International Travel FAQs

Immigration Guidance

  • What is the current immigration guidance? 
  • On April 18, 2022, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) confirmed that they will be following the guidance originally released in March 2020 for the 2022-2023 Academic Year. SEVP will continue to use the Frequently Asked Questions document available on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website.

Visa Application 

  • Can I schedule a visa interview right now? 
  • In general, consular officers will not issue an F-1 visa more than 120 days before the program start date listed on the I-20. However, you may request a visa interview more than 120 days before the program start date, if the visa interview will be scheduled within that window. 

    The Department of State provided a visa processing update on November 19, 2021. Individual embassies and consulates may have different reopening schedules subject to local and national health restrictions, so please do check the nearest embassy or consulate for available visa appointments and wait times.

    Some embassies are offering emergency visa appointments for students who are beginning a program in the Winter. Please be sure to carefully read the embassy website to ensure that you are submitting all required documents in a timely manner.
  • What if I’m from one of the countries that are on the travel restriction list due to COVID-19?
  • As of December 31, 2021, there are no geographic COVID-19 travel restrictions that are in effect.

    In place of these restrictions, the President announced a global vaccination requirement for all adult foreign national travelers. For more information about the new policy, please review the Department of State’s Frequently Asked Questions: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/emergencies/covid-19-faqs-for-travel-to-the-us-information.html.
  • What if my visa interview is canceled or rescheduled? 
  • If it appears that you will not be able to attend a visa interview in time to travel to the U.S. for the start of your program, please let your program advisor know immediately. They will provideadditional guidance based on the situation.
  • What if I can’t schedule a visa interview?
  • If you are unable to arrive in Davis for the Summer Sessions, then you may enroll in online classes from your home country. The current immigration guidelines that are in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic permit international students to enroll in fully online classes from outside the United States, provided that online classes are available. 
  • How late can I arrive in Davis?
  • Please inform your advisor of any delays on your visa issuance and inform them regarding your planned arrival date. Keep in mind that if you arrive more than one week after classes begin, then you may miss important course assignments. This could impact your overall academic result in the course. Although we will continue to be as flexible as possible, it is generally recommended to arrive no more than one week after classes begin.

    Your immigration record will not permit you to arrive more than 30 days after the start of your program as listed on your I-20. If you cannot arrive within the first seven days of the program, then you may either attend your classes remotely from your home country or defer your admission to a later term. In either case, please be sure to discuss your options with your program coordinator before making a final decision.
  • What's required for my visa interview?
  • In general, the following items are required for an F-1 visa interview (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/student-visa.html): 
    •    Your current passport valid for travel to the United States. The passport should be valid for at least another 6 months beyond your planned travel to the U.S.  
    •    The Form DS-160 confirmation page
    •    One 5 x 5 cm (2 x 2 inches) color photo taken within the last 6 months
    •    The signed Form I-20
    •    The Student and Exchange Visa Information System (SEVIS) I-901 fee receipt
    •    Proof of financial support for tuition and living expenses for your entire program (up to one year) in the U.S. 
    You will also need to demonstrate the following during your interview. If you have documents related to these topics, then it’s recommended to bring those to the interview, as well. 
    •    The purpose of your travel. Your admission letter may be used as proof of plans to study, and you will be expected to explain how the program will contribute to your academic and career-related goals. 
    •    Your intent to depart the United States after your program. Evidence of your employment and/or family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country.

Course Registration

  • If I take only online classes from my home country, will I have to defer or end my program early?
  • Possibly. Your immigration status and your admission status are separate from each other. You will need to ask your program coordinator whether you can continue your program remotely.
  • What is an "in-person" course?
  • According to the current immigration regulations, an in-person course must have at least one mandatory component that requires the student to be physically present.
  • How does UC Davis decide which classes will be available online?
  • UC Davis has returned to mostly in-person instruction. At this time, the vast majority of classes are taught in-person. Some courses have been available online for several years prior to the pandemic, and these remain online.
  • How can I tell which classes are online?
  • Any course that has a “V” in the course number will be taught online, and courses without a “V” are currently planned for in-person instruction. These lists are still being updated, and the final list of courses that will be available online is not yet decided. 
  • How many units do I have to take?
  • Students who travel to the U.S. on an F-1 visa are required to enroll in a minimum of 12 units each term. 
    If you will study remotely from your home country, then it is not necessary to apply for an F-1 visa. The F-1 visa is only required for students who will travel to the U.S. for their studies. For this reason, then then you would not be required to enroll in a minimum of 12 units. 
  • What do “asynchronous” and “synchronous” mean?
  • Online courses may be taught either asynchronously or synchronously. Asynchronous instruction is when lectures are recorded and made available for students to watch later. Synchronous instruction is when the lectures are live and students must log in to view them. Instructors may decide individually whether to teach their online courses asynchronously or synchronously.

