Frequently Asked Questions for International Students for the Spring 2021 Semester

Last updated 03/30/21- The information presented here may change rapidly. Please check back for additional updates. We will update these FAQs as more information becomes available. For general information related to COVID-19 and CMU operations, please see the Coronavirus Information Center.

HyFlex Classes

What are HyFlex classes? What will this mean for my spring 2021 class schedule?

CMU announced that most classes for spring 2021 would be offered in a hybrid-flexible, or HyFlex, format. HyFlex should allow students to attend their courses in-person, online, or a combination of both. This will vary by program, department, and individual class, so we recommend checking with your advisor or course instructors on what this means for your classes. For more information on HyFlex classes, please click here.

I know that F-1 students are limited in the number of online classes they can take in a semester. Will HyFlex classes negatively impact my immigration status as an F-1 student?

The government has provided an exception to the online course restriction for continuing students for the  spring 2021 semester. Following fall semester guidelines, the designation of classroom vs. online does not matter. This applies to continuing students only (those who were in the United States engaged in a program of study as of March 2020). Students who entered the United States later on an initial I-20 to begin a new program for fall 2020 or Spring 2021 may not enroll in a fully online course schedule. HyFlex courses in this instance are counted as classroom courses. 

Spring Semester and Arrival to Campus

Has the spring semester calendar been adjusted for COVID-19?

Executive Vice President and Provost Schutten has announced that the first week of spring semester classes, January 11-15, will be fully online. Courses shift to in-person, online or HyFlex format beginning the week of January 18. Five wellness days of no classes have been added to the semester calendar replacing spring break. This will provide time away from normal class day experiences as well as reducing widespread travel and potential exposure and spread of COVID-19. 

Will airport transportation be offered to new spring semester international students? 

The Office of Global Engagement is unable to offer transportation to campus during the spring semester arrival period. 

Immigration, Travel, & Late Arrivals

Will I need a COVID test to enter the US?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has implemented an order requiring all airline passengers arriving in the US from a foreign country to provide a negative COVID test prior to boarding their flight to the US. Documentation of COVID recovery may also be presented in lieu of test results. The requirement becomes effective on January 26, 2021 and is required of US citizens, permanent residents and international travelers.

Please see the announcement from the CDC here:

 Will I need to quarantine when I come to campus if I am traveling from another country?

International travelers must self-quarantine for 14-days after return. Please notify upon your arrival to Mt. Pleasant. You will then be advised of your quarantine requirements. 

For more information on CMU recommendations and requirements, please visit the University's Information for Students and Families webpage

Students impacted by this who live on campus or plan to live on campus will be expected to reside in quarantine spaces provided by the Office of Residence Life until the quarantine period has expired. Please contact the Office of Residence Life at 989-774-3111 for information about on-campus quarantine housing prior to your return/arrival.

I am traveling from a Schengen Area country, do I need a waiver to enter the US? 

The State Department has announced that students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 visas, do not need to seek a national interest exemption to travel. Students from those areas who are traveling on a J-1 visa may contact the nearest embassy or consulate to begin a waiver request. 

What if I am unable to arrive to the U.S. for the spring 2021 semester? Can I take classes online? Will this negatively impact my I-20?

HyFlex and online classes may be available for you to enroll in. These options should allow you to continue your degree progress while away from campus. You should consult with your advisor or your individual course instructors to see what your course options are to continue your degree progress.

For F-1 students with a CMU I-20, we can address your situation on a case-by-case basis. Please reach out to to discuss your needs. 

Can I begin HyFlex classes online from my home country and then arrive to campus part way through the spring semester.

The HyFlex delivery model should allow for this. However, this may require an I-20 update. You will also be required to self-quarantine upon arrival to campus. 

Will on-campus housing be available if I arrive late?

The Office of Residence Life has indicated that they can still make on-campus housing arrangements in the event of a late arrival. If you have specific questions about this, please contact the Office of Residence Life.

I am a continuing student and was unable to get my I-20 signed for travel before leaving. What can I do?

You may request a reprinted copy of your I-20 on the I-20 reprint page. This should only be done if you need an updated signature. If your current I-20 was signed on page 2 within the last year of your re-entry date, you do not need an updated signature. This is for continuing students only. New students with an "initial attendance" I-20 do not need a travel signature on page 2.

When will U.S. embassies and consulates reopen for visa processing?

Embassies and consluates have announced a phased resumption of routine visa services as of July 15, 2020. Please monitor individual embassy or consulate websites for specific services and appointment availability at each location.

For International Graduate Assistants

Can I complete my GA duties away from campus if I am unable to arrive in time to start the spring semester in-person?

Faculty Personnel Services along with Payroll has indicated that GA duties can be performed remotely so long as the GA is within the United States. The ability to do this may vary by department and individual appointment. FPS should also be made aware of this arrangement by your department. GA duties cannot be performed outside of the United States. For more information about this, please contact your department.

If I arrive to the U.S. after the start of classes, can I still keep my GA appointment?

Graduate assistants must be in the U.S. no later than January 25, 2021 to keep the GA appointment. Appointments for GAs who arrive in the U.S. after January 25, 2021 cannot be maintained. Individual departments may require an earlier arrival based on departmental need and the terms of individual GA appointments. If you intend to arrive after the start of classes, please contact your department for additional guidance.

If you have questions regarding a situation not covered here, please contact the Office of Global Engagement by phone at (989) 774-4308 or by email at