Updates - Coastal Carolina University
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COVID-19: Information for International Students

We are monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and will post information specifically relevant to international students on this page.

The university will continue to update the COVID-19 Information and Resources Page as information becomes available.   

Remember to check your Coastal email often as this is how all faculty and staff will communicate with you. 

Access to Staff

Most university staff are not working in their offices during this time.  The Center for Global Engagement staff have not been in our offices on campus, but we are continuing to work from home through July.  You can contact us by email or phone.  We can also make an appointment to speak via MS Teams chat or video chat (available in Office 365) or ZOOM.  We should be returning to our offices on August 3, 2020, but we recommend you make an appointment if you want to schedule an in-person meeting.

Communication

We are monitoring updates from the various U.S. government agencies.  We are sending weekly updates by email. 

Email to Students 07/16/2020

Email to Students 07/23/2020

Email to Students 07/30/2020

Email to Students 08/06/2020 

Semester Dates

All Coastal Carolina students, faculty, staff, and families are encouraged to regularly check the Coastal Comeback Plan website for the latest information on the reopening of campus.

On July 23, 2020, Coastal Carolina University announced that the Fall 2020 semester will begin ONLINE on August 19 and transition to regular classes presented in a hybrid model (face-to-face and online) on September 8. It is important to know that this date can continue to be adjusted. 

On-campus instruction will continue through November 20. Instruction will resume in the online environment from November 30, through December 4.

Classes will resume on campus for the Spring 2021 semester, with the first day of classes scheduled for Monday, January 11, 2021.

Travel

We understand that some students have gone home to their countries. Please be aware that you need to have a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 to gain reentry to the U.S. You should always get your documents signed before you leave the country. If you are outside the country and need a travel signature, email internationalservices@coastal.edu for assistance. If you have any questions about whether your documents are still valid, you can email us for verification. You will be able to maintain your legal status if you depart, but you should plan to return to the U.S. when standard classes resume. If you encounter challenges coming back to campus are not able to return, please contact us and we will work with you to determine your options.

There are currently many travel restrictions.  Students who have been in certain countries during the previous 14 days may not enter the United States. Please monitor the CDC website for current information. 

Last week, the U.S. Department of State released guidance on National Interest Exception (NIE) waivers.  F-1 students in the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, or Ireland can enter the U.S. without requesting a national interest exception.  J-1 students from these areas must submit a request at their nearest U.S. Embassy.  Students traveling on a NIE waiver must fly into one of 15 specifically designated airports.  We recommend you carry a copy of the U.S. Department of State guidance with you when you travel.  If you have any questions, please contact the U.S. Embassy in your country.  You can also contact the airline or the Customs and Border Protection office where you will enter the U.S. for additional confirmation.

For a link to the COVID-19 information for the U.S. Embassy in your country, visit this site:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

Maintaining F-1 and J-1 Visa Status

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) made special provisions to allow F-1 and J-1 students to maintain an active SEVIS record while completing coursework in an online format in the spring and summer semesters.  This meant that while the university was teaching classes in an online format, students were able to maintain their active F-1 or J-1 student visa status as long as they were enrolled full-time and actively participating in their classes.  The U.S. government issued guidance on July 6, 2020, that stated that students that were in online schedules would have to leave the U.S. and that we would have to issue updated I-20s for all F-1 students.  On July 14, 2020, that guidance was rescinded.  We will not be issuing updated I-20s.  Students who are in online schedules will be able to maintain their visa status.

Normally, F-1 and J-1 students must be physically present and meet full-time enrollment requirements.  Undergraduate students are required to be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours with at least 9 of those being traditional face-to-face classes. Graduate students are required to be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credit hours with at least 6 of those being traditional face-to-face classes.  Hybrid and Flex classes are counted as traditional face-to-face classes.  Distance Learning (DL) classes are not. 

In the fall, we will be operating in a hybrid format.  This means that your classes may be a combination of in-person meetings and online meetings and assignments.  It also means that your enrollment requirements that usually include a majority of in-person classes will be different.  You may have a lot of online work with only minimal face-to-face presence in the classroom.  This may be different for every class and for every student depending on their schedules.  

There will be options to allow you to maintain your enrollment requirements.  If your classes are converted to online prior to the start of the semester, we recommend that you work with your academic advisor to find alternate face-to-face classes.  Flex and hybrid classes will count toward your face-to-face enrollment requirements.  If you cannot find enough classes to meet the enrollment requirements of your visa or if classes are converted to an online format during the semester, we will work with you to find a way to meet your requirements.  One possible way to is participate in synchronous distance learning classes in a monitored setting.    

When to Arrive 

New students can enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date on their I-20.  New students that recieved an I-20 with a start date in August received an updated I-20 with a start date of September 1, 2020.  We  recommend new students to arrive the week before in-person classes begin on September 8 to allow time to get moved in, adjusted, and complete International Orientation and SEVIS check-in procedures.  Continuing students must arrive before in-person classes start on September 8. If you cannot get to campus by September 8, 2020, please contact internationalservices@coastal.edu to discuss your options. 

