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ISS COVID-19 FAQ for Students

Please note: This page will be updated as more information is provided. Please check back often for updates. 
*Last update: April 1, 2020

Information about US embassy suspending visa related services: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html


Q: My visa expires this summer. Is it okay if I stay in the U.S. after it expires?

A: Yes, it is okay for your visa (in your passport) to expire while you are in the U.S. It was issued by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate and only needs to be valid when you enter the U.S. Other documents such as your passport, I-20 or DS-2019 should remain valid while you are in the U.S.

Q: If my visa will expire can I apply to get a new visa in the U.S.?

A: No, unfortunately you cannot apply for or renew a U.S. visa from within the U.S. You must apply at a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate abroad.  Note: ALL U.S. Embassies and Consulates have suspended non-immigrant visa services as of March 20, 2020.  Note: it doesn’t matter if your U.S. visa (in your passport) expires while you are in the U.S.

Q: Can I come pick up my I-20 in the ISS office?

A: No.  All KU buildings are currently locked and not open to the public.  However, KU is open virtually.  We are still answering our phone and emails and providing all services remotely.

Q: How do I get a travel signature on my I-20 or DS-2019 if ISS is not allowing us to drop off our documents in person?

A: ISS created an eform in iHawk to request a travel signature. New I-20s and DS-2019s will be mailed to you.

Practice Tips:

  • Submit the appropriate eform in iHawk
    • F-1 Student Services
      • COVID-19 Travel Signature I-20 Request
    • J-1 Student Services
      • COVID-19 Travel Signature DS-2019 Request
  • In the eform you will have 3 mailing options:
  1. U.S. address regular mail for free. Allow 2 weeks.
  2. International address regular mail for a $5 fee (paid separately in the ISS store)
  3. International address prepaid express mail (paid through E-ShipGlobal; normally $60-80)

Q: What if one of my classes is canceled because it cannot be delivered online?

A: Please email ISS and tell us which class was canceled. It will not impact your legal status if KU cancels the class because it cannot be offered online. You will get a waiver for the full-time enrollment requirements for this term.

Q: What will summer classes look like? In person, or online?

A: No one knows yet.  KU has not yet made a decision.

Q: What should I do if I applied for OPT, left the U.S. and cannot return immediately?

A: First visit the ISS website regarding Travel Concerns While on Post-Comp OPT to know what documents you need for re-entry. If your visa has expired you should not travel because all U.S. Embassies and Consulates suspended visa services March 20, 2020 and it is currently impossible to get a new visa.  Keep in mind that the unemployment clock will start on your OPT approval start date even if you have delays returning to the U.S.

Q: Where can I find SEVP’s FAQ?


Q: Have you been exposed to a community with COVID-19?
  • You may have been exposed if, in the past 14 days, you:
    • traveled to a country with a CDC travel advisory, or
    • traveled anywhere in the United States with community spread of COVID-19

If you have been exposed, you should self-quarantine for 14 days, even if you are not showing symptoms.

Q: What are the COVID-19 Symptoms?
Q: What should I do if I have the COVID-19 symptoms?
  • If you have symptoms, and if you've recently been exposed to a community with COVID-19, you should call your healthcare provider. If you want to visit a clinic, you must call first.  It is important to call first, so the clinic can prepare for you and contain the potential spread of disease.  Avoid areas with lots of people.
  • If you have symptoms but are not very sick, stay home until your symptoms are gone.
  • If you have symptoms and are very sick, go to see your doctor, but call first.  If it is after hours, you can get an after-hours number by calling your doctor, or you can go to an urgent care clinic.
Q: Can I go to the Watkins Health Center?

A: Yes, but you must call first. The Watkins Health Center is open 8:00am-4:30pm Monday-Friday.  Their website says you should call before visiting if you have respiratory symptoms.  Their number is 785-864-9500. 

Q: Is the test for COVID-19 covered by the KU Student Health insurance plan?
A: Yes
Q: What are trusted sources of information to inform me and my family about COVID-19 in the US and in specific cities, like Lawrence?

*Source: Douglas County Public Health Department


Q: What does the Douglas County Stay at Home Order mean?

A: The Stay at Home ordinance mandates that everyone STAY HOME for all but very essential needs. Essential needs include shopping for groceries, or going to the doctor. Just about every other activity should be discontinued. DO NOT GO OUT IN GROUPS AND DO NOT GATHER IN PUBLIC PLACES, EVEN OUTDOORS.

