International student guidance for fall 2021

April 27, 2021

Updated May 14, 2021, 5 p.m.

MU Provost Latha Ramchand announced operational plans for the summer and fall 2021 terms. MU’s current hybrid model and classroom capacities will remain unchanged for summer 2021 — face-to-face, blended and fully online courses will be offered.

MU plans to return to pre-pandemic classroom capacities for the fall 2021 semester. MU faculty and staff are expected to transition back to in-person work by May 17. See the Show Me Renewal website for the comprehensive campus plan and specific guidance for students.

The following information is provided to help guide students, sponsors and exchange partners as you make plans for the summer and fall 2021 terms at MU. It is imperative that new and continuing international students work with their assigned international student adviser, and home university or sponsor as applicable.

SEVP guidance for new and continuing students

On April 26, SEVP announced that the guidance from March 2020 will remain in effect for the upcoming 2021/22 academic year. This guidance allows for students to take more than three credit hours of online coursework while maintaining their nonimmigrant status.

  • Students who were in F-1 status on March 9, 2020: You are eligible to take 100% of your coursework online during the 2021/22 academic year.
  • Students who obtained F-1 status after March 9, 2020: You will need to have at least one course that meets face-to-face. This includes all students who entered the U.S. to start a program at MU for summer and fall 2020 and spring 2021, and those who will enter for summer and fall 2021 and spring 2022.

You must continue to enroll in a full course of study to maintain your status. If you are eligible for a reduced course load, you should submit a request by the end of the first week of classes.

If you plan to remain outside the U.S. and enroll in online courses, you must inform your international student adviser so we can review your SEVIS record and keep you informed of any changes in SEVP policies.

Be aware that plans are fluid and subject to change. We will communicate any updates regarding the 2021/22 academic year via email and on our website. You can also review updates from the Department of Homeland Security and check the NAFSA Coronavirus Critical Resources for updates on government policy and guidance related to COVID-19.

Enrollment and registration

Coursework for the fall 2021 semester will begin Monday, Aug. 23. New and continuing students are encouraged to review the University Registrar’s guidance for enrollment. Operational plans and course schedules for fall 2021 are subject to change based on state, county and campus health guidelines. Any changes to campus operations will be updated on the Show Me Renewal website. New and continuing students will be notified once official updates are available.


MU continues to accept and admit international students for the 2021/22 academic year. Admitted students currently residing outside the U.S. must obtain a student visa to enter the country in lawful nonimmigrant status. The visa certificate (I-20/DS-2019) will be issued with a start date of Aug. 16, 2021, which is one week prior to the first day of fall semester classes. Certain situations may require special consideration for the adjustment of arrival dates based on departmental justification and student circumstances.


On April 26, the U.S. government extended the National Interest Exceptions for COVID-related proclamations to permit students from Brazil, China, Iran and South Africa to travel to the United States for programs beginning after Aug. 1, 2021, similar to existing NIEs for Schengen countries, the U.K. and Ireland. U.S. visa sections in China plan to begin interviewing students the week of May 3.

U.S. Embassies and Consulates continue the resumption of routine visa services. Regularly check the website of your local embassy or consulate and the Department of State website for updates on which embassies are open for visa appointments. You may be able to complete form DS-160 and schedule a visa interview online. See information about nonimmigrant visa wait times.

This letter of support confirms course modalities and campus operations for fall 2021. You may download and print the letter to bring with you to your visa appointment or when entering the U.S., if necessary.

Delayed arrival

If you cannot obtain your student visa as planned and are unable to travel to the U.S. in time for the start of the fall 2021 semester, notify your international student adviser — and sponsor or exchange adviser, if applicable — as soon as possible. We will work in consultation with your MU academic department to determine suitable accommodations.

International travel guidelines

Travel increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Everyone is encouraged to carefully review the Show Me Renewal travel guidance before any travel to or from the University of Missouri campus. Those traveling internationally should also review the current CDC and Department of State travel information.

  • If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S. in the near future, review the COVID-19 travel regulations for your destination and any countries you will travel through, including any requirements for pre-travel testing. You can obtain an order for a pre-travel COVID-19 test by contacting the MU Student Health Center at 573-882-7481. If the test is not covered by your insurance, the cost will be $125.
  • International students planning to arrive for the summer or fall 2021 terms should continue to monitor CDC and Department of State travel advisories. If you have questions as you make your travel arrangements, please contact your international student adviser.

Certain international travelers are prohibited from entry to the United States. However, international students in F/J status are exempt from this restriction under the National Interest Exceptions.

Students arriving at MU should follow all CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Be sure to review MU’s COVID-19 safety and expectations guidance.

If you have received an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine and are fully vaccinated, you do not need to self-quarantine after arriving in the U.S. and you do not need to get tested before leaving the U.S. unless your destination requires proof of a negative test. All air passengers coming to the United States, including fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before they board a flight to the United States. See additional guidance on international travel from the CDC.

Vaccine availability

All Missouri adults, including MU students, are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals 16 years and older can get the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available to anyone 18 years and older. The vaccine is free; no health insurance is required. Information about scheduling a vaccine appointment is available from MU Health Care and the Missouri COVID-19 Vaccine Navigator.


Be aware of your airline’s waiver and refund policies. We recommend purchasing flight insurance that offers maximum flexibility should tickets need to be changed or canceled. For information about current travel restrictions related to COVID-19, refer to the International Air Transport Association.

Travel insurance

We recommend purchasing a travel insurance policy that allows you to cancel for any reason. If your sponsor purchases airline tickets on your behalf, be sure to consult your sponsor for specifics regarding cancellation policies.


We encourage you to work with MU Residential Life to secure a flexible housing contract should your travel plans need to be postponed or canceled due to COVID-19. In the case that you are unable to join MU for the fall semester as a result of travel restrictions or visa processing delays, Residential Life will waive cancellation fees. To learn more about your housing options at MU for fall 2021, visit the Residential Life website or email with any questions.

If you plan to make off-campus housing arrangements, consult your housing complex representatives directly for details on flexible leasing options.

Pre-arrival information

Review the pre-arrival checklist and gather necessary information before arriving at MU. See the International Student Welcome Guide for more information about life at Mizzou.

International Student Welcome and orientation sessions

Plans for the fall 2021 International Student Welcome are in progress. Content will be delivered the week before classes start and details will be provided as they are finalized. Information for sponsored student and exchange student orientation sessions will be shared as soon as they are available.

Stay updated

Refer to the Show Me Renewal website for up-to-date information about the university’s response to COVID-19. Updates specific International Programs are available on our website.