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International On Campus

COVID-19: FAQs

NEW INFORMATION – New Indoor Masking Policy in Effect as of March 12

March 1, 2022

Washington State University would like to once again thank members of the Cougar community for their efforts to fight the spread of COVID‑19.

As a result of this hard work and the positive public health indicators that have followed, WSU is adopting new face covering guidance in keeping with relaxed requirements being implemented by the state of Washington.

Beginning March 12, masks no longer will be required to be worn in a majority of WSU buildings. That includes classrooms, residence halls, recreation centers and dining halls. Face coverings will still be required on public transit and by those inside medical facilities, including Cougar Health Services and counseling centers, in keeping with Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest guidance and federal requirements.

While these policy changes are being made, Cougs who feel more comfortable wearing a mask should continue to do so.

Effective March 1, WSU also is no longer requiring proof of vaccination for those attending events on its campuses. This after the same restriction was lifted on the state level. More information on the changes is available on WSU Insider.

Faculty, staff, students and visitors should continue to self‑screen for illness prior to visiting a WSU facility and stay home if they are sick. Vaccines, face coverings and social distancing remain the best ways for individuals to protect themselves and others from serious illness.

Those who are not fully vaccinated and boosted are encouraged to seek them out as soon as possible. The state’s Vaccine Locator tool can help find a vaccine provider nearby simply by entering a ZIP code.

Questions about the university’s revised policies can be submitted via email to the COVID‑19 Info inbox.

VACCINE ”MIXED DOSE” REQUIREMENTS UPDATED

Posted Dec. 15, 2021

WSU is following CDC Guidance regarding mixed vaccination of the primary vaccination series. Cougar Health Services will not be providing mixed doses for primary vaccination series but WSU will accept mixed doses.

cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html

In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. This guidance applies to COVID-19 vaccines currently approved or authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson [J&J]/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines), and can be applied to COVID-19 vaccines that have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

Read more information from the CDC about vaccines.

For New Students Coming to Campus

Posted April 2021

If you are not able to obtain a COVID 19 vaccination before traveling to the U.S., there may be other options available to you. Currently, exceptions to COVID 19 vaccine mandates are available for individuals traveling from countries with limited vaccine availability as described here:

Countries with COVID 19 Vaccination Exceptions

As you prepare to travel to WSU for spring 2022, it is important to note that if you are not traveling from one of the countries listed in the exceptions above,  proof of COVID 19 vaccination will be required for travel to the U.S.

U.S. COVID 19 Vaccination Requirements for Non-Citizens

Vaccination against COVID 19 is required for all students to attend classes in-person on WSU campuses, and we are committed to ensuring that every student who wishes to be vaccinated against COVID 19 can be. If you are traveling from a country with limited vaccine availability and would like to receive the vaccine when you arrive on campus, please contact Cougar Health Services to schedule your vaccination appointment when you arrive.

Thank you for helping keep our Cougar community safe, and we look forward to welcoming you to our campus!

US entry requirements related to COVID-19 have changed.

Updated Nov. 8, 2021

As of Nov. 8, 2021, the National Interest Exception (NIE) for F-1/J-1 students is over.

All travelers must be fully vaccinated or show a negative COVID test taken within 24 hours of the flight. The only acceptable vaccines are those approved by the U.S. FDA or have  Emergency Use Listing (EUL) status by the World Health Organization (WHO).For more information, go to the U.S. Department of State travel page.

Vaccine Requirements for Students

WSU system-wide will require proof of the COVID‑19 vaccination for the 2021–2022 academic year for all students engaging in activities at a WSU campus or location.

Exemptions will be allowed for medical, religious, or personal reasons. Information about how to submit proof of vaccination and the process to request an exemption will be provided in the coming months.

Students whose programs are fully online and/or for which an on‑campus/location presence does not occur are automatically exempted from this requirement.

Beginning Sept. 10, 2021, students not living in University housing or with program-specific requirements will be required to have documented proof of vaccine or an approved exemption. Students who fail to meet this requirement will be prevented from registering for spring semester courses and/or face other restrictions. Students with approved exemptions may be required to participate in regular COVID‑19 testing and/or other COVID‑19 public health measures.

The University reserves the right to modify this policy at any time in accordance with changing public health guidance or directives, best practices, and/or university needs.Additional information about the requirement process will be made available this summer.

For student-related questions and all other inquiries, please email covid‑19.info@wsu.edu.

Employment

Posted Dec. 9, 2020
Optional Practical Training and COVID-19

If you plan on applying for OPT upon the completion of your program (graduation), please note:

  • You must have 2 semesters (fall and spring) of full-time enrollment prior to application, or have been approved for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) by our office
  • You must apply from within the U.S.

More information about OPT and employment can be found here.

