International Students

New International Students

FAQ for Spring 2022

Information is subject to change. Updates are based on guidance released from ICE and SEVP on April 26, 2021. Please continue to monitor your Ohio State email and this page for updates.

On April 26, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released an updated announcement confirming that the March 2020 guidance will continue for the 2021-22 academic year for international students who plan to enroll at a U.S. institution this spring. The guidance confirms that international students can engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the public health emergency generated by COVID-19, however, there are additional limitations for new international students.

How this guidance impacts you:
  • New students who plan to enroll in a fully online course schedule from their home country should defer their immigration start date to a future term.
  • New students who do not plan to enroll in any courses should defer their admission to a future term.
  • New students who plan to take in-person/hybrid courses and enter the United States may not take a fully online course schedule. Visa appointments are limited in many countries, so your ability to enter the United States for spring semester will depend on your ability to obtain a visa. If you are able to come to campus, you do not need to be issued new I-20s with additional remarks.
  • All students who are in the United States can remain in the United States if the school switches to an entirely online format during the semester. All students who remain in the United States must also be enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan.

In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at most U.S. embassies and consulates. As resources allow, overseas consulates and embassies have resumed routine visa services on a post-by-post basis. Please check travel.state.gov for the most current wait times. Please beware that students may face issues securing visa appointments as U.S. consulates work through significant backlogs.

Q. I’m unable to secure a visa appointment. What should I do?
A. Students who do not have a confirmed visa appointment before January 10 should defer to a future term (learn more about the difference between deferring I-20 and deferring admission).

Q. What if I need to travel outside of the United States to change my status to F-1 for autumn 2021?
A. Due to uncertainty surrounding visa appointments and availability of international flights, Ohio State recommends that students defer their admission to a future term.

Q. What documents will I need for my visa appointment?
A. To prepare the correct documentation for your visa appointment, visit travel.state.gov. Keep in mind that a consular officer will interview you to determine your qualifications for a student visa, and may request additional documents, such as evidence of:
  • Your academic preparation, such as:
    • Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and
    • Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school;
  • Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
  • How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply.

Effective November 8, 2021, travel restrictions on Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, Schengen countries in Europe, South Africa, and the UK will be lifted, and new vaccination requirements will be put into place for all travelers. For more information, please visit the CDC website and monitor the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website for the most current information regarding the university’s guidance on health measures.

Q. Do I need to have a COVID-19 test before traveling to the United States?
A. Students are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 when traveling by air to the United States. The timing of this test depends on the student's vaccination status and age. If you are unsure if you would be permitted to board a flight the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer a simple quiz to determine if you would be approved for air travel.

The CDC states fully vaccinated passengers must provide proof of a COVID-19 test no more than three days before a flight’s departure to the U.S. Passengers not fully vaccinated must provide proof of a COVID-19 test no more than one day before a flight’s departure to the U.S.

If a passenger recently recovered from COVID-19, they may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (i.e., a positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that the passenger was cleared to travel).

Q. If autumn is my first semester and I am not able to enter the United States to start my program at Ohio State, will I be able to defer my admission?
A. If you are an undergraduate student, please contact International Undergraduate Admissions (int.undergrad@osu.edu). Graduate students should contact their department who will work with Graduate Admissions (gradadmissions@osu.edu) to defer to a future term.

Q. What does it mean to defer my academic program? What does it mean to defer my immigration record?
A. If you do not plan to take any classes at all for the next semester or year, you will need to defer your admission/academic program. Once you notify the appropriate admissions office, a new I-20 or DS-2019 will be processed for you with a future start date when you plan to enter the United States.

If you plan to take full-time or part-time online classes and remain in your home country, you will need to defer your immigration start date to a future term. Once you notify the appropriate admissions office, a new I-20 or DS-2019 will be processed for you with a future start date when you plan to enter the United States.

Ohio State expects to return to more of a traditional university experience with engaged classroom learning spring semester. Ohio State will offer a mix of in-person, online and blended courses with at least 75% of classes designated to be taught in person. You can view available courses through buckeyelink.osu.edu.

View the university registrars’ definition of courses online. Below is how they will be determined for maintaining a legal immigration status:
  • Distance Learning (considered online)
  • Distance Enhanced (considered online)
  • Hybrid Delivery is (considered in-person)
  • In Person

New students who remain outside the United States are encouraged to explore registering for Ohio State courses offered through distance technologies. It will be the student’s responsibility to ensure access to university support services via their technology and in accordance with their location’s regulations. Students should contact their advisor to address any academic questions, the university’s help desk (servicedesk@osu.edu) for technical questions and immigration coordinators at the Office of International Affairs (iss@osu.edu) with immigration-related concerns.

