COVID-19 Office of International Education Updates

Office of International Education (OIE) COVID-19 resource page with important updates, we encourage you to check it frequently.
In this Section

COVID-19 has significantly disrupted inbound and outbound student, faculty, and staff mobility at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.  This page is intended to be a resource with important updates.  

Students, faculty, or staff with questions or concerns about specific past, current, or future programs, both at UW-Stout and away, are encouraged to check their official UW-Stout email account regularly for important announcements from OIE staff.  Please direct immediate questions and concerns regarding study away to studyabroad@uwstout.edu and study at UW-Stout (for international students and scholars) to globaled@uwstout.edu.

We wish everyone good health and look forward to your participation in our programs!

Study Away (Abroad and Domestic)

Due to health and safety concerns over the past four months, the OIE had to make incredibly difficult yet important decisions to recall all students and faculty participating in Spring 2020 study away programs to their homes of record suspend in-person study abroad through fall 2020.  In some instances, students planned academically and financially to engage in these life-changing experiences months - even years - in advance, making this situation devastating.  UW-Stout’s OIE hopes that students who had their studies interrupted will consider taking part in future programs.  We have developed many new faculty-led, semester and year-long opportunities and invite you to review them online here.

We anticipate being able to offer exciting programs in the near future and encourage all students to begin/continue their search today!  If you are entertaining the thought of study abroad and have never traveled overseas, we suggest that you start by applying for a U.S. passport ASAP.  The State Department is processing requests; however, they are a bit backlogged several months due to a temporary closure.  OIE Study Abroad Advisors are available for virtual appointments every weekday and our staff look forward to connecting and exploring study away options with our students.  Appointments may be booked here.

Note: students are requested to submit complete applications for program/s of interest.  If a program is cancelled due to COVID-19, application fees will be refunded.

Fall 2020 Study Away Plans
  • All study abroad programs have been cancelled.
  • The National Student Exchange (NSE) program has not been cancelled; students have the option to attend or defer to another term.
  • Students can participate in international virtual courses and/or virtual internships. Contact studyabroad@uwstout.edu for further information.
  • Several virtual events will be held during the fall term for our students to explore future options.  Connect with study abroad advisors, student study abroad alumni, and overseas partners at these upcoming events:
    • Backyard Bash on Tuesday, September 8th. Event will be held through Connect.
    • Study Abroad Fair on Wednesday, September 23rd from 9:00am – 10:00pm. The fair may be accessed through Canvas.
    • Advisement Day on Tuesday, October 27th.  Advisors will be available all day to answer any questions and additional activities will be scheduled.
WinTerm 2021 Study Away Plans
  • Applications are currently being accepted for WinTerm 2021 programs here
  • The OIE is continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation. Decisions will be made by October 15th regarding program cancellations/deferrals. Interested students should complete their application by the application deadline to be considered for the program.
Spring 2021 Study Away Plans
  • Applications are currently being accepted for Spring 2021 programs here.
  • The OIE is continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation. Decisions will be made by October 15th regarding program cancellations/deferrals.
  • Several events will be held during spring term for our students to explore future options.  Connect with study abroad advisors, student study abroad alumni, and overseas partners at these upcoming events:
    • Study Abroad Fair on Wednesday, February 10th.
    • Advisement Day on Tuesday, March 30th. Advisors will be available all day to answer any questions and additional activities will be scheduled.
    • Note: continue to visit www.uwstout.edu/studyabroad for information on virtual events that may be added during the spring 2021 term.
Summer 2021 Study Away Plans
  • Applications are currently being accepted for Summer 2021 programs here.
  • The OIE is continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation. Decisions will be made by February 15th regarding program cancellations/deferrals.

Regarding DHS policy concerning fall 2020 and Covid-19

The University of Wisconsin-Stout welcomes and embraces diversity and is proud to have international students both on our campus and in our community.  The Office of International Education continues to advocate for increased flexibility and support, providing our international students the opportunity to fulfill their educational objectives in the United States without debilitating restrictions.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency released a policy update on July 6, 2020 with guidelines and requirements for international students and sponsoring institutions that differed from the spring 2020 term.  On July 14, 2020, resulting from legal challenges of more than 180 higher education institutions and significant advocacy efforts, this new rule was rescinded. On July 24, 2020, ICE announced that March 2020 guidance would apply during the fall 2020 term.   Additional clarification has been provided via an ICE Frequently Asked Question (FAQ).

