Important Immigration Updates

Enrollment Guidance for Fall 2021

For fall 2021, Clemson University is looking forward to an in-person opening with the understanding that it will continue to prioritize COVID-19 safety and adapt as needed. While preparing for students to be on-campus this fall, we also realize COVID-19 may present challenges for some students. Below is the current enrollment guidance for international students for the upcoming semester:

  • Clemson is planning to offer a full complement of in-person classes this fall 2021.
  • International students are required to enroll full-time for the fall 2021 term.
    • Full-time is defined as 12 credit hours for undergraduate students and 9 credit hours for graduate students.
  • Only 3 credit hours of online instruction can count toward your full-time enrollment.
    • After a student has met the full-time requirement, any additional hours can be fully online.
  • Hybrid courses that require in-person components are not considered online courses and should be coded hybrid in iRoar.
  • Synchronous and asynchronous courses are considered online courses.
  • Students eligible for a reduced course load (RCL) are still required to enroll in a minimum of one traditional or hybrid course in their final term. The RCL e-form must be submitted to the iStart Portal prior to the start of the fall 2021 term.

Return to Clemson University

Due to temporary COVID-19 guidance, many continuing international students have pursued their degrees from outside the U.S. or across the U.S. while maintaining active SEVIS records. Due to Clemson’s return to in-person instruction, this temporary guidance is no longer in effect as of the fall 2021 term. This means international students must physically return to campus in order to maintain active F-1/J-1 SEVIS records.

  • Continuing international students outside the U.S. who wish to maintain active SEVIS records are required to return to the U.S. to pursue a full course of study that meets the enrollment requirements listed above.
  • Continuing international students who are unable to or choose not to return to the U.S. for the fall term must notify International Services by submitting the Departure Verification e-form located within the iStart Portal. International Services will terminate your SEVIS record for authorized early withdrawal, which is a positive termination reason that will not have a negative impact on your immigration record. We recommend first contacting International Services to speak with an advisor to discuss your specific situation and future plans if you plan to do this.
  • Continuing international students are expected to return to the U.S. by the start of the fall term, August 18, 2021, and no later than 30 days after the start of the term, September 17, 2021. If you will return to campus after the start of classes, please be sure to work with your academic department and coordinators to ensure you do not fall behind.

Visas and Travel for Students from China, India, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland

This information is based on our current understanding of the information recently posted by the U.S. Department of State.  If the State Departments issues any clarifications, this announcement will be updated.

On April 26, 2021, the Department of State announced that F-1 and J-1 students travelling from China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa can now travel directly to the United States provided that their academic programs begin August 1, 2021 or later, even though Presidential Proclamations 9984 (China), 9992 (Iran), and 10143 (Brazil and South Africa) restricting travel remain in effect. On April 30, 2021, the Department of State announced that a similar exception would apply to students travelling from India, even though a Presidential Proclamation restricting entry to the U.S. will be in effect as of May 4, 2021. 

Students travelling from these countries who need to apply for an F-1 visa can follow the normal visa application process. Students from these areas who are applying for a J-1 visa or planning to travel using their current J-1 visa should contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate a national interest exception (NIE) request.

New F-1 students:

  • Students with “initial attendance” I-20s: The NIE exception is automatically granted as part of the visa approval process. Students with “initial” I-20s with start dates on or after August 1, 2021 and with valid visas will be covered under the NIE exception for entry from these countries and may enter 30 days in advance of the start date listed on your I-20. 
  • If your I-20 or DS-2019 lists a start date before August 1, 2021, you will not be able to enter the U.S. if you have been in China, India, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa during the preceding 14-day period. You would need to spend at least 14 days in a country that is not subject to travel restrictions before entering the U.S. Please note, this option may be both risky and expensive.
  • If your I-20 or DS-2019 has a start date on or after August 1, 2021, you will be able to enter the U.S. up to 30 days before your program start date. Clemson's fall semester begins on August 18, and thirty-days prior is July 20, 2021.

Continuing F-1 students:

  • Students with “continued attendance” I-20s: Continuing students with unexpired F-1 visas traveling to the U.S. are only able to enter the U.S. using the NIE exception for study beginning on or after August 1, 2021.
  • As Clemson's fall semester begins on August 18, 2021, this would allow for entry to the U.S. on or after July 20, 2021.
  • You will not be able to enter earlier unless you have spent at least 14 days before your entry date in a country that is not subject to travel restrictions. Please note, this option may be both risky and expensive. 
  • Students seeking earlier entry should contact their local consulate for guidance.

