Healthy Hawks

Learn more about UHart's response to COVID-19:

International Student Services

Department of Homeland Security Update

On July 14, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded the ICE guidance and FAQs that were issued on July 6 and 7. By doing this, DHS reverts back to the guidance issued in March at the start of the coronavirus emergency and the closing of campus.

As an international student, you have access to a number of benefits and services at the International Center. We are here to ensure that you maintain your legal status while a student at UHart and will provide you with the necessary support for your success.

The Center acts as the liaison between the University and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service, the U.S. Department of State, embassies and consulates abroad, foreign governments, and international organizations.

We also provide you with current information regarding compliance with DHS requirements, including student and exchange visitor status, travel, employment regulations and so much more. Personalized academic and non-academic counseling and referral is available and no appointment is necessary to speak with an advisor.

Frequently Asked Questions for Continuing F-1 Students for Fall 2020

As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic as a University, we understand that our international students with F-1 student visas have many questions and concerns regarding the temporary closure of campus and classes being shifted to online for the spring semester. We have developed a list of frequently asked questions and answers to help you to navigate the current situation.

Policies & Academics

What is the new policy for Fall 2020 for continuing F-1 Students?

F-1 students previously enrolled at UHart for the Spring 2020 semester, will be allowed to stay in the US or return to the US for either online or in-person courses.  Continuing students will not be required to register for in-person courses to maintain F1 status and will not need an updated I-20 with remarks about the mode of instruction.  Continuing students who wish to remain outside of the US for fall and take online courses will be allowed to maintain their F1 status as long as they register full-time for fall and continue to follow all F1 regulations. 

Will my fall classes be online?

The University of Hartford previously announced its reopening plan for Fall 2020 and is offering in-person, hybrid, remote, and online courses.  Your class schedule will be emailed to your UHart email address.  On your schedule, you will see the various types of classes listed.  Continuing F-1 students may register for any in-person, hybrid, remote, or online courses to count towards full-time enrollment. 

If I am currently in the US, can I take all of my fall classes online? Will my I-20 stay valid?

Based on the US government’s agreement to rescind the proposed July 6 SEVP guidance and the updated July 15 Frequently Asked Questions for Stakeholders as well as clarification Broadcast Message July 24, continuing students who were previously enrolled for Spring 2020 will be allowed to remain in the US or return to the US to take all of their courses online or a combination of in-person and online courses.  Based on the UHart fall course options available, it will be possible for continuing students to have a full-time online schedule.  Your SEVIS I-20 record will remain valid as long as you maintain your F1 status and enroll full-time. 

I am not planning to study full-time for fall 2020. Can I take the fall semester off or study part-time?

Every student’s situation is different.  If you wish to enroll part-time or for 0 credits and maintain our active F-1 status, you must meet one of the enrollment exceptions.  If you do not qualify for the exceptions, you must request an immigration leave of absence. 

If you take an immigration leave of absence during the fall 2020 semester, you must depart the US.  If you plan to register and return to campus for Spring 2021, you must contact the International Center at least 60 days before you plan to return.

To find out if you qualify or to request an immigration leave of absence, please email the International Center at  We will also be able to provide further information regarding returning to campus after a leave of absence. 

Can I take a gap year and resume my studies in 2021 if I do not want to take fall 2020 classes?

Continuing UHart students who choose not to enroll for 2 or more semesters, must request an immigration leave of absence and depart the US.  Please contact the International Center at to discuss your plans. 

As a continuing F-1 student, am I still required to register for an in-person course if I am already in the US?

Based on the US government’s agreement to rescind the proposed July 6 SEVP guidance and the updated July 15 Frequently Asked Questions for Stakeholders as well as clarification Broadcast Message July 24, continuing students who were previously enrolled for Spring 2020 will be allowed to remain in the US or return to the US to take all of their courses online or a combination of in-person and online courses.  Based on the UHart fall course options available, you may register for in-person courses, online courses, or a combination of both, including hybrid and remote courses.  Your SEVIS record (I-20) will remain valid as long as you maintain your F1 status and enroll full-time. 

As a continuing F-1 student, how many online courses may I take? Can I stay in the US and take all (100%) of my classes online?

