EMBASSY OF INDIA STUDENT HUB

Official Advisories

Update: For information on travel during the pandemic, please visit our dedicated travel page.

Embassy of India

30 July 2020 | Washington D.C.

In continuation of advisories issued on 17 June and 9 July 2020, the Embassy of India Student Hub issues the following advisory based on information available on 30 July 2020 for Indian students studying in or enrolling to study in the United States:

  1. The Embassy of India Student Hub is cognizant of challenges being faced by the Indian students in securing visa appointments with the US Embassy/ Consulates in India. It may be noted that due to the current pandemic situation, US Consular Services’ operations in India remain suspended and currently, US Embassy and Consulates across India are processing visa applications only for emergency cases (i.e. death, funeral, medical treatment, etc). The Embassy of India in Washington DC has already taken up this matter with the concerned U.S. authorities and continues to follow up with them.

  2. For details on impact of COVID-19 pandemic for students on F-1 status, students may refer to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)’s “Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19” issued on 15 July 2020 (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf) and “Clarifying Questions for Fall 2020 Based On March 9 Spring Guidance Broadcast” issued on 24 July 2020 (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/fall2020faq.pdf).

  3. F-1 Indian students on post-completion Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) are again advised to exercise due caution towards offers from third-party consultancies that ask payment for issuing employment letters, certifications, or company placements. F-1 OPT students may refer to U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s information in this regard: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0243-job-scams#job%20placement.

  4. F-1 students on post-completion OPT are also advised to review university guidance as well as official OPT guidelines issued by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and SEVP, including:

General requirements for post-completion OPT include:

a. OPT “employment” must directly relate to student’s major area of study (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/optDirectlyRelatedGuidance.pdf);

b. OPT employment must be for a specific duration and technically at least 20 hours per week. Please note that “[f]or the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT,” as per 15 July 2020 SEVP FAQs;

c. Student must apply for and an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD card”) before start of any post-completion OPT employment;

d. Student should be able to provide evidence, acquired from employer, to verify that he/she legitimately worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment; and

e. Student can volunteer or can secure an unpaid internship, so long as such “employment” is directly related to his/her major area of study.

  1. Students are further advised to consult their respective university’s Designated School Official (DSO), International Student & Scholar Office (ISSO) and/or concerned faculty for additional guidance on all post-completion OPT matters - including permissible volunteering opportunities and/or internships.


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Additional advisories, updates & resources

The Embassy of India/India Student Hub is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on students. The following advisories, circulars, and updates have been issued for Indian students who may be impacted by campus closures, classes moving online, program cancellations, or travel restrictions.

The India Student Hub remains in contact with stakeholders and further updates will be issued as the situation evolves. Read previous iterations and access essential resources below.

Update issued on 14 July 2020 (regarding SEVP Broadcast message)

Update

14 July 2020 | Washington D.C.

The Embassy of India Student Hub continues to follow developments around the 6 July 2020 Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Broadcast Message issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

At the India-U.S. Foreign Office Consultations held on 7 July 2020, Foreign Secretary of India, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, conveyed our concerns on this matter to the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale. The Embassy of India has continued to engage with relevant US stakeholders to obtain clarity on the issue, keeping in focus the interests and welfare of the Indian students in the U.S.

On Tuesday, 14 July 2020, pursuant to an agreement reached in a federal court case brought by Harvard/MIT, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts has noted:

“the [US] Government has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 [SEVP] Policy Directive and the July 7, 2020 FAQ, and has also agreed to rescind their implementation. The [US] Government will return to the March 9, 2020 and March 13, 2020 policy. This . . . will preclude enforcement of the July 6, 2020 policy directive and July 7, 2020 FAQ, which are being rescinded on nationwide basis.”

The Embassy of India Student Hub will issue updates in the coming days as we receive more clarity on the proceedings of the court from relevant authorities. The Embassy continues to encourage students to monitor their university’s official channels for university/program-specific information and to remain in contact with DSOs for additional questions.

Student Advisory issued on 9 July 2020 (regarding SEVP Broadcast message)

Advisory

ISSUED: 9 JULY 2020 | WASHINGTON D.C.

9 July 2020 | Washington D.C.

The Embassy of India Student Hub issues the following advisory for Indian students who may have been impacted by the United States’ Student and Visitor Exchange Program (SEVP) broadcast message on 6 July 2020, titled “SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester”:

  1. Students are made aware that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been changes to visa policies for the Fall 2020 semester that impact international non-immigrant students in the United States. More information on this is available at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s COVID-19 Resource Center (https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus), in the broadcast message dated July 6, 2020 (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/bcm2007-01.pdf), and in subsequent SEVP FAQs issued on July 7, 2020 (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/sevisFall2020_FAQ.pdf).

  2. The Embassy is following developments relating to latest SEVP announcement and is engaging with U.S. Administration, universities and colleges to respond to concerns of the Indian students. At the India-U.S. Foreign Office Consultations held on 7 July, 2020, Foreign Secretary of India, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, conveyed our concerns on this matter to U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale. The Embassy of India continues to engage with relevant US stakeholders to obtain clarity on the issue, keeping in focus the interests and welfare of the Indian students in the U.S.

  3. Meanwhile, students are encouraged to remain in contact with their Designated School Officers (DSO) and continue to monitor official University channels. The new rules may have implications based on University/program and your DSO remains the best source of comprehensive information on your University’s response and how this modification in the rules may affect you. Students may also contact the SEVP Response Center at 703-603-3400 or 1-800-892-4829 for general and case-specific questions, or e-mail SEVP@ice.dhs.gov for general questions (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/sevisFall2020_FAQ.pdf).

  4. Travel arrangements: Students should consult their DSOs before making travel arrangements:

    1. Students who wish to depart the United States in the coming weeks under Vande Bharat Mission, can directly book tickets on the Air India website [http://www.airindia.in/]. Please continue to monitor official channels for updated information on future flights.

