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International On Campus

COVID-19: FAQs

General

A Message from Vice President for International Programs Asif Chaudhry

To all International Students,

Welcome back to your studies!

As we begin a new learning experience for the rest of our spring semester, I want you to know that your health, safety and educational progress are important to us in International Programs. Whether you are on campus or learning from a distance, I promise we will get through this unusual and challenging time together as a Coug family. And on that subject, this video is a brief message to you from all of the IP faculty and staff.

If you have any questions, suggestions, comments, or concerns, my virtual door is always open to you.

Go Cougs!

 

WSU is committed to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities. Currently the WSU Executive Policy Group meets twice daily to address issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak. You can find the latest updates to WSU’s COVID-19 response here:

Coming together in an extraordinary time

 

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

City of Pullman COVID-19 Info

The following FAQ is specifically for International Students and students participating in study abroad and exchange programs.

UPDATE  – All Summer 2020 Global Learning Programs Are Canceledclick here for more information

A Message to the WSU Community

 

March 7, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

In light of continuing concerns and some misconceptions about the novel coronavirus (COVID‑19), we are reaching out to the WSU community. We recognize that this is a particularly stressful time, but as such it is even more important to pause before reacting in difficult situations.
We are aware of multiple bias behaviors exhibited toward members of our international community, as well as our Asian American and Pacific Islander community, in recent days. As an example, cultures worldwide routinely wear face masks for protection during flu and cold season. People from the U.S. are not as familiar with that practice and may make assumptions and respond negatively. All community members, students, faculty, and staff deserve respect as well as a safe environment for learning, living, and working.
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.

Yours Sincerely,
Asif J. Chaudhry, U.S. Ambassador (Ret.)
Vice President
Office of International Programs

Jaime Nolan
Associate Vice President
Community, Equity and Inclusive Excellence

Visiting families

Q – If my parents come from Hong Kong to attend the graduation ceremony, due to the policy of CDC, do they need to stay home for a period of 14 days from the time before attending the graduation ceremony?

A – Foreign nationals entering the U.S. are generally not placed into self-quarantine. Self-quarantine is for American citizens and permanent residents. Either the government will place them in a mandatory quarantine or more likely they will deny them entry 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. Students and their families can visit the WSU COVID-19 website for updates. https://wsu.edu/covid-19/

If your parents cannot enter the U.S. they can still watch commencement online here: https://commencement.wsu.edu/livestream/

Housing and Dining

Summer housing

  • Housing Options
    • Typically, on-campus housing in Pullman during the summer is available in McEachern Hall from May to July 25, with the option to pay a nightly rate to extend to the start of the fall 2020 semester if needed. Additional off-campus housing options are available.
      • WSU Pullman is working to ensure that other housing options on campus will be available as needed for students who choose to stay for summer.
    • Dining options will be made available to accommodate students who are staying for summer due to the current travel restrictions.

UPDATE from WSU Dining Services –

Per the recent mandate provided by Governor Inslee, Dining Services is making the following changes, effective March 17, 2020. Dining Services will provide take-out options only and remove seating in dining locations, including Hillside Café, The Market on Cougar Way, Lighty Café, and Carlita’s in the CUB. Additionally, online ordering via the Get Food app is available for Lighty Café and Carlita’s. Starbucks in the SPARK is closed at this time.

Check for updates on what will be available on WSU’s COVID-19 webpage: https://wsu.edu/covid-19/.

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. If you are healthy, you need to wear a mask only if you are taking care of a person with suspected COVID-19 infection. Do wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Finally, if you wear a mask, you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams has advised Americans to stop buying masks due to coronavirus concerns. “[Masks] are NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk.” https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/29/health/face-masks-coronavirus-surgeon-general-trnd/index.html

  • In the U.S., wearing a face mask is a general sign that you are sick. Be aware that if you are wearing a face mask, others may assume you are sick, but still coming to class/campus.

