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This page contains immigration updates and planning resources relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been issued for the information and benefit of the Tufts international student, scholar, and employee community. This information is regularly updated.

Please note that any questions regarding Tufts University COVID-19 testing and vaccination policies and COVID-19 related resources must be directed to the COVID-19 support team at covid19testing@tufts.edu. See also https://coronavirus.tufts.edu for additional information. Any questions about individual medical conditions relating to COVID-19 or other conditions should be directed to the Student Health Service or your medical care provider. 

Travel Guidance

New Travel Guidance Effective June 12, 2022

  • Effective June 12, 2022 international air travelers to the US are NO LONGER required to show a COVID-19 negative test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19 in order to board their flights: see the Rescission Order
  • However, non-immigrant visa holders are still required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19: see the CDC Order on Vaccination for Air Passengers

The above restrictions apply to all nonimmigrant air travelers, with limited exceptions for certain age groups and categories. For more information and details on these requirements, read the following:

 

Updated January 21, 2022

Effective January 22, 2022, all non-US citizens or permanent residents traveling to the US from Canada or Mexico by land or ferry will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of entry into the US. This applies to travelers coming to the US for both 'essential purposes' (e.g., work or study) as well as non-essential reasons (e.g., tourism).

In addition, NAFSA's Controls at Land Ports of Entry on Canadian and Mexican Borders section of the COVID-19 Restrictions on U.S. Visas and Entry page offers a helpful summary.

Do not travel if you are feeling unwell, or if you have been in close contact within the past 14 days with someone who was or is ill.

Arrival Checklist

  1. If coming to Massachusetts from abroad, research your home country's exit restrictions and guidelines. 
    • Different countries, as well as airlines, have imposed a variety of restrictions and requirements on international travel. Consult with your local health authorities and/or airline for departure requirements.
  2. Review your vaccination requirements.
    • Review the Tufts University vaccination policyTufts strongly encourages you to complete your COVID-19 vaccination in your home country, if possible. If you are unable to get vaccinated in your home country, you should plan on arriving as early as your student visa allows to receive your vaccine in the US. Please go to https://coronavirus.tufts.edu for the latest information about Tufts’s vaccination clinics and other resources for getting vaccinated in the US. Students who are vaccinated should upload their vaccination records into the Tufts Patient Portal. Go to Tufts’s COVID-19 vaccination page for more information.
    • Note: As of 11/8/2201, international air travelers to the US must show to their airline prior to boarding that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a US FDA or WHO EUL-approved vaccine. Go to our COVID-19 information page for details.
  3. If you will be living in a Tufts on-campus residence hall or residential community, check the Office of Residential Life's Move-in Information for arrival dates and times. 
    • Details about the arrival and housing re-opening dates for Spring 2021, will be sent directly to students from the Office of Residential Life.
  4. If flying to the US, obtain COVID-19 test within 3 days prior to your flight. 
    • Per a US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) order issued on January 12, 2021, air passengers must present written evidence to a COVID-19 viral test taken within 3 days before departure.
    • Evidence must show a negative COVID-19 test result or COVID-19 recovery.
    • Review CDC Travel Guidelines here.
  5. If possible, secure a US-ready cell (mobile) phone prior to arriving in the US
    • Cell phones – and smartphones in particular – are now used for multiple purposes including COVID-19 reporting, campus updates, and various campus services; read our Cell Phones web page for options about obtaining a cell phone while in the US
    • If you will be living on-campus and will be using Tufts Dining Services, make sure your iPhone or Android Phone is compatible with the US-based Apple Store or Android Play store; many international apps will not work in the US
  6. Make sure your US immigration arrival documents are valid. For students, documents will include:
    • An unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future
    • A valid F-1 or J-1 visa (exception: Canadian citizens are not required to have visas to enter in F-1 or J-1 status)
    • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (continuing / returning students should have a valid travel signature no more than one year old on the date of return)
    • I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt (F-1 / J-1 visa holders only)
    • Supporting documents such as your Tufts admission letter, financial documents, employment offer from Tufts
  7. Arrange your trip and plan for safe travel to Massachusetts. We recommend arriving at Boston's Logan International Airport if arriving by air.
    • Read and follow travel safety guidelines provided by the CDCWHO, and other sources (e.g., IATA)
    • Be prepared to wear a face mask (as required), follow your airline's physical distancing rules, and engage in other best practices such as frequent hand washing
    • Have US contact information including a phone / address where you will be staying
      • If you are required to quarantine, (see next section), you must either have on-campus housing or a confirmed off-campus location where you will be able to quarantine. Do not expect to arrive in Massachusetts without a location where you will be able to complete your quarantine requirement. Tufts will not be able to provide emergency quarantine housing upon demand.
    • Save the Tufts's Emergency Contact information on your mobile device
  8. If arriving at Boston Logan Airport, research local transportation options
  9.  Comply with quarantine requirements if applicable 
    • Per CDC guidance, non-vaccinated people who have presented a negative COVID-19 test result must quarantine for 7 days upon entering the US.
    • The State of Massachusetts does not require quarantining for travelers with a negative COVID-19 test result but it recommend following the CDC guidance.
    • Massachusetts and Tufts both have quarantine requirements for persons coming from "out of region" areas.
    • Please note that during quarantine you will not be able to go outside to do basic things like shopping, setting up bank or cell phone accounts, or visiting campus offices and locations.
    • Review Tufts's guidelines for coming to campus including additional information about quarantining and testing