    2. Students who wish to travel to the United States for the Fall 2020 semester are requested to confirm eligibility with their DSO and receive updated annotated I-20s (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/bcm2007-01.pdf) prior to undertaking their travel.

  5. Students are encouraged to register with the Embassy at https://www.indianembassyusa.gov.in/Indian_Students_Registration to timely receive important advisories and to facilitate the Embassy to render support, as and when the need so arises

  6. Advice for Incoming Students: Incoming students are informed that the Embassy of India Student Hub will host an ‘Advice for Incoming Indian International Students’ series in the coming weeks. Details will be made available in the coming days on the Student Hub website: https://www.ishubus.com/

  7. Practical Training Advisory: Students who are seeking practical training opportunities, such as curricular practical training (CPT), optional practical training (OPT), post-completion OPT, and/or the STEM Extension OPT are encouraged to read the Embassy’s advisory at: https://www.ishubus.com/resources/advisories.

  8. Students are welcome to contact the Student Hub’s Non-Emergency Peer Support Line (https://www.ishubus.com/covid19/peersupport) at (414) 40-INDIA or at covid19@ishubus.com if they need additional support. In the event of a consular emergency, they may contact the Embassy/Consulate as per their jurisdiction, details at: https://www.ishubus.com/resources/emergencies.

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8 July 2020 | Washington D.C.

The Embassy Spokesperson’s response to media queries on the US immigration authorities announcing modifications to requirements for student visas in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • We have seen the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] announcement of 06 July regarding their Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) providing temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students on F-1 and M-1 visas taking online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the fall semester of the 2020 academic year.

  • While these modifications do provide some flexibility for US universities and colleges to adopt a hybrid model - that is, a mixture of online and in person classes - they also restrict international students on F-1 and M-1 visas from taking courses entirely online.

  • These new modifications at a time when many of the US universities and colleges are yet to announce their plans for the new academic year are likely to cause uncertainties and difficulties for some Indian students wishing to pursue their studies in the US.

  • We have taken up this matter with concerned US officials. At the India –US Foreign Office Consultations held on 07 July 2020, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla conveyed our concerns on this matter to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.

  • Partnership in higher education is a key component of the strong people-to-people ties between India and the United States. In the last two decades, Indian students in US universities and colleges have been the harbingers of a strong partnership between technology and innovation sectors between our two countries.

  • We hope that the US authorities would provide adequate flexibility in their visa rule making while keeping in mind the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic for the Indian student community.

  • We continue to engage all the stakeholders in the matters, including the US Administration officials, Congressional leaders, universities and colleges as well as the Indian student community in the US as we move forward towards the 2020-21 academic year to further strengthen our bilateral partnership in higher education.

Read this on the Embassy of India website: https://www.indianembassyusa.gov.in/News?id=24997

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Circular issued on 3 April 2020

CIRCULAR | April 3, 2020 | Washington D.C.

The Embassy of India Student Hub has received a number of messages and lists about rumored ‘evacuation flights’ or ‘airlifts’ for Indian students in the United States to return to India.

As of April 3, 2020, no special flights are planned by the Government of India from the United States to India. You are requested not to believe rumors to the contrary.

Please continue to monitor official channels, including ishubus.com/covid19 and your local Embassy/Consulate in the United States’ website, to receive the most up-to-date information.

As and when flights to India resume, we will inform you. Register at: https://www.indianembassyusa.gov.in/Indian_Students_Registration.

Feel free to contact the Peer Support Line if you have questions about this circular or need additional support. We are here for you.

Priority Update issued on 6 July 2020 (regarding SEVP Broadcast message)

Priority Update

ISSUED: 6 JULY 2020 | WASHINGTON D.C.

The Embassy of India Student Hub is aware of the 6 July 2020 United States' Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) broadcast message regarding the Fall 2020 semester.

The Embassy encourages students to monitor their university’s official channels for university/program-specific information and to remain in contact with their university DSOs for additional questions.

We will issue updates in the coming days as we receive more clarity on this broadcast message.


Student Advisory issued on 20 May 2020

20 May 2020 | Washington D.C.

The Embassy of India/India Student Hub is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on students. The following advisory is issued for Indian students who may be impacted by campus closures, classes moving online, program cancellations, or travel restrictions.

Please note that this advisory is based on information available as of 20 May 2020. The World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Government of India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Government of India Ministry of Home Affairs (for India-specific updates), and your universities are the best sources for the latest information in this rapidly evolving situation. We are in touch with various stakeholders and relevant authorities, and further India Student Hub updates will be issued as needed.

For emergencies, continue to contact the 24x7 Consular Emergency helplines at the Embassy or Consulates per your present location. In addition, to help support Indian students during the COVID-19 crisis, the Embassy of India Student Hub has established a non-emergency Peer Support Line. Details for these are given at the end of the Advisory.

Please read this advisory carefully as sections may have been updated from previous iterations:


  1. Class of 2020: Congratulations to all students graduating with the Class of 2020! Please accept our best wishes and felicitations; well done. We celebrate your hard work and success, and look forward to your leadership and service in helping co-create a #NewIndia and a better world.

  2. Housing: If you have been staying on-campus and will in the foreseeable future be asked to vacate, check with your university about summer housing or options for accessing off-campus housing. If you are in off-campus housing, please check your state or your city’s official ‘.gov’ website and with your landlord/housing authority for information on how COVID-19 may have impacted leases and rent collection.

  3. Access to services: If your university/program is shutting down on-campus services, check with your university/program on how to avail your university’s health services, mandatory health insurance (via the university or a third-party insurance company), international student services, and any other essential service(s) that may be impacted Check with your health insurance provider on your plan’s validity and in-network coverage hospitals and areas, particularly in case you are moving to a different part of the United States. If you are graduating and your school plan is expiring, please check with your university, your employer, and/or your state’s health insurance marketplace for options.