Based on the US government’s agreement to rescind the proposed July 6 SEVP guidance and the updated July 15 Frequently Asked Questions for Stakeholders as well as clarification Broadcast Message July 24, continuing students who were previously enrolled for Spring 2020 will be allowed to remain in the US or return to the US to take all of their courses online or a combination of in-person and online courses.  Based on the UHart fall course options available, you may register for in-person courses, online courses, or a combination of both, including hybrid and remote courses.  Your SEVIS record (I-20) will remain valid as long as you maintain your F1 status and enroll full-time. 

I am currently outside of the US and would like to take all of my classes online. Can I do this? What will happen to my F-1 benefits if I remain outside the US and take all my classes online?

Yes, international students who wish to remain outside the US may register and take all courses online.  Please work with your academic advisor to see what courses are available to you.

If you were enrolled in Spring 2020 and you are continuing at UHart, the International Center has been allowed to keep your SEVIS record active, even if you are outside the US.  as long as you register full-time for fall and continue to follow all F1 regulations, your SEVIS record will continue to remain active and will be eligible for future benefits such as CPT and OPT.

Note: If Fall 2020 is your final semester, your F-1 status and SEVIS record will be active through the last day of the semester in December 2020.

Travel & Returning to Campus

I am currently in the US and plan to study full-time this fall. Can I travel internationally during the summer?

We do not know long travel restrictions and bans will last and what additional countries may be added or removed from the restrictions already in place.  If you are concerned that you may not be able to return to the us, you may want to reconsider your travel plans.  If you decide to travel and have carefully researched your plans, be prepared, understand the risks, and be advised you might not be able to return to the US before the classes begin on August 26. 

I am currently outside the US but want to return to the US to study full-time this fall. Can I re-enter the US for the start of the fall semester?

We don’t know how long travel restrictions and bans will last and what additional countries may be added or removed from the restrictions already in place. Travel restrictions and visa processing delays at US consulates, for students who need a new F-1 visa, might make it difficult for some students to return to campus for fall. 

The US Department of State announced that routine visa services would begin to resume at consulates around the world on a post by post basis and that F visa appointments will be prioritized for individuals with urgent travel needs.   Please check local consulate or embassies web pages directly for the most up-to-date information.  It was also announced the F-1 visa holders from the Schengen area, UK, and Ireland will be allowed to travel without a national interest exception

We recommend that you register or stay registered for the fall semester.  UHart is planning to offer both in-person and remote/online learning options this fall, so you will be able to take online classes even if you are not able to return by August 26th.  Choose a schedule for fall that gives you the most flexibility in case you are unable to return for the fall semester. 

I completed the Spring online from abroad and I plan to return for Fall 2020. Do I need to worry about the “five month rule”?

The five-month rule does NOT apply to students who were in active status during Spring 2020.  While temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, students who continued Spring courses online from abroad were considered to be maintaining status and normal progress in their course of study.  For this reason, the five-month temporary absence provision does not apply.

Any F-1 student who left the US and did not continue with courses online (and did not maintain active status), should contact the International Center before planning to return to the US. 

I heard that I need a new, updated I-20. How can I request that to confirm that I am not taking online courses?

According to SEVP’s clarifying questions released July 24, institutions are not required to update, re-issue or add specific comments to the I-20 about the mode of instruction.  Continuing students may use their current I-20 for travel to the US as long as you have a valid travel signature (and program end date in the future).

Do I need a travel signature on my I-20?

Travel signatures (on page 2) are required to return to the US and they are valid for one year (or 6 months for OPT students). 

If you have left the US without your I-20 or if the signature on page 2 is more than 12 months old, please complete this form.  US Immigration & Customs Enforcement has temporarily approved the electronic mailing of I-20’s to the email listed on your SEVIS record.  The International Center will process your request and email you a new I-20 with the travel endorsement.  You may print and sign this I-20 to use for your return travel. 

What travel documents are required for students with an F-1 visa to reenter the US at this time?

Continuing students in F1 status who were previously enrolled in Spring 2020 must have the following documents:
  • Valid I-20 with a valid travel signature on page 2
  • Valid passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond your expected return to the US
  • Valid F-1 visa in passport (Canadian citizens exempt)
  • Proof of funding or financial evidence (recommended)
  • Current class schedule showing fall 2020 enrollment (recommended)

The US government confirmed institutions are not required to update, re-issue, or add specific comments to the I-20 about the mode of instruction.  Continuing students may use their current I-20 for travel as long as it is still valid and you have a valid travel signature.

