Message to Champlain’s International Students & Exchange Visitors
As you know, Champlain College’s Burlington traditional undergraduate campus courses will be conducted remotely beginning March 23. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is allowing F-1 students to temporarily count remote instruction towards a full course of study. SEVP advises that F-1 students should participate in the remote instruction provided by Champlain College to remain in active status in the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Students may take remote instruction in the United States or elsewhere. However, SEVP did also point out that this temporary provision “is only in effect for the duration of the emergency” and that due to the fluidity of this crisis, its guidance is subject to change and it would be monitoring the situation and changing its guidance appropriately.
About an hour ago (March 16th), the Department of State issued its own guidance for exchange visitors in Initial or Active status. For those in Active status, there is a choice of either staying and continuing on your program (your program stays Active in SEVIS) or departing the U.S. and having your program shortened to your departure date in SEVIS. (This action ends the program in SEVIS preventing you from re-entry/traveling until the sponsor is able to re-issue a new DS-2019 for travel purposes).
After considering this guidance and its fluidity, and weighing the current U.S. travel bans and restrictions (China, Iran, UK, Ireland, and all of the Schengen area of Europe) with potential domestic travel restrictions possibly on the way, I recommend that all international students and exchange visitors (non-degree, Short-Term scholar, and Professor categories) remain in the U.S. for the duration of both the extended Spring Break (March 16-22) and the remote instruction period (March 23 until at least April 6). If Champlain returns to regular on-campus courses this semester, international and exchange visitors will be able to return to normal activities without much issue. Please note that if you were to leave the U.S., you may not be able to re-enter the U.S. to complete your program due to the rapidly changing travel restrictions.
Having said this, however, should any international student or exchange visitor wish to depart the U.S. for their home country in the light of this crisis, please make a virtual appointment with me (email: firstname.lastname@example.org and a calendar invite with a Zoom link will be provided) to discuss the option and what it might mean for you individually. Please do not make ANY travel arrangements until after your virtual appointment. There are many factors to be discussed which may affect the decision-making process, such as strength of internet connection, time zone differences for meetings of classes virtually and assignments being posted to Canvas, self-quarantine if coming back to the U.S. to resume activity as normal after April 6th, or the potential inclusion of additional countries in current U.S. travel bans and restrictions. If you still wish to return home, you will sign a document which lays out the conditions of travel and return.
Thank you and please do let me know if there are any questions. I am here for you during this difficult time.
My best wishes for the safety and health of you and your friends and families abroad,
Director, International Student Services