  4. Financial Assistance: If you are in need of financial assistance, please check your university or your program’s website for information on funds set up to assist students during COVID-19. If you are searching for a job or an internship, your university’s career services, alumni association, and your professional network are a good place to start. Check with your Designated School Official (DSO) to understand Department of Homeland Security’s guidance on how to apply to work off campus in these extenuating circumstances as outlined on this State Dept website.

  5. Temporary Emergency Resources: The Embassy of India/India Student Hub will be happy to provide information on temporary emergency resources. The Embassy is grateful to the members of the Indian community who have made these resources available for Indian students in an emergency. During this extraordinary situation created by the pandemic, our commitment remains steadfast to ensure welfare of our students in the best possible manner within available resources and with the support of the US government.

  6. General Travel:

    1. For official advisories for travel within (domestic) or departing (international) from the US, consult the US Department of State, US Transportation and Security Administration, and the relevant local, state, and transit/destination government websites;

    2. Kindly note that India has currently suspended all scheduled international commercial passenger flights until the end of the lock down at 11:59 PM IST on 30 May 2020. Domestic civil aviation with recommence in a calibrated manner from Monday, 25 May 2020.

    3. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recognizes that some students may find it difficult to return home during the COVID-19 emergency because of diminished travel options. Students are encouraged to communicate with their DSO for guidance and so that the DSO can “document any material information related to a student’s inability to leave the country due to COVID-19.” (See this ICE website for FAQs for SEVP stakeholders about COVID-19). Students contemplating international travel should consult their DSO regarding F-1, J-1, or M-1 status implications.

    4. For information on consular services, please visit the website of the Embassy/Consulate of your jurisdiction for more information; details here.

  7. Travel for compelling reasons – Vande Bharat Mission: The Government of India has made provisions through national carrier Air India for select non-scheduled commercial flights to India:

    1. Schedule: With the completion of Phase 1, a Phase 2 of non-scheduled flights has been announced. A full schedule, subject to changes, can be found in this Embassy press release and on the India Student Hub updates on the Student Hub travel to India sub-page.

    2. Criteria: These flights are for those who wish to travel to India for compelling reasons as indicated on the form.

    3. Registration: Indian nationals who wish to travel to India for compelling reasons should register at this Embassy web page. *Note: (Not included in 20 May 2020 advisory is an update issued 26 May 2020 regarding a link for certain Category of OCI card holders to travel to India. Read all that information here.)

    4. Selection: A large number of people have expressed interest in traveling to India on these special flights. Based on the compelling reasons, the respective Embassy/Consulate will contact you with further updates.

    5. Frequently asked questions: Answers to most frequently asked questions can be found on this Student Hub page.

          • Please continue to monitor official channels, including ishubus.com/covid19, your local Embassy/Consulate in the United States’ website, and these advisories, to receive the most up-to-date information. The Government of India continues to monitor the situation. Decisions of any potential future flights, when made, will be announced through these channels.

  8. Matters pertaining to the US Government: The Embassy of India and several university consortiums are in touch with the US Government, which is monitoring the implications that this evolving situation may have for international students.

    1. F-1 Student and OPT holders: The Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19 document provides answers to frequently asked questions for Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) stakeholders about the impact of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on SEVP-certified schools and F and M students. Please check for important updates and guidance on:

        • Online classes, waivers of full course of study requirement, and five-month temporary absence rule;

        • Volunteering and OPT employment authorization;

        • Please also note that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not yet determined whether to implement a specific exemption for exceeding the regulatory limits for unemployment of 90 days for OPT and 150 days for STEM OPT;

        • See this ICE dcoument for the full guidance. For clarification or additional information, please contact your DSO. Your DSO remains the best resource to access the most up-to-date SEVP information. If you have any concerns that your DSO is not able to address, you may contact SEVP at sevp@ice.dhs.gov;

    1. J-1 visa holders: J-1 Visa Holders should contact their sponsoring program for questions on visas, extension of visas, and health insurance. J-1 visa holders have a built-in 30-day grace period following the program-end-date for their visas. For J-1 specific queries that cannot be answered by your sponsoring program, you may contact JVisas@state.gov or visit this US State Dept website;

    2. M-1 visa holders: : M-1 Visa Holders looking to extend their programs should contact their DSOs. An M student with a pending extension application submitted to USCIS at least 15 days but not more than 60 days prior to the program end date may remain in the United States until USCIS adjudicates the application; read more here;

    3. Extending your stay: If you, a relative, or a friend were admitted on a visa that may be expiring (and were not admitted as an F-1 student for Duration of Status), you may need to take action to extend the authorized stay. We are given to understand that DHS is currently not in a position to offer a blanket extension of visa cases. However, DHS is working hard to quickly process urgent requests from individuals. We advise Indian nationals whose visa status may be expiring to apply online as early as possible through USCIS. You may direct yourselves/family members to this link for specific information regarding extensions of status for individuals who are unable to depart as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

              • Continue to monitor the ‘Nonimmigrant Students’ section for the latest ‘Guidance Documents’ and ‘FAQs’ on this ICE web page.

  1. Keeping Safe and Healthy:

    1. Based on the latest information from the CDC and the Government of India, we recommend all students to wear at minimum a cloth mask, if available, in places where social distancing is difficult to maintain. For simple immunity-boosting ideas, download the Aarogya Setu app;

    2. Please practice social distancing (staying at home as much as possible, except to access essential services) and maintain a distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) away from other people to minimize the transmission of COVID-19;

    3. If you have flu-like symptoms, please self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days. Consult the WHO and CDC websites for further information about the disease, preventative measures, and what to do if you experience any symptoms. Reach out to your healthcare provider.