Students who experience course access issues relating to time zone differences, content accessibility, textbook availability, etc. should contact their professor/instructor and the appropriate college or department to determine whether any alternative options or support may be available.

Students who are located in certain countries and/or are affected by sanctions imposed by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control may not be eligible to take distance learning courses. For more information visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury and use the search tool to input your location abroad to see if the country is on the list affected by sanctions.

Q. Can I enter the United States to take a completely online course load?
A. No. You may not take a fully online course schedule in the United States.

Q. If I do not plan to enter the United States for spring semester 2022 can I enroll full time online in my home country?
A. Federal guidelines allow international students to take full-time or part-time online classes in their home country. Ohio State students in certain countries and academic programs may enroll in distance learning, however, students should be aware that it is their responsibility to ensure access to university support services via their technology and in accordance with their location’s regulations.

If you live in a country where distance learning is available and you intend to enroll in online courses, you will need to defer your immigration start date to a future term. Once you notify the appropriate admissions office, a new I-20 or DS-2019 will be processed for you with a future start date when you plan to enter the United States.

Q. I plan on taking Ohio State online courses outside of the United States, but I am not sure which courses to take.
A. Students who will take online courses outside of the United States should work with their academic advisor to identify courses being offered through distance technologies to continue making progress toward their degree.

Q. What should I do if I have access and technology concerns about taking online courses outside of the United States?
A. Ohio State students in certain countries and academic programs may find that online pathways for distance learning are not currently available in every country as a result of technology, accessibility or regulatory issues. Students with access issues relating to time zone differences, content accessibility, textbook availability, etc. should contact their professor/instructor and the appropriate college or department to determine whether any alternative options or support may be available. If students experience technology issues, contact the university’s IT Service Desk, which offers 24-hour support:
For more information about tech support for online courses, visit online.osu.edu/tech-support.

Q. If I enroll full time online in my home country, do I need to schedule an immigration check-in appointment?
A. No. You will only complete an immigration check-in appointment once you enter the United States.

Q. If I do not plan to enter the United States for spring semester 2022, do I need to complete online orientation?
A. Yes. If you will be enrolling online from your home country when you begin your program, you must complete the online orientation modules.

Q. If I plan to enter the United States to take in-person or hybrid courses, do I need a new I-20?
A. No. The guidance that required students to have new immigration documents with comments specifically stating that the school is not operating entirely online has been rescinded. If you are asked to show proof that you are not enrolled entirely online, you should print the Spring 2022 Ohio State Instructional Plans letter and carry it with you to your visa appointment as well as when you are traveling in case there are any questions about Ohio State's status for spring semester. You can also provide a copy of your class schedule from Buckeyelink that states the mode of instruction.

Q. Can I arrive in the United States after the spring semester start date of January 10, 2022?
A. Typically, we allow undergraduate students to arrive one week after the semester starts and graduate students up to two weeks after the semester starts, with department permission. Given these extraordinary circumstances, please contact both your department and the Office of International Affairs to discuss your travel plans if you want to arrive after the semester start date.

Q. If I am taking all online classes in my home country, do I still need to pay for health insurance?
A. International students remaining in their home country and taking only distance learning credits are not subject to the health insurance requirement and may request the SHI fee removed from their Statement of Account. You will need to verify current residency in your homeland by providing your I-94 documentation (most Recent I-94 page and Travel History page). You can access your I-94 information online. The requested documentation must be received prior to January 1, 2022. Please contact Student Health Insurance of you have questions at shi_info@osu.edu or by phone at 614-688-7979.

Ohio State is making plans for a safe and healthy spring semester. Full information on the student testing program is available on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

As of August 24, Ohio State is requiring every student, faculty and staff member to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with an FDA approved vaccine. The university will also accept a vaccine that has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA or Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization (WHO) to fulfill this requirement.

Students should visit the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website to learn more about how to get vaccinated on the Columbus campus and around Ohio.

