Fall 2021 Enrollment & Summer Travel Guidance

Dear Student,

We are hopeful that UW-Madison’s return to in-person study and services for Fall 2021 will happen as planned. We know that there are still many concerns about international travel, health and safety in the U.S., visa acquisition, and F-1 student enrollment flexibility. The information provided in this email is what we know now. We will update our COVID FAQ page and email you with updates throughout the summer.

Complete your Fall 2021 Enrollment & Travel Plan 

Your responses are important for ISS and campus leaders to plan for fall semester and advocate on your behalf. Be as accurate as you can and update your plans in Terra Dotta as they change.


You can find your enrollment date and time in your MyUW Course Search & Enroll App. Contact your academic or faculty advisor if you have questions about courses or degree requirements.

Full-time enrollment or approved ISS Reduced Course Load (RCL) is required for your F-1 immigration status. We anticipate a return to pre-COVID regulations, which requires in-person course enrollment and no more than three online credits.

  • Undergraduate students: minimum 12 credits; minimum 9 credits “in-person”
  • Graduate students: minimum 8 credits; minimum 5 credits “in-person”
  • Graduate TA/PA 33%: minimum 6 credits; minimum 3 credits “in-person”
  • Graduate TA/PA 50%: minimum 4 credits; minimum 1 credit “in-person”
  • Graduate RA 33%-50%: minimum 8 credits; minimum 5 credits “in-person”
  • Dissertator: minimum 3 credits; minimum 3 credits “in-person”

If you are not eligible to enroll, you must apply for re-entry admission. You will receive a new immigration document to return to the U.S. and UW-Madison for full-time enrollment.


Global travel advisories and restrictions change frequently. Check U.S. Centers for Disease Control global travel advisories and your airline for updates. You must carry your important travel documents and proof of in-person enrollment.

Please read our post about COVID-Related Travel Restrictions & National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for updated information (5/4/21). Currently, if a student is physically present in one of the following countries 14 days before travel to the U.S., they may not be able to enter the U.S.: Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, Schengen area (Europe), United Kingdom, and South Africa. We do not recommend that you travel to a third country to quarantine because of how quickly restrictions change.

Your I-20 & Travel Signature

Travel with your most recent I-20 and check your travel signature expiration. Need an updated signature? Submit your I-20 Reprint Request in Terra Dotta!

Electronic I-20s are acceptable for visa applications and travel to the U.S., per Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance.

F-1 Visa

Your F-1 visa stamp must be valid at the time you enter the U.S. If your visa will be expired when you plan to enter the U.S., apply for your F-1 visa stamp, unless you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda. Visa interviews are not required if you have an F-1 visa that expired in the last 48 months.

U.S. visa services remain closed in many countries. Each U.S. embassy and consulate will announce resumption of visa services on their website. We are closely monitoring updates and actively advocating for flexibility.

The earliest date a visa can be issued to an F-1 student with an Initial Attendance I-20 is May 11, 2021 – 120 days before the Fall 2021 start date.

Entry to the U.S. 

The earliest date an F-1 student with an Initial Attendance I-20  can enter the U.S. is August 9, 2021. This is 30 days before the Fall 2021 start date. You must complete International Student Orientation (ISO) & ISS Check-in by September 8, 2021. You will receive our New Student Newsletter series beginning in June with more details.

More Information

We will email you with additional information and an invitation to learn more about Fall 2021 enrollment once we have more details about campus plans and federal immigration guidance. Review our COVID FAQs, News, and Events pages for updates. We look forward to welcoming you (back) to campus for Fall 2021!

Best wishes,

International Student Services