Interim ISS Director Updates Related to COVID-19

Dear Students,

I am writing to provide you with updates related to COVID-19 and additional detail on the latest university decisions. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and International Student Services (ISS) is working closely with campus partners to ensure that the needs of international students are addressed.

Enrollment & Immigration Status
The move to online instruction March 23 to at least April 10 will not impact your F1/J1 student visa status. You are expected to remain enrolled full time or have an approved ISS Reduced Course Load (RCL) and to fully participate in your courses beginning March 23 after spring break. If you will complete your academic program from outside the U.S., you must complete the ISS Leave of Absence form in your Terra Dotta portal. Your F1/J1 student visa status cannot remain in active status.

Decisions on returning to face-to-face instruction will be made by April 6 and communicated to students. Please watch for further campus communication on this after spring break and be prepared to return for in-person classes beginning April 13.  At this point, guidance from the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) requires ISS to terminate your I-20/DS-2019 immigration document if you choose not to return for in-person class instruction.

We strongly recommend you postpone or cancel any nonessential travel to areas with community transmission of coronavirus. This includes both international travel to Level 2 and 3 countries with widespread illness and domestic travel to states with community transmission. If you do travel to one of these locations, you will need to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days upon return to Madison. This may have a significant impact on your F1/J1 student visa status.

The U.S. Presidential Proclamation on travel of immigrant and non-immigrant travelers into the U.S. now includes travel restrictions for 28 countries. The countries include mainland China, Iran, and 26 European states in the Schengen area. Travelers on F-1 and J-1 student visas who have been in one of these countries in the past 14 days are restricted from entering the U.S. If you are currently in the Schengen area, the travel restriction begins at 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Friday, March 13.

Additional travel restrictions may be announced on very short notice. Again, we strongly encourage you to reconsider any non-essential travel plans outside of Madison to protect your F1/J1 student visa status and ability to complete your academic semester.

If you live in a residence hall on campus, you may remain in your residence hall. You must submit an accommodation request to Housing.

If you live in University Apartments, including Eagle Heights, you may remain in your apartment. You do not need to submit a request to remain in your apartment.

If you live off campus, you may remain in your off-campus residence. Remember that your lease is a legally binding contract, and you will need to work directly with your leasing office, landlord, or property manager for any off-campus housing questions.

Student Employment
Student employees who do not live in a residence hall may continue to work their campus jobs even after Spring Break as long as regular employment operations on campus remain in effect. Students who have been approved to stay in the residence halls may continue to work their campus jobs even after Spring Break as long as regular employment operations on campus remain in effect. Students who live in the residence halls and are not returning to campus before April 13 will not be disciplined or terminated from their student employment for being unable to work during this time period, but they will not be paid for not working. Supervisors may offer remote work options to their student employees if their positions are such that they may qualify for remote work options. All student employees should consult their supervisors for more information.

Financial Resources
ISS offers up to $5,000 in long-term loans. Students in need of financial assistance should make a phone appointment with ISS in your Terra Dotta portal.

Safety & Well-being
We know this is a difficult and uncertain time. Your health, safety, and well-being are very important to us. If you are feeling anxious, need assistance, or simply have questions you need answered, please reach out to University Health ServicesDean of Students Office, or ISS staff. ISS will remain open during spring break and available for online services through your Terra Dotta portal and by email at We are here to support you.

In support,
Samantha McCabe
Interim Assistant Dean/Director