Travel and Immigration

Click Here for CDC COVID-19 Travel Information

Click Here for the latest COVID-19 Restrictions on US Visas and Entry

USCIS Suspension on Premium Processing as of March 20, 2020

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective March 20, 2020, they will not accept any new requests for premium processing. Premium Processing was an option for University petitioners to have H-1B petitions adjudicated within 15 calendar days at an extra cost of $1,440. With this suspension, H-1B petitions will now be processed through USCIS regular standard times. For current processing times, visit the Check Case Processing Times page.

Below are some questions and answers to address initial concerns. Please contact Global Services at ip.scholars@wsu.edu for any further questions.

Q – My current H-1B status is expiring soon, and my department had already agreed to extend it. How will this affect my case?

A – H-1B extension petitions will be filed prior to the expiration of current H-1B status. With that, foreign nationals will be able to remain in the U.S. and work up to 240 days after the expiration of their current H-1B. Global Services will contact faculty and departments to provide a copy of the USCIS Receipt Notice, which is needed for the proper I-9 employment update. Travel* outside the U.S. while the extension petition is pending will trigger it to be considered abandoned. Please notify Global Services immediately if you must make an emergency trip abroad.

* Due to COVID-19, the United States Department of State has issued a level 4 travel warning for ALL international travel.  A level 4 warning means “Do Not Travel.”  This warning not to travel applies to every country.

Q – Is Global Services tracking cases, and will they notify departments and faculty impacted?

A – The Global Services department has been closely monitoring H-1B cases they are currently working on and has contacted each foreign national and hiring department affected by this suspension. Although our office is physically closed, we are teleworking and doing Zoom meetings, so we are happy to answer any questions or concerns. Please contact ip.scholars@wsu.edu  or maria.cardieri@wsu.edu.

Q – I am currently in the U.S. with a different immigration status, but WSU has agreed to sponsor an H-1B application on my behalf. How will this affect my case?

A – H-1B Initial petitions will be filed prior to the expiration of current immigration status in the U.S. (e.g., J-1, F-1 OPT, etc.). With that, foreign nationals will be able to remain in the U.S. until the H-1B case is adjudicated, however, they cannot work until the H-1B is finally approved. Global Services will contact faculty and departments to provide a copy of the USCIS Receipt Notice so they can track the status of their case online. Please refer to the Check Case Processing Times page for information about USCIS current processing time of application. Travel* outside the U.S. while the petition is pending will trigger it to be considered abandoned. Please notify Global Services immediately if you must make an emergency trip abroad.

It is uncertain when premium processing will be resumed at this time, but we can upgrade pending applications to premium processing as soon as it becomes available again. Global Services can hold on to the premium processing check at a department’s request to use in case the premium option becomes available again.

Q – I am currently outside the U.S.,but have been offered a position to start at WSU in summer/fall 2020. Additionally, my WSU hiring department has agreed to sponsor an H-1B visa on my behalf. How will this affect my case?

A – H-1B Initial petitions will be filed prior to the proposed start date of the appointment. However, foreign nationals need the WSU H-1B petition to be approved before they are able to apply for an H-1B visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad, which is required prior to traveling to the U.S. Therefore, the start of appointments may be delayed depending on USCIS processing times of applications. Please refer to the Check Case Processing Times page for information about USCIS current processing time of applications. Global Services will contact faculty and departments to provide a copy of the USCIS Receipt Notice so they can track the status of their case online.

It is uncertain when premium processing will be resumed at this time, but we can upgrade pending applications to premium processing as soon as it becomes available again. Global Services can hold on to the premium processing check at a department’s request to use in case the premium option becomes available again.

Q – I am a department liaison with Global Services on an H-1B application. Should I hold off submitting a case, or will cases be processed as usual?

A – Global Services, as the majority of other offices on campus, is teleworking. Requests can continue to be submitted in the myPassport system and will be processed until further notice. Departments are encouraged to contact Global Services at ip.scholars@wsu.edu or maria.cardieri@wsu.edu for advice about a specific individual situation and impacts of timely onboarding. This advice is also true for sponsorship of other types of employment-based visas.

 

Travel

Q – I have already booked a flight for a Global Learning program and now I need to cancel it because all programs have been cancelled. What do I ask my airline so that I can be sure to preserve as much of my investment as possible?

A – Contact the airline if you booked with them by phone or online, or your travel agent directly for cancellation. Ask what you can do for a full refund even if you purchased a non-refundable ticket. The carrier may refund, or offer credit for future travel and they will waive the change fee. If the airline has discontinued their flights into a particular country you should be able to get a full refund.

Please continue to check here, and with your airline and travel agent, for updates on policy changes as news unfolds.

Q – I am considering returning home for the remainder of spring semester and possibly summer semester as well. What should I do?

A – All campuses in the Washington State University system will transition from face‑to‑face classes, testing, and advising to distance delivery beginning on Monday, March 23, following WSU’s spring break. This move is being made to allow for increased social distancing in light of the spread of the COVID‑19 illness in the state of Washington.

Global Services wants to reassure you the University is taking necessary precautions. University administrators are carefully monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

On March 13, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) gave guidance allowing Universities to make temporary changes so international students can continue their program of study by engaging in distance learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country.

If you plan to travel outside the United States to complete the semester, please carefully consider the following items:

Academics

  • WSU will continue to hold classes at their regularly scheduled times. This may mean that you would have to attend classes at inconvenient times due to time zone differences.
  • You may not have access to course materials or reliable access to internet in your home countries. This creates a risk that you may not be able to complete coursework, which could negatively affect your academic performance.

Travel

  • Borders could be closed at any time to any country and may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.
  • You may be exposed to COVID-19 while traveling and could become a carrier of COVID-19.

Immigration

  • Have you applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT)? You should stay in the United States because institutions/private companies closures, flight cancellations, and other travel-related issues may prevent you from meeting the requirements of your OPT. As a reminder, you cannot apply for OPT while abroad, and it is recommended to remain in the U.S. if your application is currently pending. https://ip.wsu.edu/on-campus/opt-tutorial/

Health Care

  • While traveling you need to make sure you find a health care provider who accepts your iSHIP insurance (via United Healthcare). Find a United Healthcare Student Resources Provider at https://www.uhcsr.com/ Type in Washington State University under your school’s name and then click on Find Providers.
  • Remember that Coug Health does not have a co-payment or deductible for students using the iSHIP insurance and will remain open for students to access support and health care.

Campus Resources

  • The University remains open at this time, but classes and advising are online.
  • The Global Services office remains open and we are here to support you. However, beginning March 23, 2020, advising will be available only by phone, email, and Zoom. Our open advising hours will 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.
  • Global Services may set up individual advising sessions via Zoom, but advisors will schedule those meetings on an individual basis.
  • Other student support offices will remain available for students to contact for questions and support during the transition to distance delivery of classes.

Immigration

  • Students can elect to take summer as a vacation term and stay in the U.S. if they had previously attended spring 2020 and are continuing in fall 2020. WSU advises against international travel during summer 2020.
  • Students eligible for vacation term can take online classes. Online Campus courses available for summer 2020 can be found here: https://learn365.wsu.edu/summer-session/summer-courses/

Q – I am in F-1 status and my plan was to return to my home country. I would prefer to stay in the U.S. for now. What are my options?

A – Every student’s situation is different. You should visit Global Services in Bryan Hall 206. Speak with an international student advisor who can review your information and offer advice. Global Services has open advising hours Monday to Friday 1-3 p.m. in Bryan Hall 206. You can also call them at 509-335-4508 or email at ip.globalservices@wsu.edu

Q – I am in my home country but was planning to return to WSU for summer/fall 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
  • Global Services has open advising hours Monday to Friday 1-3 p.m. in Bryan Hall 206. You can call them at +1 509-335-4508 or email at ip.globalservices@wsu.edu.

