The information on this page is intended for UC Berkeley campus staff working with international degree-seeking students and Education Abroad Program (EAP) reciprocity students. Meet our International Student Advisers and see their selected liaison units.
Summer 2020 Reminders
For COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions, click here.
- Employment for Summer Graduates - If students are graduating in the Summer, this may impact their ability to work on or off campus more than 20 hours per week. Generally, if Summer is a student's final term, they will be limited to part-time work (50% appointments) during that final term, unless they will be using their post-completion employment authorization. Again, please have them check with BIO to confirm the best summer employment strategy and options.
If students are considering extending and have already applied for F-1 OPT employment or J-1 Academic Training OR if they are eligible to apply now, have them contact contact a BIO adviser regarding their situation, so that we can determine the best next steps.
If students are OUTSIDE of the U.S. (or they are departing the U.S. before the end of their grace period) and 1) they WILL NOT return to the U.S. and 2) they do NOT intend to apply for post-completion F-1 OPT employment or J-1 Academic Training: they can choose to allow the I-20 or DS-2019 to expire, but will need to work with the academic department and advisers to be sure they can complete your requirements from abroad.
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (answers from BIO's COVID-19 FAQ page)
- Does BIO have advising hours? Yes! We have virtual drop in hours. See the schedule on our Contact Us page.
- Is BIO still processing documents and requests for current students? Yes! please see this question of our FAQ for details regarding document requests and processing during the shelter in place period.
- Can advisers digitally sign forms for BIO? Yes! Official digital signatures are allowed, or scanned signed copies. Or, see our Forms page for emailed form instructions if digitally or scanned signatures are not available.
- Is BIO still processing requests for documents for new students for Fall 2020? What about Summer 2020? Fall 2020, yes! Summer 2020, no! Since Summer 2020 is now remote instruction, due to current Department of Homeland Security guidance we are not able to issue or maintain documents with Summer starting dates. BIO will work with students/programs who requested a Summer start date to adjust the start date to a later term when they are able to enter to resume in-person course work. Currently, we don't have any information regarding remote instruction for Fall, and will continue issuing documents as normal. If new students are unable to enter to resume classes in Fall, we will work with students to adjust their document start date. Please keep in mind that current visa processing is suspended at most consulates, and we are not able to predict when it will resume or how quickly DOS will work through backlogs.
- I heard that BIO can send digital I-20s. Is that true?
Yes! BIO is able to offer distribution of I-20s for all continuing F-1 documents, except for new Initial (NIF) student documents. You can find instructions now on all BIO Student Request forms. The U.S. Department of State DOES NOT allow electronic signatures or distribution of J-1 DS-2019s.
- Can my student extend their academic program? Yes, for academically legitimate reasons. See above.
- What if my student is out of the U.S. and can't get back? If students are currently outside of the United States and are unable to enter the country, please have them notify Berkeley International Office to let us know about their situation. We will work with our students on a case-by-case basis to determine the best path forward. Students should consult with their GSAOs and contact BIO if they will be unable to arrive in time continue their Fall program, See FAQ question, “Can I travel internationally? Are there any entry restrictions to the U.S.?” section for information about current travel restrictions, visa suspensions, and entry to the U.S
- What if my student is in the U.S., and can't leave? BIO is aware that many flights to impacted regions have been canceled, and that travel may not be available at this time. If a student's program is ending soon and they are unable to depart the United States, please have them notify Berkeley International Office to let us know about their situation. We urge students to also contact their home country’s local consulate or embassy in the U.S. for support and information regarding travel home.
- One of my students wants to withdraw. How will that impact the student's visa status? If you are on a student visa status and you withdraw or cancel your enrollment, this will have a direct impact on the F-1 or J-1 student visa status. Students should contact a BIO adviser before they take any steps to officially withdraw or cancel future semesters. Students who withdraw without communicating with BIO may result in a negative termination of the student visa record which could impact the future ability to return to the U.S.
- Can students continue their on-campus employment? For visa purposes, yes. Travel outside of the U.S. will not impact eligibility for F-1 or J-1 on-campus employment for visa purposes, and students should continue to follow all F-1/J-1 rules regarding on-campus employment. However, F and J students should check with their employing department and/or Human Resources regarding remote work policies and procedures. BIO has no training in remote onboarding or HR policies!
- Does temporarily attending remote instruction affect student visa status? Will changing grading option to P/NP, or Incompletes impact student visa status? Changing to p/NP or Incompletes will not impact student visa status unless these changes lead to academic dismissals. On the basis of guidance received from the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), we can confirm that student visa status will not be impacted by the emergency transition to distance learning for normally in-person classes. BIO continues to monitor and follow all current DHS and Department of State guidance for our F-1 and J-1 students and exchange visitors. F-1 and J-1 students are expected to remain enrolled in full-time units, or to apply and be approved for an authorized Reduced Course Load for Academic or Medical Reasons. Reductions in course load must be approved by the department and by the Berkeley International Office in advance of making any schedule changes.
Do you know anything about instruction for Fall 2020? Will we have remote instruction? How will that impact my students' visa status?
Information about final plans for Fall 2020 instruction is not currently available. You can find information on possible scenarios for Fall on the UC Berkeley Coronavirus news site.
Continuing students: Options to properly maintain F-1/ J-1 visa status will depend on the model of instruction available in Fall 2020. Current DHS guidance allows for remote instruction and increased online enrollment, for the duration of the COVID-19 period.
