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Spring Semester 2021 FAQ

The approach of Spring Semester 2021 brings up many questions and concerns for international students and scholars. OISS has compiled the information below to help address a number of these commonly asked questions. If you have further questions about your specific situation, please contact an OISS advisor. You can also find answers to common questions that all MSU students have on MSU Together We Will FAQ.  


Travel & Entry

Will there be an issue if I travel home during winter break?

Travel during winter break is possible, but may not be advisable due to ever changing COVID conditions and travel restrictions. Keep in mind that for re-entry you must have an active I-20 or DS-2019, a valid visa stamp, and a valid passport. If your visa expires while you are outside the US you will likely face challenges returning to MSU on time for the start of classes due to visa processing delays and closures.

Will reentry for the Spring Semester 2021 be a problem based on enrollment status?

The U.S. government has not issued guidance for the spring 2021 semester. Based on the fall guidance, new students who will be in the U.S. in the spring, should enroll in at least one in-person or hybrid course. Since the guidance for the spring semester has not been issued yet, the in-person course requirement may change. OISS will communicate to students once guidance is issued. 

What if I cannot get a visa in time to enter the U.S. in January?

Students who are unable to travel should work with office of Admissions and the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) to request an update to their admission status and immigration record. Graduate students should work with their department and OISS regarding studying from outside of the U.S. and to request an update to their immigration record.

Is there a deadline by which we have to return to MSU?

Spring semester classes begin on January 11, 2021. The last day to enroll in classes or add classes to your schedule is 8pm on Friday, January 15, 2021. New students should plan to arrive at MSU no later than January 15, 2021 and enroll full-time before entering the U.S. Continuing students should enroll full-time prior to their arrival. Spring 2021 guidance has not been issued by the U.S. government.  Based on the Fall 2020 guidance, new students should enroll for at least one in-person course as part of their full-time enrollment. Since the guidance for the spring semester has not been issued yet, the in-person course requirement may change. 

What are current travel restrictions on entering the U.S.?

The March 14 Presidential Proclamations update suspends entry into the U.S. of all immigrants and Nonimmigrants who were physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry to the United States:

  • People's Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) 
  • Iran
  • 26 Schengen Area countries 
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Brazil (as of May 23rd, 2020) 

Please consult with OISS about potential changes as this is a very fluid situation. 

Immigration

Do I need a new I-20 or DS-2019 to enter the U.S.?

It depends. 

Are you a new student, admitted for Fall semester 2020, who has not entered the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status yet?  If yes, OISS would need to update the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019 to January 2021.

If you are a continuing student you only need to be sure you have a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019.

Will U.S. consulates be open before January?

Each Consulate operates independently and can have different policies/practices related to opening. OISS may not have the most updated information related to appointment availability; it is important to check with the consulate directly related to appointment availability. Consulates have been instructed to accept electronically signed I-20 documents with a 'program start date' in the future from F-1 student visa applicants. J-1 students will need an original DS-2019 with a blue ink signature from MSU. Students must enter the US no later than 01/15/2020 for a Spring 2021 semester start.

Do F-1 students need to enroll in in-person courses to maintain immigration status for Spring Semester 2021?

Guidance for the Fall 2020 semester indicated that 'initial' students (students who are starting a new program or re-entering the US with new status) require at least one in-person or hybrid class to maintain status. Continuing students did not require any in-person class to maintain status. Guidance has not been released for the Spring 2021 semester at this time.

Will the ICE policy stay the same as the Fall Semester 2020?

ICE and SEVP have not yet provided guidance for F-1 students for spring 2021. As soon as guidance is provided, OISS will outline how the guidance will effect MSU international students. Our office will post updates to our website and send out special communications as soon as we know more. Similarly, the U.S. Department of State has not yet provided guidance for J-1 students for spring 2021.

Can I defer admission or arrival to Fall Semester 2021, and will I need a new visa?

Initial students are eligible to defer to Fall 2021. OISS will need to review your deferral request and create a new I-20 or DS-2019 for fall semester 2021. 

Enrollment & Billing

Can I continue to study online from home for Spring Semester 2021?