Academics

Summer course offerings

  • Current undergraduate or graduate students at WSU are eligible to enroll in summer classes. Courses during the summer term are condensed into 6-, 7- and 12-week sessions and are often more rigorous than semester-long courses due to the shortened term length. Visit https://learn365.wsu.edu/summer-session/about-summer/ to see available sessions, registration dates, and costs.
  • All students pay the in-state tuition rate during the summer.
  • Undergraduate Pathway or Academic English students could elect to extend their program if their study plan completes at the end of spring semester. Continuing students will enroll as usual for summer. Contact the INTO WSU staff at ialc@wsu.edu for assistance with extending or changing the current program.
  • For graduate Pathway students, graduate-level coursework is limited over the summer. Contact the INTO WSU staff or the INTO WSU Academics team to discuss options. Our teams will work to assist students in finding available classes or offer other options that may be available.
  • International Programs is currently reaching out to academic departments to encourage opening additional graduate-level coursework for summer 2020. It’s encouraged for students to double check with their Academic Departments as well on offerings for summer classes.
  • For students currently in level 5 and eligible to progress from AE to Graduate Pathway, they may elect to enroll in AE Level 6 for the summer term and progress to an Accelerated Graduate Pathway in the fall term.
  • Current students without a summer study plan could electively enroll in summer term of AE at a reduced rate ($1,000 discount).

Academics – other

  • Although academic operations currently are continuing uninterrupted, the Provost’s Office is urging faculty and instructors to begin reviewing options and alternatives in the event of future disruptions related to the spread of COVID-19. Likewise, if courses do go online, students should ensure that they are comfortable using Blackboard (Bblearn) and have high-speed internet at home to Zoom. In the event that courses go online, they will receive guidance via e-mail from their faculty. Students should regularly check their e-mail and their Bblearn for updates.
  • In a message sent Tuesday by interim Provost Bryan Slinker and Dave Cillay, vice president of Academic Outreach and Innovation, faculty and instructors were asked to review the Tool Kit for Extended Campus Closure. The site has guidance on recording lectures as well as strategies for continuing instruction if not all students and instructors can meet face-to-face as usual.
  • The pair also advised faculty and instructors to consider recording lectures in the event conditions change quickly and a large number of students are unable to attend class. Resources for those unfamiliar with video capture technology are available through colleges or Academic Outreach and Innovation.
  • The University supports students who choose to self-quarantine if they suspect they may have been exposed to the virus. Faculty and instructors are asked to accommodate these students as needed. WSU will not require proof that a student has consulted a medical professional about possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • The latest updates from WSU can be found on its COVID-19 website.

Employment

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 Global 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.

COVID-19 Stimulus Package

Q – As a foreign national, is it possible to qualify for the COVID-19 stimulus payment?

A – Most students will not qualify for the stimulus payment. However, under limited circumstances foreign nationals may qualify for the stimulus payment. For guidance on the application of the COVID-19 stimulus to foreign nationals working in the United States, please see this information provided by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Spring and Summer Breaks

Spring break travel plans

  • COVID-19 is active in many locations within the U.S.
    • If your plans will take you to King (Seattle) or Snohomish (north of Seattle) counties in Washington, make sure there are no travel restrictions in the area. At this time we are not telling you to avoid travel to the Seattle area, but to be aware of the changing nature of the situation and make informed decisions. The State of Washington Department of Health website is the best source of information regarding resources and recommendations. https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus
    • If you are traveling to other locations in the U.S., check the Department of Health website in that state for information. If you need help finding this information, International Programs will assist you.
  • If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S. for spring break, please email your plans, including when and where you are traveling, to ip.globalservices@wsu.edu and they will follow up with you.
  • Stay informed and updated on how WSU is responding to COVID-19: https://wsu.edu/covid-19/
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