We recognize it is a highly stressful and unpredictable time, with travel options and restrictions changing daily.  Reentry to the us is always at the discretion of the US Customs and Border Protection.

I am currently on OPT/STEM OPT. What is the impact of COVID-19 on my immigration status?

The US Department of Homeland Security has not provided additional guidance for OPT.  Currently F-1 students on OPT and STEM OPT are required to continue following regular F-1 immigration regulations to maintain active status.  USCIS considers any employment (including less than 20 hours/week) to be actively engaged in OPT.  Please continue to update the International Center via email ( within 10 days of any new or changes in employment. 

Important Information

Visa types

Most students at the University, enter the United States on an F1 student visa or a J1 visa. Learn more about the most common types below:

F1 Student visa

An F1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for those wishing to study in the U.S. You must file an F1 visa application if you plan on entering the US to attend a university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, language training program, or other academic institution. Learn more.

J1 exchange student visa

A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain medical or business training within the U.S. Learn more.

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). However, all periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT. Learn more.

To track your application

For questions about applications, regulations, or eligibility, please contact our office at 860.768.4870.

International Student Health Insurance Requirement

The University of Hartford requires all undergraduate and graduate full- and part-time international students on an F-1 or J-1 student/exchange visitor visa to be enrolled in an accident and sickness insurance program.

The University has partnered with Arthur J. Gallagher Co. and the AETNA insurance company to provide insurance coverage to our students. You can view the 20/21 benefits brochure and coverage breakdown.

All international students and scholars will be automatically enrolled in the University's health insurance plan at the time of course registration. The charge for coverage will appear on your University billing. Students may "waive out" (see Waiver Policy below) of the University policy if they are covered by another policy that meets or exceeds University and federal requirements for medical insurance coverage.

We strongly advise that you do not purchase health insurance in your home country, whether through your government, sponsoring agency, employer or private insurance company without consulting with the International Center prior to any purchase. In many instances it may not meet the University's health insurance standards, which are compliant with the U.S. Federal Health Care Reform Law known as the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (PPACA).

Waiver Eligibility

The requirement that you purchase the University of Hartford Student Health Insurance Plan may be waived only if you meet certain eligibility criteria and have comparable insurance that is valid in the U.S. Only students who fit into one of the following categories are eligible for an insurance waiver:

  • Student funded by his or her government or the U.S. government.
  • Student receiving health insurance benefits provided by a U.S. employer of his or her parent, spouse or domestic partner.
  • Student enrolled at the University of Hartford but doing studies or research outside the U.S.
  • Student working in the U.S. and receiving health insurance benefits through his or her employer.Student who has private health insurance that meets the University's minimum standards (see minimum requirement below

How to request a waiver? Get a waiver form here.

Applying for a Social Security Card

Any international student who is employed by an academic or administrative department or office of the University of Hartford is required to have a social security number. A U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration. It is used as a personal identification number by all government and most commercial institutions in the United States (for employment, taxes, bank accounts, credit card applications, etc.)

What documents are required when applying for a Social Security Number

  • You must have a letter signed by your intended campus employer which offers you the employment position. The letter must include a description of the proposed employment and the date the employment is expected to begin. This letter must be brought to the International Center.
  • The International Center will verify your full-time student status and complete a "Student Status Verification Letter" and counter- signs your employment letter.
  • Your passport
  • I-20 or DSP 2019 form
  • I-94 Arrival Record (download here)
  • Any other personal identification

A piece of mail that shows your local U.S. mailing address (preferably a billing charge from a utility company or credit card company or a bank statement)
Where to apply for a Social Security number
960 Main St.
2nd floor
Hartford, CT 06103
Telephone 1-800.234.5772 or 493-1857

We recommend that you do not apply for a SSN until you have been physically present in the U.S. for a minimum of ten days. The Social Security Administration must receive data from the USCIS verifying your legal status in the U.S.

Getting a U.S. phone number

Are you looking to get a U.S. number? There are two main types of mobile phone services: monthly plans with a contract and prepaid plans.

Two-Year Contracts:
  • These are the most common contracts in the United States. Contract plans offer lower monthly rates and very low prices on new phones compared to prepaid plans. Typically, the best prices are offered to customers who sign two-year contracts for phone service. While the rates are lower, terminating a contract early requires the customer to pay a large penalty.
  • To qualify for a contract plan, a cell phone provider will generally review the applicant’s credit history. Since new international students do not have Social Security numbers or credit history in the United States, they typically require a security deposit which could be $400 to $800. As with any contract, please ensure that you understand all requirements and charges before signing it.
  • “Pay-As-You-Go” or Prepaid Plans: Prepaid plans are easier for new international students to obtain because they do not require a Social Security number and/or a credit history check. These “pay-as-you-go” plans use the same phone networks and offer the same services as contract plans, but usually at higher rates. Advantages of these plans include no long-term contracts, security deposits, or penalties for cancellation.
Major cell phone carriers and vendors in the US

Opening a Bank Account

Having a U.S. bank account is a great way to manage your finances while studying at the University of Hartford. Opening a bank account is not complicated. Many banks offer free checking to students. These accounts typically come with an ATM card or debit card, the ability to write checks, and the ability to access your account online to review the balance and transaction history.

What do I need?

Documents you should take with you to open your account include:

  • Your unexpired passport
  • University of Hartford ID
  • Your I-94 Arrival Record
  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 Form
  • Any secondary form of identification you may have
  • Form W-8 BEN if you are not eligible for a social security number or ITIN.

Types of accounts and cards

Checking Accounts

Banks offer different types of checking accounts designed to fit individual needs. The cost of checking varies from bank to bank. Some banks charge per transaction, some have a basic monthly fee, and others offer free services if you maintain a certain minimum balance in your account at all times. You should be able to access information regarding your personal account, including all transactions and deposits, through the bank's website.

Debit Cards

A debit card, also known as a check card, allows you to withdraw or deposit money to your bank account using an automatic teller machine (ATM) and to make purchases at stores that accept the card. Debit cards are not credit cards.

Savings Accounts

A savings account enables you to save money and accumulate interest on your savings. Interest is paid either monthly or quarterly. The difference between a savings and a checking account is that you cannot write checks on a savings account.

Bank Cards

Many banks issue cards that enable you to deposit and withdraw money 24 hours a day by use of an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). These machines, frequently located outside the bank, are very convenient. By using a bank card, you can avoid waiting in line at the bank and can have access to money after the bank closes. Banks that are members of a national ATM network allow you to access your funds with your bank card at selected ATM’s throughout the country. There are many ATMs located on campus.

Credit Cards

Credit cards may be convenient, especially if you unexpectedly have major expenses. You can pay University and medical fees, airplane tickets and car repairs with any major credit card. You must understand that you can easily accumulate large bills with credit cards, and before you know it, you may be in debt. Before you accept a credit card, you must be sure to understand all your obligations. Most banks charge an annual fee. If you are unable to pay your full balance each month, you will be charged high interest rates (usually 18 percent or higher) on the remaining balance and any additional charges you make. Make sure you stay within your budget when making credit card purchases.

Local banks in our area include:

Federal, State and Local Tax Responsibility

All international student are subject to special rules with respect to the taxation of their income. Learn more about it here.

Inviting a Family Member or Guest to Visit from Abroad

Being an international student at the University of Hartford can be an exciting time in your life and you may wish to share this experience with family or friends from back home.

If you wish to invite family members or friends (other than your spouse or child for a permanent stay with you) to visit with you in the United States for a short time, they should apply for a B-2 Visitor Visa through a U.S. embassy or consulate back home.

You should provide them with the following:

  • A personal invitation letter, which should include your name, school, relationship to the applicant, name of applicant, applicant’s place and date of birth, dates expected to visit the United States, duration of visit, preferred arrival date, and whether you will provide financial support for the applicant’s visit.
  • An letter  from the International Center
  • Copies of your I-20 or DS-2019, visa stamp, and I-94 Arrival Document.
  • Copies of your proof of financial support, such as bank statements, University of Hartford assistantship letters, and/or personal bank statements if you stated that you would provide financial support for the applicant during his or her stay in the U.S.

Typically your guest will be allowed entry to the U.S. for a period not to exceed six months.

Immigration Documents: Passport, Visa, and I-94

As an international student, you are in possession of three important documents, all of which help to determine your legal status in the U.S..