    4. Please check your university website and official campus advisories for the latest university-specific information.


This is an unprecedented situation, but we can successfully manage it by taking decisions with a calm mind. Please take prudent health precautions and carefully review information and travel advisories.

To receive the latest Embassy of India Student Hub advisory(s) and for information about Student Hub programming and volunteer opportunities, register here.


CONTACT INFORMATION:

For peer support and advice, contact the India Student Hub’s COVID-19 Peer Support Line at (414)-404-6342 or (414)-40-INDIA (11 AM - 5 PM EDT daily), or by email at: covid19@ishubus.com

For any emergency consular services by jurisdiction, please visit the Emergencies page.

Priority Update issued on 15 May 2020 (Updated on 18 May 2020)

Phase 2 of flights to India

ISSUED: 15 MAY 2020 | UPDATED: 18 MAY 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT

  • SCHEDULE: To access the schedule for Phase II of flights, visit the Vande Bharat Mission page.

  • REGISTRATION: Continue to fill this Embassy/Consulate form to be considered for the flights (https://indianembassyusa.gov.in/reg_indian_nationals). If you have already filled the form and submitted your consent, you do not need to fill it again.

  • SELECTION:

    • Thousands of people have registered and reached out, requesting travel to India on these special flights and all are compelling cases. Based on the genuineness and compelling reason requiring travel to India, the respective Embassy/Consulate will contact you if your case is being considered.

    • After you register, continue to stand-by and be sure to keep a watch for calls and/or e-mails. Please do not send emails or call-in to request for updates as this increases the volume of inquiries.

    • To update previously submitted information or change in circumstances, write one email to the Embassy/Consulate that has jurisdiction over the state you are currently present in. Please find the Embassy/Consulate that has jurisdiction over your state here. (Link: https://www.ishubus.com/resources/emergencies.)

  • FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND MORE INFORMATION: More information can be found on our dedicated page here.

As stated, all schedules and procedures are subject to changes. Continue to monitor ishubus.com/covid19 and Embassy/Consulate websites and social media pages for more information. #StayPut #StaySafe


Student Advisory issued on 14 April 2020

14 April 2020 | Washington D.C.

The Embassy of India/India Student Hub is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on students. The following advisory is issued for Indian students who may be impacted by campus closures, classes moving online, program cancellations, or travel restrictions.

Please note that this advisory is based on information available as of 14 April 2020. The WHO, CDC, Government of India Press Information Bureau (for India-specific updates), and your universities are the best sources for the latest information in this rapidly evolving situation. We are in touch with relevant stakeholders and authorities and will issue India Student Hub updates as needed.

For emergencies, continue to contact the 24x7 Consular Emergency helplines at the Embassy or Consulates per your present location. In addition, to help support Indian students during the COVID-19 crisis, the Embassy of India Student Hub has established a non-emergency Peer Support Line. Details for these are given at the end of the Advisory.

Please read this advisory carefully as sections may have been updated from previous iterations:


  1. Housing: If you are staying on-campus and are/will in the foreseeable future be asked to vacate, check with your university about retaining on-campus housing or options for accessing off-campus housing. If you are in off-campus housing, please check your state or your city’s official ‘.gov’ website and with your landlord/housing for information on how COVID-19 may have impacted leases and rent collection.

  2. Access to services: If your university/program is shutting down on-campus services, check with your university/program on how to avail your university’s health services, mandatory health insurance (via the university or a third-party insurance company), international student services, and any other essential service(s) that may be impacted, including any prorated refund options for campus services not availed.

  3. Financial Assistance: If you are in need of financial assistance, please check your university or your program’s website for information on funds set up to assist students during COVID-19. If you are searching for a job or an internship, your university’s career services, your alumni group and your professional network are a good place to start. Check with your Designated School Official (DSO) to understand Department of Homeland Security’s guidance on how to apply to work off campus in these extenuating circumstances: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/student-records/fm-student-employment/f-1-off-campus-employment-and-international-organization-internship.

  4. Temporary Emergency Resources: The Embassy of India/India Student Hub will be happy to provide information on temporary emergency resources. The Embassy is grateful to the members of the Indian community who have made these resources available for Indian students in an emergency. During this extraordinary situation created by the pandemic, our commitment remains steadfast to ensure welfare of our students in the best possible manner within available resources and with the support of the US government.

  5. Matters pertaining to the US Government: The Embassy of India is in touch with the US government, which is monitoring the implications that this evolving situation may have for international students.

    • Please check your university website and official campus advisories for the latest university-specific information;

    • The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), provides updated information on visitor visas, expiring visa status and on student CPT/OPT applications/extensions at https://www.ice.gov/covid19;

    • The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has confirmed that international students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19, without any penalty to their visa status. The five-month temporary absence rule will not apply for students who remain in Active status. Read the full SEVP guidance here;

    • For F-1 students, your DSO can also provide more information or clarification on F-1 visa or work authorization questions. If you have any concerns that your DSO is not able to address, you may contact SEVP at sevp@ice.dhs.gov;

    • J-1 Visa Holders should contact their sponsoring program for questions on visas, extension of visas, and health insurance. J-1 visa holders have a built-in 30-day grace period following the program-end-date for their visas. For J-1 specific queries that are not answerable by your sponsoring program, you may contact JVisas@state.gov or visit https://j1visa.state.gov/covid-19/;

    • The US Government is yet to issue guidance for students on/awaiting OPT who may be accruing unemployment days or are otherwise nearing/are out-of-status. Your DSO remains the best resource to access the most up-to-date information. You can also monitor the ‘Nonimmigrant Students’ section for the latest ‘Guidance Documents’ and ‘FAQs’: https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

    • If a relative, or a friend were admitted on a visa that may be expiring (and were NOT admitted as an F-1 student for Duration of Status), please visit https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/covid-19-delays-extensionchange-status-filings for specific information regarding extensions of status for individuals who are unable to depart as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Be advised to apply online for the needful as early as possible through USCIS. Also refer: Extension of Stay/Change of Status Filing Delays Caused by Extraordinary Circumstances Related to COVID-19 at https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-coronavirus-2019-covid-19.

