COVID-19 Updates for KU International Community
Updated March 26, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.
Suspension of Visas: On March 20, the U.S. Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide urgent and emergency services. KU will have complete online enrollment options ready in a few days for students who wish to begin their KU degree programs in Summer 2020 or Fall 2020. The delay is visa issuance does not mean enrolling students will need to delay the start to their KU degree program. Services to U.S. citizens and permanent residents is not affected.
Suspension of Study Abroad Programs: On March 19, the U.S. Department of State elevated the travel advisory for global community to Level 4: Do Not Travel, its highest risk level. In light of this new warning, KU immediately suspended all Spring 2020 study abroad programs in all locations. In light of travel restrictions and recognizing the need for faculty, staff and students to plan now for summer and fall terms, KU has made the difficult decision to cancel or postpone all KU-administered summer 2020 study abroad programs scheduled to depart the U.S. prior to June 30, 2020.
Due to COVID-19, the University of Kanas has moved all instruction online for the reminder of the spring semester, significantly reduced on-campus presence for students, staff and faculty, and limited KU housing to only residents who need to maintain a physical presence on the Lawrence campus.
These changes mean that while units within International Affairs are opened and ready for business, they will not be accessible to in-person visitors. Our faculty and staff are working remotely and working diligently to move English language learning classes and programs online, transition to virtual advising, bring home study abroad students from around the world, and provide guidance and support to our international students who are faced with the difficult decision to remain in the United States or depart to their country of residence.
These times are unprecedented for the world and for KU, but our commitment remains unwavering. For specific international-related COVID-19 questions, please contact the following units:
- International Affairs for general inquiries or if you are unsure where to direct your question: 785-864-6161 or email@example.com
- Academic Accelerator Program (AAP) for students enrolled in AAP: 785-864-3389 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Applied English Center for students enrolled in AEC classes: 785-864-4606 or email@example.com
- International Admissions for international applicants or newly admitted international students: 785-864-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- International Short Programs for visiting international students and professions enrolled in short academic programs: 785-864-6161 or email@example.com
- International Support Services for international students, visiting scholars or employees: 785-864-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Study Abroad & Global Engagement for all students currently abroad, recently returned or planning international travel: 785-864-3742 or email@example.com
What do I need to consider in my decision to stay or depart the United States?
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the University of Kansas announced March 17 that it would suspended in-person classes for the remainder of the Spring 2020. Courses will continue online. With the announcement, KU wants to provide some reassurance and basic guidance to international students.
Please know all international students have a home at KU. The university is not requiring any international student to leave their KU residence, Lawrence, or the United States. You are in a very unique situation and all of KU supports you fully.
ISS is providing guidance for students who are making the decision to remain in the United States or depart to their country of residence.
What about domestic students studying abroad in Spring 2020?
On March 19, the U.S. Department of State elevated the travel advisory for global community to Level 4: Do Not Travel, its highest risk level. In light of this warning, KU immediately suspended all Spring 2020 study abroad programs in all locations. The suspension follows previous suspensions of programs in Europe on March 12, the United Kingdom and Ireland on March 14 and programs in Italy, South Korea and China earlier in the spring semester.
Students in these programs have been asked to return to their home residences, self-isolate and monitor their health for 14 days, as recommended by the CDC. Students whose permanent residence is Lawrence have been asked to check in with Watkins Health Services upon return.
KU also canceled its spring break study abroad programs in Italy.
What about study abroad programs for Summer and Fall 2020?
The U.S. federal government has urged all citizens currently abroad to return to the U.S. immediately and the CDC and U.S. State Department have advised against all non-essential international travel. While we remain optimistic that efforts to contain the virus will be successful, economic recovery and the normalization of international travel will require substantive time even after containment of COVID-19 is achieved. In light of these circumstances and recognizing the need for faculty, staff and students to plan now for summer and fall terms, KU has made the difficult decision to cancel or postpone all KU-administered summer 2020 study abroad programs scheduled to depart the U.S. prior to June 30, 2020.
What if I’m planning to study in the U.S., but my region is affected by COVID-19?
Deadline Extended: The 2020 Fall application deadline for prospective undergraduate students has been extended to July 10.
For international applicants living in regions affected by COVID-19 (such as students living in China, Japan, South Korea and Europe), KU will work to support you and explore options to help you meet application deadlines and requirements.
Undergraduate Applicants: If English language testing centers are closed in your region due to COVID-19 quarantines or you have difficulty accessing regional test centers in your home country, you may complete the Duolingo English Test and share your scores with KU through the Duolingo system once you receive them.
Visiting Campus: Due to COVID-19, the University of Kansas is not scheduling on-campus visits. Visit coronavirus.ku.edu for more details on KU's response.
Graduate Applicants: Prospective students should reach out to their specific program of interest. Applicants will work closely with the program to which they have or intend to apply to utilize options such as Duolingo.
