COVID-19 INTERNATIONAL STUDENT FAQS
Below is a list of frequently asked questions for international students regarding COVID-19. Please contact Courtney Olevnik in the International Student Office at email@example.com with any further questions or concerns.
After careful review of CDC guidelines, Mercyhurst is implementing a mandatory quarantine of 14 days for all students, both domestic and international, who have traveled internationally within the two weeks preceding their arrival to campus.
Students who are subject to the quarantine requirement will need to return to Mercyhurst between July 28 and August 31 in order to begin the fall semester. Students who cannot arrive within this window due to circumstances beyond their control must reach out to the International Student Office as soon as possible to inquire about possible accommodations.
Stakeholders across the Mercyhurst community are working diligently to finalize plans for quarantine. As such, more detailed information will be released shortly. Most students will be quarantined in housing facilities at our North East Campus. Food will be provided during the quarantine period, and you will be able to remotely participate in your courses while in quarantine.
For each day in quarantine prior to August 16, the university’s official move-in date, you will be assessed a $35 pre-arrival accommodations fee. Charges will not be assessed past August 16. The pre-arrival fee will be posted to your student account when you arrive. We understand that this cost may be an added burden to some students. However, this fee provides for additional days of housing beyond those in your housing contract, meals during quarantine, and the appropriate security and cleaning staff. We have worked hard to keep this cost low. Many other institutions are assessing significantly higher fees or requiring students to seek hotel accommodations for 14 days after arriving in the States.
Mercyhurst University, as an institution, enacted the quarantine requirement after careful review of published CDC guidelines and advice from local health experts. As such, the International Student Office does not have the authority to offer exemptions to the quarantine policy.
Normally, if an F-1 student will be outside the United States for more than five months, it is not considered a temporary absence. As a result, their SEVIS record is terminated. As of July 1, 2020, the SEVP has not released any temporary guidance for students who anticipate being outside the United States for more than five months due to the travel restrictions related to COVID-19. The university’s International Student Office will provide more information on this matter as it becomes available.
As with any travel outside of the U.S., you will need an unexpired F1 visa (unless you’re Canadian), your Mercyhurst issued I-20 with unexpired travel signature on page 2 (signatures are valid for 12 months from the signature date for current students and 6 months from the signature date for students on OPT), and a passport with more than 6 months before expiry when you return to the U.S.
Currently, there are many travel restrictions in place. These restrictions tend to change quickly — students should be sure to keep an eye on their individual circumstances and should make the decision to travel based on their own comfort level and timeline. Students should also continue to monitor official advice published by their home government as well as advice published by The U.S. government at on the Study in the States website and the Federal Register website.
As of July 1, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has not announced any changes to its existing OPT application process. Fall 2020 graduates who are physically in the US may begin to apply for OPT in October. The International Student Office will continue to advise students on their OPT applications.
As of July 1, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has not provided any changes to its existing STEM OPT Extension application instructions. Therefore, students must be physically present in the United States to apply for STEM OPT Extension.
Employers may ask their OPT employees to work from home. This will not affect their F-1 status. Students must still report their employment information to ensure they do not accrue days of unemployment in their SEVIS record.
Students who are currently enrolled in the Mercyhurst Student Health Plan have insurance coverage until August when the new enrollment cycle begins. All students, both new and returning, must complete a new health insurance enrollment by the end of July. Please see more information on the Student Health Insurance webpage.
Students with a tax liability for 2019 should continue to make arrangements to file their taxes.
The International Student Office is neither qualified nor permitted to give tax advice. However, in order to support international students we will provide Glacier Tax Prep access codes for students who wish to file their federal taxes remotely. If you are required to file an income tax return for 2019 (not NRA Taxes) you will also need to file a tax return at the state and local level. Students who need more guidance should consult an accountant. In person tax workshops will resume in Spring 2021.
Please remember that filing your taxes and choosing a path to filing is your responsibility and not the responsibility of the International Student Office. Please also remember that any suggestions and resources provided by the International Student Office should not be considered formal tax advice, and highly recommend that you contact a tax professional to assist you with these matters.