F-1 and J-1 Regulations


Who needs a visa?

I-20s (F-1 Degree-Seeking Students)

Enrollment Requirements

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Work Authorization  

Health Insurance

University Services

Mental Health Resources 

UP Beacon Resources for Students

Additional Reliable Sources of Information


F-1 and J-1 Regulations

Please review the requirements to maintain F-1 or J-1 status which can be found through our Maintaining Status page. 

Even during this temporary period of online instruction, international students must still meet reporting and enrollment requirements as required by US federal regulations. International students will be able to maintain their student visa status while taking full-time online classes. SEVIS records will remain in active status as long as you remain enrolled in your courses and make normal progress. As a reminder, students may remain in the US with an expired F-1 or J-1 visa as long as they maintain their immigration status with a valid I-20 or DS-2019 and meet normal enrollment requirements.

J-1 Visa Holders: Visit the Department of State site for up to date Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program Information on Coronavirus.

F-1 Visa Holders: Due to COVID-19, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will allow Designated School Officials (DSOs/international student advisors) to electronically sign and send Forms I-20 to students by email. Only a Designated School Official may issue the electronic I-20 and add the electronic signature. If you need an updated Form I-20 or a new travel signature in your existing I-20, please call, text, or email our ISS staff. This will likely be a temporary allowance during the period of COVID-19 concern.

Updated May 27, 2020


In general, there are no changes to F-1 or J-1 travel regulations and documents required for entry to the U.S. Please review the requirements to maintain status which can be found here.

Any international or domestic travel should be taken with caution, and after checking for any developments of travel restrictions for both the country/area being traveled to, and where you are traveling from. Please review the visa and I-20/DS-2019 information below.

Students who are abroad will also have to consider flight and travel restrictions within their country of origin. Some countries have restricted flights and travel, so students may need to explore options and possibly travel to a nearby country that is offering flights. The conditions are dynamic and changing by the day with some countries adding restrictions and others easing them. Students should be prepared for interruptions, unanticipated delays, and the need to quarantine, and should follow the advice and directives of local authorities in the states and countries to which they are traveling.

Web resources with information about flight and travel restrictions:

Regarding entry to the United States:

Regarding global travel restrictions:

For those of you planning on returning home soon please contact Gwen or Mike for advising.

5-Month Rule (temporary absence from the U.S.)

International students that departed the U.S. in the spring will not be subject to the 5-month rule for the Fall 2020 return, as long as they maintained their F-1 status and kept full-time enrollment through the spring semester. The advice from Immigration and Customs Enforcement is explained in the FAQ for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19 (page 2, question 1). Students planning to take a vacation term, or less than full-time enrollment in upcoming terms (Summer 2020, Fall 2020) should contact International Student Services


The U.S. has restarted visa services though appointment capacity is still limited and wait times may be longer than usual.. UP International Student Services will continue monitoring updates from the CDC, SEVP, USCIS, and the U.S. Department of State, as well as updates from NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the leading professional organization dedicated to international education and exchange, which is providing comprehensive and up-to-date information relevant to travel, consulates, and visas

Students unable to arrive on-campus due to delayed visa issuance will be allowed to attend classes virtually for the fall 2020 semester.

Updated September 27, 2021

Who needs a visa?

Canadian passport holders: A visa is not required, students should carry a valid passport and the I-20 or DS-2019 for travel to the U.S.

New Initial Admits: This includes new international students who are not in the U.S. and are not a SEVIS Transfer. Students will need to apply for and receive an F-1 student visa (degree-seeking student) or a J-1 exchange visitor visa (short-term exchange) before entering the U.S.

SEVIS Transfer Admits: Students that have been studying in the U.S. and have an active SEVIS record to transfer to UP. If a transfer student is within the U.S., we recommend not departing the U.S. to guarantee that you can be in Portland for the Fall semester. SEVIS transfers outside of the U.S. should check to see if they have a valid U.S. Visa. If the visa is valid you can use it to enter the U.S. with the UP I-20 or DS-2019s. Students can read more about the SEVIS transfer process on the ISS webpage.

