We are changing our operations to distance education mode, which will continue through the remainder of the Spring semester. During this time, our Designated School Official (DSO), Lea Dias, will continue to assist and advise you remotely. She will be able to meet with you virtually, if needed, in addition to communicating with you via email, using ISO@sph.cuny.edu. She will also be able to exchange documents with you via regular mail.
Please note that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has published a COVID-19 Guidance, allowing schools to change to full online instruction mode and students to remain in status while attending classes virtually. Given the extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP will allow F-1 students to temporarily count online classes towards a full course of study, even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes from elsewhere. This way, you can continue to make academic progress during the spring semester without endangering your status. They also recognize that changes to workplace requirements may impact international students engaging in practical training (On-Campus Employment – OCE, Curricular Practicum Training – CPT, and Optional Practicum Training – OPT). SEVP encourages such students to consult with their employer to seek alternative ways to maintain training agreements, such as teleworking or other arrangements.
If you are planning on leaving the United States for any reason, please reach out to your DSO immediately. CUNY is discouraging students from traveling at this time, unless it is for an emergency or family request. Please keep in mind that, if you leave the US now, you may not get back in the near future. Countries are closing their borders and you may face challenges returning. Among a few scenarios, you may be requested to go into quarantine (incurring many unexpected expenses) or end up stuck in between countries. You may want to refer to guidance from the CDC, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for specific port-of-entry screening processes, as well as any travel restrictions, before you make any plans.
Remember, April 15 is the deadline to file for your Tax Return for calendar year 2019. If you were in the United States in 2019, you must file for taxes now, even if you were not employed and did not have any income. All F-1 students are required to file taxes, no exception. So please work with a tax preparation organization that specializes in F-1 non-immigrant status and be sure to file before April 15, 2020.
Although the IRS announced on March 20th that they are extending the federal filing deadline to July 15th, some states have not made any announcements yet. And any changes to the state filing deadline may vary from state to state. So, it is still advisable to file by the original deadline of April 15th where possible.
Please note: It is extremely important that you maintain your status, keep your DSO abreast of your plans, and that you inform her, within 10 days, of any change in your:
- Phone number
- Number of working hours
- Job title
- Job responsibility
- Immigration status
In this stressful time, it is also important to be gentle with yourself. Read and watch things that relax and inspire you, take a walk in nature and largely open spaces, and stay connected with friends and family. Talk about joyful things and make plans for when this situation settles down. However, if you experience anxiety related to COVID-19 and other emotional health concerns, please reach out to our Student Wellness Counselor, Sherry Adams (Sherry.Adams@sph.cuny.edu) who can provide free confidential counseling to SPH students.