OVIS FAQ for Coronavirus

Please find below answers to immigration questions related to Dartmouth's Coronavirus response.  OVIS will work to update this page as new information becomes available.  If you have a specific question that is not answered here, you can email your OVIS advisor. 

Information regarding Dartmouth's reopening plan and protocols for vaccines and testing can be found on the Dartmouth Together website.

All students returning to or arriving on campus for the 2021-22 academic year will be expected to follow Dartmouth's arrival guidelines

Fall Term 2021

Dartmouth's plan is to offer in-person courses of study for undergraduate and graduate students. Students coming to campus for Fall term 2021 will be expected to enroll in a full course of study in compliance with the F-1 regulations for maintenance of F-1 student status. Students who are unable to arrive for the Fall term 2021 must contact their OVIS advisor and their academic program to explore what options may be available to them. 

OVIS will advise students on the impact of any change in operations due to COVID-19 based on the most recent guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

Travel Letter (Fall 2021)

Officials at consular posts and U.S. ports of entry may ask incoming students for additional evidence that they will be attending in-person classes. In an effort to help facilitate the visa application process and admission to the U.S., we are posting a letter that students can download, print and carry as additional evidence that Dartmouth plans to offer an in-person course of study during the Fall term 2021. 

What is the most recent guidance for schools and international students during COVID-19?

On April 26, 2021 SEVP updated its COVID-19 FAQs to confirm that the agency will continue to follow its original guidance issued in March 2020 for the 2021-11 academic year. This guidance permitted schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of the regulatory limits, allowing schools to offer remote and hybrid learning options. 

Because Dartmouth plans to be fully in-person for the 2021-22 academic year, international students will be expected to be on campus and enrolled full-time in in-person courses. With very limited exceptions in certain graduate programs, no remote options will be available for the Fall term 2021. 

For a detailed summary of the SEVP guidance and how it is applied, please refer to the helpful summary provided by NAFSA:  https://www.nafsa.org/regulatory-information/nafsa-resource-fall-2020-covid-19-guidance-f-1-schools#hybridnew   

Are there travel restrictions in place from certain countries?

There are several Presidential Proclamations in place that limit entry to the U.S. for travelers who were physically present in a designated country during the 14-day period prior to planned entry.  The countries are:

  • Brazil
  • China
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • South Africa
  • India
  • The Schengen Area countries

Information on the travel restrictions currently in place can be found on the CDC website.

Are students exempted from the Presidential Proclamation restrictions?

Students who are otherwise subject to a geographic Proclamation are automatically considered for a National Interest Exception (NIE) at the U.S. port of entry and do not require advance approval of the NIE from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

F-1 students who were present in China, Brazil, Iran, South Africa or India may arrive no earlier than 30 days before the start of an academic program beginning August 1, 2021 or after.  F-1 students traveling from the UK, Ireland or a Schengen Area country are not subject to the August 1, 2021 condition.  Students in new/initial SEVIS status must still comply with the rule that limits entry to the 30-day period preceding the program start date on the Form I-20. 

Certain J-1 Exchange Visitors, including those in the Professor, Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar and Specialist J-1 categories, are eligible to apply for an NIE at a U.S. Consulate prior to travel to the U.S., whether or not they have a valid J-1 visa stamp in their passport. 

Is OVIS open?

OVIS is open but with reduced staff to allow working remotely.  At this time we are not offering in-person advising or walk-in appointments. We will continue to process immigration documents, respond to phone calls and emails, and provide advising appointments using Zoom or phone. For current students, scholars, faculty and staff, in lieu of in-person pick-up we will mail immigration documents via Hinman Mail when available, or via Fedex or international courier. OVIS will send an email when documents are ready to be shipped with instructions for requesting mode of shipment and payment.

OVIS is shipping documents by international courier (Fedex or UPS). Because the staff is working remotely, there may be a few days' delay from the time a document is issued and mailed out, but students and scholars will receive their unique SEVIS ID and other program information needed to schedule a visa appointment via email in advance of receiving the document in the mail. 

How long will it take to get a visa?

Please check the U.S. Department of State's visa page for announcements and updates to stay informed on the resumption of consular services and visa processing times, and check the website of your particular post for specific details on their reopening timeline and procedures.

Information on how to apply for a visa can be found on the OVIS website:

F-1 students: https://ovis-intl.dartmouth.edu/immigration/f-1-students/f-1-visa-application-process  

J-1 non-degree students: https://ovis-intl.dartmouth.edu/immigration/j-1-students/j-1-visa-application-process 

How do I report my residential address to OVIS?