How does the policy impact UW-Stout?

UW-Stout announced that students will experience a combination of face-to-face, hybrid and online learning in the fall 2020 term. Detailed information regarding the measures that are being taken resulting from Covid-19 can be accessed here

This approach is acceptable by the Department of Homeland Security and allows for new and continuing international students to begin/resume their studies at UW-Stout during the fall 2020 term.

Will I need special documentation traveling to the U.S.?

Although not required, the Office of International Education has issued new I-20s for new and continuing students currently overseas who plan to travel to Stout prior to the fall term.  The new Form I-20s contain remarks defining instructional methods on the UW-Stout campus during the fall 2020 term.  (Note that electronic Form I-20s are still permitted during the pandemic.)  After receiving the Form I-20 electronically, students should print and sign page one. 

The new remark may be helpful for students when obtaining/renewing visas and/or entering the U.S. at the port of entry.  If a student is overseas, plans to travel to the U.S. this fall term, and has not received this document, he/she should contact the OIE at globaled@uwstout.edu to receive the updated document.

 
Can I take all courses online?

New students will not be able to obtain a visa and begin studying at UW-Stout on campus if they are enrolled full-time online. (Full-time enrollment is defined as 12 credits or more for undergraduates, and 9 credits or more for graduates.)  New students may take a full course of study online from their home country, in which case they will need to obtain a visa when they are ready to begin classes in-person on the UW-Stout campus.  Note that UW-Stout has no authority over visa issuance; therefore, taking all courses online carries risk as there is no guarantee that students will later successfully obtain visas.

Continuing students may take all courses online, but if they are in the U.S. they are advised to do so only when they are unable to enroll in in-person/hybrid courses. (Continuing students who are currently overseas may take a full course of study online to maintain active F-1 status.)

Access Stout has been updated to reflect course delivery (in-person, hybrid or online).  The Office of International Education recommends that international students in the U.S. review their full-time course schedule and register for as many in-person/hybrid courses as their programs allow.  Note that any combination of in-person, hybrid, and online courses enrollment is permitted per continued flexibility provided by DHS.

What will happen if courses transition to entirely online?

DHS is providing UW-Stout with the same flexibility we received during the spring 2020 term.  Should the University transition to entirely online course delivery at any point in time during the fall 2020 term, students need not worry.  They will be maintaining active legal F-1 status. 

Newly Admitted International Students

UW-Stout is excited to welcome new students to campus.  Due to health and safety concerns around COVID-19, new students and their families likely have many questions about the Fall 2020 semester.  UW-Stout is open for business and is implementing significant measures to protect the health and safety of our academic community during the fall term. 

Notify the Office of International Education by email at globaled@uwstout.edu of your plans as soon as possible.  We would like to know if you plan to:

  1. Continue to try to arrive in time for the fall 2020 term;
  2. Defer your attendance to spring 2021 term, and take courses online during the fall 2020 term from home; or
  3. Defer your admission to spring 2021 term.

Have questions? Join one of our upcoming Covid Call-in virtual meetings.  Check your UW-Stout email for detailed information and links to access the meetings.

I plan to begin during the fall 2020 term. What do I do?
  1. Secure a visa appointment with a U.S. Consulate as soon as possible.  Consulates are currently not fully operational, but operations are slowly starting to resume.  Students should check their respective consulates here.
  2. OIE will email students new electronic Forms I-20 which references our operational plan for the fall 2020 term.  This document will need to be presented at the U.S. Consulate and at the border (port of entry) upon arrival in the Untied States.
  3. Plan to arrive on August 23 or 24, 2020.  The University has a mandatory two-week quarantine period and you will be provided a comprehensive new student orientation during this time.  More details will be forthcoming.
How do I obtain my F-1 non-immigrant student visa?

New students in need of F-1 student visas should note that U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions are currently operating under limited or suspended visa services. The U.S. State Department recently announced a phased resumption of consular services.  Students are encouraged to contact their respective Embassy/Consulate to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.  Wait times can be accessed here.