You must keep your passport valid at all times while you are in the U.S.. (unless you are exempt from passport requirements). If your passport will expire while you are still in the U.S.., you must contact the embassy of your home country to make arrangements to have it extended. You will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S.. with an expired passport. If you lose your passport, you should immediately take steps to have it replaced. You must contact the International Center if your passport has been lost, stolen, damaged, or expired. Find a list of foreign Embassies and Consulates in the U.S.

Form I-94 Arrival/Departure record

The I-94 Arrival/Departure record is created at the time of your entry to the U.S.. This electronically created document indicates your visa category and contains an 11-digit identifying number called the "admission number," which is used to keep track of your arrival to and departure from the U.S.. This form determines how long you can stay in the U.S.. You will need this form if you wish to apply for a Social Security Number, a Connecticut driver’s license or Connecticut state ID card or open a bank account. You should download your form soon after your arrival to the U.S.. You should also bring a copy to the International Center if you have not done so already.

Follow these steps to print your I-94 Form:

  • Go to Arrival/Departure Forms: I-94 and I-94W
  • Fill out your information in the fields provided
  • Check the correct name spelling, all personal information, the visa category and expiration date of the authorized stay
  • If errors are found, you will have to contact the Immigration Service in Hartford Ct.  They will make an appointment for you with the Customs and Border Patrol office at Bradley International Airport.
  • If there are no errors, you must print out your I-94 Form and keep it with your passport and I-20/DSP 2019 Form
Form I-20/DSP 2019

This form is issued by the International Center and used to obtain an F-1or J-1 student visa from a U.S.. Embassy or Consulate abroad. You should read and clearly understand all the information printed on your I-20/DSP 2019. You are required to keep the information on your I-20/DSP 2019 accurate. If you lose your I-20/DSP 2019, you should immediately request a new one from the International Center.

You must carry your I-20/DSP 2019 with you if you travel outside the U.S.. for any reason during your course of study. In addition, you must contact the International Center to have your I-20/DSP 2019 signed prior to your travel or you may be denied reentry to the U.S.. Travel signatures from the International Center are valid for five months.

You should update your I-20/DSP 2019 Form if:

  • You change your academic program from one degree level to another (e.g., from bachelor’s to master’s level), or one major or field of study to another (e.g., from chemical engineering to physics).
  • Your source of funding changes (e.g. from parents to scholarship).
  • You add dependents
  • You need to extend your program of study beyond the original program completion date on your I-20/DSP 2019 Form

Expiration Date on Form I-20/DSP 2019: The expiration date on your form is the date that your program in the U.S.. is expected to end. If you are on an F-1 visa, you will have 60 days from that date before you are required to leave the U.S.. If you are on a J-1 visa you will have 30 days. This period of time is considered a "grace period" and you may use this time to prepare for your departure, or to travel in the U.S..

During the grace period you are not permitted to engage in employment of any kind. You will not be permitted to reenter the U.S.. if you travel outside its borders after the date listed on your I-20/DSP 2019, even if it falls within this 30- or 60-day period.


The F-1or J-1 visa stamp in your passport permits you to enter the U.S.. for a specific purpose and within a specific period of time. The visa may either be for single, double, or multiple entries. If it is authorized for single entry only, you will need to apply for a new visa in order to reenter the U.S.. at a future date. If the visa is authorized for two entries, you may leave and reenter the U.S.. one more time. If the visa is authorized for multiple entries, you may come and go as many times as you wish, provided that your Form I-20/DSP 2019 remains valid and travel occurs within the dates specified on the visa.

What do I do if my visa expires?

Please note the date of your visa’s expiration. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S.. but your I-20/DSP 2019 and I-94 are valid, your legal immigration status in the U.S.. remains valid. Your visa is used for entry or reentry to the U.S.. only and does not dictate the length of your authorized stay. That is determined by your I-20/DSP 2019. If your visa has expired and you depart the U.S.., you will be required to obtain a new visa while outside the U.S.. before attempting to reenter the U.S..

Exception: If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands for a period of less than 30 days, you will be permitted to reenter on an expired visa, provided that it corresponds with your current status and that your I-20/DSP 2019 and I-94 are valid. If, however, you applied for and were not granted a new U.S.. visa, you will not be permitted to reenter the U.S.. using the expired visa. If you change your immigration status within the U.S.. and then leave, you will be required to obtain a new visa in the new category before reentry to the U.S..