Winter Term 2021 FAQs for New Students

Congratulations from the International Center on your admission to the University of Michigan! We are looking forward to welcoming you to campus for the Winter 2021 Term. However, we realize that some of you may not be able to arrive on campus in time for the Winter Term, and may be considering studying remotely from your home country for the Winter Term. We hope the information below will be helpful as you plan for the Winter Term. This information is for new students only, including transfers and change of level students who have previously studied in the U.S.

Current students: please read the information for continuing students.

Whether you plan to come to campus for the Winter Term or are considering remote study, please be sure to read the Campus Maize and Blueprint website for detailed information about U-M’s plans for Winter Term 2021.

Information for New F-1 and J-1 Students Planning Come To Campus for the Winter Term

Can I choose online classes only if I come to campus this Winter?

No, at least one of your classes must be in-person or hybrid. You will see codes for your classes that will allow you to determine whether or not a particular course is considered to be in-person, mixed (hybrid) or online.  *This guidance does not apply to SEVIS transfer and Change of Level students - please refer to the 'Transfers and Other Special Situations' section below.

  • New F-1 students: Be sure to select at least one in-person or hybrid class (at least three credit hours) in order to protect your immigration status. You must enroll full-time.
  • New J-1 students: Be sure to select at least one in-person or hybrid class (at least three credit hours) in order to protect your immigration status. Since the Department of State only permits a “limited amount of distance learning” for new J-1 students, we also recommend selecting additional in-person or hybrid classes if possible. You must enroll full-time.

Will I be able to obtain a visa in time to come to U-M for Winter Term?

The U.S. Department of State is resuming routine visa services in a phased-in process, based on local conditions. Check with the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you to find out more about their plans and about your options for scheduling an appointment for a visa interview. Try to schedule your visa interview appointment as soon as possible. Even if visa issuance has resumed, there may be significant delays due to backlogs and new physical distancing protocols at embassies and consulates. In some cases, the option to schedule a visa interview through “expedited processing” may be available.

Will my plans to come to campus be affected by travel restrictions?

The COVID-19 entry restrictions the U.S. has imposed are still in effect. However, the Department of State has announced that students from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland can apply for an F-1 visa to enter the U.S. We advise having this announcement from Customs and Border Protection available when you travel to campus since it confirms that that airlines should allow students from these countries to board flights to the U.S. and may also be helpful at the U.S. port of entry. J-1 students from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland can request a “national interest exception” (NIE) when they apply for a visa. The NIE will allow travel to the U.S.

Will I need a new I-20 confirming that U-M is offering in-person and hybrid classes for Winter Term 2021?

No. Current DHS guidance does not require this. You can use the most recent I-20 you received from U-M to enter the U.S. If you want, you can also download and print this letter , which explains U-M’s plans for the Winter Term. You are also encouraged to print a copy of your class schedule from Wolverine Access to show, if requested. It should clearly indicate your in-person/hybrid (mixed) course selections.

I haven’t received my I-20 or DS-2019 yet? What should I do?

If you are an undergraduate student, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. If you are a Rackham Graduate School student, contact the Rackham Admissions Office. If you are a non-Rackham graduate student, please contact your specific admissions office.

When should I plan to arrive on campus?

If possible, you should plan to arrive on campus no later than the reporting date (program start date) on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. Classes for most programs begin on January 19, 2021. If you are an undergraduate student, you must arrive no later than January 26, 2021. If you are a graduate student, you should contact the program that admitted you to discuss options. You may be able to arrive as late as February 15, 2021. Graduate students from the Ross Business School who plan to study remotely for the Winter A Term then arrive on campus for the Winter B Term beginning on March 9, should request an I-20 or DS-2019 with a start date updated for the Winter B Term.

Students who are unable to arrive on time can also consider studying remotely for the Winter Term and coming to campus for the Fall Term, or deferring their admission to a future term. Discuss these options with the unit that admitted you since these options may not be possible for all students.

Will I need to quarantine once I arrive in the U.S.?

All students arriving from international or domestic locations via plane, bus or train are expected to follow COVID-19 prevention measures (wearing face coverings, social distancing, and limiting contact with others). You also are encouraged to stay home as much as possible for the 14-day period following your arrival. However, during this time, you may attend your classes, go to work, or go out for essentials (groceries, banking, etc.) and you may use public transportation to get to your destination. For more details, see the Campus Maize & Blueprint website.

New F-1 and J-1 international students are also required to complete an immigration check-in process online. Mandatory Immigration Check-in for Students explains how to complete your check-in.  

Health Insurance

Will the mandatory U-M International Health Insurance plan cover COVID-19 testing and treatment?