Questions?

Academic Enrollment Requirements for International Students

For the 2021-2022 school year, Tufts University continues to operate under a combination of academic requirements involving in-person, hybrid, and remote instruction.

  • In general, all actively enrolled F-1 and J-1 students are required to maintain full-time enrollment defined as 12+ SHUs for undergraduates and 9+ SHUs for graduate and professional students.
  • In addition, F-1 and J-1 students should be enrolled in a minimum of one in-person or hybrid class (i.e., a class that has required in-person components), although individual academic programs may offer or require more in-person classes than this minimum requirement.
    • In limited situations, F-1 students may be permitted to take 100% remote classes, but each case of this nature must be reviewed by an International Center advisor. F-1 students making their initial arrival in the US are not permitted to take 100% remote classes during their initial semester in the US under any circumstances.
    • J-1 students are not permitted to take 100% remote classes under any circumstance, but must always take a minimum of one in-person class.

Spring 2022 Requirements

Requirements to Maintain Valid F-1 Status If You Plan to Be Inside US During Spring 2022 If You Plan to Be Outside US During Spring 2022
Newly Arriving Students

You are a "new student" if you are coming to the US in Spring 2022 on a Tufts I-20 and F-1 / J-1 student visa for the first time, even if you started your Tufts program remotely (outside the US) during a previous term.

  • You must enroll full-time (undergraduates: 12+ credits; graduates: 9+ credits)
  • You must take at least one in-person or hybrid class as reflected in the Student Information System (SIS); you are not eligible to come to the US as an F-1 student if your program is fully online and not offering any in-person classes
  • Student visa requirements will not apply to you, since students do not have student status until they enter the US
Continuing Students & Transfer Students

You are a "continuing" (or transfer") student if you already came to the US in F-1 status during the 2020-2021 academic year (or earlier) and already have active F-1 status based on attendance at Tufts or another school.

  • You must enroll full-time (undergraduates: 12+ credits; graduates: 9+ credits)
  • You should take at least one in-person or hybrid class as reflected in the Student Information System (SIS)
  • If you are inside the US, and cannot take any in-person or hybrid classes, contact the International Center; in limited cases fully remote coursework may be permissible, but should be reviewed by the International Center
  • Contact the International Center with a description of your Spring 2022 plans if you do not intend to be inside the US during the semester
Deferring or Leave of Absence Students
  • This is available only for continuing students who have been granted a medical leave of absence from their school and approved by the International Center for a medical reduced course load
  • Contact the International Center if you have an I-20 from Tufts that begins or includes the Spring 2022 semester, but you do not plan to or cannot come to the US to study for the semester

Q. How will the International Center know what kinds of classes I am taking?

When determining whether or not you are complying with the online / in-person restrictions, the International Center will review official school records, and particularly on how courses are categorized or labeled in the Student Information System (SIS). We will NOT be monitoring the week-to-week activities for each individual course to decide whether it is on-line or in-person, etc. We assume that how a course is labeled in SIS or the equivalent accurately reflects whether the course is on-line, in-person, or hybrid.

While the International Center may review any student's record at any time, it is up to each individual student to ensure that they are meeting the University's policy requiring international students to enroll for a minimum of one in-person or hybrid class.

Q. If my program is 'hybrid' does that mean my classes are 'hybrid'?

No. When a program is described as "hybrid" this means that it is offering a mixture of different types of classes - online, in-person, and hybrid classes. A hybrid class is a class that involves a mixture of online and in-person instructional activities.

Q. Are there classes that are in-person by definition?

As a rule these classes are generally considered in-person because they are primarily self-directed research or learning activities:

  • thesis, capstone, or dissertation credits
  • internship and practicum credits*
  • credits that reflect in-person studio work or lab-based research
  • credits that reflect in-person clinical training or teaching and training in a clinical setting
  • independent study credits
  • physical education credits

*You should review how any internship or practicum credits are labeled in the Student Information System, since that will determine whether the class is hybrid or in-person or virtual. Many internships credits are now being offered only virtually, so the class description may vary.

Employment and Practical Training

Q. What is practical training?

Practical training is a benefit for F-1 students that lets them work in the US to get additional training in their major field of study. There are two main types of practical training: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT). CPT is used during studies for off-campus internship or practicum experiences. While OPT can be used before completing studies, most students use OPT for employment and training after finishing studies (post-completion OPT).

Q. What is the waiting period before I can start working for CPT or OPT?

Both types of practical training - CPT and OPT - require you to have completed at least one academic year (two semesters) of full-time study inside the US before you can start using your CPT or apply for OPT. The only exception to this waiting period requirement is if you are a graduate student and your program requires students to do a mandatory (required) internship or practicum in the first year of physical presence in the US.

Q. What happens if I am studying outside the US for part or all of the year due to COVID-19? How does this affect the waiting period?

Unfortunately, the rules for becoming eligible to do CPT or OPT have not changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under current Department of Homeland Security rules, you must still have studied on a full-time basis inside the US for at least two semesters before you would qualify for CPT or OPT. Therefore:

  • If you started your Tufts program outside the US and have not been in the US previously, you must be able to come to the US and complete two semesters of full-time study (this can include your final semester of study, which does not need to be full-time) in the US before you would be eligible for OPT / CPT.
  • If you were a full-time student inside the US in March 2020 (when the pandemic started), but have since been studying outside of the US on a full-time basis, we can count your semesters of full-time study toward your two semesters of eligibility.
  • If you spend your entire program outside the US, you will not be eligible for practical training since practical training eligibility requires US presence in F-1 status. Note that you are not required to have CPT or OPT eligibility if you are doing an internship or work while outside the US. Practical training is only needed to let you do work-based training while inside the US.

Q. What happens if I take a leave of absence during a semester? How does this affect the waiting period?

A leave of absence (for non-medical reasons) is technically a break in status and may affect your OPT / CPT eligibility. It also requires us to terminate your SEVIS record and I-20, rendering it inactive while you are outside the US during your leave of absence. Your OPT / CPT eligibility will depend on how long you are outside the US. If it is only one semester and you are gone for only five months or less, we will ask the US Department of Homeland Security to consider reactivating your I-20 from 'inactive' to 'active' status. If Homeland Security approves, your previous time in the US will count toward the one year waiting period. If Homeland Security does not approve the request, or if you are outside the US is more than five months, you will need to come back to the US on an initial attendance I-20 and restart the OPT / CPT "clock," which requires two semesters of full-time study. Unfortunately, the International Center is unable to provide any guarantees about how the Department of Homeland Security will process a reactivation request.

Note that this doesn't apply to F-1 students who qualify for a medical leave of absence and are approved by the International Center for a medical reduced course load. In these cases, a medical leave doesn't require departure from the US and you are considered to be maintaining valid F-1 status during that time.

Q. Can I do internships or training outside the US? Do I need to get approval for CPT or OPT approval?

F-1 rules and regulations don't apply outside the US, so you do not need to apply for OPT or CPT if your internship or training experience will be outside the US. However, you should review the exact situation with your International Center advisor and with your internship provider. Depending on the timing and how long you will be gone from the US (or if you will return to the US at all), we may need to give you advice about your enrollment and immigration status. Otherwise, work with your employer about your training experience.

Q. I got an internship but due to COVID-19, the internship had to be canceled. What should I do about my CPT approval?

You do not need CPT if your internship activity has been canceled and will no longer will take place. However, since most students have to register for internship or practicum credit with their Tufts department or program, talk to the program about alternative ways of getting practical, internship experience. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many departments are working with students and faculty to provide alternative learning experiences that can 'substitute' for your original internship or practicum offer.

