COVID-19 RESPONSE

Classes operating online. Campus is closed.

Information for Global Students

We are aware that many of our international/global students at Gannon University are impacted by travel, housing, and public health concerns given the situation with COVID-19, and our top priority is your health, safety, and well-being. We are here to support you, and we will continue to update the information below as new developments take place.

Travel

The decision whether to return to your home country is a personal one and should be considered carefully, in consultation with family when possible. We want you to be where you will feel most comfortable.

If you choose to return to your home country, check in with the Office of Global Support and Student Engagement at globalsupport@gannon.edu beforehand to discuss your visa status. 

Modified Operations and Scheduling

Our primary concern is your safety and well-being, and the safety and well-being of our employees and communities. Many of our global students, given the new travel restrictions, are remaining in on-campus housing, or continuing in off-campus housing accommodations.

Please see GU’s Modified Operations for what and when campus facilities are open and how they are functioning during COVID-19.

Summer Housing

GU’s Office of Residential Life can accommodate global students over the summer who currently reside in university housing but are unable to leave in May (end of the academic year) due to international travel restrictions related to COVID-19.  Please contact the Office of Residence Life at reslife@gannon.edu if you have any housing-related questions or concerns.

Health Care, Counseling Center and Coverage

To schedule an appointment at the Health Center, please call ahead at 814-871-7622 and leave a detailed message for the purpose of your visit, name, date of birth and phone number. An appointment will be setup accordingly following your call. If you are having severe symptoms, do not wait for a return call from the Health Center; please go to the Emergency Room.

The Counseling Center will continue to provide counseling support to students utilizing tele-counseling services (via phone and/or video conferencing). In-person counseling sessions are suspended until further notice.

Insurance Coverage

Students who have the Gannon Health Insurance plan are covered through June 30, 2020. Students who currently have the alternative health insurance plan through International Student Insurance are covered through the end date on their policy (at least May 9, 2020).

Commencement

I am an international student who requires a visa to return to the United States. What are my options for returning for the rescheduled commencement?

Commencement Update HERE   International students will have three options:

Will Gannon (or the OGSSE) provide assistance for international students and family members who need to apply for visas to attend a rescheduled commencement?

The OGSSE will provide a letter of invitation describing the new commencement details, for the purpose of students applying for B-2 visitors visas to visit the United States for Gannon’s commencement in October.

International students who apply for B-2 visas to attend commencement should also bring a copy of their latest I-20 form to the visa interview, even if the I-20 is expired, since this is evidence of previous F-1 status during enrollment at Gannon University

For questions about visas for international students and family members entering the United States for commencement, contact the Office of Global Support and Student Engagement (OGSSE) via email at Globalsupport@gannon.edu

Visas & Immigration Status

I will graduate in May 2020, and my plan was to return to my home country. I would prefer to stay in the United States for now. What are my options?

You have three options:

  1. Remain in the United States and apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). This applies to F-1 students.
  2. Remain in the United States until 7/11/2020 during the 60-day grace period after graduation.
  3. Pursue another degree in the United States and transfer your SEVIS  record to another institution.

My visa is expiring, and I am unable to travel to my home country at this time. What should I do?

Students may stay in the United States on an expired F-1/J-1 visa as long as they maintain their immigration status by being in possession of a valid I-20/DS-2019 and an I-94 Arrival/Departure record, and by meeting normal enrollment requirements. Please contact the Office of Global Support and Student Engagement (OGSSE) via email at Globalsupport@gannon.edu if you have questions regarding your visa or immigration status.

How does a move to online classes impact international students with F-1 visas whose instruction must occur in person?

Gannon University adheres to the guidance from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which is a unit within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that oversees the F-1 international student visa program. Due to the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19, SEVP issued guidance to universities that allows for increased flexibility to ensure international students can continue their academic progress. Universities can implement temporary adjustments such as moving to online instruction without negatively impacting the immigration status of enrolled international students.

What if I decide to return to my home country and take online classes from outside the United States until in-person instruction resumes at Gannon University?

The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has confirmed that international students may temporarily take their classes online during a university’s period of modified instructional format either from within the United States or outside the country. Please contact the Office of Global Support and Student Engagement (OGSSE) via email at Globalsupport@gannon.edu if you have further questions.

Are international students still required to remain enrolled full-time even though classes are online for the remainder of the semester?

