COVID-19 Response

This page is frequently updated, so check for new information. Scroll down for additional resources. 

Frequently Asked Questions

OISS is committed to supporting our international community during this outbreak of COVID-19. While classes have been moved to remote instruction, OISS staff will continue to be available for remote advising. OISS has expanded phone and Zoom (videochat) support for concerned students.


Since classes have been moved to remote instruction, should international students return to their home countries?

  • You are free to stay in the U.S. or return to your home country.
  • Do not update your local living address to your international address.  Please keep your current address listed if you are going to study outside the United States. If you are moving within the US please update your address in GOLD.
  • If you choose to return to your home country, be sure that you have a valid travel signature from OISS. Travel signatures are valid for up to one year for F-1 and J-1 degree-seeking students, and 6 months for EAP students. You will need a valid travel signature to re-enter the U.S.
Can international students take more than one class online while campus is on remote instruction?
  • Yes! The usual limit of one on-line class per quarter has been suspended. Students may enroll in on-line classes full-time through UCSB while UCSB is allowing remote instruction. Undergraduates must still be enrolled in 12 units through UCSB to maintain your Spring 2020 enrollment.

  • Students will be able to maintain their visa status under these special circumstances. 

  • Students are expected to maintain the minimum unit load and comply with other regulatory requirements associated with their visa status unless otherwise authorized.

If a class was canceled and has resulted in me being below 12 units, do I have to find another class to bring my enrollment back up to 12 units?
  • Yes, if you are enrolled in Spring 2020 quarter, you MUST be enrolled in 12 units as an undergraduate student to maintain your immigration status.  All enrollment requirements remain the same even though remote instruction is in place.
Since classes are cancelled, will OISS advisors still be available?
  • Absolutely, though face-to-face advising has been suspended, following social distancing guidelines. OISS advisors are available to help via email, phone, or Zoom. Email OISS to request an appointment.

What if a student wants to go back to their home country?

  • OISS cannot guarantee students' ability to access online coursework in other countries.

  • If a student wants to return home and does not wish to continue classes while they are away, the student must request a Leave of Absence. Consult with an OISS advisor. 

What will happen to a student's I-20 or DS-2019 if they choose to go home?
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 remains active. Please email OISS at oiss@sa.ucsb.edu or call (805) 893-2929 to schedule a consultation with an OISS Advisor if you have additional questions.
What about the 5-month rule for visas?
  • Even if you are outside the United States for more than 5 months, your visa will remain active.
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 will remain active as long as you maintain your enrollment, even if you choose to return home. Pursuing your coursework remotely outside the U.S. is currently being permitted due to these special circumstances. 
What if I left the U.S. without getting a travel signature?
  • OISS can process a new document for you. You will need to pay to have the new document mailed to you. Please allow up to 2 months for processing. Contact OISS as soon as possible if you will need a document mailed to you.
Will students who are no longer in the U.S. be allowed to cancel UC SHIP (UC Student Health Insurance Program) and receive a refund?  
  • The regent’s mandate that students have adequate active health insurance is still in place for all students. UCSB is relaxing some of the waiver requirements for international students (i.e., repatriation, mile radius and some others). Campuses are also extending their waiver deadlines to allow students to reverse waivers for spring term.  Students will not be charged for UC SHIP if waivers are reversed in the time allowed.
Will students who stay in the U.S. but no longer live near campus be allowed to cancel UC SHIP and receive a refund? 
  • UC SHIP has a national service area via Anthem’s nationwide PPO network. Nonetheless, just as for students who are outside of the U.S., UCSB is extending waiver deadlines to allow for reversals. Any domestic insurance used to waive must still meet UC criteria (with possible exceptions for distance).
    What does UCSB Student Health advise? 
    • UCSB Student Health advises students staying in the U.S. to keep UC SHIP. UC SHIP is comprehensive coverage that provides a better value and more access to providers than what can be purchased through CoveredCA (Platinum level coverage at a Bronze/catastrophic price).  UC SHIP, as a managed PPO, provides the students that would waive with MediCal significantly better access to providers (both in time it takes to get care if you need it and in the number of providers).  Provider access will be of increased importance in the coming months.  It is unclear if students can go back to their parents’ employer plans or enroll in a CoveredCA plan at this time since the normal election period has passed and a change would usually require a qualifying life event to enroll.