Yes. The International Student/Scholar Health Insurance Plan covers testing and treatment. GradCare also covers COVID-19 testing and treatment. Please review the health insurance FAQs for details. If you still have questions, contact the International Center’s Health Insurance Advisor.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

Contact the International Center Insurance Advisor.

Transfers and Other Special Situations

What if I am currently in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status?

Your admissions office can advise you on your eligibility to transfer your F-1 or J-1 status from your current U.S. institution to the University of Michigan. They can advise you if you are also a current U-M student starting a new degree or program level. If you are an undergraduate student, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. If you are a Rackham Graduate School student, contact the Rackham Admissions Office. If you are a non-Rackham graduate student, please contact your specific admissions office.

I am a Transfer/Change of Level student and plan to come to the U.S. to study for Winter Term 2021.

After you have arrived in the U.S. and completed the online mandatory immigration check-in, your transfer or change of educational level will be completed. You may choose any combination of in-person, hybrid or online courses (including all online) as long as you maintain a full course of study (or have an approved Reduced Course Load). However, you should check with your academic unit to make sure that your proposed course schedule, including your choices of in-person, mixed (hybrid) or remote classes, meets their requirements for your degree program. 

I am a Transfer/Change of Level student and plan to pursue remote study from my home country during Winter Term 2021.

Please notify the U-M unit that admitted you that you plan to spend the Winter Term outside the United States. You may take as many or as few credits as you want, but be sure to check with your academic program as you plan your course schedule for the Winter Term. Your academic program may require you to enroll for a specific number of credits.

U-M will not be able to complete your transfer or your change of educational level until you enter the U.S. for the Spring/Summer Term or another future term, so your SEVIS record will remain in initial status. This means that the F-1 immigrations regulations will not apply to you. U-M’s mandatory health insurance requirement will also not apply to you. As soon as you decide when you will return to campus, notify the U-M unit that admitted you so that a new I-20 can be prepared for you. You will then use that I-20 to re-enter the United States. You will only need to apply for a new visa if your current visa is not valid.

I am currently in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status (H-1B, H-4, TN, etc.). What should I do?

Please contact the International Center at icenter@umich.edu. Your options and course of action depends on many variables, and an adviser can help outline the issues so you can make an informed decision.

Information for New Students Planning to Study Remotely for the Winter Term

Can I begin my U-M program online and come to U-M for the Spring/Summer Term, or a later term?

U-M’s schools and colleges are offering a range of remote courses this Winter, so study from your home country may be possible. Please contact the U-M unit that admitted for academic advice on your options. You will be able to see codes for your classes that will allow you to determine whether or not a particular course is considered to be in-person, mixed (hybrid) or online.

You may also have the option of deferring your admission to a future term. This is also something to discuss with the U-M unit that admitted you.

  • If you are an undergraduate student, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. If you are a Rackham Graduate School student, please contact your graduate program. If you are a non-Rackham graduate student, please contact your specific admissions office.

If I pursue remote study from my home county this Winter, will I receive a new I-20 or DS-2019?

Yes, you will receive a new I-20 or DS-2019 with a new start date, which will allow you to enter the U.S. for a future term. While you are studying remotely from outside the U.S., your SEVIS record will be in initial F-1 or J-1 status. Your active F-1 or J-1 status will begin when you use your I-20 or DS-2019 to enter the U.S. for a future term.

If remote study from my home county is possible for me, am I required to enroll full-time?

Since you will not be in active F-1 or J-1 status, F-1 or J-1 immigration requirements will not apply to you, so you will not be required to enroll full-time. You may take as many or as few credits as you want, and these can all be online. However, be sure to check with your academic program as you plan your course schedule for the Winter Term. Your academic program may require you to enroll for a specific number of credits.

Should I still apply for my F-1 or J-1 visa?

Yes, if you plan to come to U-M for the Spring/Summer or Fall Terms.  Check with the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you to find out more about their plans and about your options for scheduling an appointment for a visa interview. As visa issuance resumes, there may be significant delays due to backlogs and new physical distancing protocols at embassies and consulates.

If I study remotely from outside the U.S., will I be required to enroll in the international student health insurance plan?

No. The health insurance requirement will not apply to you since you will not be in active F-1 or J-1 status. Once you enter the U.S. for the Winter Term (or another future term), you will be automatically enrolled in the mandatory health insurance plan. If you have more questions about U-M health insurance plans, including coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment, please review the health insurance FAQs.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

For questions about your U-M application, acceptance, matriculation, or the processing of immigration documents, undergraduate students should contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Rackham Graduate School students should contact the Rackham Admissions Office. If you are a non-Rackham graduate student, please contact your specific admissions office. For questions about remote study or deferring admission, Rackham graduate students should contact their graduate program, and all other students should contact their admitting office.

If you have questions about the U.S. visa process or other immigration related issues, please contact the International Center at icenter@umich.edu.