To maintain F-1 status, international students are required to maintain a full course load during this temporary transition to online instruction. They should not fall below the full course load requirement unless they have been permitted to do so either through a Reduced Course Load (RCL) or Leave of Absence (LOA).  If you have questions about this please contact the Office of Global Support and Student Engagement (OGSSE) via email at Globalsupport@gannon.edu

What happens if I return to my home country and I am not able to return to the United States within five months? Will my Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record remain active?

The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has confirmed that international students may temporarily take classes online during Gannon University’s period of modified instruction, either from within the United States or outside the country, without impacting their immigration status.

Gannon (OGSSE) will keep the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records of those who remain enrolled full-time in active status whether they are located in the United States or outside of the country. SEVP has confirmed that since the SEVIS record will remain active, “the 5-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F. R.214.2(f)(4) will not apply.”

Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission to the United States when travel restrictions are lifted. The allowance for 100% online coursework is temporary, and it will no longer apply once the university returns to regular in-person instruction

International students are still required to maintain a full course load during this temporary transition to online instruction. You should not fall below the full course requirement unless you have been permitted to do so either through a Reduced Course Load (RCL) or Leave of Absence (LOA) approved by the Office of Global Support and Student Engagement (OGSSE).

I am a Summer 2020 incoming student. I do not know if I will be able to obtain a visa for my entry into the United States. What should I do? Will I have to defer my admission to the fall semester?

If you are unable to obtain a visa at this time, please notify Gannon’s Office Global Admissions as soon as possible to inquire about the possibility of deferring your enrollment to a later semester. Email: global@gannon.edu; Tel: (814)-871-7480, Toll Free: 1-800-426-6668, and/or WhatsApp: +1-814-440-9419

Since the Office of Global Support & Student Engagement (OGSSE) is currently closed, how can I request and receive documents?

While our physical office in Beyer Hall is closed, Gannon’s OGSSE staff is working remotely to continue providing essential services and information to the global/international community at GU.   You can reach us HERE  to email one of us or to schedule a virtual appointment. You can also email us at globalsupport@gannon.edu  

To request an I-20 (travel signature or program extension), please contact us at globalsupport@gannon.edu for instructions.

If you are on OPT or STEM OPT and you need to update your employer information, please continue to use https://forms.gle/jUpg1aYeJEpdCxUR8

Do I need to take a leave of absence from GU since I will be outside of the United States until the Fall 2020 semester?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recently issued guidance to universities that allows universities to move to online instruction without negatively impacting the immigration status of enrolled international students. Students must maintain a full course load during this temporary transition to online instruction. If you are unable to maintain full-time enrollment during this period of online instruction, please contact us at the Office of Global Support and Student Engagement (OGSSE) via email at Globalsupport@gannon.edu.

I want to speak with an advisor at the OGSSE (Office of Global Support and Student Engagement). What should I do?

Please email globalsupport@gannon.edu or find us individually HERE.  In your email include your name, GU ID number, Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) number, phone number and a description of your inquiry, and we will respond.

I don’t know if I should return to my home country or remain in the United States. I am afraid it will affect my immigration status. What should I do?

The decision about whether to return to your home country is a personal one and should be considered carefully, in consultation with family when possible. The university wants you to be where you will feel most comfortable. Classes will be held remotely for the remainder of the semester as well as Summer Session A (May 11-22) and Summer Session B (May 25-June 26).  More summer session information HERE.  You will receive more information from your professors about how they will administer final exams.

The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has confirmed that international students may temporarily take classes online during GU’s period of modified instruction, either within the United States or outside the country, without impacting their immigration status.

Gannon University will not take any action to end student records for individuals who remain enrolled full-time and are outside of the United States for more than five months. Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission to the United States when travel restrictions are lifted. The allowance for 100% online coursework is temporary, and it will no longer apply once the university returns to regular in-person instruction. 

Global/international students are still required to maintain a full course load during this temporary transition to online instruction. You should not fall below the full course requirement unless you have been permitted to do so either through a Reduced Course Load (RCL) or Leave of Absence (LOA) approved by GU’s Office of Global Support and Student Engagement (OGSSE).

Your well-being and knowledge of how to reach you is critically important to us and the entire university. 

I want to leave the United States immediately, but my I-20/DS-2019 is not endorsed for travel. What should I do?

An I-20/DS-2019 is not required to depart the United States, but a valid travel signature is required to re-enter the United States. GU’s Office of Global Support and Student Engagement can mail it to you in your home country if necessary. Travel signatures are valid for one year, so please check your current I-20/DS-2019 before requesting a new one. For students on Optional Practical Training (OPT), your travel signature is valid for six months. Contact the Office Global Support and Student Engagement for instructions on how to request a travel signature at globalsupport@gannon.edu.