Students should log in to their MyChart account to schedule their COVID-19 test through Ohio State. View the step-by-step guide. If you are a new student and have not signed up for a MyChart account, you will receive instructions about this via email between August 9 and 11. If you are moving in before this, you will be able to use an alternative testing method at Jesse Owens North. If you run into any issues, contact the MyChart email address that will be included in the message or call 1-614-366-6975.
  • Move-in testing: International students must complete a COVID-19 test at Jesse Owens North within four hours of arrival to campus. Students who arrive after the testing facility has closed for the day, must test within the first four hours of the next day’s testing (and as soon in the day as possible). Until students receive a negative test result, they should wear a mask and limit contact with others.

    Please refer to testing updates sent by the Office of Student Life for more information.

  • Weekly surveillance testing: Currently, unvaccinated students — including all students on the Columbus campus or regional campus students who live in university housing — will be required to test weekly as the academic year begins. Students who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and reported their status to the university will not have to test. Ohio State will continue to monitor the impacts of variants of concern and may need to adjust the testing requirements for vaccinated students as new information is available. Once House Bill 244 goes into effect on October 14, vaccinated and unvaccinated students will be tested with the same protocols.

Q. Will I have to quarantine when I arrive on campus?
A. The university will follow CDC guidelines, and students should follow their recommendations. If you test positive upon arriving on campus, you should proceed directly to your residence hall room, avoid contact with others and wear a mask at all times. If your roommate is in your room, both students should maintain at least six feet of physical distance and wear masks. The student with the positive test result should also strictly avoid contact with anyone who is immunocompromised. The Case Investigation and Contact Tracing and Student Support teams at Ohio State will be in contact to assist with next steps, which will include determining the best place to isolate, either on-campus in dedicated housing or at an alternate location.

Q. As an international student, can I get the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States? Is there a cost?
A. If you have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine, you are eligible to receive it once you arrive in the United States. Students should log in to their MyChart account to schedule their vaccination through Ohio State. View the step-by-step guide. If you are a new student and have not signed up for a MyChart account, you will receive instructions about this via email on a date yet to be announced.. If you are moving in before this, you will be able to use an alternative testing method at Jesse Owens North. If you run into any issues, contact the MyChart email address that will be included in the message or call 1-614-366-6975.

The vaccine used at your appointment is based on availability on the day you receive it. Ohio State is currently administering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The government is providing the vaccine free of charge, and health plans are required to cover the cost of administration. Patients who receive a vaccination will not be asked to pay anything out of pocket.

Q. Will I be required to be vaccinated?
A. Yes. The university is now requiring all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Students should visit the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website to learn more about how to get vaccinated on Ohio State's Columbus campus and around Ohio.

Q. What if I have received a COVID-19 vaccine that is not currently authorized in the United States? Should I be concerned about getting vaccinated again?
A. The university will accept international vaccines based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, which recognizes vaccines authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO).

All students are encouraged to share their vaccination information with the university because WHO is constantly updating its list of approved vaccines (check your BuckMD account for instructions). As of May 13, 2021, those vaccines include the three approved for use in the United States — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — as well as:
  • Astra-Zeneca
  • CoviShield
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac

If you are uncertain about the status of a particular vaccine, please contact Student Health Services at 614-292-4321 or shs@osu.edu.

If you have medical-related questions about mixing vaccines, students are encouraged to submit non-urgent medical questions through BuckMD.

Students will be considered to be fully vaccinated 14 days after their final dose in a vaccination series.
  • If your vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the WHO, you will not need any additional doses with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If your vaccine has not been authorized for emergency use by WHO, you should schedule a vaccine appointment once you arrive in the United States in order to be considered as “fully vaccinated” by the university and public health officials.

Please carefully read through CDC's guidance.

Q. Will I be required to be vaccinated and report my vaccination status if I am studying remotely?
A. If you will not be on campus at all and/or cannot get a WHO approved vaccine before the deadline because of location, you can complete the exemption process, which would allow you to stay in compliance with the requirement. The university encourages and expects students to receive the vaccine when/if you arrive on campus.

Q. I have a contract to live on campus but will be arriving later than January 8, when residence halls open. What should I do?
A. If you have a contract to live on campus this academic year and you expect to arrive late, you must email housing@osu.edu to alert them of your delay by Janaury 1.

Rooms in the residence halls are only held for 24 hours once the residence halls open on January 8, and if you cannot arrive on campus by this date, email University Housing so that they can hold your room. If they are not able to hold your room, they will work with you to find an alternative housing assignment when you arrive.