International Travel FAQs

Immigration Guidance

  • What is the current immigration guidance? 
  • On April 26, 2021, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) confirmed that they will be following the guidance originally released in March 2020 for the 2021-2022 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 April 6, 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 Fall. Please be sure to carefully read the embassy website to ensure that you are submitting all required documents in a timely manner. We can also provide an optional letter supporting your request for the expedited appointment. If you would like to request a copy of this letter, please contact cpeinternational@ucdavis.edu. Be sure to include your full name and your program of study with the letter request.
  • What if I’m from one of the countries that are on the travel restriction list due to COVID-19?
  • As of today, there are travel restrictions in place that limit international travel from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and India. These travel restrictions require international travelers from these countries to spend a minimum of 14 days in a third country before arriving in the U.S. 

    On May 27, 2021, the U.S. Department of State announced a National Interest Exception (NIE) for F-1 students traveling from these countries: 
    •    https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/national-interest-exceptions-for-certain-travelers-from-china-Iran-india-brazil-south-africa-schengen-area-united-kingdom-and-ireland.html

    The announcement permits F-1 students traveling from these countries whose program will begin on or after August 1, 2021 to automatically qualify for the NIE, meaning that they can travel directly from their country of origin to the U.S. without spending 14 days in a third country. 

    On July 6, 2021, the Department of State extended the validity of the NIE to 12 months: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/extension-validity-for-nies-for-china-iran-brazil-south-africa-schengen-uk-ireland-india.html. This permits eligible F-1 students to enter the U.S. multiple times in the next 12 months without needing to request new authorization from an embassy or consulate, provided that the student remains in good standing regarding the F-1 visa. The NIE only applies to F-1 students arriving from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland or India.
  • 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 Fall Quarter, please let your program advisor know immediately. They will provide additional guidance based on the situation.
  • What if I can’t schedule a visa interview?
  • UC Davis recognizes the need for flexibility in some cases, particularly for those with health conditions and international students affected by travel restrictions. 

    On April 26, 2021, the UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May and Provost Mary Croughan issued a statement on Fall Quarter planning. In this statement, they noted that visa availability and travel restrictions could prevent some students from being able to arrive on campus for the Fall Quarter. In recognition of this, UC Davis will have limited online classes available for students who cannot arrive for Fall. That said, please note that although some online courses are planned for the Fall Quarter, the majority of classes will be taught using in-person instruction.

    If you are unable to arrive in Davis for the Fall Quarter, 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. This guidance will remain in effect through the 2021-2022 academic year.
  • 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 thirty 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

  • Do I have to take any in-person classes?
  • At this time, students who are arriving in the U.S. for the first time on their current F-1 visa will need to enroll in at least one in-person class during the Fall Quarter. Your program advisors will assist in making sure that you have at least one in-person class in your schedule. Please note that a majority of classes will be taught in-person this Fall. 
  • If I take only online classes from my home country, will I have to defer or end my program early?
  • No. Your immigration status and your admission status are separate from each other. You can still continue your program remotely, even if your immigration status changes.
  • 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 departments are currently determining which courses should be available remotely for the Fall Quarter. This takes into consideration which students, particularly freshmen and senior students, will need the courses in order to graduate. UC Davis leadership will review the list of courses and decide which courses will be available both in-person and remotely. We expect a final list of online courses in late Summer. 

    Please keep in mind that the majority of classes will be available on campus and in-person.
  • 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. We will let you know when we receive more information about online course offerings.
  • 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.? 
  • At this time, international travelers to the U.S. are not required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. We are monitoring this situation, and we will keep you updated as travel guidelines are updated. 
  • 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. 

    A Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order went into effect on January 26. The order requires all airline passengers traveling to the U.S. to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of having recovered from COVID-19 before boarding their flight. Anyone who has been vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine will still need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. 

    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.

After Arrival

  • 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 at least two weeks before the start of Fall Quarter classes (September 8). Students beginning their program remotely would need to submit proof of vaccination prior to arriving on campus.

    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 new 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.

    A list of vaccines with FDA emergency approval can be found here: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-vaccines.

    A list of the vaccines with WHO emergency approval(as of July 15, 2021) can be found here: https://extranet.who.int/pqweb/sites/default/files/documents/Status_COVID_VAX_15July2021.pdf.

    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.

    UC Davis will be considered a “fully vaccinated campus” if at least 75% of the students, staff, and faculty have received an approved vaccination.
  • What if I can’t get the vaccine in my home country, and I can’t arrive more than 2 weeks before the start of classes? Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine in Davis after I arrive?
  • If you plan to receive the COVID-19 vaccination after your arrival, then you will still be permitted to go on campus. You will be required to follow all campus and CDC guidance for unvaccinated persons until at least two weeks after your final vaccine dose. Students who do not follow the campus and CDC guidance until at least 14 days after their final vaccination dose could risk being disbarred from the university.

