COVID-19 Office of International Education Updates

Office of International Education (OIE) COVID-19 resource page with important updates, we encourage you to check it frequently.
In this Section

COVID-19 has significantly disrupted inbound and outbound student, faculty, and staff mobility at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.  This page is intended to be a resource with important updates.  

Students, faculty, or staff with questions or concerns about specific past, current, or future programs, both at UW-Stout and away, are encouraged to check their official UW-Stout email account regularly for important announcements from OIE staff.  Please direct immediate questions and concerns regarding study away to studyabroad@uwstout.edu and study at UW-Stout (for international students and scholars) to globaled@uwstout.edu.

We wish everyone in and outside the U.S. good health and look forward to your participation in our programs as soon as possible!

Regarding the updated DHS policy concerning fall 2020 and Covid-19

The University of Wisconsin-Stout welcomes and embraces diversity and is proud to have international students both on our campus and in our community.  The Office of International Education continues to advocate for increased flexibility and support, providing our international students the opportunity to fulfill their educational objectives in the United States without debilitating restrictions.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency released a policy update on July 6, 2020 with guidelines and requirements for international students and sponsoring institutions that differs from the spring 2020 term.  It is important to note that a formal policy change has not yet been implemented; however, assuming the new rule is published in the Federal Register, the following is a brief Q&A on the impact of these changes for UW-Stout international students:

What is the new policy?

During the fall 2020 term, the new policy mandates the following:

  1. International students attending institutions offering all courses online may not take a full course load and remain in the United States. 
    • To maintain status, they can transfer to another institution and continue to enroll full time or return to their country of origin and take a full course of study online. 
    • The U.S. State Department will not be issuing visas to students enrolled at institutions where courses are fully online.
  2. International students attending institutions adopting a fully in-person delivery model, or hybrid delivery model (e.g. UW-Stout) comprised of a mixture of in-person and online, will be permitted to enter and remain in the U.S. with valid, active nonimmigrant status. 
    • Under the hybrid model, international students are permitted to take more than one course online counting toward the full course of study requirement so long as at least one course has physical presence (meets in person).
    • If the institution changes its course delivery model mid-semester to fully online, international students will need to depart the U.S. and continue the term from outside the country, or take alternative measures to maintain active status.
How does it impact UW-Stout international students?

UW-Stout announced that students will experience a combination of face to face, hybrid and online learning in the fall 2020 term. Fortunately, due to opening in this manner we fully anticipate UW-Stout international students will be in compliance with the new DHS policy.  Important considerations for UW-Stout international students are as follows:

  1. International students studying in the U.S. need to have at least one course delivered in person.  OIE recommends that students review their course enrollment and make sure they are registered for as many in-person/hybrid courses as their programs allow.  Access Stout will be updated to reflect updates on how courses are delivered (in-person, hybrid or online) next week.
  2. The regulations will not permit students to take all courses online during the fall 2020 term at UW-Stout.  (Students may take all online courses from their home countries, but this would result in terminations of status, and require new SEVIS records and visas prior to returning to the U.S. in a future semester.) 
  3. OIE is issuing new Forms I-20 with indication that our operational plan conforms with this new policy, and we will be sending them to all students electronically.
How is UW-Stout advocating for international students?
  1. UW-Stout is in communication with the University of Wisconsin System, and is working with policy and governance groups to send a unified message in support of increased regulatory flexibility for our international students during the Covid-19 global pandemic. 
  2. Advocacy efforts are underway by our professional organizations: NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and AIEA: Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA).
  3. In addition to advocacy, the OIE is examining accommodations that would help protect students’ active status and adhere with ICE regulatory policy.

Newly Admitted International Students

UW-Stout is excited to welcome new students to campus.  Due to health and safety concerns around COVID-19, new students and their families likely have many questions about the Fall 2020 semester.  UW-Stout is open for business and is implementing significant measures to protect the health and safety of our academic community during the fall term. 

Notify the Office of International Education by email at globaled@uwstout.edu of your plans as soon as possible.  We would like to know if you plan to:

  1. Continue to try to arrive in time for the fall 2020 term;
  2. Defer your attendance to spring 2021 term, and take courses online during the fall 2020 term from home; or
  3. Defer your admission to spring 2021 term.

Have questions? Join one of our upcoming Covid Call-in virtual meetings.  Check your UW-Stout email for detailed information and links to access the meetings.

I plan to begin during the fall 2020 term. What do I do?
  1. Secure a visa appointment with a U.S. Consulate as soon as possible.  Consulates are currently not fully operational, but you may check their status here.
  2. OIE will email you a new electronic Form I-20 which references our institutional compliance with the new DHS policy.  This document will need to be presented at the U.S. Consulate and at the border (port of entry) upon your arrival in the Untied States.
  3. Plan to arrive on August 23 or 24, 2020.  The University has a mandatory two-week quarantine period and you will be provided a comprehensive new student orientation during this time.  More details will be forthcoming.
How do I obtain my F-1 non-immigrant student visa?

New students in need of F-1 student visas should note that U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions are currently operating under limited or suspended visa services. Unfortunately, we have not received guidance on when we can expect a resumption of these services; however, respective Embassy/Consulate wait times can be accessed here.  Please contact the relevant office for more information about processes and appointments. 

When should I arrive on campus?