  6. Travel: Please avoid all non-essential domestic or international travel, as recommended by the WHO and CDC:

    • For official advisories for travel within (domestic) or departing (international) from the US, consult the US Department of State, US Transportation and Security Administration, and the relevant local, state, and transit/destination government websites;

    • Kindly note that India has currently suspended all scheduled international commercial passenger flights until the end of the lock down on 3 May 2020. In addition, all domestic passenger flights within India are also suspended until 3 May 2020. This action has been taken in the interest of public health and safety of all Indian citizens. See Ministry of Civil Aviation Circulars here: https://dgca.gov.in/digigov-portal.

    • The Embassy of India Student Hub has received a number of messages and lists about rumored ‘evacuation flights’ or ‘airlifts’ for Indian students in the United States to return to India. As of 14 April 2020, no special flights are planned by the Government of India from the United States to India. Please continue to monitor official channels, including ishubus.com/covid19 and your local Embassy/Consulate in the United States’ website, to receive the most up-to-date information.

    • In his 14 April 2020 address to the nation, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, said, “I am well aware of the problems you have faced – some for food, some for movement from place to place, and others for staying away from homes and families. However, for the sake of your country, you are fulfilling your duties like a disciplined soldier. This is the power of ‘We, the People of India’ that our constitution talks about.” He also urged countrymen to “stay wherever you are.” Watch/read full address here: https://pmindia.gov.in/en/news_updates/pms-address-to-the-nation-4

    • Remain in contact with your DSO for information on any possible impact international travel may have on your F-1 or J-1 status.

          • We understand that many of you are anxious and concerned, and desire to return back to India at the earliest. We again request you to avoid travel, for your own safety and in the interest of general public health.

          • There are no exceptions for travelling to India during the aforementioned travel ban for the reasons explained above. In the interim, please reach out to us should you need any other assistance. We will issue updates as soon as commercial flights to India resume.

  7. Keeping Safe and Healthy:

    • Based on the latest information from the CDC and the Government of India, we recommend all students to wear at minimum a cloth mask, if available, in places where social distancing is difficult to maintain. For simple immunity-boosting ideas, please download the Aroyga Setu App https://www.mygov.in/aarogya-setu-app/ or visit http://ayush.gov.in/.

    • Please practice social distancing (staying at home as much as possible, except to access essential services) and maintain a distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) away from other people to minimize the transmission of COVID-19.

    • If you have flu-like symptoms, please self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days. Consult the WHO and CDC websites for further information about the disease, preventative measures, and what to do if you experience any symptoms. Reach out to your healthcare provider.

  8. Additional Items:

    • Prime Minister’s call to young scientists: In his 14 April 2020 address to the nation, Prime Minister Modi asked for “India’s young scientists to come forward and take a lead in creating a vaccine for Coronavirus; for the welfare of the world, for the welfare of the human race.” Indian students in the U.S. may upload ideas to https://www.ishubus.com/covid19/ideas

    • Live with the Ambassador: Watch a recording of the 11 April 2020 Instagram Live Session with the Ambassador of India to the United States, H.E. Taranjit Singh Sandhu. The Ambassador interacted with students, reassuring them of the Embassy’s unrelenting support while addressing the COVID-19 lockdown and guiding students during these unprecedented times. The session, facilitated by the India Student Hub, can be found on Instagram TV at https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-4zUFzp57e or online at https://www.ishubus.com/covid19/amb.

    • Programming and Events: India Student Hub is working with Campus Leads and other volunteers on creating programs and events across campuses. Details on upcoming activities/events will be added on ishubus.com/covid19 and updated regularly.


This is an unprecedented situation, but we can successfully manage it by taking decisions with a calm mind. Please take prudent health precautions and carefully review information and travel advisories.

To receive the latest Embassy of India Student Hub advisory(s), register here: https://www.indianembassyusa.gov.in/Indian_Students_Registration


CONTACT INFORMATION:

For peer support and advice, contact the India Student Hub’s COVID-19 Peer Support Line at (414)-404-6342 or (414)-40-INDIA (11 AM - 5 PM EDT daily), or by email at: covid19@ishubus.com

For any emergency consular services by jurisdiction, please visit the Emergencies page.

Student Advisory issued on 8 April 2020


COVID-19 Advisory

April 8, 2020 | Washington D.C.

Following the growing cases of COVID-19, US universities have taken measures to shut down on-campus operations and/or move classes online. The Embassy of India/India Student Hub has the following advisory for Indian students who may be impacted by these decisions. Please note that this advisory is based on information available as of 8 April 2020.

The WHO, CDC, Government of India Ministry of Health and Welfare (for India-specific updates), and your universities are generally the best sources for the latest information in this rapidly evolving situation. We are in touch with all stakeholders and relevant authorities, and further India Student Hub updates will be issued as needed.

For emergencies, continue to contact the 24x7 Consular Emergency helplines at the Embassy or Consulates per your present location. In addition, to help support Indian students during the COVID-19 crisis, the Embassy of India Student Hub has established a non-emergency Peer Support Line. Details for these are given at the end of the advisory.


Please read this advisory carefully as sections may have been updated from previous iterations:

  1. Housing: If you are staying on-campus and are/will in the foreseeable future be asked to vacate, check with your university about retaining on-campus housing or options for accessing off-campus housing. If you are in off-campus housing, please check your state or your city’s official ‘.gov’ website and with your landlord/housing for information on how COVID-19 may have impacted leases and rent collection.