Note: This is an actual city ordinance that can be enforced with fines up to $100 for each violation.

What is allowed? 

  • Shopping for essential needs, such as groceries
  • Things related to your health or safety, or the health or safety of your pets (ie. doctor visits, purchasing medications, etc.). Non-essential appointments should be postponed until until May, if possible
  • Getting fresh air! Going on a walk/run or biking outside, as well as other outdoor activities are allowed. These activities should be done alone or with only one other person and you must maintain a distance of 6 feet (1.8 meters) from others!

Remember: When you're out of the house, you must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) from other people. That includes when walking, running, or biking outdoors. 

How long will the Stay at Home mandate last?
The Order began at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 and will remain in effect for 30 days, until 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, April 23, 2020, unless sooner amended or otherwise extended.

We encourage you to understand that this is not just an inconvenience, but is required for the health of everyone. The best practice to contain the COVID-19 disease is to remain physically isolated and to wash your hands frequently. Otherwise, we’ll have this situation much longer than necessary.

The Lawrence Journal World has published an informative article regarding what's allowed, what's expected, and what's open in Lawrence during this Order.

Q: Are KU Dining Services still open if I remain in on-campus housing?

A:  Yes, however, all dining locations have transitioned to carry-out options only. Please reference KU Dining's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information page for the most up to date information. Operational hours for March 23rd - May 15th have been posted for each dining location. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Q: What campus services are available/unavailable and how will they be provided?

Note: Bulding Access - To protect equipment, property, and work in progress during this period of reduced on-campus activity, all non-KU Student Housing campus buildings will remain locked 24 hours a day for the foreseeable future.

Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC)

  • AAAC services are offered via phone, and by virtual appointments if requested (zoom or skype). To set up an appointment call 785-864-4064.
  • For tutoring, supplemental instruction, and individual consultations call 785-864-7733.

Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center

  • Mental health services are available by phone Monday – Thursday; 8:30 a.m. – 4p.m. and the 24 hour phone number to call is 785-843-9192

Campus Cupboard

  • The Campus Cupboard is currently working on a plan to distribute boxes of food in keeping with new procedures. Updates will be posted here.
  • The Sunrise Project is offering free supplies and non-perishable food at 1501 Learnard Ave. Call 785-864-1618 for delivery information.
  • The Westwood house has an open pantry Sunday – Thursday from 3 – 6 p.m. located at 1421 W 119th St.
  • Ladybird Diner is closed but is offering free sack lunch from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm Monday – Friday. Various schools are offering free grab and go meals for kids under 18, more information can be found here.
  • The downtown Lawrence website has a full list of hours and closures for local businesses in Lawrence.

College Student Advising and Academic Services

  • College Advising and Student Services can be reached by phone: 785-864-3500; as the lobby is closed, and all appointments will be over the phone or through Zoom or Skype.
  • Schedule a phone or virtual appointment through Jayhawk GPS. Directions for scheduling an appointment can be found here.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

  • The CAPS office is available via phone at 785-864-2277 and after hours messages may be left on the CAPS voicemail. 
  •  Initial therapy and initial psychiatry appointments for the week of March 23 – March 27 have been suspended.
  • All group therapy services, outreach programming, and HOPE@CAPS related activities such as peer listening hours and peer support groups have been suspended until further notice.
  • CAPS is offering individual therapy and psychiatric follow-up appointments for established clients via telephone that are aligned with the laws and regulations pertaining to this practice in the state of Kansas and professional ethical guidelines. 
  • Information on finding a therapist in your community, managing concerns about COVID-19, and the most up to date CAPS information can be found here.

Emily Taylor Women’s Center for Women & Gender Equity:

  • The Emily Taylor Center is available for questions via phone or through email: 785-864-3552; emilytaylorcenter@ku.edu.
  • Appointments are offered via telephone, Skype, or Zoom at the following times:
    • Mondays & Wednesdays: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Tuesdays & Thursdays: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Friday: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • If you’d like to schedule an appointment please contact: Bulaong Ramiz, Director: bramiz@ku.edu/ 785-864-1143 or Megan Williams, Assistant Director: mwillia@ku.edu/785864-8062   

Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center (EGARC)

  • EGARC is physically closed until further notice, but necessary support to faculty and students will continue to be provided.
  • For questions contact: egarc@ku.edu; 785-864-4759          

Headquarters Counseling Center

  • Counseling services are available 24/7 via phone at: 785-841-2345, and online emotional chat support is offered through CrisisChat.org

Hilltop Child Development Center

  • The Hilltop Child Development Center is closed until further notice, the most updated information can be found here.

