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COVID-19 information for international students and scholars

Updated March 19, 2020, 2:45 p.m.

University status

In-person classes are suspended and all coursework will be delivered remotely through the end of the spring 2020 semester. Existing online classes will continue as originally scheduled. The university has reduced campus operations, and faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to work remotely. Please refer to the MU Alert website for additional information.

Maintaining immigration status

The suspension of in-person classes will not impact international students' immigration status. Recent guidance by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program provided on March 9, 2020, allows universities to adapt procedures and policies to address the public health concerns associated with COVID-19. Therefore, MU's procedural adaptations, including suspension of in-person classes and utilization of online or remote instruction, will not negatively impact international students' immigration status. International students should continue participating in their courses, regardless of the method of instruction. International students who stop participating in their courses may jeopardize their immigration status. Please contact an ISSS adviser if you anticipate an difficulties related to participating in your courses during these changes.

Additional SEVP guidanceissued on March 13, 2020, allows F-1 students to:

  • Temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study to maintain their student status even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes from elsewhere.
  • Temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study while remaining in the United States, as long as they continue to update their current address within 10 days of any change.
  • Temporarily maintain status, even if the school completely closes campus, as long as the student updates their current address within 10 days of any change.

Guidance from the Exchange Visitor Program allows MU to take the following actions regarding J-1 exchange visitors (students and scholars):

  • If an exchange visitor must return home, or is currently outside the U.S. and unable to return, MU may keep their SEVIS record active until they are able to return to the U.S. and continue with their original program objectives. Exchange visitors should be mindful of the validity dates of their J-1 visas; they may need to renew their visas before they return to the United States. MU will work closely with campus host departments and the student exchange coordinator to identify available options.
  • If the exchange visitor is in the U.S. but must go home, or is stuck outside of the U.S., and does not plan to return, the program should be shorted by MU (contact an ISSS adviser). This ends the exchange program and the visitor's J-1 status. Any future travel in the exchange visitor program would require a new J-1 visa certificate (DS-2019).
  • For planned future exchange visitors, MU is working closely with campus host departments and student exchange coordinator to arrange postponement or cancellation of future programs.

Please understand the, due to the fluid nature of this global emergency, U.S. immigration and travel guidance may be subject to change without warning. Before making any decisions regarding these temporary provisions,international students and scholars should communicate their plans to an ISSS adviser, particularly if they have any pending immigration applications (e.g., OPT, H-1B, other related immigration petitions).

All international students who plan to leave Columbia and complete their spring semester coursework elsewhere must complete the temporary absence form.

Practical training

Students who are currently on practical training in a different city or state in the U.S. should consult with their employer as needed to seek alternative ways to maintain employment, such as remote work or other arrangements. The guidance from SEVP recognizes that changes to workplace requirements may impact international students on practical training. If you have questions on concerns, contact your ISSS adviser.

International visitors

International Student and Scholar Services directs all MU departments to postpone the program start dates for international scholars (visitors or employees) who currently reside in or are traveling through CDC warning level 3 countries. This applies to international scholars with expected program start dates between now and June 1, 2020. For additional information, see our guidance for departments planning to host international scholars.


All international students and scholars planning to travel for spring break or summer should be aware that there could be difficulties associated with returning to the United States. We recommend reconsidering all current travel plans, because the situation is changing rapidly and travel restrictions could be implemented that prevent re-entry to the United States. Please review the spring break travel advisory for additional information.

Always refer to the Department of State travel advisories and CDC travel health notices for the most up-to-date information.

Travel restrictions

Executive proclamations have been issued by the U.S. government suspending entry to the U.S. for nonimmigrants traveling from China, Iran and most of Europe (excludes the United Kingdom).

All travelers originating from high-risk countries identified by the CDC will likely be subject to increased airport screenings, and may be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the United States. If you have questions about self-isolating, please contact the Student Health Center at 573-882-7481.

Emergency international travel

If an international student or scholar has an emergency and needs or wants to leave the United States, they should be aware that there could be difficulties associated with returning to the United States. Contact your country's embassy or consulate for guidance regarding travel. You may also contact your ISSS adviser by phone or email. For after-hours assistance, call the MU Police Department at 573-882-7201 and they will put you in touch with an ISSS staff member.

Campus support and resources

Remote learning

Review the MizzouOne task center for remote classes for a list of tools and resources. International students who do not have adequate technology or connectivity at home to participate in remote instruction can utilize available computing labs across campus. Additionally, the MU Student Center offers laptop checkout services from 7 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday.

Document shipping

From now through March 31, 2020, International Student and Scholar Services can mail requested documents by USPS at no cost to you. However, USPS delivery is not guaranteed. If you require a more secure and expedited courier service, you will have to make arrangements for document shipping by eShipGlobal.

Discrimination or bias

If you experience discrimination or bias, consider submitting a report to the MU Office for Civil Rights and Title IX. Additionally, International Student and Scholar Services is her to help students and scholars navigate how to respond or cope with such incidents. Contact your ISSS adviser for assistance.

Health services

We know our students and scholars are understandably worried about family, friends and colleagues back home. Those experiencing difficulty concentrating or sleeping, or other changes in their physical or mental health, are encouraged to contact the Student Health Center at 573-882-7481 or Counseling Center at 573-882-6601 to obtain guidance or make an appointment.