Important Links for International Students – Coronavirus Crisis

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This guide was developed on March 30, 2020

We traditionally do not work on international student issues, but due to high demands have developed this quick resource guide. Students are strongly encouraged to contact their campus offices for international students as each campus will have a different policy for their students and best understand your concerns. If your campus does not have updated resources or information, encourage them to get in touch with NAFSA for support. 

Additionally, students should consult with an immigration attorney if they are seeking or addressing changes to their immigration status

American Federation of Teachers

The AFT fact sheet offers clear information on most of the issues international students have asked raised: COVID 19 Higher Ed and Immigration

If you have questions or concerns not addressed OR want additional info to share please contact them at

NAFSA: National Association of International Educators

NAFSA works primarily works with campus administration and staff, however, their site is regularly updated and answers many important questions: Coronavirus Critical Resources

NAFSA also has visa guidance and updates. And they worked with the President’s Alliance on Higher Education & Immigration to create a Google drive of resources and host a webinar on March 27, 2020. Here are a full recording and notes from the webinar. Here are some helpful tips from that call:

  • If you are seeking to change your status, treatment for COVID19 won’t work against you with the Public Charge ruling.
  • Documents will not require “wet” signatures and can use reproduced signatures.
  • The Student Exchange Visitor Program issued guidance that it will be flexible and adapt. They will require schools to report changes to them. 
    • Schools can keep F1 and M1 students active if they are continuing studies online or from abroad
    • Schools can waive full course work requirements as necessary
    • 5-month rule doesn’t apply
    • Will be easier for students to come back if they have left the US
    • Transfers and changes of levels may be initiated for students outside US
    • I-20s can be sent electronically
    • New initial students who have not yet entered the US should stay home for now but it is changing every day
    • Can students continue on-campus employment via teleworking (like if you are a TA): not very simple since regulations require it to be on campus or locations affiliated with the school. TAs and RAs are working from home through the cloud and they have reported that to SEVP and there have not been issues.
  • Immigration Status
    • USCIS will give people an additional 60 days but has not generally extended filing deadlines (H1B, adjustment of status, green cards….)
    • There is not much accommodation for those who could be accruing “unlawful presence” right now
    • Unclear how OPT filings will function this Spring
  • Higher Ed community is focusing on
    • Crisis response
    • Strengthening resources across the sector 
    • Advocacy to protect international students, faculty and staff
    • Long-term impacts on whether international students, scholars, leaders continue to be attracted to US-based institutions
    • Exploring emergency grants to students available through their campuses for legal advice

NAFSA can assist with additional guidance for students and campuses. 


Upward Global has put together the following resource guide based on states if you need support with food, rent or other basic needs.

1. California

Food Assistance; Food Bank

Rent Assistance…/california_eviction_p…

Utility Assistance

Medical Assistance

Local COVID-19 Resources for San Francisco Bay Area

California COIV-19 Updates…/…/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx

2. Maryland

Food Assistance; Food Bank

Rent Assistance…/maryland_eviction_pre…

Utility Assistance…/how-do-you-apply/

Medical Assistance…/Am%20I%20Eligible.aspx

Maryland COIV-19 Updates

3. Massachusetts

Food Assistance; Food Bank…/2016/08/vu/ma-assistance-programs.pdf

Rent Assistance…/massachusetts_evictio…

Utility Assistance…/apply-for-home-heating-and-energy-as…

Medical Assistance…/apply-for-masshealth-the-health-safe…

Massachusetts COIV-19 Updates…/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coron…

4. Minnesota

Food Assistance; Food Bank

Rent Assistance…/minnesota_eviction_pr…

Utility Assistance…/con…/consumer-assistance/energy-assistance/

Medical Assistance…/programs-and-servic…/medical-assistance.jsp

Minnesota COIV-19 Updates…/coronavirus/situation.html

5. New Jersey

Food Assistance; Food Bank

Rent Assistance…/new_jersey_eviction_p…

Utility Assistance

Medical Assistance

New Jersey COIV-19 Updates…/topics/covid2019_dashboard.shtml

6. New York

Food Assistance; Food Bank

Utility Assistance

Medical Assistance

New York COIV-19 Updates

7. Pennsylvania

Food Assistance; Food Bank…/Assistance/Pages/default.aspx…/pennsylvania

Rent Assistance…/pennsylvania_rental_a…

Utility Assistance

Medical Assistance…/resources/apply/index.htm

Pennsylvania COIV-19 Updates…/coronavi…/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx

8. Texas

Food Assistance; Food Bank

Rent Assistance…/texas_eviction_preven…

Utility Assistance

Medical Assistance

Texas COIV-19 Updates

National service providers and find resources according to your state and zip code: Call 211 (visit

Link to the full list here:…/covid-19-resources-job-se…/