Midterm Updates for International Students
Greetings, international students!
The fall 2020 semester is flying by, and I pray for your success and wellbeing during these unique and challenging times! Since the end of the semester will soon be upon us, I wanted to reach out with important announcements and updates. Please take the time to read this email carefully.
For those of you on the Berrien Springs campus for fall 2020:
- Employment letters and social security numbers. If you plan to work on campus and you do not yet have a social security number, you will need to contact the Employment office (email@example.com) to request an employment letter. Once you have the employment letter signed by an Employment staff member, please bring the letter to the main desk on the third floor of the Administration building and drop it off for a signature from a DSO in the International Student Services & Programs office. You will receive an email once your letter is signed and ready for pickup (usually within one business day). You should then call the Benton Harbor Social Security office at 877-405-5457 to request an appointment to obtain a social security number and card. In addition to the employment letter, you will need to bring your passport, visa, I-20 or DS-2019, and I-94 to the appointment.
- Visa status. Please check your program of study dates. If you have an F-1 visa, please check your Form I-20 for these dates; if you have a J-1 visa, please check your Form DS-2019. If the program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019 is in December 2020 or earlier, please contact International Student Services & Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org right away so that we can advise you about relevant steps to take to stay in status.
- Travel endorsement. Please check to make sure you have the proper travel endorsement before you leave the U.S. The travel endorsement is found on the second page of the I-20 and on the right-hand side of the DS-2019. You should see a travel signature from a Designated School Official (DSO) (this could be Robert Benjamin, Silmara Ferreira or Christian Stuart), date of signature, and location of signature. The travel endorsement is valid if it is dated no more than one year before the date you plan to return to the U.S. If you do not have a travel endorsement, or if the date is close to or past the one-year mark, please contact International Student Services & Programs at email@example.com before you leave campus so that you can obtain a current travel endorsement. Please also note that if your F-1 or J-1 visa is expired or close to expiring, you will need to renew it before you can return to the U.S. once you leave.
- Staying on campus during the upcoming break. If you plan to stay on the Berrien Springs campus during the upcoming year-end break from Dec. 11, 2020 to Jan. 10, 2021, please watch for an email from Dean Jennifer Burrill. Dean Burrill will instruct you on important steps you will need to take in order to stay on campus during the break.
For those of you studying remotely outside of the U.S. for fall 2020 with plans to come to the Berrien Springs campus for spring 2021:
- I-20 or DS-2019 postponement to spring 2021. If you had a Form I-20 (for F-1 visa holders) or Form DS-2019 (for J-1 visa holders) originally issued for fall 2020 and it was postponed to spring 2021, you should have already received the updated I-20 or DS-2019. If you have not, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
- New I-20 or DS-2019. If you have recently started the process to obtain an I-20 or DS-2019 in order to start a program in spring 2021, we will continue to communicate with you as we complete the process. If at any time you have any questions about the process, please email us at email@example.com.
For all international students:
- Arriving on campus in January 2021. Whether you are returning to the Berrien Springs campus after the year-end break or you are coming to campus for the first time, please note the campus will be closed from Dec. 11, 2020 to Jan. 10, 2021. You should not plan to arrive on campus before Jan. 6, 2021. More communication will be sent to you soon regarding the start of the spring 2021 semester, including information about required COVID-19 testing.
- Transportation services. For information about Andrews University transportation services and airport pickups, please contact the Transportation office directly by going here. Please note that the Transportation office can arrange a pickup at the South Bend International Airport but not at Chicago airports, so please make your travel plans accordingly.
- Spring 2021 in-person and online classes. Andrews University will offer in-person classes and some online options during the spring 2021 semester. For specific options and details, please contact your academic advisor.
- U.S. government I-20 requirements for spring 2021. The U.S. government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has not issued any messages concerning spring 2021 and I-20s (for F-1 visa holders), so it is reasonable to assume, for now, that the same COVID-19-related flexibilities issued in SEVP March 2020 guidelines will continue into spring 2021. The March 2020 guidelines allow international students who had an active I-20 in March 2020 to continue to maintain the I-20 in active status even if they are outside of the U.S. as long as they register for a full load of classes each semester. We will contact you immediately if this changes.
- Health insurance reminder. Please note that all international students are required to purchase the Andrews University health insurance plan through Aetna for the 2020–2021 school year. Exceptions to this policy will be considered for Canadian students and those who are sponsored by an employer. For more information about this policy, please contact the student insurance office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Calendly appointments with International Student Services & Programs staff. If you would like to make an appointment with a staff member in the International Student Services & Programs office, please go here to schedule an appointment through Calendly. All appointments will be via Zoom.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email. If you have any questions, please feel free to make an appointment with a staff member or send us an email at email@example.com. In addition, please check the Updates for International Students page regularly, as we will add updates and announcements as we move from fall 2020 to spring 2021. I am wishing you a very great conclusion to the semester, a restful break, and a smooth transition to the new year!
Executive Director, PDSO, RO
Center for On-Campus International Student Services