My immigration documents are currently with GU’s Office of Global Support and Student Engagement. How will I receive them?

GU’s Office of Global Support and Student Engagement is currently prioritizing the mailing of documents to students. The OGSSE is dispersing documents to international students using eShipGlobal while we are all working remotely. If you have been contacted by a staff member that your immigration document is ready to be sent to you, please follow these instructions:

Contact the Office Global Support and Student Engagement at globalsupport@gannon.edu if you have questions about mailing and shipping.

I am currently in my home country and my visa is expired, but I have a valid I-20. The embassy is now closed until further notice. What will happen if I am not able to obtain a visa to return to campus for the fall semester? Will the university provide any accommodation for me?

We are committed to your academic success, and we will provide ongoing support to our international students as the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve. We are here to help. 

The U.S. Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates. Embassies and consulates canceled all routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. Visa services will resume as soon as possible, but the U.S. State Department is unable to provide a specific date at this time. Please consult with your department about your options if you are unable to return to the United States for in-person instruction once it resumes at Gannon. 

Optional Practical Training (OPT) & Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

I am graduating this semester and I need to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Is it possible to apply while I am abroad?

Current regulations state that you must be present in the United States when submitting your Optional Practical Training (OPT) and OPT STEM applications. You cannot mail your application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from abroad. You must be present in the United States at the time USCIS issues a receipt number to acknowledge acceptance of your packet.

The application requires an I-94 number, which is only valid while you are in the United States. If you depart the United States, you will not have a valid I-94 and your application will likely be rejected.

If you are able to re-enter the United States before your I-20 program end date, you can apply for OPT up to 60 days after the program end date listed on your I-20. If you have already requested an OPT I-20 but will not be able to remain in the United States until USCIS receives your application, GU’s Office of Global Support and Student Engagement can provide a new OPT I-20 when you return to the United States.

Gannon and other universities have made this issue known to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and have urged the agency to provide special accommodations for OPT application rules due to the COVID-19 situation. Any updates will be posted to this site as they are available.

I need to apply for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM extension. Is it possible to apply while I am abroad?

As of March 13, 2020, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has not released any changes to its existing STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension application instructions. Therefore, students must be physically present in the United States to apply for a STEM OPT Extension.

I am currently on Optional Practical Training (OPT), and my employer told me to work from home. Am I in violation of my immigration status?

Employers may ask their Optional Practical Training (OPT) employees to work from home. This will not affect their F-1 status. Students must still report their employment information to ensure they do not accrue days of unemployment in their SEVIS record.

I am currently on Optional Practical Training (OPT), but I haven't found a job yet. I am nearing the end of my 90 days of unemployment, but I am unable to leave the United States. What should I do?

In the event you are unable to find paid or volunteer employment and you are nearing the 90th day of unemployment on OPT, please contact GU’s Office of Global Support and Student Engagement at globalsupport@gannon.edu for consultation with an advisor.

I am currently on Curricular Practical Training (CPT) but am returning to my home country for the remainder of the semester. My employer is allowing me to work from home. Is this allowed?

Employers may ask their Curricular Practical Training (CPT) employees to work from home. This will not affect their F-1 status.

My Curricular Practical Training (CPT) internship starts in May, but I am currently in my home country and unable to travel. Can I work remotely until I am able to return to the United States?

Students with approved Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for summer 2020 should contact their employers to seek special arrangements in order to meet the internship requirements. As a reminder, students may not begin working on an internship without prior authorization from the OGSSE.

I mailed my Optional Practical Training (OPT) application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) two weeks ago, and I haven’t received a receipt notice. Is USCIS still open and processing applications? What should I do?

It usually takes 1-3 weeks for students to receive an I-797 receipt notice from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you haven’t already done so, please check your bank/credit card statement to verify if USCIS has withdrawn the funds from your account. If you don’t receive the I-797 receipt notice by the third week, please contact GU’s Office of Global Support and Student Engagement at globalsupport@gannon.edu.

As of March 18, 2020, USCIS has suspended all in-person services, but benefits that do not require in-person appointments with USCIS such as Optional Practical Training (OPT)/STEM OPT applications are still being accepted.

Contact Us/View Resources

ALL COVID-Updates for Gannon University: https://update.gannon.edu/Update/Detail/22

Academics – Pass/Fail Option:  https://update.gannon.edu/Update/Detail/20