Your Spring Break & Summer Travel Plans

Dear F-1 and J-1 students,

As COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread across borders, many countries and airlines are posting travel warnings and restrictions. The Office of the Chancellor recently sent an email to UW-Madison students regarding spring break travel. We wanted to provide you with additional guidance if you are planning to travel over spring break or this summer.

  • Reevaluate any non-essential travel plans. As the situation rapidly evolves, you could find yourself unable to return to the U.S. to continue your studies. Your full-time enrollment or approved ISS Reduced Course Load (RCL) is still required. There are no current U.S. policy updates.
  • Prepare for U.S. embassy and consulate closures. If your current F-1 or J-1 visa will be expired when you intend to reenter the U.S., you may not be able to properly apply for a valid visa to return.
  • Follow UW-Madison travel policies if your travel is sponsored by the university.
  • Purchase adequate travel insurance if you do choose to travel inside or outside of the U.S. Not all travel insurance policies cover cancellations for global pandemics, so it is important to read the coverage policy before you make a purchase.
  • Frequently review any travel warnings or restrictions posted by your home country, your destination country, your transit country, and the U.S. Be flexible and have a backup plan.
  • Always travel with your valid immigration documents. You should carry these documents with you when you travel inside or outside of the U.S. Be prepared to prove your travel history to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon reentry to the U.S.
  • Update your travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019 if you do plan to travel internationally. ISS will hold an express travel signature event on Tuesday, March 10, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you are completing your program of study at the end of this semester, it is important to review your immigration options now. There are no current U.S. policy updates to allow for an extended grace period. If you are unable to depart the U.S. due to ongoing travel restrictions, ISS recommends one of the following options:

  1. Apply for post-completion OPT (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1).
  2. Gain full admission to another degree or non-degree program at UW-Madison or another U.S. institution.
    1. Classes must begin within 5 months of your I-20/DS-2019 program end date or EAD card end date
      1. If the new program is at UW-Madison, you must submit your Change of Level request in Terra Dotta before your grace period ends.
      2. If the new program is at another U.S. institution, you must submit your Transfer-out request in Terra Dotta before your grace period ends.
  3. Apply for a change of U.S. visa status – you should consult an immigration attorney.

Your personal health, well-being, and academic success are important to us. We are working closely with campus partners to respond to the situation and to provide you with important updates. Whether these circumstances have a direct impact on you or someone you know, UW-Madison is here to support you. We encourage you to contact ISS, the Dean of Students Office, or UHS with any questions and concerns. You can monitor university updates on both the UHS and ISS websites.

In support,

International Student Services