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Immigration Status

Please see below for Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 regarding immigration status.

How does this affect me if I am an F-1 student?

Currently, USCIS guidance regarding the ability to maintain active status for continuing students while taking remote coursework is still in effect. You may request remote-only courses for any reason through Drake’s Office of the Registrar BEFORE August 14, 2020 by submitting the Request for Remote Course Delivery Form.

How does this affect me if I am a J-1 scholar?

If you are a J-1 scholar and are continuing to make progress on your research during this period of online coursework, you can remain in the US and continue working toward your program goal until your program end date. If you have further questions, please contact Kendra Hossain-Morehead at

Are new students able to apply for visas and returning students able to renew their visas?

On March 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of State indefinitely suspended all consular visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe. It is unclear when these visa services will be made available again, although there are reports of some individual U.S. embassies/consulates re-opening for visa services. We encourage you to monitor your U.S. embassy and consulate information in your home country for updates.

Should new students be unable to secure a visa this summer for fall study, documentation would be deferred for a start date in spring semester, as the visa application process will be delayed until fall or winter. With this change, students will receive a new I-20 for the delayed visa application.

What do I do if I need a new I-20 or travel signature?

During this time, SEVP has authorized the use of digital signatures on I-20s. If you are outside the Des Moines area and require a new I-20 for any reason (CPT, travel signature, etc.), we will be sending you a scan of the signed I-20. You will need to print any scanned documents and use them as originals. We will maintain the originals in the International Office on campus and you can pick them up when you are able to return to Des Moines.

Does the U.S. still have travel restrictions?

Travel restrictions into the United States are still in place for non-U.S. citizens who are coming from China or Brazil. Updates from the Department of State regarding U.S. policies on visa and travel policies can be found online

F-1 students with a valid U.S. visa from the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, or Ireland are eligible for the National Interest Exception to travel. Students traveling from these areas do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual national interest exception to travel. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 visa will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel.

Your country may have also enacted COVID-related travel restrictions at this time. Some countries (including Malaysia and Australia) currently have “exit restrictions” for their citizens wishing to travel. We encourage you to check with your government for the most up-to-date information about exit restrictions and exceptions. Since March, our office has been tracking and monitoring travel restrictions for your home country and would be happy to provide the most current information we have.

What is Drake doing to help new international students?

A number of initiatives have been implemented as a result of the unknowns related to travel and COVID-19. Please know that Drake continues to invest in your curricular and co-curricular experience, even if you are unable to travel in person to campus. We are committed to ensuring you will feel part of the Drake community. Unique programming includes:

  • Moving our International Student Orientation to a virtual format. Information about Drake, the Des Moines area, and important pieces of your experience at Drake as an international student will be given through an online pre-orientation. We will also host a virtual “in-person” (synchronous) orientation on August 18–19, 2020. More information will be sent out to all incoming international students in the near future.
  • Registering all international students for a remote First Year Seminar (FYS) course and a remote section of Bulldog Foundations that will be instructed by Kendra Hossain-Morehead, director of international student and scholar services. Both of these courses are required for all first-year students. These courses will be a very important way for you to connect to the institution and to receive a “proper” introduction to all that awaits you during your time at Drake!
  • Working with college and school deans and faculty to ensure that international students who are unable to travel to the U.S. have enriching remote course experiences. Drake is committed to providing a high-quality, remote learning environment to students who are unable to attend classes in person.
  • Offering a special mentorship experience to all first-year international students. We are extending the International Mentorship program (IMAC) to last throughout the fall semester. Your IMAC is a resource for you throughout the summer, but they will also be available to answer any questions you may have during the fall, as well.

Questions? Contact us with any COVID-19 questions.