The FAQs below address common questions from F1 and J1 student visa holders for the Spring 2022 semester. Please review all of these questions before contacting ISSS, your academic advisor, or your coach. We understand that some students may have a unique situation and that you may be concerned about your arrival. If you are a current UAB student and have additional questions or concerns after reading these questions, please attend our weekly virtual advising every Wednesday at 3PM CST (details in the weekly Globetrotter newsletter) or make a video appointment.

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SPRING 2022 Courses

  • How many online courses can I take for the Spring 2022 semester?

    Returning and current UAB F-1 students inside the US are allowed to enroll in a fully online course load for the Spring 2022 semester according to the most recent government guidance. However, new students enrolling in their first semester must register for at least one in-person course.

  • As a continuing student, can I remain in the US and take only online classes during the Spring 2022 semester and maintain my F-1 status?

    Yes. Continuing students can enroll in only online classes inside the US. As mentioned in the previous question, new students are required to register for at least one in-person course.

  • Do I still need to enroll in the minimum 9 (graduate) or 12 (undergraduate) credit hours required for F-1 students?

    Yes. These are still the minimum number of hours to be considered full-time for purposes of maintaining your F-1 status.

    Please see our Course Enrollment page for information regarding reduced course loads.

  • I’m currently back in my home country. Can I take online classes from my home country if I cannot, or do not want to, fly back to the US?

    Yes. Continuing and new students can take online classes from their home country; however, to maintain your F1 status you will need to enroll full time (12 hours for undergraduates/9 hours for graduates). If you do not enroll or only enroll part-time (without an authorized reason), you must submit an Authorized Early Withdrawal Form (pdf) to ISSS. At least 60 days, but no more than 90 days, before you’re ready to enter the US, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request that your SEVIS record be reactivated so that ISSS can send you a new Form I-20 for entering the US.

  • I’m currently back in my home country. Can I take online classes from my home country if I cannot, or do not want to, fly back to the US?

    Yes. Continuing and new students can take online classes from their home country; however, to maintain your F1 status you will need to enroll full-time (12 hours for undergraduates/9 hours for graduates). If you do not enroll or only enroll part- time (without an authorized reason), you must submit an Authorized Early Withdrawal Form to ISSS.

    At least 60 days (but no more than 90 days) before you’re ready to enter the US, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request that your SEVIS record be reactivated so that ISSS can send you a new Form I-20 for entering the US.

I-20 and Visa Issues

  • How can I apply for a visa?

    You received specific information about paying the SEVIS fee and applying for an F-1 visa during the admissions and I-20 issuance processes. Please follow those instructions and consult the Visa Appointment Wait Times website.

  • What if I don’t get a visa in time? Will I be penalized if I arrive late for class?

    Attendance policies vary by course and program. Please contact your academic advisor or instructor and inform them of your delay. If you know you will arrive late because it is taking so long to get a visa appointment, please notify your advisor, and they can provide a letter stating that they are aware of the delay and approve your late arrival.

  • I want to take the Spring 2022 semester off and not enroll in any classes. What will happen to my F-1 visa and Form I-20?

    As previously mentioned, ISSS will have to terminate your I-20 record and re-activate it before you return to the US. Remember: the F-1 visa in your passport and your Form I-20 serve different purposes. The F-1 visa stamp in your passport is primarily a “travel ticket” that must be valid any time you want to enter the US as a student, with very limited exceptions. The Form I-20 validates your F-1 status once you are inside the US and must be registered as Active in the SEVIS database while you are inside the US, or if you plan to travel to the US on your F-1 visa for study. If you will remain outside the US for Spring 2022 and not enroll in any classes, check the expiration date on your F-1 visa and contact ISSS before re-entering the US later in 2022 to make sure we have activated your SEVIS record in the government database before you return to the US.

    If you try to re-enter the US on a terminated I-20, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport may deny your entry, or send you to secondary inspection for follow-up questions about why you tried to enter with a terminated I-20. You MUST contact ISSS before traveling if you’re unsure whether your SEVIS record is Active. CBP officers are instructed not to let you in if your I-20 is in terminated status. You may get lucky and receive a Form I-515 from the CBP officer, but the general policy is that CBP will NOT let students into the US on a terminated I-20.

  • I am a new student for Spring 2022. I have received my Form I-20, but I cannot get a visa appointment because the US consulate/embassy near me only offers emergency appointments. What are my options?

    All F-1 students (except citizens of Canada and Bermuda) must have a physical F-1 visa stamp in their passport before entering the US to begin their classes. If you are not able to schedule a visa appointment in your home country before the spring semester begins, you must remain outside the US and either defer your UAB admission or enroll in UAB classes online from home. ISSS will send you an updated Form I-20 with a future start date so that you can hopefully get a visa interview in time to enter the US for the summer or fall 2022 semester.

    Consular sections overseas may be able to expedite your interview date if there is an urgent situation, such as a school start date. The process to request an expedited nonimmigrant visa interview varies by location. Read the instructions on the website of the Embassy or Consulate Visa Section where you will interview, or on their online appointment scheduling site. You will need to provide proof of the need for an expedited appointment, such as a printout of the UAB Spring 2022 academic calendar and your admission letter.

Travel

  • I want to travel home between now and the start of the spring semester, but my F-1 visa has expired. Will I be able to re-enter the US for spring?

    ISSS does not recommend this. Many US consulates and embassies worldwide are offering only “emergency only” appointments or have limited appointment availability. If you leave the US and have an expired visa, it could take weeks or months for you to get an appointment to obtain a new F-1 visa to re-enter. Weigh the risks carefully before making travel plans, and always buy travel insurance in case you need to cancel or rebook a flight.

  • What documents are now required to enter the US?

    Along with a valid F1 visa, Form I-20, students traveling to the US are required to show proof of full Covid-19 vaccination and proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within one day of traveling.

    F1 students are also encouraged to travel with proof of funding for one year of study (ex. assistantship offer letter, scholarship letter/grant-in-aid, personal financial documents) and their spring 2022 schedule if registered. Travel letters from ISSS are not required.

Assistantships and Scholarships

  • I am supposed to receive an assistantship with stipend from the UAB Graduate School, but I will not be in the US for the Spring 2022 semester. Will I still get paid?

    International students who are not physically present on campus will not receive a stipend. If you are a doctoral (PhD) level awarded a GA, GTA, or GRA, your best option may be to defer your admission until you can enter the US. Please contact your advisor or program director to discuss options. ISSS does not control assistantship awards.

    UAB (department, program, or Blazer Graduate Research Fellowship) can pay tuition and fees for an international student who is outside the US, if the student is joining a program for which UAB typically pays tuition and fees. However, in accordance with Alabama state residency laws and Board Rule 202, tuition will be charged at the non-resident international rate for graduate students, which varies by school/college. Current tuition rates.

    Please direct questions about stipends to the Graduate School Director of Administration and Fiscal Affairs, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • I plan to remain outside the US for the Spring 2022 semester. Will I continue to receive my academic scholarship money?

    Yes, undergraduate F-1 visa holders will continue to receive scholarship money if they are eligible while studying outside the US. Students will still need to meet the minimum requirements to retain their scholarship (i.e., be enrolled full-time in fall and spring and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA). Graduate students who have been awarded scholarships should contact the Graduate School (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to confirm eligibility.

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