International Admissions

  • The Office of International Admissions is available for questions M-F 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. via phone: 785-864-2616

International Support Services

  • All advising is done via phone or video conference until further notice. Email iss@ku.edu with specific questions or call 785-864-3617 to set up a virtual appointment.
  • ISS is hosting a Zoom hour the week of March 23rd from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. This is a platform for students to chat or ask questions.

KU Child and Family Services Clinic:

  • Telehealth services will begin on March 30th for current clients and their families. The clinic can be reached at: 785-864-4416
  • For the most up to date information, as well as information about coronavirus resources for families go here.
  • Office hours will be held mornings by appointment, Monday-Thursday 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., and Friday noon to 6:00 p.m.  

KU Libraries

KU Memorial Unions

  • The Burge Union and DeBruce Center are closed to the public until May 15th
  • Kansas union hours for the dates of March 23rd – May 15th are as follows: Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday – Sunday 10:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. The most up to date information can be found here.

KU Parking & Transit Office

  • The Parking and Transit office is closed, and staff are working remotely: 785-864-7275; kupark@ku.edu.
  • Until further notice found here all lots and garages are open and parking is free (except for lot 3) which will continue to be restricted. ADA and service vehicle stalls will still be enforced, as well as no parking in a designated stall. Jayhawk Boulevard is open to drive- thru traffic.

KU Recreation Services

  • KU recreation services are closed until further notice, covid-19 updates can be found here.

KU Writing Center

  • The writing center has moved online, and is available M-F 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • eTutoring appointments are available, and students should contact 785-864-2399 or writing@ku.edu with questions. Schedule an appointment here.

Legal Services for Students

  • Legal services are being offered remotely, to request an appointment email: legals@ku.edu, do not call or come by the office as the physical location is closed. Notary services are not being offered at this time.
  • The most up to date information can be found here.

Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access (IOA)

  • All IOA services have moved online, and staff are available via skype, phone, and zoom for appointments. For the most up to date information go here. The office can be reached at: 785-864-6414; ioa@ku.edu.

Office of Multicultural Affairs

  • Starting March 26th, the OMA will be hosting a virtual hangout on zoom from 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. https://kansas.zoom.us/j/102279273
  • The office’s physical presence is closed, however, go here for information about virtual office hours. You can reach the OMA by phone: 785-864-4350

Office of the University Registrar (OUR)

  • The Registrar’s office is available via phone and email M-F, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  General questions can be answered at the front desk in the KU Visitor Center. The OUR can be reached at: 785-864-4423; registrar@ku.edu.
SafeRide Services

SafeRide services will stop after Saturday, April 4th. Transportation Services will continue to monitor the situation throughout the remainder of the spring semester and will provide additional updates when possible. Click here for the most up to date information.

Students who need night-time transportation within the city of Lawrence can schedule a trip on Night Line, which costs $2/ride (cash only) regardless of student status. Rides on Night Line are scheduled in advance on a space available basis between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; call 785-312-7054, ext. 1, to request a reservation.

Bus routes 1-15, 29, and 45 continue to operate on the “B” schedule. Click here for routes and schedule information, or download the MyBusLawrence app for real-time bus information.

Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center (SAPEC)

  • SAPEC services are being provided remotely, students can contact: sapec@ku.edu. Staff contact information as well as the most up-to-date operating information can be found here.

Student Involvement and Leadership Center (SILC)

  • SILC services are offered remotely, students can contact SILC at: 785-864-4861 and silcfront@ku.edu with any questions. The most up to date information can be found here.

Student Money Management Services (SMMS)

  • SMMS services are available remotely, students with questions can call 785-864-1182 or email money@ku.edu.

University Career Center (UCC)

  • All UCC services are offered virtually until further notice. Career coaching appointments will be held via phone, zoom, or skype.
  • For more information about services go here.

Watkins Health Center

  • Watkins health services remain available for students still in the region. Before visiting, call ahead: 785-864-9500 (main) 785-864-9583 (24 hour nurse helpline). Building hours are M-F 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For the most up to date information go here. 

Q: What opportunities are there for me to stay engaged and connected with the KU community during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: ISS Programs have moved online for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the ISS programs calendar to get involved and follow us on social media. In addition, many companies are offering adjusted services or online services for free. Examples of such services may be found here.


