs (updated December 16, 2021).
Does Emory University require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against the flu?
Yes. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine requirements for students, faculty, and staff at Emory.
Does Emory University require students, faculty and staff to wear masks?
Yes. Masks are required in all indoor public and common spaces on campus and strongly encouraged outdoors when in groups.
Where can I find Emory's visitor policy?
See the updated visitor policy, effective July 1.
Where can I find reports about Emory's campus and COVID-19?
Check our COVID-19 dashboard, which shares reported COVID-19 cases and uploaded vaccination rates among faculty, staff, and students.
Emory University has welcomed back all students to the Atlanta and Oxford campuses. ISSS has been delighted to see so many students back on campus. Since the pandemic is not over yet, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued special policy guidance for international students for the 2021-2022 academic year. This guidance remains in place for the spring 2022 semester.
How many online classes can I take from within the US during the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters?
New and continuing international students who are able to enter the US should plan to work within the government rule about the number of online/distance learning classes.
- F-1 students can count no more than one online/distance learning class (up to 3 credits) towards the full-time enrollment requirement. Any credits taken above full-time can also be online learning. Please visit the Enrollment Requirements page for additional details and examples.
- J-1 students are not normally permitted to enroll in any online/distance learning classes per the J-1 regulations. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US government has temporarily extended some flexibility. Follow the F-1 information above.
Can I study remotely from outside the US during the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters?
First, please contact your academic school/program to determine if enrolling full-time from abroad will be possible from an academic perspective. If the answer is yes, read the below FAQ about what will happen to your SEVIS record.
What will happen to my SEVIS record if I am unable to come to campus for the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters?
- Students with Initial Attendance SEVIS records (includes spring 2022 admitted students, continuing students who have only enrolled at Emory from abroad, and students returning from a leave of absence): ISSS will update your I-20 program start date to the next available semester start date. You will be able to enter the US up to 30 days prior to this updated Initial Attendance I-20 program start date.
- Students who transferred their SEVIS record to Emory from another US institution but have not entered the US to study at Emory: The government’s COVID-19 policy has not allowed schools to activate the transfer-in SEVIS records of students in this situation. Your SEVIS record will need to be updated with a new start date for the semester that you plan to return to the US and enroll in in-person classes. ISSS will send you additional instructions in advance of the next semester regarding the process for requesting an updated I-20. Since the US government processing time varies, do not book your flights until after your SEVIS record has been restored.
- Returning students with active SEVIS records:
- Students who enroll full-time from abroad: Due to the pandemic, the temporary government policy permits schools to keep SEVIS records active for continuing students as long as they enroll full-time in Emory online classes from abroad. Complete the Continuing Student Reporting form in ISSS Link (found under General Student Services) so that ISSS can update your SEVIS record with your location abroad.
- Students who will enroll less than full-time from abroad or take a leave of absence: If a student is unable to enroll full-time in Emory classes from abroad, their SEVIS record will be closed. When the student is ready to return to campus, the student should request a new SEVIS record. Visit the ISSS Leave of Absence page for more information.
How will taking a leave of absence or studying part-time from abroad impact my eligibility for CPT or OPT?
According to the US government, international students studying from outside the US with SEVIS records in initial status will not earn time towards the one-academic year eligibility requirement for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) eligibility purposes.
Continuing students whose SEVIS records are closed because they took a leave of absence or studied part-time from abroad will not earn time towards the one-academic year eligibility requirement for CPT or OPT purposes until they return to the US in F-1 status.
One exception to the one-year enrollment requirement for CPT eligibility is for F-1 students enrolled in a graduate program that requires an internship or practicum as a degree completion requirement. ISSS will review the student’s eligibility upon receiving the CPT request as degree requirements vary per graduate program.
How should I tell ISSS my spring 2022 plans?
- All students with Initial Attendance SEVIS records (includes spring 2022 admitted students, continuing students who have only enrolled at Emory from abroad, and students returning from a leave of absence):
- You will receive an email prior to the start of the spring semester advising you to complete the New Student Reporting e-form in ISSS Link.