Continuing UP students:

Continuing students who are OUTSIDE the U.S. should check your passport for an F-1 or J-1 visa in your passport that will be valid at the time of entry into the U.S. If it is valid, you will not need a new visa.

Continuing students WITHIN the U.S. should not depart the U.S. to guarantee that you may be here for the Fall semester.

All students who need a visa: For any of the students above, the process for applying for a new visa is the same. Students should first contact their nearest U.S. embassy/consulate and try to book a visa appointment. Most U.S. Consulates are closed but are still allowing students to book appointments later in the Summer. If the student cannot book an appointment they should contact their U.S. consulate within 4 weeks of their I-20/DS-2019 start date and request an emergency appointment. They can also apply as a third country national in another country if accessible.

Updated May 27, 2020

I-20s (F-1 Degree-Seeking Students)

New Initial Admits: Students will need an I-20 in their possession for travel to the U.S. If you have not received the UP I-20 by June 15 please contact This I-20 does not need a travel signature on page 2.

SEVIS Transfer Admits: SEVIS transfer students should contact your current institution to make sure your SEVIS record is transferred, or will be transferred, at the end of your current program. You will need to provide your current school with the UP admission letter in order to request a transfer. Students should use their new transfer I-20 from UP to reenter the U.S. if abroad. This I-20 does not need a travel signature on page 2. For questions about the transfer UP I-20 contact

Continuing students: Continuing students need their most recent UP I-20 with a valid travel signature to return to UP. This travel signature is good for one year from the date of the most recent signature on page 2 of the I-20. For questions about continuing I-20, visa or travel, please contact

DS-2019s (J-1 Exchange Visitors)

Initial Exchange Students: Students will need a DS-2019 in their possession for travel to the U.S. If you have not received the UP DS-2019 by June 15 please contact

Continuing students: Continuing students need their most recent UP DS-2019 with a valid travel endorsement to return to UP. This travel signature is good for six months from the date of the most recent signature in the lower right corner on page 1 of the DS-2019. For questions about continuing DS-2019s, visa or travel, please contact

Updated May 27, 2020

Enrollment Requirements

At this time, there are no changes to the F-1 enrollment requirements.

F-1 students must complete 2 consecutive semesters of full-time enrollment before taking a vacation term, or before requesting authorization from the ISS to work off campus.

If you need to reduce your course load below full time (12 credits for undergraduates and 9 for graduates) for any reason, you are required to fill out and sign a "Reduced Course Load Request Form." Consult with an ISS advisor before reducing your course load. The only exceptions to a full course of study include: annual vacation, documented medical problem, academic difficulty, concurrent enrollment and last semester.

In a regular full-time semester, students can take a maximum of one online class in addition to their other classes. Hybrid classes are NOT considered to be online classes.

For this current semester, there is NOT a problem with regular coursework being temporarily converted to online coursework for the safety of the community.  You can view the SEVP government update provided to NAFSA through the NAFSA announcement here.

For continued updates and resources compiled by NAFSA visit this page.

As we look ahead to next semester, please enroll in desired coursework as usual, following F-1 regulations. If the usual operations of campus remain impacted next semester, Fall 2020, we’ll have updated options before that time from the University and from other appropriate government agencies.

Updated May 27, 2020

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Work Authorization  

If your program end date will be in May 2020 or August 2020, and you are planning on applying for OPT, be advised that The I-765 form also requires a mailing address in the U.S., to which USCIS will mail your EAD as well as any correspondence. You may coordinate with ISS to submit your documents from in the U.S., but it has risks, please read below.