Q. I am studying outside the US and it will be my final semester. Can I apply for post-completion OPT from my home country?

USCIS application instructions state that you must apply for OPT from inside the US while in F-1 student status. This has not changed during the pandemic. This means that to apply for OPT, you are supposed to do while inside the US in F-1 status.

Q. Due to COVID-19, will the rules on unemployment be relaxed? I know that as an F-1 student on post-completion OPT, I am only given 90 days when I do not have to have any employment. (STEM OPT students are given an additional 60 days of unemployment.)

The Department of Homeland Security has not relaxed the 90-day unemployment rule for standard post-completion OPT or the additional 60 days of unemployment during the STEM OPT extension. Students are still expected to have valid OPT / STEM OPT employment. Remember that for post-completion OPT, acceptable employment can include volunteering, self-employment, and other paid or unpaid activities. As long as the activities are related to your major, you can include this as valid post-completion OPT employment. (However, STEM OPT must be a paid employment relationship with a STEM employer.)

ARCHIVE: Expired or Inactive Travel Restrictions During COVID-19

UPDATE (1/1/22): The entry suspension on southern African countries has been revoked.

UPDATE (12/27/21): According to news reports, the Biden Administration will remove the 14-day entry suspension previously announced on November 26, affecting air travel to the US from certain southern African countries (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia). The entry suspension will be lifted at midnight on December 31, allowing persons physically present in the listed countries to travel to the US effective January 1, 2022, without having to divert to a third country for 14 days prior to seeking entry to the US.

ORIGINAL POST (11/26/21): On November 26, 2021 the Biden Administration announced a 14-day entry suspension on travelers coming to the US who were physically present in one or more of the following countries: Botwana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. This is due to the recent emergence of the new 'Omicron' variant of COVID-19, which has been identified by the World Health Organization as a variant of concern. The entry suspension goes into effect on Monday, November 29, 2021. For more information read this announcement.

Effective November 8, 2021 previous Presidential Proclamations placing restrictions on direct travel to the US from certain countries, with the intent of limiting the spread of SARS-COV-2, have been revoked. These proclamations concerned travel from China (PP 99840, Iran (9992), Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland (10143), and India (10199).

The National Interest Exception (NIE) allowing US consulates to grant exceptions to these restrictions has correspondingly been voided. Nonimmigrant air travelers, regardless of origin, will need to comply with COVID-19 vaccination and test result requirements prior as a condition of boarding their international flight to the US.

On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation ("Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak") that ordered restrictions on the ability of persons to enter the United States in certain types of visa classifications that allow US-based employment. These visa classifications include the H-1B and H-2B visas, certain categories of the J-1 exchange visitor visa, and L visas. The restrictions go into effect at 12:01am EDT on Thursday, June 24 and will last until December 31, 2020 unless otherwise terminated or extended.

NOTE:

  • On December 31, 2020 the President issued a Proclamation extending this suspension until March 31, 2021
  • On March 31, 2021 this Presidential Proclamation expired. The Biden Administration has not renewed it. 

For Tufts, the primary population affected are new H-1B employees who, on the effective date, were outside the US and who did not have a valid H-1B visa to come to the US to start employment at Tufts. H-1B employees already in the US with approved or pending H-1B petitions are not affected. However, current employees should consult with the International Center regarding future travel plans if they do not already have a valid H-1B visa.

J-1 exchange visitors in higher education contexts - including J-1 research scholars, short-term scholars, professors, specialists, and students - are not affected by this Proclamation. In addition, the Proclamation does not mention or include any restrictions impacting F-1 students. Read the International Center's announcement regarding this Proclamation.

On April 20, 2020 President Trump announced his intention to impose a temporary 60-day suspension on US immigration due to the economic impact of COVID-19. This suspension applies to the ability of certain persons to enter under immigrant visas issued after April 23, 2020 and does not apply to non-immigrant visas (e.g., F-1, J-1, H-1B and other visas). The extension may be extended at a later juncture if deemed necessary. Please read our current statement (April 22, 2020)  regarding the suspensionNOTE: On December 31, 2020 President Trump issued a Proclamation extending this suspension until March 31, 2021. On February 24, 2021, President Biden rescinded the original proclamation and the extension proclamation. This suspension is no longer in effect.