- If you will enter the US for the spring 2022 semester, wait until you arrive in the US and complete the immigration check-in process using this form to have your SEVIS record activated.
- If you have been given permission by your academic program to arrive late or will stay abroad for the spring 2022 semester, ISSS will update your SEVIS record accordingly and provide you with an updated I-20.
- Students with active SEVIS records who will remain abroad for the spring 2022 semester:
- Students with active SEVIS records who will return to campus for the spring 2022 semester: No additional reporting is necessary but maintain status by:
- Enrolling full-time with Emory (unless approved for a reduced course load).
- Not exceeding the number of online courses permitted by the US government (as explained here).
- Updating your US “local” address in OPUS within 10 days of a move so that ISSS can report your address in SEVIS. For instructions on updating your contact information in OPUS, click here. The government requires that you report this information within 10 days.
Will my delayed return to the US be affected by the F-1 five-month rule?
DHS clarified that the "Five Month Rule" is not applicable while COVID-19 measures are in place -- "Under current conditions, if an active F student leaves the United States to complete the spring term online, their SEVIS record should remain in Active status and not be terminated. While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, students are deemed to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. For that reason, the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in Active status."
I have heard that during the COVID-19 crisis, DHS is permitting F-1/F-2 I-20s to be electronically signed and shared. Are US consulates and customs officials aware of this temporary change?
On May 12, 2020, DHS announced that they coordinated with both the Department of State (which oversees US embassies and consulates) and Customs & Border Protection regarding the policy to allow electronic issuance and signing of Forms I-20 for the duration of the COVID19 emergency. Both agencies are in support of this action.
Can I work for Emory while I am outside of the US?
Working for Emory from your home country involves multiple compliance considerations and may not be possible. From a US immigration compliance perspective, doing so during the COVID-19 crisis does not present challenges. 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 and must be requested and supported by your hiring department. Please ask your Emory hiring department to contact Global Services (Sarah Harlan Zegeye, Associate Director, firstname.lastname@example.org or 404.727.9127).
I plan to travel abroad soon and need a COVID-19 test before departing the US. Where can I get tested?
Visit Student Health Service’s (SHS) Travel and Testing page for guidance on international travel and testing options offered by SHS and in the surrounding community.
What health services are provided to students studying from outside the US?
Emory University has expanded its student health services to support students who are studying remotely from abroad. The Emory Student Telehealth opportunity will provide an additional, convenient way for Emory undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to receive 24/7, no-cost medical and mental health support.
Visit Campus Life's Emory Anytime Student Health Services page and click on the box for "Students Outside the US" to explore your options.”
Due to COVID-19, can I telecommute within the US?
- Due to the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis, working remotely 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.
- H-1B and E-3 Employees - Filing an amended H-1B petition may be required, so do not change your work location away from your approved H-1B worksite without ISSS' analysis of your situation first.
- J-1 Scholars - Your SEVIS record will need to be updated if you will conduct your J-1 activities remotely, so please do not begin working remotely until your receive confirmation from your ISSS advisor that the necessary changes have been completed.
- TN and O-1 Employees - Please submit the Temporary Telecommuting Schedule Due to COVID-19 e-form in ISSS Link and wait for your ISSS advisor to review your proposed telecommuting arrangement before beginning any remote activities.
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.
Updated January 21, 2022
What are the current COVID-19 related US entry requirements?
The US government has replaced the location-based COVID-19 entry restrictions with new entry requirements that apply to all travelers per their mode of travel.
Traveling by air
- Effective November 8, 2021, people who are entering the US by air will need to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination prior to boarding an airplane from abroad under the entry requirements.
- Exceptions are:
- Children under 18
- People medically unable to receive the vaccine;
- Note: according to the US Government, there are no exceptions for religious reasons or other moral convictions.
- Emergency travelers who do not have timely access to a vaccine
- People with valid visas (excluding B-1/B-2 visas) who are citizens of a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability
- You can find more details here. Pay close attention to testing, quarantine, and vaccination requirements upon arriving in the US.