  2. Access to services: If your university/program is shutting down on-campus services, check with your university/program on how to avail your university’s health services, mandatory health insurance (via the university or a third-party insurance company), international student services, and any other essential service(s) that may be impacted, including any prorated refund options for campus services not availed.

  3. Financial Assistance: If you are in need of financial assistance, please check your university or your program’s website for information on funds set up to assist students during COVID-19. If you are searching for a job or an internship, your university’s career services, your alumni group and your professional network are a good place to start. Check with your Designated School Official (DSO) to understand Department of Homeland Security’s guidance on how to apply to work off campus in these extenuating circumstances: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/student-records/fm-student-employment/f-1-off-campus-employment-and-international-organization-internship.

  4. Temporary Emergency Resources: The Embassy of India/India Student Hub will be happy to provide information on temporary emergency resources. The Embassy is grateful to the members of the Indian community who have made these resources available for Indian students in an emergency. During this extraordinary situation created by the pandemic, our commitment remains steadfast to ensure welfare of our students in the best possible manner within available resources and with the support of the US government.

  5. Matters pertaining to the US Government: The Embassy of India is in touch with the US government, which is monitoring the implications that this evolving situation may have for international students.

    • Please check your university website and official campus advisories for the latest university-specific information.

    • The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), provides updated information on visitor visas, expiring visa status and on student CPT/OPT applications/extensions at https://www.ice.gov/covid19;

    • The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has confirmed that international students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19, without any penalty to their visa status. The five-month temporary absence rule will not apply for students who remain in Active status. Read the full SEVP guidance here: https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2020/COVID-19FAQ.pdf;

    • For F-1 students, your DSO can also provide more information or clarification on F-1 visa or work authorization questions. If you have any concerns that your DSO is not able to address, you may contact SEVP at sevp@ice.dhs.gov;

    • J-1 Visa Holders should contact their sponsoring program for questions on visas, extension of visas, and health insurance. J-1 visa holders have a built-in 30-day grace period following the program-end-date for their visas. For J-1 specific queries that are not answerable by your sponsoring program, you may contact JVisas@state.gov or visit https://j1visa.state.gov/covid-19/;

    • The US Government is yet to issue guidance for students on/awaiting OPT who may be accruing unemployment days or are otherwise nearing/are out-of-status. Your DSO remains the best resource to access the most up-to-date information. You can also monitor the ‘Nonimmigrant Students’ section for the latest ‘Guidance Documents’ and ‘FAQs’: https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

    • If you, a relative, or a friend were admitted on a visa that may be expiring (and were not admitted as an F-1 student for Duration of Status), you may need to take action to extend the authorized stay. We are given to understand that DHS is currently not in a position to offer a blanket extension of visa cases. However, they are working hard to quickly process urgent requests from individuals. We have been asked to advise Indian nationals whose visa status may be expiring (for any reason) to apply online as early as possible through USCIS. You may direct yourselves/family members to https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay for specific information regarding extensions of status for individuals who are unable to depart as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  6. Travel: Please avoid all non-essential domestic or international travel, as recommended by the WHO and CDC:

    • For official advisories for travel within (domestic) or departing (international) from the US, consult the US Department of State, US Transportation and Security Administration, and the relevant local, state, and transit/destination government websites;

    • Kindly note that India has currently suspended all scheduled international commercial passenger flights until 1830 hrs GMT on 14 April 2020. In addition, all domestic passenger flights within India are also suspended until 14 April 2020. This action has been taken in the interest of public health and safety of all Indian citizens. The latest Government of India travel advisories can be found at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/;

    • The Embassy of India Student Hub has received a number of messages and lists about rumored ‘evacuation flights’ or ‘airlifts’ for Indian students in the United States to return to India. As of 8 April 2020, no special flights are planned by the Government of India from the United States to India. Please continue to monitor official channels, including ishubus.com/covid19 and your local Embassy/Consulate in the United States’ website, to receive the most up-to-date information.

    • Remain in contact with your DSO for information on any possible impact international travel may have on your F-1 or J-1 status.

          • We understand that many of you are anxious and concerned, and desire to return back to India at the earliest. However, it may be remembered that our country is dealing with an unprecedented situation and any lapse at any end by anyone results in loss of precious human lives. We again request you to avoid travel, for your own safety and in the interest of general public health. There are no exceptions for travelling to India during the aforementioned travel ban for the reasons explained above. We will issue updates as soon as commercial flights to India resume.

  7. Keeping Safe and Healthy:

  • Based on the latest information from the CDC and the Government of India, we recommend all students to wear at minimum a cloth mask, if available, in places where social distancing is difficult to maintain. For simple immunity-boosting ideas, please also visit http://ayush.gov.in/.

  • Please practice social distancing (staying at home as much as possible, except to access essential services) and maintain a distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) away from other people to minimize the transmission of COVID-19.

  • If you have flu-like symptoms, please self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days. Consult the WHO and CDC websites for further information about the disease, preventative measures, and what to do if you experience any symptoms. Reach out to your healthcare provider.

Priority Update issued on 31 March 2020

PRIORITY UPDATE | MARCH 31, 2020

We are aware that there are several rumors circulating regarding evacuations of Indian students or Indian nationals from the United States. We strongly encourage students not to believe in such rumors.

The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 to be a “public health emergency of international concern.” On 19 March 2020, in view of the widespread cases reported from across the world, and to ensure health and safety of all, the Government of India stopped all international flights with effect from 22 March 2020. These restrictions on operation of international commercial flights to/from India have been extended till 14 April 2020.

We understand your anxiety, concern and desire to return back to India at the earliest.

  • However, it may be remembered that our country is dealing with an unprecedented situation and any lapse at any end by anyone results in loss of precious human lives.

  • The present ban by the Government of India on international flights seeks to check the spread of COVID-19 and is imperative for the safety of the public in India, including our families and loved ones.