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) guidance for F-1 and J-1 students for the Fall 2020 semester indicated that "initial" students (students who entered the U.S. to start a new academic program or students who re-entered the U.S. with an I-20 or DS-2019 with a program start date for Fall 2020) must enroll in at least one in-person or hybrid class to maintain immigration status. Continuing students did not need to enroll in any in-person classes to keep their I-20 or DS-2019 active, regardless of their location in the world (in the U.S. or outside the U.S.). OISS is expecting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release updated immigration guidance for spring semester 2021. We will provide additional updates as information becomes available.

From an academic perspective, students can continue to take classes online from home during spring semester 2021. We expect the new guidance to tell us if and how online enrollment from outside the U.S. will, or will not, impact student's I-20s and DS-2019s.

Spring semester will start on Jan. 11, 2021 and end April 23, 2021.

Learn more about Classes and Academics at MSU Together We Will

Do F-1 and J-1 international students studying in their home country need to enroll full-time?

Continuing F-1 and J-1 students who are taking online classes from their home country, or anywhere outside the U.S., must enroll full-time, or be approved for a Reduced Course Load, if they wish to keep their I-20 or DS-2019 active and maintain their current eligibility for immigration benefits, such as Curricular or Optional Practical Training when they return to the U.S. Connect with an OISS Advisor to discuss your specific situation before deciding to enroll less than full-time.

Is there a possibility my courses labeled as "online" for Spring Semester 2021 could change to "in-person"?

After spring semester 2021 classes begin, changes in course modality is highly unlikely. The Schedule of Courses for spring semester 2021 is very close to being finalized by the Office of the Registrar, and updates will continue to be made as instructors submit new or updated course information. However, most changes have already been made.  

In the meantime, students who have been issued an Initial Attendance I-20 for spring semester 2021, with a January 2021 program start date, and who are planning to enter the U.S. for spring semester should check their class schedule regularly to ensure that they are enrolled in at least one in-person or hybrid course for spring semester.

If you are enrolled in a class that changes from in-person to online or online to in-person, talk to your academic advisor, graduate faculty advisor, or graduate program coordinator to see if there are different sections or alternative courses to enroll in. To find out how to connect with your academic advisor, go to the MSU Guide to Remote Learning: Keep Learning website and click on the link for Academic Advising Resources. Graduate students can find contact information for their department on The Graduate School department and program directory.

Learn more about Classes and Academics at MSU Together We Will

If I don't get a visa when I apply for one, do I still need to pay this semester's fees before deciding to take the semester off?

Before deciding to take a semester off, connect with your academic advisor, graduate faculty advisor, or graduate program coordinator to determine your planned course of study and then connect with an OISS advisor if you have concerns or questions regarding enrollment and your F-1 or J-1 status.

Undergraduates students: find out how to connect with your academic advisor, on the MSU Guide to Remote Learning: Keep Learning website. Click on the link for Academic Advising Resources.

Graduate students: find contact information for your department on The Graduate School department and program directory.

It's best to drop your classes before your bill due date to avoid late payment fees and payment plan fees being added to your account. Log into StuInfo to see your due date. For most continuing students, the due date is Friday, December 11, 2020. See the Academic Calendar

If your bill due date has passed, you can still drop your classes and get a refund on tuition as long as you drop your classes by Friday, February 5, 2021 (for full semester classes). Learn more about Enrollment and Registration 

You do not need to do anything to "hold your place" at MSU. You can take two consecutive semesters off without needing to reapply to resume your studies. You will continue to be a Spartan during semesters that you choose to take off. Learn more about MSU's Withdrawal Policy 

If you are an F-1 or J-1 student and you are in the U.S., dropping all of your courses may mean that you cannot remain in the U.S.

If you are not in the U.S. there may also be an impact on the validity of your I-20 or DS-2019 if you drop all of your classes.

Connect with an OISS Advisor to discuss the impact that enrollment or non-enrollment may have on your immigration record and documents, such as your I-20 or DS-2019.

If you have questions about billing due dates and refunds, contact Student Account Services Office by phone: (517) 355-3343, (800) 775-4323or email: Student.Receivables(at)ctlr.msu.edu

For online courses with final exam location, do we need to show up in person for the exam? If I am located in another time zone, can I get a different final exam schedule?

Fall Semester 2020: All undergraduate course exams will be online after Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 26, 2020)   

Learn more about Classes and Academics at MSU Together We Will

Academic Structure at MSU

Understanding the academic structure at MSU is an important first step towards resolving concerns about your classes.