Please read the following 3 scenarios carefully:

  1.  If you have already applied for OPT, you can depart the U.S. while your OPT application is pending. However, there are some risks associated with this option.  Any OPT-related mail will be sent to the mailing address in the U.S. that you listed on the I-765 application. If no one will be at that address to receive your mail, you will need to choose another mailing address in the U.S. and report it to USCIS following their instructions: USCIS mail may include your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or a Request for Further Evidence (RFE). RFEs are time-sensitive and if you do not respond in a timely manner your OPT benefit may be denied. Students may use the International Student Services mailing address at University of Portland. We will do our best to check and process mail on a weekly basis, but due to local government social distancing restrictions, we cannot guarantee that mail will continue to be processed in a timely manner. If your OPT is approved while you are outside of the U.S., you will need to have your OPT EAD in hand before returning to the U.S. If your OPT is still pending during your grace period (60 days following I-20 program end date), you might not be allowed to return to the U.S. until your OPT is approved. For students with expired visas, please note that U.S. Consulates and Embassies around the world have paused visa services due to COVID-19 concerns, please check your home country for updates on when visa services will return to regular processing.
  2. If you are still residing in the U.S. and planning on applying for OPT, you should apply before departing the U.S.. Then refer to Scenario 1 above regarding travel.                      
  3. If this is your final semester and you have already departed the U.S. without applying for OPT, at this time, you should return to the U.S. before your program end date (August 6 for summer graduates) in order to apply for OPT benefits. USCIS requires that students apply for OPT from within the U.S. Given the current travel restrictions, this might not be possible and you might be forfeiting your OPT benefit. Please first schedule a virtual OPT advising meeting with ISS if you are interested in this option.

 Updated May 27, 2020

Health Insurance

It is important now more than ever to maintain health insurance.

The University’s Student Health Insurance, PacificSource, has eliminated copays, deductibles, and co-insurance when provided “in-network” for COVID-19 related testing and office visits.

For students who do not have the University insurance plan, please contact your insurance provider directly to determine costs. Students can generally find the contact information on the backside of their health insurance card. For non-UP providers: watch for messaging around new protocols, or contact them directly if you have questions on where and how to access care.

Any student, regardless of insurance plan, may also utilize UP's Health and Counseling Center services, including covid testing.

September 27, 2021


University Services

International Student Services Office Hours:

8:30 am - 4:30 pm M-F in BC 114

Rebecca Seibert 

Michael Pelley 

We are still taking appointments online. Visit our contact page for options - We can talk on the phone, video chat, or meet in person.

Other UP offices are similarly available to meet virtually when requested. Find their sites through the UP directory to find links to make appointments and find out how they shifted their services online.

Updated September 27, 2021

Mental Health Resources 

Emotional distress and domestic turmoil can get worse during isolation and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please take good care of yourself and each other during these turbulent times.

Please click on the links below (underscored in blue) if you would like to visit the website to learn more about the services listed.

If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911.

Emotional Distress

 The Health and Counseling Center (HCC)

  • All appointments are now phone visits for (Health and) Counseling Services. To schedule an appointment, please call the Health and Counseling Center at 503-943-7134. They are still open normal hours on Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 PM. Send an email with questions to or visit their website for more
  • To speak to a ProtoCall counselor after-hours, please call the number above and choose Option 3.

International mental health services

Lines for Life This hotline is anyone in emotional distress who seeks someone to talk to. Please follow link to find other hotlines for peer youth support, senior loneliness, alcohol and drug issues, and

Crisis Text Line  Text “HOME” or “START” to 741-741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. You can also reach them on Facebook Messenger.

The Trevor Project 24/7 help for those a part of the LGBTQ+ community

  • TrevorLifeline: Call 1-866-488-7386; TrevorText: Text START to 678-678
  • (Please see website details about TrevorChat for computer communication and TrevorSpace for social networking)

Domestic or Sexual Violence


Many face-to-face psychotherapists are now offering teletherapy by chat, video, or phone to existing clients. If you are looking for new counselor, please find some resources below.

Psychology Today now has an easy way to find counselors that do online/phone counseling

BetterHelp and TalkSpace were established to provide online professional counseling

The Active Minds club is open to all and meeting virtually every Wednesday at 7:15 pm.

Compiled by UP’s Academic Mental Health Network. Please email with any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

 Updated May 27, 2020

UP Beacon Resources for Students

The UP Beacon student reporters have compiled information and resources for fellow students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. All updates can be found at the CoronaVirus Section Page. For students remaining in Portland, we recommend that you browse their article of local resources for storage options, food delivery, and academic support.

Updated May 27, 2020

Additional Reliable Sources of Information

University of Portland




Updated May 27, 2020