FAQ: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information for International Students

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Berkeley Global International Students

Maintained by International Student Services (ISS) at extension-intl@berkeley.edu.

Due to the fluidity of the situation on campus regarding the coronavirus, the answers to the questions below may change. Please be sure to check back often for updates.

Updated: 7/14/20 at 2 p.m.

Fall 2020 Visa and Enrollment

Mode of instruction for Fall 2020 will offer some limited in person courses, but the majority of instruction will be remote. Some programs will be offered Live Online (remotely) only. 

The current situation remains very fluid and International Student Services is monitoring all travel and visa issues related to Fall arrival. We appreciate your patience while we work to adjust to changes and we will continue to keep our Berkeley Global community informed.

Important Update - On July 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security rescinded it's July 6th temporary procedural adaptation guidance for schools regarding F-1 international student enrollment for the Fall 2020 semester. International Student Services is currently analyzing the guidance and awaiting additional informations on its impact on our F-1 students.  

Can international students study with Berkeley Global in the Fall 2020 semester?

Yes. As most of our programs and courses will be offered remotely, students will be able to participate from their own homes or locations outside the U.S. However, there will be limitations on who can study in the U.S. as F-1 students.

  • NEW F-1 international students will not be allowed to enter the U.S. to participate in Berkeley Global programs.
  • CONTINUING/TRANSFER F-1 international students will be allowed to remain in the U.S. if taking a full course of study.

Will classes be offered in person or remotely? 
Berkeley Global, pending approval from our local public health officials, will offer limited in person courses in the Fall 2020 semester. However, most courses will be offered remotely. Some specific Berkeley Global programs will be offered Live Online (remote) only. For additional information on Fall 2020 semester plans, contact your program and check here for the latest UC Berkeley news.

I have applied to start in the Fall 2020 semester. Will I be able to get an F-1 visa and enter the U.S.? 
Unfortunately, given that most courses will be offered remotely, new F-1 students will not be able to enter the U.S. to start a program in Fall 2020. Please contact your program as soon as possible for options and additional details; options may include cancellation, deferral, or part-time remote study from your home. Your I-20 will be cancelled in mid-July if you do not communicate your preferences. F-1 Transfer students should contact ISS immediately.

I am a continuing/returning student, can I stay in the United States?

Yes, as of July 14, 2020, students may remain in the U.S. in the Fall 2020 semester regardless of mode of instruction (in-person, hybrid, remote, etc) as long as they puruse a full course of study.

If classes are held remotely, I do not want to attend my program.  Can I come to Berkeley in a different semester to attend in-person?
Yes, students have the option to request to defer their admission to another semester if they do not want to attend in Fall.  Contact your program about this and they will assist you with the process. 

Visa Concerns for Spring 2020 students

I am trying to leave the U.S. and travel to my home country, but can't find a flight. What do I do?
Flight availability is changing from week to week. Students who are struggling to find a flight home should reach out to their country's Embassy or Consulate in the U.S.  Many countries are arranging special travel for international students in the U.S. trying to get home.
Students who cannot leave before the end of their grace period (July 14) should contact ISS for guidance and alternate options. ISS can document your inability to leave the country due to COVID-19 in your SEVIS record.
 

I have finished my program. How long can I stay in the U.S.?
As long as you maintain your F-1 status, you are granted a 60-day grace period after the I-20 program end date. This means you can stay in the U.S. until July 14th. If you want to stay longer, please contact ISS at extension-intl@berkeley.edu as soon as possible to discuss options.
I want to stay longer in the U.S. and not go home, what should I do?
There are multiple summer options available to you including Summer Sessions, taking classes at UC Berkeley Extension, enrolling in an 8-Week Certificate Program, and extending into the Fall 2020 semester. If you want to stay longer, please contact ISS at extension-intl@berkeley.edu as soon as possible to discuss options.

I have or plan to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). How does this impact my OPT?
Students must be in the U.S. to apply for OPT. If you are planning on completing your program in Spring 2020 and were planning on applying for OPT, but haven't yet, please contact ISS at extension-intl@berkeley.edu immediately.
If you've applied for OPT already, we recommend that you remain in the U.S. while your application is pending. However, if you need to leave, please contact ISS at extension-intl@berkeley.edu immediately for advising.

