Frequently Asked Questions

 What are JMU’s plans for the Fall semester?

JMU will return to mostly in-person course instruction for the fall semester. JMU will continue to provide a mix of in-person, hybrid, and online course instruction for the fall semester, beginning on August 25, 2021. For more information, please see the Stop the Spread website.

 Will I be required to be vaccinated to attend JMU for the Fall semester?

  • JMU is requiring every student to provide verification (by uploading it in MyJMUChart as per the following instructions) that they have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to campus for Fall 2021.
  • To check whether the vaccination you received is approved by JMU/US, refer yourself to this  World Health Organization’s list
  • In case you cannot get vaccinated before you arrive on campus, complete the Assumption of Risk form.
  • Once you are on campus or in Harrisonburg you will be able to get vaccinated. More information about the timing and dates will be shared with you closer to the first days of classes.

 Can I continue to take online courses for the Fall semester?

All undergraduate and ISC students may take 3 credits of online courses out of the 12 total credits in order to maintain F-1 status. Graduate students may take 3 of their 9 credits online in order to maintain F-1 status.

 What should I carry with me when arriving at the port of entry in the US?

Always carry the following items with you during travel:
  • Passport (valid for up to 6 months beyond the date of your arrival in the US)
  • Valid F-1 Visa in your passport (except for Canadians, who are not required to have a visa)
    • If you need to renew your F-1 Visa, check the availability of visa appointments now!
  • Form I-20 (returning students need to have a valid Travel Signature on page 2)

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

For new students: attending orientation is required and critical to your success at JMU. Make sure you arrive in time for your orientation program at JMU!

For returning students: you must be at JMU for the start of classes on August 25.

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

 Will my electronic I-20 Form be accepted at the US Embassy to apply for my visa and enter the US?

Yes. SEVP has communicated with the Department of State and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) about accepting electronically issued I-20 forms. This should be acceptable for applying for a student visa and entering the US. You will need to print your electronically issued I-20 form for any embassy appointments or travel to the US.

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

Here is the information about JMU’s Stop the Spread.

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

  • What countries are restricted from entering the US?

  • I hear there are exceptions for students from countries with travel restrictions.

  • Can I travel to a third country to avoid the travel restrictions?

    • While it is technically possible, there are a number of details to carefully consider: do I have a valid visa to enter the US, do I need a visa to enter the third country, does that third country have any travel restrictions (with my country or the US), are flights operating out of the third country, can I quarantine for the required length of time?

 The U.S. Embassy in my country is closed (or open only for emergency visa process only):

  • U.S. Embassies are opening up for visa processing.
  • How do I get my visa?
    • Most US Embassies are open for visa processing. We recommend that you contact 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 25) in the fall. What can I do?
    • 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 25. Check with the U.S. Embassy for your location to see if you qualify for an emergency appointment.

 What if I’m unable to arrive in the US for the Fall semester?

  • Can I take online classes from my home country?
    • In order to maintain your F-1 immigration status, you will need to return to the US for in-person study. Some programs may allow you to take certain courses online, but to maintain your F-1 status, you will need to be physically present in the US.
  • Can I take the semester off?
    • Yes, you can take the semester off, but your F-1 immigration status will be terminated. To take a leave of absence, you will need to complete the University Withdrawal form. This will ensure that you are no longer charged for tuition and fees.
    • To return to the university, you will need to complete the Intent to Enroll form and contact ISSS to create a new immigration record and I-20 Form for you.

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

 When will I receive my new I-20 form for the Fall 2021 semester (if I deferred or withdrew for the Spring 2021 semester)?

For new/initial students who defer to the Fall 2021 semester or are taking online courses from outside the US for the spring 2021 semester and plan to arrive on-campus for the Fall 2021 semester: ISSS will issue new I-20 forms. They will be sent electronically to your @dukes.jmu.edu email account.

For continuing/returning students who withdrew from JMU and their I-20 form was terminated: ISSS will send a new I-20 form after the Intent to Enroll form is approved by the Registrar’s office. Please reach out to ISSS after you submit this form.

 Can I start online courses from outside the US then shift to in-person halfway through the semester?

No. All students must begin the semester in-person on JMU’s campus in order to have F-1 status for the Fall 2021 term.

 If I defer for a semester or year, will my athletic scholarship/graduate assistantship be valid for a later semester?

You need to check with your coach or program director.

 Can I get a new signature on my I-20 form to return to the US?

Travel signatures on page 2 of your I-20 form are valid for one year. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) recommends getting a new travel signature every 6 months. Check your page 2 of your I-20 to see if you need a new one!

Yes, you can get a travel signature from our office by emailing Marlee Meikrantz Sharp at meikramk@jmu.edu to request a new, digital I-20 Form with a digital travel signature.

Notes from ISSS

All information on this page is based on current guidance from SEVP/ICE, CDC, and other official sources at the time this page was published (April 2021). All information is subject to change without notification.

This page was last updated May 4, 2021.

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