Q: If I am on OPT and my position ends due to COVID-19, what are my options?

A: The options will be specific to your situation and the position at your place of employment. In some cases, you may be able to reduce your hours; to remain valid under OPT we recommend you work at least 21 hours a week. Or you may be able to meet OPT requirements by volunteering, but you MUST meet volunteer requirements. If you think volunteering is an option for you or if you have additional questions, please schedule a consultation with a International Student and Scholar Services advisor as soon as possible to evaluate your case.

Unemployment Eligibility

Q: If I am working on OPT and am laid off due to COVID-19, do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

A: Whether you qualify for unemployment will depend on the unemployment criteria for the state you are working in. Please consult with your employer’s human resources professionals regarding resources for unemployment information in your state. For more information regarding COVID-19-specific unemployment assistance, please see this Unemployment Help page provided by the U.S. government.

Housing and Dining

Updated Dec. 20, 2021

Housing Recommendations

To apply for WSU housing, click here.

Click here for the latest updates on Housing requirements regarding covid.

Q: I currently live in a residence hall. Do I still have to take a COVID-19 test in January?

A: Yes. All students living in WSU residence halls for the spring 2021 semester will need to take a COVID-19 arrival test, self-quarantine until you receive your results, and participate in ongoing screening testing.

If you are unable or unwilling to participate in arrival and ongoing screening testing during the spring semester, you will need to terminate your housing contract by end of fall semester and live at your permanent address for the spring semester.

As a reminder, the First-Year Live-in Requirement (FLIR) can be met only by living in a WSU residence hall or at your permanent residence. Fraternity and sorority chapter facilities are not permitted to house first-time, first-year students in spring 2021. Normal termination or cancellation fees may apply.

Q: What happens to my personal information if I have a positive test result?

A: If your COVID-19 test is positive, be assured that your medical and personal information is kept confidential. Individual medical information, names of close contacts, reason an individual is a close contact, and addresses collected during contact tracing is HIPPA protected and is not shared without your permission. Data that the university reports is in the aggregate and no personally identifiable information is shared.

Food assistance

WSU continues to work to make vital resources available to all our students. Currently, in addition to the grocery assistance offered students by GPSA on the Pullman campus, the following food banks and resources at our other campuses should be of help:

Pullman
Community Action Center, Community Food Bank: https://www.cacwhitman.org/foodbank/
Cougs Feeding Cougs: https://studentaffairs.wsu.edu/initiatives/cougs-feeding-cougs/

Everett
https://www.foodpantries.org/ci/wa-everett
https://everett.wsu.edu/cougar-food-pantry/

Spokane
http://www.servespokane.org/
https://2-harvest.org

Tri Cities
https://2-harvest.org/
http://bfcac.org/home-base/orgs/Golden+Age+Food+Share+Program

Vancouver
https://www.clarkcountyfoodbank.org/
https://fishvancouver.org/
https://studentaffairs.vancouver.wsu.edu/cougar-food-pantry

For emergency funding requests, including Food assistance, use this form:

https://cm.maxient.com/reportingform.php?WashingtonStateUniv&layout_id=35

Travel and Immigration

Updated Dec. 20, 2021

International Travel Advisory – Spring 2022

We understand the desire of International Students to reunite with their families during this time, but due to uncertainties with the coronavirus Omicron variant, returning in time for the start of spring semester could delayed or postponed indefinitely, pending decisions made by the U.. federal government and Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP).

* The United States Department of State assigns levels of travel warnings to countries based on COVID-19 activity. A level 4 warning means “Do Not Travel.”  Stay up to date with warning levels here.

Campus Resources

  • The International Student and Scholar Services office remains open and we are here to support you. (Click here to review university closures for the winter holidays.) Advising is available only by phone, email, and Zoom. Our open advising hours still take place from 1-3 p.m., Monday through Friday, but you will need to call (509) 335-4508 to speak with an advisor.
  • International Student and Scholar Services may set up individual advising sessions via Zoom, but advisors will schedule those meetings on an individual basis.
  • Other student support offices remain available for students to contact for questions and support.

Immigration

Q: I am in my home country but was planning to return to WSU for spring classes. If I am unable to return to the U.S. due to coronavirus restrictions, what should I do?

A: Each student’s situation is different. An international student advisor can speak to you directly about your options.

  • Options may include:
    • Continue to monitor the situation until we are closer to your expected start date.
    • Leave of Absence from WSU
    • Medical Reduced Course Load (if applicable)
    • Study Abroad credits/Independent Study/online courses
  •  International Student and Scholar Services has open advising hours Monday to Friday 1-3 p.m. You can call them at +1 509-335-4508 or email at ip.intlservices@wsu.edu

Visiting Families

If your family plans to visit, please be sure they are prepared to get a negative COVID-19 test two days prior to boarding their flight to the U.S.