For continuing/returning Dartmouth students:  enter dorm room and building name in local and SEVIS address fields on Darthub and in the local U.S. address in OVIS's SEVIS Check-in Form in iDartmouth.

For new students at Dartmouth who are enrolled for the fall term - enter dorm room and building name in local and SEVIS address fields on Darthub and in the local U.S. address field in OVIS's SEVIS Check-in Form in iDartmouth.

How do I get a Social Security Number?

Information about Social Security Numbers can be found on the OVIS website. Due to COVID-19, Dartmouth/OVIS is currently unable to offer bus trips to the Concord, NH Social Security Office.

The Social Security Office in Concord, NH is only scheduling in-person appointments at this time. The office is not open to the public for walk-in appointments. Students and scholars who have U.S. employment and need a Social Security Number must contact the Concord, NH Social Security office to request an appointment.  

To request an in-person appointment, submit a completed SS-5 form along with copies of supporting documents by fax at 603-228-5206 or by mail to SSA, 70 Commercial St, STE 100, Concord, NH 03301. The Concord SSA office will contact the applicant by phone to schedule the appointment.

Concord has advised that applicants should not apply at the Keene or Littleton, NH offices at this time.  NOTE: It is important to confirm that travel to Concord, NH is permitted under Dartmouth's travel policy: https://covid.dartmouth.edu/travel.

You can find the list of required documents for your application on the OVIS and Social Security Administration websites. For the letter from your employer which verifies your Dartmouth employment, and which is counter-signed by your OVIS Advisor:

  • Use the template found on the OVIS page for Social Security here:  https://ovis-intl.dartmouth.edu/taxes-legal/social-security-number/application-process under ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS. Ask your Dartmouth employer to copy and paste the template on to their department letterhead, and fill out the top portion and sign where indicated. The employer/supervisor's signature MUST be an original.
  • Mail the letter to OVIS – Hinman Box 6202. An advisor will sign the letter and return it to you via Hinman mail or with your pre-paid shipping envelope if you purchase a label in iDartmouth.

In addition to the documents that are normally required for the application, you may also be asked to provide a letter from your employer confirming the employer requires you to obtain a Social Security Number. If Dartmouth is your employer please contact the Office of Human Resources to request this additional letter. The Concord SSA office has confirmed that it will only accept original signatures on supporting letters.

Who should I contact with questions about my financial aid or other funding?

Undergraduate students should contact the Financial Aid Office. Graduate students should contact their program's Financial Aid Office or their department/advisor.

If I relocate to a new address, do I need to report it?

Students must update their U.S. residential address in Banner/DartHub within 10 days of any move whether or not they are enrolled in Dartmouth online courses or are on an earned leave term  OVIS will report the address change to SEVIS. This requirement remains in place following the temporary move to online courses.

Visiting researchers and other international visitors with J-1 status must report a residential address change to OVIS within 10 days of the move so that OVIS can update the J-1 record in SEVIS.

Can I file for F-1 OPT outside the U.S.?

F-1 students can submit the request for the OVIS OPT recommendation in iDartmouth from outside the U.S., but under the current rules F-1 students must be physically present in the U.S. to submit their application to USCIS for processing. The federal government currently requires physical presence when the application is mailed and received by USCIS.

Will OPT processing times be affected by the Coronavirus?

We have not been made of aware of any changes in USCIS operations or processing times due to COVID-19. OVIS will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on our website. 

If my visa stamp will expire before I need to return, can I renew it?

The situation at the Embassies and Consulates is fluid. It is important to check the specific post where you plan to apply to see the status of current operations:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html 

In addition to a valid visa stamp, you must have a passport valid for at least six months from the date you will enter, and your valid Form I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature that is less than 12 months old at the time you are returning.  If your travel signature will expire, please request a new travel signature through iDartmouth.

Can I file my U.S. tax return from outside the U.S.?

Yes, you can mail your tax return from outside the U.S. Please refer to the OVIS Tax Resources page and the IRS website for updates related to U.S. tax filings.

Other resources

OVIS has also compiled a list of government agency webpages with information about changes resulting from the Coronavirus:

USCIS:  https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19  

ICE Coronavirus Resource Page, with link to SEVP FAQs for Nonimmigrant Students:  https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

U.S. Dept of State J-1 Exchange Visitor Program COVID-19 Resources: https://j1visa.state.gov/covid-19/

U.S. Department of State:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html   

U.S. Department of State COVID-19 Country Specific Information:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html   

Social Security Administration:  https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/   

NH Dept of Motor Vehicles:  https://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/dmv/index-original.htm   

VT Dept of Motor Vehicles:  COVID-19 Updates | Department of Motor Vehicles (vermont.gov) 

IRS (Internal Revenue Service):  https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus