Campus Message - March 17, 2020

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17 March 2020

Dear students,

The University System of Georgia (USG) has decided all 26 institutions will transition to online instruction for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester with extremely limited exceptions. We understand that this situation is uncertain and developing and changing quickly. Please read the entirety of the e-mail below carefully and be aware that some regulations may be amended as the COVID-19 situation changes.

Online Classes

Based on the guidance provided by Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), non-immigrant international students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19, without affecting their non-immigrant status.

Departing the U.S. and Returning Home Temporarily

Non-immigrant international students may complete semester coursework from their home country for the Spring 2020 semester. Should you decide to return home, please complete this form (for immigration record-keeping purposes only) after reading this email.

  • 5-Month Rule

The 5-month rule requires that all international students who are out of the U.S. for more than 5 months will be required to re-enter the U.S. on a new Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record. A new SEVIS record will mean that you will have to pay the USD $350 SEVIS fee prior to your planned travel into the U.S.

  • F-1 Visa

Things to consider: If your student visa will expire before you are able to re-enter the United States, you will need to apply for a new student visa at the U.S. embassy in your home country. For the required documentation, as well as supporting documentation, please check out the U.S. Department of State’s page on Student Visas.

  • SEVIS Record Extensions: The SEVIS Record Extension form is available on the International Student Services forms ( page.
  • Travel Endorsement: If you are not graduating, and you do not need to request an extension of your SEVIS record, please check your most recently issued form I-20 and complete the following information:
    • Compare the dates on the first page of your form I-20 (where VSU’s signature is) to determine which form has been issued most recently.
    • What date was your travel endorsement (look at the second page of your most recently issued form I-20) signed?
      • The travel endorsement box will be on the second page and will have four lines. One of the lines must have been signed no earlier than August 17, 2019.
      • If it was signed earlier than that date, you will need to schedule an appointment to get a new signature.

International Student Advising Changes

For general international student advising and inquiries, please contact Danielle Bacud via e-mail or Skype (

Skype call/video call appointments will be offered.

In-person appointments may be requested for emergencies or to review your Optional Practical Training (OPT) application packets.

  • Requests for appointments via e-mail to review OPT application packets must include a requested start date for SEVIS.

To make an appointment:

  • Send Danielle Bacud an email or message through Skype with a request for a Skype appointment, a brief reason for the appointment, a list of dates and times within office hours that you would like to meet.

Students Living On-Campus

International students who have completed the Registry Form in MyVSU will be allowed to remain on campus. Please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page ( regarding your questions for dining, housing, and campus services. The Housing and Residence Life office will be reaching out to you as soon as possible.


Key term: Close Contact - this is defined as being within six (6) feet of an individual for more than 15 minutes regardless of whether a face covering is worn.  

EMPLOYEES DO NOT come on campus if you believe you have been in close contact with a person having COVID or yourself having symptoms or receiving a positive diagnosis. Instead, notify your supervisor of your absence, seek medical services from your primary care provider, and self-report your information by completing the online form or contacting HR directly at 229-333-5709. 

STUDENTS DO NOT come on campus nor go directly to the Student Health Center if you believe you have been exposed to COVID. Instead, call the Health Services at 229-333-5886 to speak with a triage nurse over the phone. Additional guidance will be provided on how to access the health center facility. The health center remains open for walk-in patients with non-COVID medical needs. 

Members of the campus community should report all instances of close contact with a person having COVID or themselves receiving a positive diagnosis of COVID.  To assist with reporting, a COVID Self Reporting link has been added within MyVSU.  




If you have been instructed to self-isolate or quarantine, you should do so at your permanent home for the period given unless it should be extended due to remaining symptoms. 

Report a Social Distance Concern