Check the testing services websites below for the latest information on exam postponements.
Consider taking KU online courses: KU has a wide variety of courses that can be taken online. For students living in the affected regions (China, Japan, South Korea, and Europe) and who are admitted to KU, taking online courses may be an option. KU will provide updates about this potential option.
How does the suspension of routine visa services affect the enrollment process?
On March 20, the United States suspended routine visa services across all U.S. embassies and consulates world-wide. We hope this will not last long, but it does mean that enrolling international students are unable to get a student visa stamp in their passport. This is needed before coming into the United States to begin a degree program in person. Though visa issuance is paused, KU is continuing normal processing of acceptance letters, scholarship awards, I-20s and DS-2019s so that enrolling international students will have all that they need, when routine visa services return. KU is also working on complete summer and fall online enrollment options so that every new KU student can begin their degree program with KU when they want to begin, regardless of where they are in the world.
What should I know if I'm returning from international travel?
On March 14, the university implemented new requirements for people who traveled internationally within the past 14 days. Anyone who traveled anywhere outside the United States, which includes cruises, MUST take these steps:
- Self-isolate for 14 days upon return to the U.S. For details, see CDC guidelines for self-isolation.
- Call and report any symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, a dry cough or shortness of breath, to a local medical provider for instructions on treatment.
Domestic restrictions have also been put into place for those returning from areas of COVID-19 outbreaks within the United State.
What travel restrictions are in place for KU?
Out of an abundance of caution, all university-sponsored domestic and international business-related travel and attendance at meetings and conferences is to be discontinued, effective immediately. Business-related travel in and around Kansas and Missouri is excluded from this restriction. Please do not make new plans for business travel during the next 60 days. Under extreme circumstances, exemptions to the travel restriction will be considered in advance by the provost or her designee. Travel appeals should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students traveling internationally on university-affiliated activities must register through the Student International Travel Registry.
Collectively, these processes will enable the university to help Jayhawks who may be traveling and provide tailored support on and off campus as circumstances evolve.
What if I have personal plans for international travel?
Moving forward during the spring semester, KU strongly encourages faculty, students and staff to reconsider any personal international travel that may be planned. The reality is, there are two circumstances you need to consider while traveling: 1) you might become ill, and 2) as countries evaluate travel into and out of their regions, limitations and bans are being enacted, often with little or no warning.
If you do plan to travel internationally for personal reasons, KU asks you registered with KU ahead of time. This will enable KU to help and provide tailored support if circumstances around COVID-19 change.
Students can register via the Student International Travel Registry.
Lawrence employees can send an email summarizing planned travel to the Administration and Finance unit.
KU Medical Center students and employees should contact the Office of International Programs.
If you travel for personal reasons, please use everyday preventative measures such as hand-washing to prevent the spread of disease and avoid regions that are experiencing widespread transmission of the virus. Importantly, if you are experiencing symptoms -- either during travel or as you return to campus -- please practice social distancing and call your doctor immediately. Each of us plays a role in helping to keep our university community healthy.
Travel to countries with Level 3 designations by the CDC and Level 4 designations by the U.S. State Department is highly discouraged. Beginning March 14, travelers returning to KU from anywhere outside the United States, which includes cruises, MUST self-isolate for 14 days upon return to the U.S.
What travel restrictions are in place for J-1 Exchange Visitors?
Per an advisory from the U.S. Department of State, KU is suspending all new incoming J-1 exchange visitor programs for the next 60 days and will reevaluate on May 10. This pertains to visiting scholars, visiting faculty, postdoctoral researchers, fellows, as well as other temporary academic appointments intending to arrive in J-1 status. For questions please reach out to KU International Support Services for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses, or the Office of International Programs at the KU Medical Center. They can provide in-the-moment guidance.
What support is available for those who are abroad and unable to return to the United States
The U.S. State Department has created a new process for assisting Americans who are abroad and unable to return home because of COVID-19. The Coronavirus Global Response Coordination Unit (CGRCU) has designated a Repatriation Task Force to support U.S. citizens abroad and evacuation operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force is charged with the following: coordinating and providing support for private American citizens stranded overseas; managing requests from posts facing severe travel restrictions requesting transportation assistance to implement Authorized or Ordered Departure; and supporting any evacuation operations of official or private American citizens involving charter or non-commercial means.
Americans who are abroad and affected by travel restrictions due to COVID-19, are encouraged to register online so the U.S. government can account for them.
Is the University of Kansas Passport Office opened?
The KU Passport Office will not be accepting appointment requests until at least Friday, March 27 due to the spread of COVID-19. The website will be updated when more Information is available.
The emergence of COVID-19 has meant the introduction of new terminology for all of us, but particularly for members of our international community. We've created a helpful guide that explains some of this new wording, such as the difference between social distancing and self-quarantine and what is allowed and not under a Stay at Home Order.