When should I arrive on campus?

All students traveling to Menomonie via international or domestic air travel are required to self-quarantine for 14-days in a designated self-quarantine location, after which they will be allowed to move to their permanent on-campus housing assignment. If planning to arrive by air, new students should prepare to arrive a minimum 14-days prior to the start of the fall semester which begins September 9, 2020.  In order to fulfill this requirement, we are advising that students traveling by air arrive on August 23 or 24, 2020.  UW-Stout's Office of International Education will be providing a comprehensive virtual new student orientation program during the self-quarantine period.  More information will be forthcoming.

Will I have difficulty traveling to the U.S.?

In addition to concerns about visas and quarantines, there are complexities involving air travel.  There might be last-minute changes or cancellations, and international flights are only arrive directly at 15 U.S. airports (MSP is not one of them).  Please be advised that Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) provides a current list of Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the U.S.  With few exceptions, foreign nationals who have been in these countries within the past 14 days may not enter the United States. This list is subject to change and currently includes: China, Iran, UK, Ireland, Brazil and the European Schengen area. Note that on July 16, 2020, the U.S. State Department announced an important exemption to the travel prohibition; F-1 students traveling from "the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland... do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel."  Please contact the Office of International Education with any questions or concerns related to travel. 

How can I stay informed?

We realize that the situation remains fluid with many more questions than answers for new students at this time, and encourage new students to visit this site frequently as well as to check their Stout email at least once a week to ensure important updates are not missed. Students with questions or concerns regarding their unique circumstances may call the International Office at 715-232-2132 or email globaled@uwstout.edu to connect with an advisor.

Continuing International Students

Depending on a variety of circumstances, there are a variety of items you should consider when planning to return to UW-Stout.  The OIE's  flow chart will be helpful in determining the proper steps you should take to safely return and resume your studies. 

  1. Note that students returning to Menomonie by air are required to complete a mandatory two-week quarantine period before they can attend classes.
  2. If your visa is expired and you are currently outside the U.S., you will need to renew your visa prior to your return.  
  3. Finalize your flight plans to return to campus.  Be sure to purchase travel insurance and note that flights may be limited and/or disrupted.
  4. Join one of our upcoming Covid Call-in virtual meetings.  Check your UW-Stout email for detailed information and links to access the meetings.

If you have any questions or concerns about your return, please contact the OIE by phone at 715-232-2132 or via email at globaled@uwstout.edu.

I’m returning by air. What date should I return to campus?

UW-Stout is requiring any student returning to Menomonie via international or domestic air travel to self-quarantine for 14-days in a designated self-quarantine location, after which they will be allowed to move to their permanent housing assignment. If arriving by air, students should prepare to arrive a minimum 14-days prior to the start of the fall semester which begins September 9, 2020. In order to fulfill this requirement, we are advising that students returning by air travel arrive on August 23 or 24, 2020.

When can I get my visa renewed?

U.S. Embassies, Consulates and Diplomatic Missions across the world are slowly starting to resume non-immigrant services. If you are outside of the U.S. and need to renew your visa before returning, you can view the current Embassy/Consulate wait time information here. Please contact the Office of International Education to let us know the progress of your visa renewal.

Will I experience difficulty traveling back to the U.S.?

Students might find that there are last-minute changes or cancellations. For example, currently international flights can only arrive directly into 15 U.S. airports (MSP is not one of them). If this continues, students can expect at least one layover (connecting flight) at another airport before arriving at MSP.
 

Please be advised that Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) provides a current list of Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the U.S.  With few exceptions, foreign nationals who have been in these countries within the past 14 days may not enter the United States. This list is subject to change and currently includes: China, Iran, UK, Ireland, Brazil and the European Schengen area. Note that on July 16, 2020, the U.S. State Department announced an important exemption to the travel prohibition; F-1 students traveling from "the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland... do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel."  Please contact the Office of International Education with any questions or concerns related to travel. 

I am still confused. What should I do?

In addition to checking their Stout email accounts at least once a week for updates, we encourage continuing students to revisit this page frequently. Students may also attend one of our upcoming COVID Call, or email the Office of International Education at globaled@uwstout.edu to connect with an advisor.