New students: Current DHS guidance does not allow new, initial students to enter for remote-only instruction. For a new student with an initial I-20 or DS-2019 and Fall 2020 is 100% remote instruction, the I-20/DS-2019 start date and entry date to the U.S. will need to be adjusted to a future semester that includes in-person instruction. Or, if students choose not to attend, they can request that BIO cancel your I-20/DS-2019. However, students are free to remain enrolled and study remotely from abroad if you choose to do so. BIO will communicate any changes to students when information is available.New students with I-20/DS-2019 Transfers: Current DHS guidance allows remote instruction for students who choose to transfer their I-20 or DS-2019. However, current guidance does not allow new transfer I-20s to be activated if the student is not present inside the U.S. If you have a new student who is transferring your I-20 to UC Berkeley for Summer and they are not present in the U.S. at the start of Fall 2020, the transfer I-20/DS-2019 start date and entry date to the U.S. will need to be adjusted to a future semester that includes in-person instruction. Students would also have the option to transfer your I-20/DS-2019 to another U.S. school, or to cancel the I-20/DS-2019 if you choose not to attend. However, they are free to remain enrolled and study remotely from abroad if they choose to do so.
If students can’t enter the U.S. to begin their degree program in Fall 2020, will this impact qualification for F-1 CPT (or internships), post-completion OPT, or J-1 Academic Training?
F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is used for internships during the degree program, and F-1 Optional Practical Training can be used for post-completion employment. J-1 Academic Training is used for internships during the degree and post-completion employment.
Yes, if they are unable to enter the U.S. to begin the degree program in Fall 2020, it could have an impact on F-1 CPT or OPT employment eligibility, or impact the duration of J-1 Academic Training available. Please be advised that this information is based on current Department of Homeland Security guidance and current F-1/J-1 regulations, and is subject to change.
F-1 CPT or OPT Eligibility
To be eligible for F-1 CPT or OPT authorization, students must have been enrolled continuously for 1 academic year in Active F-1 status. (The only exception is that CPT is available to graduate students for whom internship is a degree requirement for all students in the program prior to completion of 1 academic year. No exception exists for OPT.) Current guidance has clarified that an F-1 student accrues eligibility for Practical Training only if they are in “Active” status in SEVIS. Prior to entry in the U.S., the I-20 and SEVIS record are in “Initial” status. The SEVIS record cannot be made “Active” “until after entry to the U.S. for the first time in F-1 status.
OPT Example: You are in a 1 year program from August 26, 2020–May 14, 2021 (1 academic year = 2 semesters: Fall 2020 + Spring 2021). If Fall 2020 instruction is all remote OR if you are unable to enter the U.S. to begin your program for Fall 2020, BIO will be required to change your I-20 start date to January 2021, the start of Spring 2021. You are free to enroll remotely. But, after your entry to the U.S. in January 2021, your F-1 record will be Active for only 1 semester and you will NOT qualify for OPT.
CPT Example: You are in a 2 year program from August 26, 2020-May 13, 2022 (1 academic year = 2 semesters: Fall 2020 + Spring 2021). If Fall 2020 instruction is all remote OR if you are unable to enter the US to begin your program for Fall 2020, BIO will be required to change your I-20 start date to January 2021, the start of Spring 2021. You are free to enroll remotely. But, after your entry to the US in January 2021, your F-1 record will be Active for only 1 semester and you will not qualify for CPT in Summer 2020. You would qualify for CPT starting only after the end of Fall 2021.
J-1 Academic Training
AT is available after completion of 1 semester in the U.S., unless the student has a degree requirement for internship for all students in the degree program. The amount of AT granted is either 18 months OR the length of the J-1 program in the U.S., whichever is less.
AT example 2 year program: You are in a 1 year program from August 26, 2020-May 14, 2021 (1 academic year = 2 semesters: Fall 2020 + Spring 2021). If Fall 2020 instruction is all remote OR if you are unable to enter the U.S. to begin your program for Fall 2020, BIO will be required to change your DS-2019 start date to January 2021, the start of Spring 2021. You are free to enroll remotely. But, after your entry to the U.S. in January 2021, you would only have 4 available months of J-1 Academic Training.
AT example 2 year program: You are in a 2 year program from August 26, 2020-May 13, 2022 (1 academic year = 2 semesters: Fall 2020 + Spring 2021). If Fall 2020 instruction is all remote OR if you are unable to enter the U.S. to begin your program for Fall 2020, BIO will be required to change your DS-2019 start date to January 2021, the start of Spring 2021. You are free to enroll remotely. You can qualify for 13 months of total Academic Training.
Advising International Students
Immigration and Regulatory Updates
Unique International Student Needs
- What International Students Need: Results of Assessment - 2011
- Understanding Cultural Context: The International Student Experience with Academic Integrity & Success - 2013
Want to learn more about the population we serve? Check out our international student enrollment reports.
5 Tips for Successfully Advising International Students
Compiled by Berkeley International Office
- Build relationships by expressing curiosity
and interest about educational and cultural differences.
- Foster sense of belonging by promoting
social engagement, and encouraging
- Connect students to learning opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom through Office of Undergraduate Research, DeCal, Berkeley Connect, and Public Service.
- Recognize and support multiple dimensions
of a student’s identity (nationality, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) especially during periods of transition.
- Normalize students' experiences and encourage them to seek support services through Berkeley International Office, CPS, TRSP, SLC, DSP.