  • As you know, most of the states in the US have also issued stay-at-home orders, advising against any non-essential movement.

Be rest assured, when the flights resume, we will inform all students through an update to the advisory. Please register here for updates.

For now, please continue social distancing measures and stay safe and healthy. Refer to the advisory below for more information if you need other kinds of assistance.

In addition, on a different note, the United States’ Student & Visitor Exchange Program (SEVP) has updated its guidance. DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to students. For more questions about CPT/OPT and student return to the US, read this document with FAQs issued on March 27, 2020 by SEVP.

We are in this together, and we need to work together and #StayHome to help #IndiaFightsCorona; #ThanksHealthHeros.

Student Advisory issued on 27 March 2020

MARCH 27, 2020 | Washington D.C.

Following the growing cases of COVID-19, US universities have taken measures to shut down on-campus operations and/or move classes online. The Embassy of India/India Student Hub has the following advisory for Indian students who may be impacted by these decisions. Please note that this advisory is based on information available as of 27 March 2020.

The WHO, CDC, Government of India Ministry of Health and Welfare (for India-specific updates), and your universities are generally the best sources for the latest information in this rapidly evolving situation. Further Embassy of India Student Hub updates will be issued as needed.

Please read this advisory carefully. For emergencies, continue to contact the 24x7 Consular Emergency helplines at Embassy or Consulates as per your present location. In addition, to help support Indian students during the COVID-19 crisis, the Embassy of India Student Hub has established a non-emergency Peer Support Line. Details for these are given below:

  1. If you are staying on-campus and are asked to vacate, check with your university about retaining on-campus housing. If your petition is not accepted, consult with your university and/or with your network on how to find alternate accommodations;

  2. If your university or program is shutting down on-campus services, check with your university or program on how to avail your university’s health services, student health insurance, international student services, and any other essential service(s) that may be impacted;

  3. The Embassy of India/India Student Hub can provide information on temporary emergency resources. The Embassy has partnered with and is grateful to members of the Indian community who have made these resources available for Indian students in an emergency. During this extraordinary situation created by the pandemic, our commitment remains steadfast to ensure welfare of our students in the best possible manner within available resources and with the support of the US government;

  4. The Embassy of India is in touch with the US government, which is monitoring the implications that this evolving situation may have for international students. Please note:

    • The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (‘SEVP’) has confirmed that international students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19, without any penalty to their visa status;

    • In addition, for most cases, SEVP noted that the five-month temporary absence rule will not apply for students who remain in Active status. Read the full SEVP guidance here: (https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2020/COVID-19FAQ.pdf);

    • The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides updated information on visa status and CPT/OPT applications/extensions at https://www.ice.gov/covid19.

    • If you, a relative, or a friend were admitted on a visa that may be expiring (and were not admitted as an F-1 student for Duration of Status), you may need to take action to extend the authorized stay. We are given to understand that DHS is currently not in a position to offer a blanket extension of visa cases. However, they are working hard to quickly process urgent requests from individuals. We have been asked to advise Indian nationals whose visa status may be expiring (for any reason) to apply online as early as possible through USCIS. You may direct yourselves/family members to https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay for specific information regarding extensions of status for individuals who are unable to depart as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • Official campus advisories and your Designated Student Official (DSO) and/or program coordinator can also provide more information or clarification on questions relating to F-1/J-1 students or their dependents.

  5. Please avoid all non-essential domestic or international travel, as recommended by the WHO and CDC:

    • For official advisories on domestic travel within the US or internationally, consult the US Department of State, US Transportation and Security Administration, and the relevant local and state government websites;

    • Kindly note that India has suspended all scheduled international commercial passenger flights until 1830 hrs GMT on 14 April 2020. In addition, all domestic passenger flights within India are also suspended until 14 April 2020. This action has been taken in the interest of public health and safety of all Indian citizens. The latest Government of India travel advisories can be found at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/;

    • Remain in contact with your DSO for information on any possible impact international travel may have on your F-1 or J-1 status.

            • We again request you to avoid travel for two reasons:

                1. to protect you from exposure to COVID-19, and

                2. to prevent you from being a source of transmission to other people/communities.

            • We will update the information as soon as commercial flights to India resume. Meanwhile, if you need any support, please do reach out to us using the information below.

  6. Please practice social distancing (staying at home as much as possible, except to access essential services) and maintain a distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people to minimise the transmission of COVID-19. If you have flu-like symptoms, please self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days. Consult the WHO and CDC websites for further information about the disease, preventative measures, and what to do if you experience any symptoms.

This is an unprecedented situation, but we can successfully manage it by taking decisions with a calm mind. Please take prudent health precautions and carefully review information and travel advisories.

To receive the latest Embassy of India Student Hub advisory(s), register here: https://www.indianembassyusa.gov.in/Indian_Students_Registration

CONTACT INFORMATION:

For peer support and advice, contact the India Student Hub’s COVID-19 Peer Support Line at (414)-404-6342 or (414)-40-INDIA (11 AM - 5 PM EDT daily), or by email at: covid19@ishubus.com

For any emergency consular services by jurisdiction, please visit the Emergencies page.

Student Advisory issued on 18 March 2020

MARCH 18, 2020 | Washington D.C.

Following the growing cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), US universities have taken measures to shut down on-campus operations and/or move classes online. The Embassy of India Education Team/India Student Hub has the following advisory for Indian students who may be impacted by these decisions. Please note that this advisory is based on information available as of 18 March 2020.

The WHO, CDC, Government of India Ministry of Health and Welfare (for India-specific updates), and your universities are generally the best sources for the latest information in this rapidly evolving situation. Further Embassy of India Student Hub updates will be issued as needed.

Please read this advisory carefully. For further questions, you may use the helpline numbers linked below.