International Travel

  • Do I have to get a COVID-19 vaccine to travel to the U.S.? 
  • On November 8, 2021, all COVID-19 travel restrictions related to geography were lifted. In place of these restrictions, the President announced a global vaccination requirement for all adult foreign national travelers. For more information about the new policy, please review the Department of State’s Frequently Asked Questions: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/emergencies/covid-19-faqs-for-travel-to-the-us-information.html.

    Anyone traveling to the U.S. who is not a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident, or holds an immigration visa will be subject to the vaccine requirement (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/noncitizens-US-air-travel.html).

    At this time, the COVID-19 vaccine policy includes the following requirements:

    1. Requirement for face masks: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/face-masks-public-transportation.html As a result of a court order, effective immediately and as of April 18, 2022, the order requiring masks on public transportation and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect. This order will therefore not be enforced, but it is still recommend to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.

    2. Requirement for proof of COVID-19 vaccination: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html
  • What is required for international travel to the U.S.?
  • There are some travel restrictions in place, and these are continually updating. Please make sure to regularly check current guidelines before traveling. 

    For a complete guide to recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated international travelers, please visit the CDC website.

    Please also be sure to check your airline’s passenger guidelines to be sure you are prepared to board your flight.

    Please keep in mind that there may be different travel and COVID-related restrictions in other countries, so continue checking this website for more information.
  • I need proof of vaccination before I can travel back to my home country at the end of my program. How can I get that?
  • The Student Health & Counseling Services is providing Travel Clearances to eligible students who request one. To request a Travel Clearance, log into your Health-e-Messaging portal, go to the “Message” page, click on “New Message”, and select “Student Health Services”. You can choose either “Travel Clearance” or “Travel -Request Proof of Compliance with UC COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate”. Please note that there’s no guarantee this travel clearance will be accepted by your destination country

COVID-19 Policies

  • Does UC Davis require me to get a COVID-19 vaccine before arriving? 
  • The University of California system announced its final approval of the COVID-19 vaccination policy on July 15. The policy went into effect immediately.

    The policy states that students and employees must provide proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination in order to access in-person UC locations. The UC system has also provided a list of Student FAQs related to the policy. Please review these FAQs carefully.
  • How can I comply with the COVID-19 vaccination policy?
  • The UC will accept proof of a vaccination that has received emergency approval either by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO). This is consistent with the current CDC guidance. Students with proof of a WHO-approved vaccination would not be required to get an FDA-approved vaccine, although they may be required to get booster shots at a later date. Please note that the proof of vaccination is only valid if the student has completed the entire vaccine series.

    To comply with the vaccine requirement, all UC Davis students and employees with vaccination records will need to verify their vaccination status in Health-e-Messaging. Health-e-Messaging is an online portal available to every student with a Banner ID (UC Davis student ID number). If you don’t yet have a Banner ID, then you won’t have access to Health-e-messaging quite yet.
  • How can I update my vaccination status with UC Davis?
  • To update your vaccination status in Health-e-Messaging, please complete one of the following steps.
          •    Sign an authorization to provide access to your vaccine status via the California Immunization Registry database (CAIR2) if you were vaccinated within California. This option will automatically verify your vaccine status with campus, so you will not need to provide or upload any further vaccine information.
          •    Or self-report your vaccine information by logging into Health-e-Messaging and clicking on the blue button onthe homepage to “Enter My COVID-19 Vaccination Information.” Enter your vaccine type and date(s), and upload images of your vaccine card (front and back). Your self-reported information will be manually verified.