Problems Coming to Campus in the Fall Semester

U.S. Embassies are opening and starting to issue visas again.  There may be a delay in getting a visa appointment, though.  If you are unable to get a visa, you may not be able to come to campus in the fall semester.  There are also some travel restrictions in place that prevent people who have been in certain countries during the previous 14 days from entering the U.S. For information, please visit the CDC website. Another resource that may be helpful is the International Air Transport Association.

If you cannot enter the U.S. to come to campus for the fall semester, you have some options.  

OPTION 1:  If you will take online classes, please submit a COVID-19 Adjustment Request Form.  The most recent guidance from SEVP allows continuing students to maintain their visa status while participating in an online schedule from home.  Please contact our office as well so we can advise you on your options as it relates to your student visa status.

OPTION 2:  If you will not take any classes in the fall semester, you can submit a Hiatus Status Request Form. This will keep your student status active so that you can enroll in spring 2021 classes without applying to be readmitted. We will have to terminate your F-1 or J-1 status. There is an authorized withdrawal termination that is not a bad thing and does not have negative effects on future visa applications. We will ask for a copy of your flight itinerary or your I-94 that shows you left the U.S.  We can issue you a new I-20 or DS-2019 for the spring semester. If you have a valid visa from your previous record, you will still be able to use it to enter the U.S. with the new I-20 or DS-2019. You will have to pay a new I-901 SEVIS fee for the new record. 

New Students: If you are not able to enter the U.S., we will have to defer your I-20 or DS-2019 to start in January.  You can still take online classes in the fall if you wish.  Your SEVIS ID will remain the same so you will not have to pay an additional I-901 SEVIS fee if you have already paid one. 

If you have a newly transferred SEVIS record, we cannot register your record if you are not physically present in the U.S.  However, we can leave your record in Initial status and request a data fix to activate it when you are able to come to campus.

Continuing Students: If you are not able to enter the U.S., we will be able to keep your status active if you are enrolled full-time online in the fall semester.  If you are not enrolled full-time in the fall semester, we will have to terminate your F-1 or J-1 status.  We can either reactive your status or issue you a new I-20 or DS-2019 for the spring semester depending on your specific circumstances.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR F-1 STUDENTS: A new I-20 could affect your eligibility for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). You must be in active F-1 status for one academic year for both CPT and OPT. If you start on a new initial I-20 in the spring, you will be eligible for CPT or OPT after the fall 2021 semester.   

Scholarships

There are many types of scholarships and waivers. If you have any questions about your personal situation and how your enrollment will affect it, please contact the department that issued your award. If you do not know who to contact, email internationalservices@coastal.edu for more information.

Class Participation

If you are maintaining your status while in an entirely online schedule, you must log into Moodle regularly to participate in your classes and submit your work. If you do not log into every class in Moodle and actively participate in all of your classes, you may be withdrawn from classes and your legal status could be in jeaopardy.   

Health Information

While in the U.S., you are covered by your individual health insurance plans. If you develop flu-like symptoms, please call Student Health Services at 843-349-6543. Your insurance company should cover any medically necessary testing or treatment according to your plan benefits. Please refer to the CDC for more information. 

Bill Payment Issues Related to International Transfers

If you are having trouble getting money transferred from your banks at home, Student Accounts should be able to work with you to make arrangements for a late payment on your student account. If you have questions about this, please contact Student Accounts.

Filing 2019 Income Taxes 

With social distancing being encouraged to fight COVID-19, we will not be having the tax sessions as done in year's past. The University is still willing to help during tax time, but on a more remote platform. File your return using Sprintax and use the promo code SpX19CCU51F. Contact Daniel Rabon for help with this process.

Tax FAQs

What all information do I need to file my tax return?

In addition to all tax forms provided to you, you will need your VISA, passport, travel records, ITIN or SSN.

Where can I get my travel history for 2019?

Go the following website to get times you were in and out of the: US. https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home 

What tax forms might I have from 2019?

You may have none or all of these depending on if you worked during calendar your 2019:

  • W-2 - form to show wages earned from an employer. If you worked on campus, you can retrieve your W-2 on Webadvisor.
  • 1099-MISC - form usually received if you worked a short term summer camp.
  • 1042-S - form that reports scholarship amounts received beyond qualified tuition and fees. Room and board, housing, and meal plans are not qualified fees. 
What if I don't have a ITIN or SSN and need to file a tax return?

Please email Daniel Rabon immediately so an application can be started since you will need an US identification number before you can file a tax return. 

What if I had no form of income...do I still have to file a return?

To meet your VISA requirements, you will still need to complete Form 8843 which the promo code about will waive the cost of filing.

Who can I talk to if I have questions during or after I complete my tax return?

Daniel Rabon will serve as your resource during this time. Once you have completed your tax return, you will need to email Daniel Rabon for further instructions since a copy of your completed tax return needs to be mailed to the IRS.