- This new vaccination requirement is in addition to the COVID-19 testing requirement for all international travelers (2 years or older) to provide a negative COVID test taken prior to travel.
- The US government has published a webpage for Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and exceptions.
- This rule applies to air travel from anywhere abroad, including Canada and Mexico.
Traveling via land or sea
- Effective January 22, 2022, people entering the US via land ports of entry or ferry terminals along the Northern and Southern borders should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and be prepared to show related proof of vaccination. You can find more details here.
Can I travel internationally?
- 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 return to the US (above) and your destination country abroad.
- Students: Visit Student Health Services' Travel and Testing webpage for information on testing options and obtaining proof of vaccination.
- Prior to departing the US
- Before returning to campus after international travel, read general information from Emory.
- Scholars: We recommend that you contact your departmental HR person for any COVID-19 related policy for faculty and staff.
- Students: Review the Vaccines & Returning to Campus (Students Only) section below.
US Consulates and Embassies Open?
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.
Visa appointment considerations:
- The posted visa appointment wait time may be an estimate for all types of visas (F-1, B-2, H-1B, etc.), so do not be discouraged.
- Refresh your preferred consulate’s website often to view the current availability as more and more appointments are becoming available.
- Students and J-1 Scholars: You may be eligible for an expedited interview appointment based on your I-20/DS-2019 start date.
- The process to request an expedited nonimmigrant visa interview varies by location. You should refer to the instructions on the website of the Embassy or Consulate Visa Section where you will interview, or on their online appointment scheduling site. You will need to provide proof of the need for an earlier appointment (e.g. I-20/DS-2019 showing your start date).
- In all cases, you must first submit the online visa application form (DS-160), pay the application fee, and schedule the first available interview appointment. Only at this point will the embassy or consulate consider your request for an expedited appointment.
- For example, if you are applying for a visa in China, you can find the expedited visa appointment information here.
- If possible, check appointment availability of other US consulates in addition to your preferred consulate.
- 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, need 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.
Am I eligible for a visa interview waiver?
The US government has expanded the ability of consular/visa officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for:
- First-time F, J, H, or O visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), provided they have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility and have previously traveled to the United States using an authorization obtained via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
- Consular officers may also choose to waive it for F, J, H, or O visa applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and who have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived, and who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.
In order to be eligible for a visa interview waiver, applicants must apply in their country of nationality or residence. This policy remains in effect until December 31, 2022.
The US government has also announced that applicants renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration are also eligible for an interview waiver, and the flexibility has been extended indefinitely.
Interested visa applicants are encouraged to check the website of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for more details and guidelines for applying for a visa without an interview.
For additional details, click here.
Can I apply for a Social Security Number?
- US Social Security Administration (SSA) has a dedicated FAQ website with services available during COVID-19.
Schedule an appointment with SSA:
- International students and scholars who have never applied for a Social Security Number (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 students/scholars who have contacted SSA have been given the option to mail their documents to SSA to apply for an SSN. ISSS does not recommend anyone apply for an SSN by mail to prevent original immigration documents from getting lost.
Get help from ISSS:ISSS has been working with the local SSA offices to coordinate SSN appointments for Emory's international community. If you would like ISSS to schedule an SSN appointment on your behalf, please complete the Social Security Appointment or Denial Letter Request e-form found under the "General Services" tab in ISSS Link.You must be in the Atlanta area in order for ISSS to arrange an SSN appointment for you. If you are in the US, but unable to travel to Atlanta, please contact SSA to see if you can schedule an appointment in your area. If you are outside the US, you are not eligible to apply for an SSN as you need to apply in person with a valid I-94 and active SEVIS record.
Important Notes for Scholars:
- If you are a new scholar, you must complete the New Scholar Arrival e-form found under the "General Services" tab in ISSS Link prior to requesting an SSN appointment.
- J-1 scholars only: Once you submit the New Scholar Arrival e-form, ISSS will be able to activate your SEVIS record which is required by SSA at the time of application.