    Please allow up to 48 hours for your information to be verified. Once your information hasbeen verified, then you should see your COVID-19 vaccination status marked “Compliant” in the “Medical Clearances” section of Health-e-Messaging. If you have any questions about using Health-e-Messaging, please use the message system in your Health-e-Messaging portal.

    If you are not yet fully vaccinated but intend to be in the future, you will still be able to verify your information at that time using these directions.
  • I entered my vaccination details in Health-e-Messaging, but it’s still asking for the same information. What do I do?
  • If you were vaccinated outside of California and already entered dates and uploaded images of your vaccination card, please contact covid@shcs.ucdavis.edu with details about your record for further troubleshooting.

    If you were vaccinated in California and chose to sign the “COVID-19 Vaccine Verification Authorization,” it is possible that your records in the California Immunization Record are incomplete or are not entering our system correctly. Please try entering your dates and uploading images of your vaccination card instead or contact covid@shcs.ucdavis.edu for further troubleshooting.
  • What does it mean to be "fully vaccinated"?
  • A person is considered “fully vaccinated” if it has been at least two weeks since they completed an approved COVID-19 vaccination series.
  • I have received FDA-or WHO-approved vaccines, why am I not compliant?
  • To be compliant a person must have received all the recommended doses of one COVID-19 vaccine series that has been approved by the FDA or WHO. Two doses of two different vaccines will not meet the requirements for compliance.
  • Am I required to get a COVID-19 booster vaccine?
  • On December 21, UC Davis announced a systemwide mandate for the COVID-19 booster vaccine for all students, staff, and faculty who do not have a current vaccine exemption: https://leadership.ucdavis.edu/news/messages/chancellor-provost-messages/campus-planning-december-update. Every campus member is required to upload proof of vaccination as soon possible, provided that they are eligible for the booster. If you are initially ineligible for the booster upon arrival, then you must submit confirmation of receiving a booster within 14 days of becoming eligible. Proof of booster vaccination may be uploaded to the Health-e-Messaging system in the same manner as the primary vaccine.

    A new status has been added to the Daily Symptom Survey to indicate booster status. If your survey results are pink, then this indicates that you are eligible for the booster but have not recorded a booster vaccination in your Health-e-Messaging portal.
  • Which booster vaccines are compliant with the UC Davis policy? How can I be sure that I’m getting the correct one?
  • UC Davis is following CDC guidance regarding booster vaccinations. If you received one of thefollowing primary COVID-19 vaccinations, please follow the directions on the corresponding CDC link:
    •    Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson
    •    Novavax, Covovax, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Covaxin, Sinopharm, or Sinovac
  • Who can I contact if I have other questions about the COVID-19 vaccine requirement, or other health related questions?
  • If you have further questions, you can communicate with a nurse through the Health-e-Messaging portal. There is a tutorial on how to do that on the SHCS website.
  • Am I required to quarantine after arriving in the U.S.?
  • UC Davis is following the CDC guidance regarding quarantine and isolation policies for the wider campus community. Travelers who have been vaccinated with an FDA-or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine are recommended to get a COVID-19 test and self-monitor for symptoms. The CDC does not ask vaccinated travelers to self-quarantine at this time.

    UC Davis employees and students should follow the California Department of Public Health guidelines regarding quarantining after international travel.

    UC Davis has initiated a Campus Ready project, and we recommend regularly checking this website for information about campus rules and regulations regarding COVID-19.

    If you plan to travel in the U.S. between states, please keep in mind that some states may have different COVID-19 regulations. Please make sure to check online before arranging any trips.

  • How can I get tested for COVID-19?
  • On July 5, UC Davis opened a new COVID-19 testing kiosk inside the Human Resources Administration Building. The new COVID-19 testing kiosk is open Sunday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. UC Davis will continue to provide asymptomatic testing as a service to eligible UC Davis students and employees through the calendar year. To get tested, you will be required to book an appointment within Health-e-Messaging. Walk-ins will not be available. Normal parking rates will apply, and free parking stalls designated for COVID-19 testing in Lot 25 will return to regular C zone rates.

    Rapid home antigen tests, also called over-the-counter tests, are available at most pharmacies for purchase. Your health insurance may reimburse you for the cost of the test, but please check your policy to confirm. Popular pharmacy chains in Davis include CVS and Rite Aid.