Continuing F-1 students on OPT/STEM:

  • Unclear at this time.The U.S. Department of State announcement makes no mention of OPT or STEM OPT and how it applies to F-1 students with either type of work authorization. International Services will provide additional clarification as we receive it. In the meantime, we can only advise OPT/STEM students to email their respective consulate to ask if the NIE exception applies to them.

All J-1 students and scholars (new and continuing):

  • NIE exception is not automatic, it must requested. Both new and returning J-1 students, J-1 students on Academic Training, short-term scholars, research scholars, professors, and student interns with valid J-1 visas must contact the consulate that issued their visa to apply for an NIE exception. It is our understanding that these will be granted for travelers in these categories, but the U.S. Embassy must provide an approval of the NIE exception. J visa holders whose programs begin before August 1 should contact their local U.S. Embassy/Consulate for guidance.

As has been the case since July 22, 2020, F-1 and J-1 students from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland can travel to the U.S. even though Presidential Proclamation 10143 restricting entry remains in effect. Students from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland who need to apply for an F-1 visa can follow the normal visa application process. Students from those areas who are applying for a J-1 visa should contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate a National Interest Exception (NIE) request.

New Travel Restrictions for Travelers from India

A Presidential Proclamation effective Tuesday, May 4, 2021 imposes new restrictions on travel from India in light of the COVID-19 epidemic. Foreign nationals will not be able to enter the U.S. if they have been physically present in India during the preceding 14 days. However, F-1 and J-1 students travelling from India will be able to travel directly to the United States provided that their academic programs begin August 1, 2021 or later, even though the Presidential Proclamation is in effect. See below for more details about how this will affect new and continuing F-1 and J-1 students.

Students who need to apply for an F-1 visa can follow the normal visa application process and can follow normal travel procedures if they plan to travel using their current F-1 visa. Students who are applying for a J-1 visa or planning to travel using their current J-1 visa should contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate a national interest exception (NIE) request.

This is how the Presidential Proclamation will affect new and continuing students travelling from India. Note that this information is based on our current understanding of the information recently posted by the U.S. Department of State. This announcement will be updated with any future changes or clarifications.

New students:

  • If your I-20 or DS-2019 has a start date before August 1, 2021, you will not be able to enter the U.S. if you have been in India during the preceding 14-day period. You would need to spend at least 14 days in a country that is not subject to travel restrictions before entering the U.S.
  • If your I-20 or DS-2019 has a start date on or after August 1, 2021, you will be able to enter the U.S. up to 30 days before your program start date. As long as the start date is on or after August 1st, you will be allowed to enter the US directly, without the 14 days in a third country.

Continuing students:

  • You will be able to enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the beginning of Clemson's fall semester. As Clemson's fall semester begins on August 18, 2021, this would allow for entry to the U.S. on or after July 20, 2021.
  • You will not be able to enter before August 1st unless you have spent at least 14 days before your entry date in a country that is not subject to travel restrictions.

Visa Services at U.S. Consulates in India

If you need to apply for a visa, you should monitor U.S. Embassy/Consulate websites for information about the availability of visa appointments.

Planning Travel

Consider COVID-19 travel restrictions and possible consular service delays when planning travel to or from India. You may need to or decide to reschedule your travel. In addition, CDC guidelines for entry into the U.S. remain in effect, including the requirement for a negative COVID-test result within the 3 days before your flight to the U.S. departs.

Important Links for Fall 2021:

Emergency Visa Appointment Support Letter Request
International Student Arrival Guide

Additional University Resources:

Clemson University COVID-19 Updates
Clemson University Graduate School
Clemson University Undergraduate Studies
Clemson University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
Clemson University Student Health Services (Redfern)

Other Important Links:

U.S. Embassies/Consulates
U.S. State Department COVID-19 Traveler Information
Study in the States – COVID-19 Resources
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Fact Sheet on Travel between U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Center for Disease Control (CDC) – COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Country
CDC – COVID-19 Travel Restrictions: China, Brazil, Iran, United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Schengen Area