I am leaving Berkeley, but I still have a lease/rent payments. What do I do?
You should contact your landlord in writing and let them know you are leaving Berkeley. The city of Berkeley city council passed an ordinance on June 30 which allows tenants to terminate their leases with 30 days’ notice if they qualify under “Covered Reasons for Delayed Payment,” which include material loss of income, or if they “are or were registered at an educational institution that cancelled or limited in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the item’s cover memo. However, landlords may still require you to pay the rent owed for the duration of a lease. If you need assistance, please let us know at extension-intl@berkeley.edu and we can help review your lease and direct you to resources with the Berkeley Rent Board and East Bay Community Law Center.

Health and Safety

Is it safe to come to the United States in due to COVID-19?  When will shelter-in-place be over?
The COVID-19 situation is vastly different across the United States and even within California.  The Bay Area has taken strict measures in order to keep its residents safe and to “flatten the curve.”  If students arrive in the Bay Area in the Fall they should be prepared to follow all guidelines in order to keep themselves and others safe.  There is no clear end date for the statewide “shelter-in-place” order but counties and cities have been communicating with residents regularly to give as many updates as possible. Check City of Berkeley COVID-19 news for the most up-to-date information.

How do I stay healthy? What should I do if I am sick?

Follow the recommendations from the CDC website. If you think you might have the coronavirus, call your doctor or urgent care before coming in so they can prepare for you. Contact your Program Adviser if you are unable to attend or participate in classes. If you have the UC Berkeley Anthem Health Insurance, check out Anthem's helpful guide about COVID-19 health plan benefits and download a free app to assess your Coronavirus symptoms and connect to a doctor. Also, Carbon Health offers the Coronavirus Assessment Tool and offers same-day virtual appointments. 

Does the Extension Health Insurance (Anthem) cover the coronavirus?
Yes. We confirmed with Anthem Blue Cross that there is no exclusion for coronavirus. This means that hospital stays, doctor visits and medications are covered at the same rate no matter what illness you have. In fact, Anthem also intends to waive out-of-pocket expenses for the focused test used to diagnose COVID-19. Members can call the number on their ID card to confirm coverage. Please go to 4StudentHealth to see your plan summary, and to look up doctors and hospitals in your network. Check out Anthem's helpful guide about COVID-19 health plan benefits. You can even download a free app to assess your Coronavirus symptons and connect to a doctor. For more information about your health insurance coverage, see our Health & Safety webpage.
 
I am a returning student. What kind of housing can I find in light of COVID-19?  Will I be able to live with roommates?
Apartments are still available to be rented and various housing providers have provided information about what they are doing in light of COVID-19.  You can reach out to them with more specific questions about their practices, or reach out to our housing coordinator at extension-intl@berkeley.edu. If you are considering signing a lease, you should be aware that the city of Berkeley city council passed an ordinance on June 30 which allows tenants to terminate their leases with 30 days’ notice if they qualify under “Covered Reasons for Delayed Payment,” which include material loss of income, or if they “are or were registered at an educational institution that cancelled or limited in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the item’s cover memo. However, landlords may still require you to pay the rent owed for the duration of a lease. You should be certain that you, and any potential roommates, will stay in that housing for the duration of a lease before signing it. If you are unsure about committing to the whole duration, ask your landlord about a shorter lease, or changing the termination clause to better accommodate your needs, before signing.

Resources

Check your email for messages from campus, International Student Services and your academic programs.

Where can I get information?
UC Berkeley
City of Berkeley
City of San Francisco
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Travel Advisories
How do I maintain connections with my classmates and community?
ISS will be offering multiple virtual opportunities for you to continue to engage and connect from a virtual Cooking Contest, a virtual Trivia Night, moderated Discord chats, mindfulness and meditation practice, and more! Check here for all upcoming ISS Virtual Activities.

Student Services

Is International Student Services (ISS) still open? How do I talk to an advisor?
Yes. While the UC Berkeley Extension buildings (in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Belmont) are closed, ISS continues to offer services remotely. Advisors are available via email or virtual appointment Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. 15-min and 30-min appointments are available same day. OPT Appointments require 24-hour notice.
Are campus libraries open? How can I return books?
No. All libraries are currently closed. However, you still have full access to the online library database (you must download the VPN first) and librarians are available via email via the 24/7 online chat service.
Is Counseling and Psychological Services open?
Yes! Appointments are available via phone. See their website for contact info and hours.