    It may also be possible to order free at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests through the United States Postal Service, or USPS: https://special.usps.com/testkits. To request the tests, plese fill in the form and click “Check Out Now”. You may only request the free tests one time.
  • What if I test positive for COVID-19?
  • If you receive a positive COVID-19 test at one of the UC Davis testing centers, then you will be contacted by the Contract Tracing team from Student Health & Counseling Services (SHCS). They will ask you a series of questions to identify anyone who might have been exposed, and to provide instructions on safely quarantining in your current living situation.

    If a student becomes ill with COVID-19, UC Davis will instruct them on how to isolate. Anyone who was in close contact according to California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidelines will be asked to quarantine. With limited remote options, students will likely miss classes during the isolation/quarantine period. Students should contact their faculty to alert them of their situation and coordinate regarding coursework. If students experience academic challenges due to the impact of quarantine or isolation, they should contact their academic advisor.
  • What if I know someone who tests postive for COVID-19?
  • If a student who is in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 is fully vaccinated, remains symptom free and follows the testing requirement from the contact tracer, then per CDPH guidance, they are not required to quarantine and can continue attending classes without any disruption.

    More information about the quarantine and isolation policies at UC Davis can be found here: https://campusready.ucdavis.edu/testing-response/quarantine.
  • What is a "close contact"?
  • Close contact is when someone is within 6 feet of someone who tests positive for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).
  • What’s the difference between “isolation” and “quarantine”?
  • When a person tests positive for COVID-19, then they are asked to isolate themselves to prevent spreading the virus to others. When a person has been in close contact with someone who tested positive, then they are asked to quarantine to make sure that they haven’t been infected.

    For more instruction about when to isolate and when to quarantine, please visit https://campusready.ucdavis.edu/testing-response/quarantine-isolation.
  • What are UC Davis’ public health policies regarding COVID-19?
  •  •   Everyone must report their own positive COVID-19 diagnosis and test result. Student and employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to notify UC Davis, which initiates the contact tracing process, including quarantine/isolation, close contacts notification and managing facility exposure risks. If you’re contacted by a Yolo County Public Health department or university-designated official, please respond promptly.

    •   Students are encouraged to use the symptom survey to monitor their symptoms and to display their isolation status, if needed. The visitor symptom survey will continue to be available.

    •   ​​​​​Masks are required in some locations and strongly recommended indoors. Everyone is encouraged to wear a face covering indoors. Face coverings are required at the COVID-19 testing kiosk and healthcare settings. See face covering requirement details.

    •   ​​​​​Everyone must comply with the UC COVID-19 Vaccine Policy. All UC Davis employees and students are expected to keep current on their vaccine status or hold an approved medical or religious exception. Failure to comply may result in discipline leading up to dismissal or disenrollment.

    Recommendations and Limited Requirements

    •    COVID-19 testing is recommended, to help you manage risk. Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing can help you manage risks related to COVID-19 exposure, travel, crowded events or socializing with high-risk individuals. See COVID-19 testing available for employees and students.

    •   Some events have requirements for screening. Certain types of events —specifically trainings and camps that are hosted by UC Davis departments and units —must comply with additional public health requirements. See Event Guidance for details.

    •   Check guidelines for domestic and international travel. As of March 2022, the university has returned to its pre-pandemic international travel policies. See the Global Affairs website for more.

    A complete overview of the current policy may be found online: https://campusready.ucdavis.edu/public-health-policies-requirements.
  • Am I required to wear a mask on campus?
  • California has lifted the state-wide mask mandate as of February 15, 2022. Counties will have the authority to determine their own mask mandates, and Yolo and Sacramento counties have decided to lift the mandate as well. 


    Effective March 19, 2022, UC Davis no longer requires masks in most indoor settings, although they will still be required in clinical settings. Individuals may choose to continue wearing masks indoors and in public settings at their own discretion.

  • If I will be staying with a host family, will I be required to quarantine before meeting them?
  • The homestay company will determine how to manage quarantines. If you would like to know more about their policy, please contact your program coordinator or homestay representative. 

Resources

Learn more about international visas on our website