WSU has no discretion over who is admitted into the U.S. At this time, due to the evolving nature of COVID-19 we cannot advise on travel plans to visit.

Health and Safety

International students who are enrolled in WSU’s health insurance plan through United Healthcare will not be required to pay any fees related to the testing of COVID-19, if testing is completed under CDC guidelines. However, you may be charged customary deductible and co-pay fees if you need treatment for COVID-19.

To find information on WSU’s United Healthcare plan for international students and explanation of deductible and co-pay fees:

  • https://www.uhcsr.com/
  • Enter Washington State University for the school’s name
  • Scroll down and find Medical – International Plan on the right; click “Explore Policy”

Up-to date-announcements from United Healthcare regarding COVID-19 can be found at https://www.uhcsr.com/news-main

Local area hospitals and remote location

Q: My family is telling me it is not safe to stay in Washington state. What should I do?
A: People at the Pullman campus have access to 5 hospitals within a 45-minute drive of Pullman: in Washington, Pullman Regional Hospital in Pullman; Whitman Hospital and Medical Center in Colfax; and Tri-State Memorial Hospital in Clarkston; and in Idaho, Gritman Medical Center in Moscow; and St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. We also have health resources at Cougar Health Services located on the Pullman campus. Additionally, 3 large regional hospitals serve Spokane.

Q: Will medical insurance cover testing and treatment?
A: International students at WSU have the International Student Health Insurance Plan (iSHIP) and are encouraged to contact Cougar Health Services for information before undertaking any testing. You can find more information on iSHIP at this link:

https://cougarhealth.wsu.edu/studentinsurance/international-students/.

  • If you are an international student and have a spouse or child, you have the option to sign them up for insurance using Dependent coverage. Enrollment for Dependents is open the first 2 weeks of spring and fall semesters; however, if you are newly married or your dependent has entered the U.S. in the last 30 days, you may have options for additional coverage for them. More information can be found here:

https://cougarhealth.wsu.edu/studentinsurance/international-students/#dependentEnrollment

Masks

Q: Where can I find masks? Should I be wearing a mask?

A: According to the World Health Organization, masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. The CDC now says everyone over 2 years of age who is able to remove it should wear a cloth face cover when out in public. You must also know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

Q: What are the Washington state laws regarding masks?

A: Because of a steep increase in disease transmission in Washington, the Secretary of Health is requiring that everyone 5 years of age and older wear a mask in public indoor settings and at large, outdoor events with 500 or more attendees, including sporting events, fairs, parades, and concerts, regardless of vaccination status. There are some exceptions to the mask requirement, including:

  • Children under 5 years of age. However, children age 2- to 4-years old can wear a mask under close adult supervision. Children under 2 years of age should not wear a mask due to the risk of suffocation.
  • People with a medical or mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask
  • Anyone who is working alone, regardless of vaccination status
  • Verified fully vaccinated workers who are working in an area not accessible to the public
  • Athletes who play indoor sports and who are actively engaged in competition or practice (masks are still required on sidelines and in team meetings)
  • Small indoor private gatherings and outdoor events with fewer than 500 people, where physical distancing is possible

Safety and Security

We are aware of multiple bias behaviors exhibited toward members of our international community, as well as our Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Should you experience or witness discrimination or harassment based on race, color, or national or ethnic origin, you can report concerns to the Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation (CRCI). Some examples of conduct that can be reported to CRCI include, but are not limited to:

  • Someone repeatedly tells you to leave a class, labs, or campus because of your race and/or ethnicity or connection to a specific country.
  • Someone excludes you from group activities because of your race and/or ethnicity or country of origin.
  • Someone approaches you on campus or in our community and makes a negative and/or discriminatory statement(s) about you, your race, or your country of origin.

Even if you think an experience is “not enough” to contact the Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation, we encourage you to do so. Sharing information will help you connect to university resources and will help WSU monitor our shared campus experiences. This will help us determine if additional education, actions, or safety measures are appropriate.
Please also know, if you are ever in danger, immediately call 9‑1‑1 for emergency assistance.

Academics

Updated Dec. 20, 2021

WSU will have a robust in-person experience for sproing 2021. If you have questions or are concerned about physically getting to WSU, contact us so we can help you with other learning options.

Current students contact ip.intlservices@wsu.edu.

New students contact international@wsu.edu.

TA/RA Assistantships

Updated Dec. 20, 2021
Teaching/Research Assistantships for International Graduate Students Abroad:
Information and WSU Contacts

 

Working as a TA/RA from abroad creates a series of issues relating to employment and taxation law and WSU’s respective obligations in these areas.

Here are answers to frequently asked questions on this topic as well as contact information should you need additional information:

Q: What are the immigration consequences of working as a TA/RA from outside the U.S.?

