Frequently Asked Questions




Will classes be held in person for the fall semester?

As of today, JMU will hold in-person classes for the fall.  JMU is working to provide a safe environment for returning to campus by working with University Health Center and following the guidance for reopening higher education issued by Governor Ralph Northam.

What is JMU doing to create a safe environment for students?

JMU is working to create a safe environment for all.  This summer, JMU will continue to implement safety recommendations issued by the Virginia Governor Ralph Northam A few of the safety measures that are being instituted include increased cleaning of classrooms and public spaces throughout the day, requiring masks to be worn when in buildings, and holding classes in larger classrooms for appropriate social distancing.  A more comprehensive list will be shared at a later date. 

The U.S. has travel restrictions with my country, will I be allowed to enter the US?

It is difficult to know when the travel restrictions will be removed. CGE-ISSS continues to monitor the situation.

The U.S. Embassy in my country is closed (or for emergency visa process only), how do I get my visa?

We recommend reaching out to the U.S. Embassy for your location, to see if you can schedule your visa appointment.  If you are unable to schedule your appointment, continue to check back with the U.S. embassy daily, to know when visa processing will resume.

My visa appointment is scheduled for after classes begin (August 26) in the fall. What can I do?

There are groups advocating for international students to have earlier and possibly remote visa interviews. We encourage you to periodically check-in with the U.S. Embassy to see if there are any changes to visa interviews.  Also, you may qualify for emergency appointment times, as you get closer to the program start date of August 26. Check with the U.S. Embassy for your location.

Will I be required to quarantine when I arrive at JMU?

IF upon entry to the U.S., the Federal and/or State Government requires quarantine (possibly 14 days), you will be expected to follow those requirements.  Currently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that international travelers self-quarantine for 14 days when arrival in a new country.  If you are able to arrive in the U.S. 14 days before school begins in order to self-quarantine, we encourage you to do so.  For those students living in the resident halls, we are working with Office of Resident Life on the details and will provide them in the near future.

I’m still in the U.S., can I take online courses this fall, like I did for the spring semester (and summer)?

In March 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) removed the limit on the number of online courses an F-1 and J-1 visa holder were allowed to take towards their full course of study due to COVID-19.  This allowed F-1 and J-1 visa holders to take all courses online for the spring and summer.  We are still waiting to see if SEVP will provide additional guidance for the fall.  As of today, all F-1 and J-1 visa holders, that are in the US, will be expected to have in-person classes for the fall*.    

*F and J visa holders can take 1 (3 credit hour) online course towards their full course of study (a full course of study for graduate students is 9 credit hours and for undergraduate students is 12 credit hours).

I’m still in the US, but not in Harrisonburg, what do I need to do for the fall?

Currently, JMU will hold in-person classes for the fall semester.  As an F-1 visa holder, if you remain in the US, you are expected to return to JMU’s campus for the fall in-person courses, per immigration regulations.  We’ll keep you posted if SEVP provides different/new guidance.

What’s the latest date I can arrive at JMU for the fall semester?

For new students - attending orientation is critical to your success at JMU.  Please make sure you arrive in time for your orientation program at JMU!   

For returning student - you must be at JMU for the start of classes on August 26.  

If you are unable to arrive in time, please contact ISSS for guidance.

What if I’m unable to arrive in the US and attend in-person classes this fall?

You will be missed!  We are aware of the number of challenges that exist to enter the U.S.  Faculty are working hard over the summer to make online courses available.  At this time, we do not know the full range of online course options or the process to select online courses for the fall.  Additional information will be provided later this summer.    

"How would this impact my F-1 student status?" We are waiting to hear if SEVP will provide any guidance on students who take online courses while remaining outside the US for the fall semester. Under normal circumstances, JMU would be required to terminate the F-1 student status for continuing students and defer attendance (new program start date) for initial F-1 students.

Another option would be to take the semester off by withdrawing from JMU. You would need to complete this quick ISSS form to notify our office of your decision, and then the University Withdrawal form from the Registrar to ensure that you are no longer charged for tuition and fees since you are not studying at JMU. After completing the ISSS exit form, our office will reach out to you with final steps. Your F-1 student status will be terminated. To return to JMU and for CGE-ISSS to issue you a new I-20 form, you would need to complete the Return to JMU form.

Is there any financial assistance I can obtain?

For more information, contact the Financial Aid and Scholarships and check out the CGE-ISSS Financial Resource page.

Could I use my tourist visa to enter the country (US) and once in the country obtain my student visa?

We do not advise students to enter on a tourist visa if you plan to start or continue your studies.  A tourist visa does not allow for full time study.  The process to change your status can be rather lengthy (6-12 months) and you are unable to studying during the change of status.  The costs can range from $500-$1500 to file the change of status.  It’s best to enter on the F-1 student visa.

Notes from ISSS

The contents of this FAQ page were last updated June 18, 2020.

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