This message was sent on March 16
Dear International Community,
Thank you for all of the information that you have shared with us. Your concerns, fears, worries, and gratitude are heard. We are so moved by your honesty and bravery during this very challenging time. As some of you may have seen, the university has changed operations to remote work only effective Monday, March 16th. Meaning that most faculty and staff are required to work from home and not come to campus. This includes the ISSS staff. This change in operations is to support the recommended “social distancing” to help slow or stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
So what does this mean for ISSS and the services that we provide to our international community?
When communicating with ISSS the first method used should be email. If you have an ongoing case with an ISSS advisor, please feel free to email that advisor directly. If you are starting a new inquiry please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If needed, your ISSS advisor will work with you to arrange a virtual meeting. We understand that some of our population may have traveled home and we will work with you as much as possible to find a time that meets your availability. ISSS appreciates your flexibility with scheduling and will continue to be available to you for guidance and support.
We have heard that many international students are concerned about their visa status being terminated due to their departure from the U.S., especially if the university resumes in-person courses. ISSS does not plan to terminate anyone’s visa status. For students who maintain full-time enrollment and continue to make normal progress towards their degree program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided special consideration. Please see the document linked here . We will ensure that the university understands the needs of our international students and work to ensure that everyone who continues to meet the requirements of their visa status can keep an active visa status.
If you are planning to leave the U.S. please make sure that you take your immigration documents with you. If you do not have a valid travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019 or you cannot find your I-20/DS-2019, please know that you can leave the U.S. without your I-20/DS-2019 or with an invalid travel signature. Once you arrive home, please email email@example.com and we will work with you to arrange shipping of a new I-20/DS-2019 with valid travel signature. For information on documents that will be required upon your re-entry to the U.S., please visit the ISSS travel web page.
If you are having trouble deciding whether to leave the U.S. or not, our recommendation is to keep an eye on the Coronavirus situation in the U.S. and stay informed to ensure that you have the information needed to make an informed decision. The decision of whether to stay or go is a personal decision, there is no right or wrong answer and we will support you with whatever decision you make. The biggest concern is your ability to return to the U.S. in the summer or fall if you choose. If you have trouble re-entering the U.S. please let us know and we will work with you to determine the best path for you to take.
For students who can no longer remain enrolled, you will need to notify ISSS of your intentions to take a Continuous Enroll Status (CES) or a Leave of Absence (LOA). Please note that the process to request CES or a LOA must start with your academic advisor. ISSS will be monitoring all requests for CES or LOA as they are reported to us and will take care to communicate directly with you before taking any action to update your immigration status.
If you have a pending application in your ISSDeacs (issdeacs.wfu.edu) account, please know that we will be processing requests as quickly as possible and will notify you directly of your processing timeline. We will also provide information regarding shipping so that you can receive your requested document in a timely manner.
Many of the questions that have been sent to ISSS are answered within our ISSS COVID-19 frequently asked questions that are available on the ISSS home page.. We also recommend that you continue to review the Wake Forest University Coronavirus website. Also, all ISSS staff are members of NAFSA, which is a national organization for international education practitioners. NAFSA has put together a really great website that maintains information on updates regarding the Coronavirus.
Thank you for reading our messages. We apologize for the lengthy emails but there is a lot of information to share. Thank you for your patience and your strength as we work to continue to provide the level of service that you all deserve.
Your ISSS Team