All students traveling to Menomonie via international or domestic air travel are required to self-quarantine for 14-days in a designated self-quarantine location, after which they will be allowed to move to their permanent on-campus housing assignment. If planning to arrive by air, new students should prepare to arrive a minimum 14-days prior to the start of the fall semester which begins September 9, 2020.  In order to fulfill this requirement, we are advising that students traveling by air arrive on August 23 or 24, 2020.  UW-Stout's Office of International Education will be providing a comprehensive virtual new student orientation program during the self-quarantine period.  More information will be forthcoming.

Will I have difficulty traveling to the U.S.?

In addition to concerns about visas and quarantines, there are complexities involving air travel.  There might be last-minute changes or cancellations, and international flights are only arrive directly at 15 U.S. airports (MSP is not one of them).  Please be advised that Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) provides a current list of Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the U.S.  With few exceptions, foreign nationals who have been in these countries within the past 14 days may not enter the United States. This list is subject to change and currently includes: China, Iran, UK, Ireland, Brazil and the European Schengen area. 

How can I stay informed?

We realize that the situation remains fluid with many more questions than answers for new students at this time, and encourage new students to visit this site frequently as well as to check their Stout email at least once a week to ensure important updates are not missed. Students with questions or concerns regarding their unique circumstances may call the International Office at 715-232-2132 or email globaled@uwstout.edu to connect with an advisor.

Continuing International Students

Depending on a variety of circumstances, there are a variety of items you should consider when planning to return to UW-Stout.  The OIE's  flow chart will be helpful in determining the proper steps you should take to safely return and resume your studies. 

  1. Note that students returning to Menomonie by air are required to complete a mandatory two-week quarantine period before they can attend classes.
  2. If your visa is expired and you are currently outside the U.S., you will need to renew your visa prior to your return.  
  3. Finalize your flight plans to return to campus.  Be sure to purchase travel insurance and note that flights may be limited and/or disrupted.
  4. Join one of our upcoming Covid Call-in virtual meetings.  Check your UW-Stout email for detailed information and links to access the meetings.

If you have any questions or concerns about your return, please contact the OIE by phone at 715-232-2132 or via email at globaled@uwstout.edu.

I’m returning by air. What date should I return to campus?

UW-Stout is requiring any student returning to Menomonie via international or domestic air travel to self-quarantine for 14-days in a designated self-quarantine location, after which they will be allowed to move to their permanent housing assignment. If arriving by air, students should prepare to arrive a minimum 14-days prior to the start of the fall semester which begins September 9, 2020. In order to fulfill this requirement, we are advising that students returning by air travel arrive on August 23 or 24, 2020.

When can I get my visa renewed?

U.S. Embassies, Consulates and Diplomatic Missions across the world are still operating under limited or suspended visa services. Unfortunately, we have not received guidance on when we can expect a resumption of these services. If you are outside of the U.S. and need to renew your visa before returning, you can view the current Embassy/Consulate wait time information here. Please contact the relevant office for more information about processes and appointments.

Will I experience difficulty traveling back to the U.S.?

Students might find that there are last-minute changes or cancellations. For example, currently international flights can only arrive directly into 15 U.S. airports (MSP is not one of them). If this continues, students can expect at least one layover (connecting flight) at another airport before arriving at MSP.

Please be advised that Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) provides a current list of Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the U.S.  With few exceptions, foreign nationals who have been in these countries within the past 14 days may not enter the United States. This list is subject to change and currently includes: China, Iran, UK, Ireland, Brazil and the European Schengen area. 

I am still confused. What should I do?

In addition to checking their Stout email accounts at least once a week for updates, we encourage continuing students to revisit this page frequently. Students may also attend one of our upcoming COVID Call, or email the Office of International Education at globaled@uwstout.edu to connect with an advisor.

Study Away (Abroad and Domestic)

Due to health and safety concerns over the past four months, the OIE had to make incredibly difficult yet important decisions to recall all students and faculty participating in Spring 2020 study away programs to their homes of record and cancel all Summer & Fall 2020 study away programs.  In some instances, students planned academically and financially to engage in these life changing experiences months - even years - in advance, making this situation devastating.  UW-Stout’s OIE hopes that students who had their studies interrupted will consider taking part in future programs.  We are working hard to plan and promote faculty-led, semester and year-long opportunities for the WinTerm 2021 and beyond.  

The application and OIE service fees associated with UW-Stout study away have been refunded to all students who were recalled and unable to earn academic credit during the 2020 spring, summer and fall terms.  Students who experienced financial hardship because of COVID-19 are recommended to contact the UW-Stout Dean of Students Office to apply for emergency fund assistance.  

OIE’s policy is to continuously review and evaluate upcoming programs and make decisions on postponement or cancellation 60 - 90 days in advance of program start dates.  There are many considerations that are evaluated by UW-Stout when determining if a program can run, including but not limited to the U.S. State Department and CDC Travel Advisory Levels (below Level 3 is necessary), trend data regarding the number of active and new COVID-19 cases, and the country’s (or region’s) medical infrastructure to support infected patients.

The OIE remains hopeful that WinTerm, Spring and Summer 2021 study away programming will run.  We encourage students to identify programs of interest and submit applications.  Note that in the event a future program is cancelled due to the pandemic, associated UW-Stout application fees will be refunded.