Instructors design each course that they are teaching and they have a great deal of freedom to decide on course structure, requirements, and policies. Instructors work within academic departments. Each department has a department chair, which is usually a faculty member.

Each department is part of an academic college and each college has a dean and a number of associate and assistant deans. Deans, associate and assistant deans are usually faculty members, as well. The deans, associate and assistant deans collaborate with the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education & Dean of Undergraduate Studies and the Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education.

Office of the University Ombudsperson

Students are always encouraged to contact the Office of the University Ombudsperson for confidential, informal, independent, and neutral assistance with resolving problems and addressing concerns related to academics or anything else that is impacting your student experience. You can contact the Office of the University Ombudsperson as a first step or after attempting to resolve your concerns with instructors, departments, or colleges. 

Step One

Connect with your instructors in each course to share your concerns and discuss alternative possibilities. 

Step Two

If you are unsatisfied with the alternatives offered, or if no alternatives are offered, connect with the department chair of the department that is offering the class. Let the department chair know that you have attempted to resolve your concerns with your instructor but were unable to and share your specific concerns with the department chair. List of MSU Colleges and Programs

Step Three

If your concerns have not been addressed by either your instructor or the department chair, then connect with the Dean, Associate Dean or Assistant Dean of the college offering the class. Let them know that you have already connected with your instructor and the department chair but your concerns have not been resolved. Share your specific concerns with them. List of MSU Colleges and Programs

Step Four

If your concerns are still unresolved, contact the following people:

Undergraduate Students - Connect with Dr. Mark Largent, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education & Dean of Undergraduate Studies, phone: 517-353-5380, email: largent(at)msu.edu

Graduate Students - Connect with Dr. Thomas Jeitschko, Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education, phone 517-353-3220, email: jeitschko(at)msu.edu.

Again, let them know what steps you have already taken to try to resolve your concerns with your instructor, department chair, dean/associate/assistant dean of the college and then share your specific concerns again.

 

Will there be any grading leniency/pass or fail options?

MSU adopted a satisfactory/not satisfactory (S/NS) binary grade reporting option for students for fall semester 2020 and spring semester 2021. More information about the S/NS grade reporting option, including a series of FAQs, is available on the MSU Guide to Remote Access website.

Students are strongly encouraged to work with their academic advisors and their programs to determine possible implications of their choices. To find out how to connect with your academic advisor, go to the MSU Guide to Remote Learning: Keep Learning website and click on the link for Academic Advising Resources.

What if I do not want to take online courses for my last semester?

Connect with your academic advisor, graduate faculty advisor, or graduate program coordinator to determine your planned course of study and then connect with an OISS advisor if you have concerns or questions regarding enrollment and your F-1 or J-1 status.

Undergraduates students: find out how to connect with your academic advisor, on the MSU Guide to Remote Learning: Keep Learning website. Click on the link for Academic Advising Resources.

Graduate students: find contact information for your department on The Graduate School department and program directory.

If I choose to graduate remotely, do I still get a diploma?

Update your diploma address in StuInfo and the Registrar's Office will ship it to you. It may take 6 - 8 weeks for delivery to international addresses. To get your diploma quickly, you can purchase a Certified Electronic Diploma. A Certified Electronic Diploma is an official, secure and verifiable PDF version of your diploma.

Health & Safety

What should I do if the COVID infection rate remains high in my home country? Will I be required to quarantine?

The infection rate in your home country may determine what actions you must take upon arrival at MSU. Read the most up-to-date inbound travel protocols for MSU.

COVID rates are increasing in the U.S. How can we protect ourselves on campus?

The MSU Community Compact is designed to maximize safety on the MSU campus. Please review and follow all requirements of the MSU Community Compact in order to best protect yourself and your fellow Spartans. 

What if I get COVID? Does my insurance cover COVID treatment?

The MSU Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) provided by the Blue Care Network (BCN) does cover COVID-19 testing and treatment. 

Will there be another insurance exemption option for Spring Semester 2021?

Yes, for students who are planning to enroll for Spring 2021 while remaining outside the US, there will be an insurance exemption option, similar to that available during Fall 2020. Once the Spring 2021 insurance exemption e-form is available, the OISS website will be updated to reflect the process for requesting an exemption for Spring 2021. OISS will also send communication regarding this process to your MSU email.