  1. If you are staying in on-campus housing and are asked to vacate, check with your university if you can petition to continue staying in on-campus housing. If you cannot petition for continued on-campus housing or your petition is not accepted, consult with your university or your network on how to find alternate accommodations.

  2. If your university is shutting down on-campus services, check with your university on how to avail your university’s health services, student health insurance, international student services, and any other essential service(s) that may be impacted.

  3. Read official campus advisories or contact your Designated Student Official (DSO) for information on how short-term or long-term shifts to online courses will impact your F-1 or J-1 status. If you are graduating in Spring 2020 and travelling internationally, please contact your DSO for advice on how this may impact your graduation and application for OPT. The Embassy of India is in touch with the US government on the issues being faced by Indian students. The US government has indicated that it is closely monitoring the implications that this evolving situation may have for international students. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will continue to provide guidance on distance-learning for international students. SEVP recently confirmed that international students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19, without affecting their visa status. Please continue to monitor the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) COVID-19 page including this Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders for future updates on visa status, OPT applications/extensions, and related matters.

  4. Please avoid all non-essential domestic or international travel. For official advisories on domestic US and international travel, please consult the CDC website. For international travel, please also contact your DSO for information on any possible impact in the future on your F-1 or J-1 status.

  5. As of 18 March 2020, if you are planning travel from the US to India, then you will be subject to medical screening upon arrival and you may be put in quarantine at a government-earmarked facility for a minimum of 14 days if required. No travel OR transit is allowed through the restricted countries mentioned on Government of India Bureau of Immigration FAQs.

  6. For travel from India to the United States, please check the US Department of State and US Embassy in New Delhi websites.

  7. For admitted students to US universities concerned about summer and fall 2020 admissions / visas, please contact your designated university admissions officer and/or the EducationUSA advising centers for more information.

  8. Please consult the WHO and CDC guidelines for further information about the disease, preventative measures, and what to do if you experience any symptoms.

This is an unprecedented situation, but we can successfully manage it by taking decisions with a calm mind. Please take prudent health precautions and carefully review information and travel advisories.

To receive the latest Embassy of India Student Hub advisory(s), register here: https://www.indianembassyusa.gov.in/Indian_Students_Registration

For queries/clarifications regarding recent travel advisories issued by the Government of India for travel to India in view of the spread of COVID-19, please see travel advisories at: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/ and on the Embassy of India/Consulate Generals of India websites in your area.

For any emergency consular services by jurisdiction, please visit the Emergencies page.

Initial COVID-19 Student Advisory Issued on 13 March 2020

March 13 2020 | WASHINGTON D.C.

Following the growing cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), U.S. universities have taken measures to shut down on-campus operations and/or move classes online. The Embassy of India Education Team/India Student Hub (“India Student Hub”) has the following advisory/ies for Indian students who may be impacted by these decisions.

Please note that this advisory is based on information available as of 13 March 2020.

The WHO, CDC, and your universities are generally the best sources for latest information in this rapidly evolving situation. Further India Student Hub updates will be issued as needed.

Please read this advisory carefully. For further questions, you may use the helpline numbers mentioned below.

  1. If you are staying in on-campus housing and are asked to vacate, check with your university if you can petition to continue staying in on-campus housing. If you cannot petition for continued on-campus housing or your petition is not accepted, consult with your university or your network on how to find alternate accommodations.

  2. If your university is shutting down on-campus services, check with your university on how to avail your university’s health services, student health insurance, international student services, and any other essential service(s) that may be impacted.

  3. Read official campus advisories or contact your Designated Student Official (DSO) for information on how short-term or long-term shifts to online courses will impact your F-1 or J-1 status. If you are graduating in Spring 2020 and travelling internationally, please contact your DSO for advice on how this may impact your graduation and application for OPT. On this matter, the US government has indicated that this is an evolving situation. At this stage, they expect the closure to be of limited duration (2-4 weeks), which fits within the current regulatory context. When the school re-opens, the student will resume studies. They are treating this more like a spring or summer break, where a student may remain in the country even though school is not in session. However, if the closure is for several months (5 or more) which exceeds the permissible period between semesters, then the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will provide additional guidance. https://www.ice.gov/sevis/whats-new

  4. Please avoid all non-essential domestic or international travel. For official advisories on domestic US and international travel, please consult the CDC website. For international travel, please also contact your DSO for information on any possible impact in the future on your F-1 or J-1 status.

  5. As of 13 March 2020, if you are planning travel from USA to India, then you will be subject to medical screening upon arrival and you may be put in quarantine for a minimum of 14 days if required.

  6. All incoming travellers to India, including Indian nationals, from/or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain, and/or Germany after 15 February 2020 will be subject to a mandatory quarantined for a minimum of 14 days. However, if travellers are transiting through any of the above mentioned countries (i.e. no immigration stamp of the transit country/ies on their passports), they will not be subjected to a mandatory quarantine. https://boi.gov.in/sites/default/files/u4/faq-covid-19.pdf

  7. For travel from India to the United States, please check the US Department of State website.

  8. Overseas travel may compromise your ability to return to the US. Currently, the US has issued travel restrictions for travellers arriving from 26 countries of Europe, China, etc.

  9. Please consult the WHO and CDC guidelines for further information about the disease, preventative measures, and what to do if you experience any symptoms.

This is an unprecedented situation, but we can successfully manage it by taking decisions with a calm mind. Please take prudent health precautions and carefully review information and travel advisories.

To receive the latest India Student Hub advisory(s), register here.

For queries/clarifications regarding the recent travel advisory issued by the Government of India for travel to India in view of the spread of COVID-19, please visit: https://indianembassyusa.gov.in/extra?id=60


The Embassy of India Student Hub continues to monitor this emergency situation.

Embassy of India Student Hub | 2107 Mass Ave NW, Washington D.C. 20008 | covid19@ishubus.com