A: For international graduate students in F or J visa status, employment restrictions apply only when they are physically inside the U.S. If an individual is outside the U.S., there is no need to consider their immigration status unless/until they return to the U.S.

However, their immigration documents may have been created with an assistantship in mind. If an assistantship is removed or modified, the student must get their immigration documents updated and have an updated finance letter when applying for a new visa at the local U.S. embassy or consulate. If you have questions about documentation for students’ visa application interviews, please contact the Office of International Programs (IP)-International Student and Scholar Services at intlservices@wsu.edu.

Q: What are the financial and academic considerations of this situation?

A: For many new and returning international graduate students, the TA/RA is the only way they can afford to study in the U.S. Support from the assistantship is their means of obtaining a visa and starting or continuing their studies.

For students unable to enter the U.S., the loss or delay of an assistantship could prevent them from staying enrolled for that semester. At that point, a student has 3 options:

    1. Work with the department on facilitating a leave of absence for that semester;
    2. Enroll below their original full-time status and pay out of pocket if the department is unable to make other arrangements; or
    3. Withdraw.

If not opting to withdraw, the student will need to have their initial immigration status start delayed a semester or have their immigration status ended and ask for new, updated immigration documents for a future semester when they can return.

We recognize that funding for an assistantship could come from a variety of sources and there may not be a way to push, defer, or extend an assistantship. In this case, students who cannot arrive at WSU on time due to pandemic-related delays will lose the assistantship. If issues related to COVID-19 continue, we could see long-term consequences for student recruitment or retention. So, as preparation for future semesters commences, departments need to consider what flexibility they have regarding assistantships and funding.

We at IP-International Student and Scholar Services are happy to discuss delays in visa issuance and help give departments more information to make better-informed decisions. Please contact ip.intlservices@wsu.edu.

Q: What does this mean for tax compliance?

A: WSU is responsible for withholding and remitting employee and employer tax within the host country when employees work outside of the U.S. Specific to international graduate students on assistantships, to maintain tax compliance Payroll Services needs to run a tax analysis to determine the university’s tax exposure including statutory obligations. If a department is interested in continuing employment or starting employment for an international graduate student overseas, WSU will hire a third party to review each student’s case and WSU’s liability. This evaluation can cost several thousand dollars per case, paid by the department. In addition, there might be ongoing costs associated with the remittance of taxes, also paid for by the department.

Tax implications for tuition waivers must also be considered. In some countries these tuition waivers are taxable, meaning a student may also have their own tax obligation for the amount of the tuition waiver. Their tax liability can be in the 30%-40% range.

Payroll has the expertise to advise on this. Prior to offering employment to individuals outside of the country, contact Payroll Services at 509-335-9575 or payroll@wsu.edu.

Q: What does this mean in terms of employee registration or verification?

A: Generally, all employees including international graduate students on assistantships are required to present original documents that establish identity and employment authorization within 3 business days of hire. For continuing students who were already employed, their I-9 should have already been completed and would be valid. For those employees who are hired and working remotely out of county, the completed I-9 is not required until they arrive in the United States. If a department is paying an international graduate student on assistantship via their pre-departure method and that student is overseas, it could be in violation of the tax code and places WSU out of compliance. If an individual employee or a department is aware that a student is overseas, but fails to inform WSU of this change, WSU is considered as a whole to be out of compliance. For guidance, contact WSU HRS at 509-335-4521or hrs@wsu.edu.

Q: What impact does employment law have on this situation?

A: Employment law varies by country and hiring an international graduate student to work outside of the U.S. may require use of an Employer of Record within the country. If so, this involves ongoing additional cost to the hiring department. If you are considering employment outside of the U.S., please contact your HRS service team to discuss specific details. Also, contact Payroll Services to initiate a tax analysis at payroll@wsu.edu.

Q: What do I need to do if an international graduate student with an assistantship defers for a term or two?

A: An international graduate student must enroll and complete the first semester of study to which they were admitted to be considered a graduate student in active status. If the first semester of study is not completed for any reason (e.g., unable to enroll or attend because of visa issues, inability to use assistantship support), the student can defer (or update) their CollegeNet application up to 2 times to be reconsidered for admission by the department as well as any financial support that the department may be able to offer. However, admission is not guaranteed. Since there is a strict limit to the number of times that a student’s application can be updated, it is important that the student and department consider carefully whether the student will be able to attend WSU in the semester for which the application has been updated.

To request an update of their application, graduate students should contact their academic department no later than 30 calendar days into the semester for which they applied. The department can relay this information to the Graduate School. For additional guidance, please contact the Graduate School at gradschool@wsu.edu.

General

WSU is committed to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities.

COVID -19 updates for the city of Pullman can be found here:

City of Pullman COVID-19 Info