Can I take my classes from a different location in the United States (for example, a relative's house)?
Yes, if you have internet and computer access, you are able to continue classes from a different location. Your online classes will probably be at their usual times, so you should plan on keeping your same schedule.
What will online learning look like for me?
During this period, it will be extremely important that you check email and Blackboard frequently. Your instructors will be in touch with you to tell you how your classes will be delivered and how the syllabus will change. It is your responsibility to read this information and complete your course requirements. If you are uncertain about what to do, you can and should email your instructor.

Some of your online courses will primarily be at the same time as your normally scheduled classes and may involve some interaction during class time. Attendance may be taken as normal and participation will be expected from your instructors.

Some coursework may be asynchronous, meaning that you can access information and complete assignments on your own time. It is important that for all coursework, you maintain a regular schedule for completing assignments and meet deadlines set by your instructors.

In order to ensure that you can access your online coursework effectively:

  • Make sure that you have internet access and a working computer.  Make sure that the camera, audio, and microphone are working. If you are having any problems with your laptop or internet access, check online for help with online classes: https://technology.ku.edu/help-online-classes.  Let your academic advisor and/or professor know if you need help with this.
  • Make sure that you have a private, quiet area to work in while taking online courses. You should not work in the same room with a friend because this can be distracting and have a negative impact on the  learning process. You may be required to appear on camera during your class time, so make sure you are dressed appropriately.
What can I do to get tutoring?
Information about tutoring through the Student Success Center and the Writing Center will be available through the AAAC website soon.
What will my academic advising check-ins be like?
You can schedule appointments with various academic advisors across campus through Jayhawk GPS or by emailing the advisor directly.
What is happening for the Summer semester?
For now, the University is considering plans for summer. This is a rapidly evolving situation and decisions may be made very soon. Please continue to monitor your university emails and check the KU Webpage site often.


Important - Accessing KU Systems outside of Lawrence:

  • Internet access (e.g. Blackboard, Skype, Zoom): In order to continue your courses, you will need reliable internet access.  Reliable internet access is guaranteed in Lawrence. If you are leaving Lawrence, you should ensure that you are able to access the online programs necessary to continue your program
    • Note: We are getting reports that students in China are having difficulty accessing Skype and Zoom for lectures and other course content

Q: If I am supposed to graduate May 2020 can I go home and still graduate?

A: Yes. As long as you finish all the remaining classes and degree requirements you can still graduate in May even if you return home. If you want to return to apply for OPT, you would need to return to the U.S. by mid-May.

Practice Tips:

  • Submit the following e-form in iHawk:
    • “COVID-19 Leaving U.S. for Remainder of Spring 2020”
    • Under both F-1 Student Services and J-1 Student Services
  • For a fee, you can request to have your diploma mailed overseas.

Q: How long can I stay outside the U.S. as an F-1 student?

A: As of March 23, SEVP is saying you can continue to stay outside the U.S. during the emergency COVID-19 situation and maintain your F-1 status as long as you continue to pursue a full course of study and make normal progress.

Q: Will my F-1 I-20 and SEVIS record be terminated if I leave the U.S. right now during Spring semester?

A: No. As long as you continue to pursue a full course of study and complete your courses, your F-1 SEVIS record will remain active for Spring 2020. Don’t’ forget to submit the COVID-19 Leaving U.S. form in iHawk under both F-1 Student Services and J-1 Student Services.

Q: Can I remain outside the U.S. more than 5 months and maintain my status?

A: As of 4:00pm March 23, SEVP announced the 5 month rule will not apply if you continue to pursue a full course of study and make normal progress.  Normally, F-1 students are not allowed to maintain their F-1 status if they are outside the U.S. more than 5 months.  See Question 1 on SEVP’s Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19.

Q: If I leave the U.S. can I get a partial refund for my KU student health insurance plan for Spring 2020?

A:  No.  The KU Student Health insurance plan will still cover you overseas, but you will be subject to out-of-network reimbursements.

Q: If I leave the U.S., when can I return?

A: A clear answer cannot be provided at this time because there are too many unknowns. Factors you will need to consider:

  • Ability to get a return flight
    • Many airlines have significantly reduced flight options, especially internationally and many travel restrictions have been implemented.
  • Expired visa
  • Negative COVID-19 test results
    • We have heard some reports of negative tests results for COVID19 being required before travel is being allowed.

Is your question not listed here?  Email ISS with your question.  


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