Important Notes for Students:
- If you are a new student, you must complete the New Student Reporting e-form found under the "General Services" tab in ISSS Link. Once submitted, ISSS will be able to activate your SEVIS record which is required by SSA at the time of application.
- F-1 and J-1 students are not eligible to apply for an SSN unless they have secured on-campus employment or have been authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT).
- Type of employment serving as the basis of SSN application:
- If on-campus: Before requesting an SSN appointment, follow the procedures outlined here to obtain an on-campus offer letter and submit the Social Security Letter Request (F-1s only) or On-campus Employment Authorization (J-1s only) e-form in ISSS Link.
- If off-campus: Your CPT, OPT, or AT request must be approved prior to applying for the SSN (i.e. have already been issued a new I-20 (CPT), EAD (OPT) or DS-2019 (AT).
For additional information about applying for an SSN including required documents, SSA locations and more, please visit our Social Security Number page.
Can I apply for a Georgia Driver’s License?
Students, scholars, or dependents who intend to apply for a driver's license but are not eligible for an SSN, will need to request a denial letter (SSA-L676) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). During the COVID-19 crisis, ISSS can assist Emory students, scholars, and their dependents with obtaining a denial letter.
To request an SSN denial letter:
- New students only: Complete the New Student Reporting e-form in ISSS Link prior to requesting a denial letter and applying for a driver's license. Once submitted, ISSS will be able to activate your SEVIS record which is required by Driver's Services at the time of application.
- New scholars only: Complete the New Scholar Arrival e-form in ISSS Link prior to requesting a denial letter and applying for a driver's license.
- J-1 scholars only: Once you submit the New Scholar Arrival e-form, ISSS will be able to activate your SEVIS record which is required by Driver's Services at the time of application.
- Complete the SS-5 application
- For question 5, select “legal alien not allowed to work.”
- Once completed, print, sign, and scan the SS-5 form. Then submit the Social Security Appointment or Denial Letter Request e-form found under the "General Services" tab in ISSS Link where you will upload a copy of your scanned SS-5 form.
For additional information about applying for a Georgia driver's license please visit our Driving in the US page.
Emory University’s health protocols include layered disease prevention measures such as required vaccinations for all students, faculty, and staff, robust screening and diagnostic testing resources, and indoor mask requirements. In addition, the university has increased ventilation for indoor spaces, an extensive contact tracing program, and quarantine and isolation processes.
Emory will continue to closely monitor infection and transmission of COVID-19 and will modify its safety procedures based on guidance from the CDC, public health experts, and fluctuations in local COVID-19 conditions.
Please find additional information, resources about vaccine requirements and Emory’s COVID-19 response from Student Health Services and Emory Forward. For answers to frequently asked questions related to COVID-19, please visit Student Health Services’ Vaccine page. Additional FAQs are listed below.
You are welcome to reach out to your ISSS advisor with any questions.
COVID-19 FAQs for Emory's International Community
Are students required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Emory University requires all students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to protect themselves and our community.
Are international students and other students arriving from abroad required to arrive a few weeks early, prior to the start of the semester, to be fully vaccinated?
To comply with Emory’s student immunization policy, Emory asks all students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to arrival. However, for students unable to be vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine, Emory will not require you to arrive earlier than the date communicated by your respective school. To attend in-person campus activities and classes, unvaccinated students will be subject to required testing and additional safety protocols until being fully vaccinated.
Important: Although this is Emory’s policy, please see the “International Travel and Visa Issuance” tab above for COVID-19 vaccination, testing and other requirements for international travelers.
Will Emory University require students who arrive from outside the US to quarantine?
No. As stated above, you will follow our strict testing and safety protocols and have the opportunity to receive a required vaccine upon arrival if you did not have access to an approved vaccine in advance. In the meantime, you will be allowed to move into your residence hall (if applicable), attend orientation and take your in-person classes.
Important: Although this is Emory’s policy, please see the “International Travel and Visa Issuance” tab above for COVID-19 vaccination, testing and other requirements for international travelers.
Must my vaccination card be written in English?
Please ensure immunization records have the student’s name, the name of the vaccination and date in English. If necessary, please provide a translation.