Can I enroll in Summer Sessions if I cancel Spring Quarter?

  • Yes. You will need to fill out the normal Summer Sessions application (the application fee is waived for all UCSB students). Contact Summer Sessions with specific questions about Summer Sessions.
  • If you cancel Spring Quarter AFTER after signing up for Summer Sessions, Summer Sessions will NOT be cancelled—if you intend to cancel both Spring AND Summer Sessions, please be sure to do so.
  • Returning students get the same pass times as continuing students, so priority will be according to your class level.
  • If you cancel Spring Quarter and intend to return for Fall Quarter, the normal readmission petition and procedures will need to take place, whether or not you attend Summer Session. Summer Session does not qualify as a conduit for readmission.
A lot of campus departments are closed. How will I submit request forms and petitions?
  • As of right now, many departments have closed their doors to the public but are continuing their services to the campus community remotely. This includes offices such as OISS, Academic Advising and the Registrar's Office. Please visit each department's website to determine how you can request services and/or advising remotely.  
I don't want to continue my studies remotely next quarter. What should I do?
  • If you do not wish to continue your studies in Spring 2020, that means that you must request a Leave of Absence from OISS. Email OISS at oiss@sa.ucsb.edu with your name, PERM and request to take a leave for Spring quarter. An advisor will be in touch to help process your request and to help you submit your Spring 2020 cancellation to the Office of the Registrar by email. Please note that you cannot remain in the U.S. if you are not enrolled in classes.

I canceled my Spring 2020 quarter. How do I return to UCSB in the future?
  • In order to resume your studies at UCSB in a future quarter, you must submit a Request for Undergraduate Readmission or Reinstatement with the Office of the Registrar if you are an undergraduate student. Due to current circumstances, you can submit this form via email. If you are a graduate student, you must submit a reinstatement petition with the Graduate Division
  • If you wish to return during Summer Sessions, you must apply directly to Summer Sessions at https://www.summer.ucsb.edu/. Once you've completed the application, Summer Sessions will forward approved applications to OISS. An advisor will be in touch with you to create and send you a Summer Sessions I-20. Please note that you still have to submit the Request for Readmission or Reinstatement for Fall 2020 if you are applying to study during Summer sessions. 
  • We understand that COVID-19 is causing uncertainty at the moment, but we recommend that you continue your plans to study at UCSB in a future quarter. In addition, make sure to enroll in your full course load during the earliest possible Pass Times. We can always help you cancel future quarters in case you are not able to return to the U.S. when planned. 

Recommended References for Information and Updates

Steer clear of misinformation spread by unreliable resources by using only verified and trustworthy resources. Below you can find links to reliable sources of information and updates about COVID-19.

Current International Travel Advisories & Travel Restrictions

The Office of International Students and Scholars is currently discouraging international travel in light of COVID-19, especial travel to and from high-risk countries, and travel via cruise ship. If you must travel, below are reliable travel advisories and restrictions published by various U.S. agencies. 

Resources for Those Impacted by COVID-19

If you are experiencing any impact caused by COVID-19, please contact OISS. We are here to support you.

Additional Campus Resources:

  • Student Health Service (SHS) provides comprehensive and integrated healthcare services that treat illnesses efficiently, promote physical and psychological well-being, and enable students to have a healthy and successful University experience.

Unable to Return Home due to COVID-19?

  • UCSB Food Security Taskforce: Basic Needs Resources Guides

  • Laptop Loan Program and other programs
    UCSB is offering a Chromebook loan program this spring. To check out a Chromebook, visit the FNBS (Food, Nutrion, Basic Skills) office in the UCen. Chromebooks will be loaned out on a first come, first served basis, while supplies last. More 

  • UCSB On-campus Housing

Unable to Return to the U.S. due to COVID-19?

OISS is working with campus departments to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals who have been impacted by COVID-19. We encourage you to contact OISS immediately at sa-oiss@ucsb.edu or (805) 893-2929 so that we may provide you with advising and support.