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University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, California 95211

COVID-19 Updates

While the COVID-19 outbreak has affected the entire Pacific Community, this situation has proven particularly challenging for our international students.  Pacific’s International Programs and Services has therefore created this webpage to provide answers to commonly asked questions as well as links to additional resources. 

Policy Update

On 06 July 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced new guidelines for international students and Fall 2020 enrollments.  As a results of the imposed  limitiations, states and universities launched legal action.  University of the Pacific joined a coalition of 20 universities to sue the federal government.  Read here to learn more. 

On 14 July 2020, the District Court of Massachusetts announced that the US government is recinding its 06 July 2020 guidance and returning to the more flexible policy of 09 March 2020 and 13 March 2020.


IPS has collected a number of frequently asked questions (FAQs) below.


Q: What is a travel ban?

A: A travel ban is the suspension of entry into a country of certain individuals.  Due to COVID-19 the U.S. issued travel bans for any individual, with few exceptions, who, in the 14 days prior to arriving in the United States, was physically present in the following countries or regions: Brazil,  China, Iran, Ireland, the  Schengen Area (which consists of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), and the United Kingdom.

Travel ban excemptions: The Department of State has announced that the "National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Irelandremains in effect, allowing F-1 students from this region an automatic national interest exemption.

Q: Is travel allowed between my home country and the U.S.?

A: Travel restrictions can change quickly and regularly.  For up-to-date information, please familiarize yourself with COVID-19 related information issued by your home country.  Additionally, the U.S. Department of State has limited country specific information.

Q: What do I do if my program is ending but I cannot secure a flight home?

A: Start by contacting your nearest consulate or embassy for support and information regarding your situation.  Then email the international office for your campus (see below), so that an advisor can suggestion options for your particular situation, some of which include: continuing studies in the U.S., requesting post-completion OPT, or changing status to that of a tourist.  Visit USCIS for additional information. 

Q: I will be outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months. Will I have any problems re-entering the U.S.?

A: The Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program has stated that students, having been outside of the U.S., for more than 5 months, can reenter the country as long as they have maintained their immigration status and possess a valid, unexpired visa.

Should you be overseas and find yourself unable to return U.S. to resume your studies, please email the international office for your campus (see below) and your academic advisor.

Q: Can I travel back home for a short visit for personal reasons?

A: Due to the complexity of the frequently changing travel restrictions, Pacific advises students, faculty and staff who are planning non-essential international travel to reconsider their plans. We understand emergencies may arise, so we recommend you contact IPS for further instructions. With guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Pacific has also implemented re-entry protocols for anyone who has traveled internationally as they return to campus.

I-20 Updates 

Q: How can I obtain a travel signature?

A: Due to the impact of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID- 19), the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program has allowed IPS’ Designated School Officials (DSOs) to print, sign, and send your Form I-20 digitally.

This permission is temporary and due to COVID-19.  Remember to print your entire I-20 and be ready to present it along with your passport at the port of entry when you return to the U.S.

For most students, the digital travel signature is valid for 12 months; if you are on Optional Practical Training, the travel signature is valid for 6 months.  

Q: What should I do if I need more time beyond the program end date on my I-20 to complete my degree?

A: Please fill out the Program Extension Request Form, scan, and e-mail it to international office for your campus (see below).

Q: What should I do if my visa is expiring?

A: If you are in the U.S. with a valid I-20 and passport, no action is needed.  The visa must be valid to enter the country. 

Q: Can I receive my I-20 digitally?

A: Yes.  Due to the impact of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID- 19), the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program has temporarily allowed Designated School Officials to print, sign, and send your Form I-20 digitally.


Q: Can I still apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical training (OPT)?

 A: Yes, although IPS staff are currently working remotely, we can still process your requests.  If you are interested in CPT, please visit IPS’ Canvas course.  If you are interested in OPT, please visit IPS’ Canvas course.  Should you have follow-up questions, though, please contact the international office for your campus (see below).

Q: Does remote instruction impact my eligibility for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training?

A: No, so long as you possess a continued attendance I-20 and have maintained your immigration status.

Q: I am outside the U.S. now, and, if I study fulltime online, does this time count toward the one-year requirement for OPT eligibly? 

A: Yes, students must complete at least two academic semesters in “active” F-1 student status to be eligible for OPT recommendations.  For continuing students in “active” SEVIS status, yes, you can count the online semester toward the OPT requirement.  Make sure to study fulltime though.

Q: Is it allowable for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and OPT STEM Extension employment to be conducted remotely?

A: Yes, remote work is allowed.  All other requirements remain in effect and any reportable changes, addresses and employers for example, must be reported tointernational office for your campus (see below).


Q: I am in a different time zone; so, when are online classes for Fall 2020 held? 

A: Online classes are held synchronously, meaning that faculty will hold classes live in the Pacific time zone.  Should timing be a concern or become an issue, please contact your professor as recordings may be available.  

Q: Will Pacific offer online instruction in Spring 2021?

A: As the current situation is fluid, know that Pacific will continue monitoring and assessing conditions and options regarding Spring 2021.  As information becomes available and updates announced, you will be contacted via email.

Q: If online courses prove too challenging, can I drop it in the middle of term?

A: You can withdraw from courses but please know that your F-1 status will be “terminated’ if you fall below a fulltime course load.  Since SEVP approval is needed to reactivate your record, please contact your international office before withdrawing. 

Q: Since this is my last semester, can I register for less than fulltime?

A:  Yes, but please contact your international office to be apply for a reduced course load.

Q: I am outside the U.S. now; so, if I decide not to take any Fall 2020 classes, what happens to my F-1 status?

A: Your SEVIS record will be “terminated” for authorized early withdraw.  When you decide to come back for Spring 2021 or Fall 2021, please e-mail your international office to inform them that you are planning to return.  A school official will request SEVP to reactivate your record, so please reach out as soon as possible and at least one month before classes start. 

If you are outside the U.S. and have been so for more than 5 months, you may have to apply for a new I-20 with new SEVIS fee.  Please contact your international office for additional information.

Q: Can I take a leave of absence and stay in the U.S.?

A: Unfortunately, no, this results in “unlawful presence,” which has serious immigration implications.

Helpful Links

Please find a number of helpful links below.

University of the Pacific

  • Travel: Port of Entry Letter of Support
  • Pacific's Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage
  • Pacific's Student Health Services

U.S. Government

  • Department of State: Visa News
  • Study in the States COVID-19 Resources
  • White House: Presidential Actions
  • The Centers for Disease Control

Pacific's International Offices

IPS Team, Sacramento
University of the Pacific
McGeorge School of Law
3200 Fifth Avenue
Sacramento, CA    95817
O: 916.739.7019


IPS Team, San Francisco
University of the Pacific
Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry
155 Fifth Street - 4A15
San Francisco, CA    94103
O: 415.929.6404


IPS Team, Stockton
University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA    95211
O: 209.946.2094


UOP International
University of the Pacific 
Stockton Campus
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, California 95211
O: 209.946.3152