Protect your status with important W21 immigration updates
Protect your status with important W21 immigration updates
Dear International Gauchos,
Happy New Year, and welcome back! We hope that you had a restful winter break, and that you're feeling replenished and ready for the Winter 2021 quarter.
This email contains important immigration updates and instructions:
  1. Winter 2021 Immigration Update (All)
  2. Students In Initial Status
  3. Continuing Students
Everyone should read "Winter 2021 Immigration." Then, scroll down and thoroughly read the section that applies to you.
We Wish You A Great Quarter!
The OISS Team

Winter 2021 Immigration

For the Winter 2021 quarter, we expect to continue following the temporary COVID-19 guidance that we followed in Fall 2020, which was originally issued on March 9, 2020. We have not received any news from the Department of Homeland Security that any of this temporary guidance has changed; you can refer to their latest COVID-19 FAQ for common questions and answers regarding the guidance.

Students In Initial Status
(Students who were admitted to UCSB with a start date after March 9, 2020.)
  • You may continue studying remotely from outside of the U.S. You must contact OISS to request an updated I-20 or DS-2019 before you plan to enter the U.S. in the future.

  • If you recently entered or plan to enter the U.S. for Winter 2021, you must email your most recent I-94 document by Friday, January 22nd. This required in order to report your arrival to OISS. You should have received a separate email with detailed instructions.

  • If you entered the U.S. using a new initial I-20 or DS-2019 any time after March 9, 2020, then you must be registered in a course with an in-person component in order to be eligible to remain in the U.S.

    *Courses that are hybrid or in-person, but are being delivered remotely temporarily at the beginning of Winter 2021 based on health official recommendations still satisfy this requirement. You should only be concerned and find an alternate in-person course if a course is changed to remote instruction permanently. Please contact your academic advisor if you're not sure whether or not a course is considered hybrid, in-person, or remote.

  • If you do not plan to enroll in Winter 2021, then you must be outside of the U.S. You will need to contact OISS to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 in the future, when you plan to enroll at UCSB and enter the U.S. If you already paid your I-901 SEVIS Fee, you can request a refund or request to transfer your fee payment to your new SEVIS ID (once issued). Find out how by visiting the I-901 SEVIS Fee FAQ page. 

Continuing Students

(Students who have maintained an Active SEVIS record since before March 9, 2020.)
  • Continuing students (students with an active I-20 or DS-2019) may study remotely from inside or outside of the U.S. The in-person component requirement does not apply to any continuing student who was in the U.S. before March 9, 2020.

  • In order to keep an Active record, please make sure that you are enrolled in a full course load for Winter 2021. For undergraduate students, a full course load is 12 units. For graduate students, a full course load is 8 units. The only exception is if you have already been approved by OISS to go on a Reduced Course Load (Academic or Medical.) To get more information, click here if you are an F-1 student and click here if you are a J-1 student.

  • We have received many email inquiries regarding the OPT application process. Please review the OPT Employment Page and OPT Application Tutorial for answers to the most common questions.
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You are receiving this email because you have been identified as an international Gaucho or campus ally. We encourage you to stay on this mailing list in order to receive important announcements from OISS regarding upcoming events, immigration alerts and operational updates. Questions can be directed to
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