    COVID-19 vaccinations are available to anyone aged 12 and older in the U.S. People in California can schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment through MyTurn: https://myturn.ca.gov/.

    To learn more about the UC Davis Vaccine Program, please visit their website: https://campusready.ucdavis.edu/covid-vaccination.

    It may also be possible to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the airport of your arrival. At this time, the following California airports offer vaccines:
    Los Angeles (LAX): https://www.flylax.com/TravelSafely
          •    Available for travelers who are 18 or older
          •    No appointment necessary
    San Francisco (SFO): https://www.flysfo.com/travel-well/vaccination-site-sfo
          •    Available for travelers who are 18 or older
          •    No appointment necessary
  • What if I only get the first dose of an approved vaccine before arriving in the U.S.? Can I get the second dose of an approved vaccine to be considered “fully vaccinated”?
  • People who were vaccinated outside the United States with an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine and have received all the recommended doses do not need any additional doses. People who received the first dose of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses do not need to restart the vaccine series in the United States but should receive the second dose as close to the recommended time as possible.

    People who have received all recommended doses of a WHO-approved vaccine are considered fully vaccinated. People who have not received a complete WHO-approved vaccination series may be offered a complete FDA-approved vaccination series.

    People who have begun or have completed a vaccination series that is not approved by either the FDA or WHO may be offered a complete FDA-approved vaccination series.

    The minimum interval between the last dose of a non-FDA-or non-WHO-approved vaccine and an FDA-approved vaccine is 14 days. Only people who have received all recommended doses of an FDA-approved or WHO-approved vaccination series are considered fully vaccinated for the purpose of public health guidance. It is a medical recommendation to complete an approved vaccination series in order to be considered “fully vaccinated” according to UC Davis policy.

    If you have concerns about beginning a new COVID-19 vaccination series, then please contact a medical professional or the Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) for medical advice and assistance: https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • What does “self-sequester” mean? Will I be required to self-sequester?
  • UC Davis is enacting a “self-sequestration” requirement specifically for Fall Quarter and independent of any other quarantine guidance: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/checking-chancellor-may-onward-toward-fall. Sequestration in this case means to separate yourself from others. The self-sequestration requirement only applies to unvaccinated students who are arriving in Davis for the start of Fall Quarter. Unvaccinated students will need to self-sequester in their residence for a minimum of seven days and have two negative COVID-19 tests.

    Students who are not considered “fully vaccinated” according to UC Davis policy will need to self-sequester in their residence fora minimum of seven days and have two negative COVID-19 tests. The COVID-19 tests must be 4 days apart from each other, and they must be completed through the testing service available on the UC Davis campus.

    Students who will be required to self-sequester:
    - Have not completed an FDA-or WHO-approved vaccination series.
    - Have completed a vaccination series that is not approved by the FDA or WHO.
    - Have completed an FDA-or WHO-approved vaccination series but have not completed the 14-day waiting period following the final vaccination dose.

    During the self-sequestration period, students should not leave their residences except for food or medical needs (such as grocery shopping, picking up a prescription, or getting tested or vaccinated for COVID-19) and are not permitted to attend classes in-person. Students who will need to sequester should plan travel accordingly and, if possible, arrive in Davis at least seven days prior to the first day of classes.

    After the sequestration period is over, then unvaccinated students may go on campus and attend classes as long as they continue to follow campus and CDC guidance for unvaccinated people.
  • 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. Currently, the CDC recommends that unvaccinated travelers get a COVID-19 test and self-quarantine after international travelfor a minimum of 7 days. Unvaccinated travelers who do not get tested are recommended to self-quarantine for a minimum of 10 days.

    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?
  • UC Davis and the City of Davis have organized a partnership called Healthy Davis Together. Through this partnership, the Davis community has access to free, rapid saliva asymptomatic COVID-19 testing at locations on campus and throughout Davis.

    UC Davis students can schedule a COVID-19 test at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC)on campus: http://campusmap.ucdavis.edu/?b=203. Unvaccinated students, staff, and faculty who visit campus are required to have a COVID-19 test every 4 days. Anyone who has completed a COVID-19 vaccine series can upload their vaccine information to their Health-e-Messaging portal. Vaccinated students, staff, and faculty who visit campus are required to have a COVID-19 test every 14 days. This testing service is only for those who are not showing COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone who is showing symptoms is asked to contact the Student Health and Counseling Services for further assistance: http://campusmap.ucdavis.edu/?b=146
  • Do I have to get tested for COVID-19 on campus, or can I go somewhere else?
  • Students can get PCR testing (saliva or nasal swab) for COVID-19 from other medical providers to meet testing requirements. You will need to upload results from your off-campus PCR testing in Health-e-Messaging, and you will need to keep records of your tests. An antigen test is not accepted to meet this requirement.

    To upload a PCR test, log in to Health-e-Messaging and select Medical Clearances and then “COVID-19 Vaccine and Test.” You must enter your test date, select your result and upload an image that shows proof of your appointment or result. In order to be in compliance with testing requirements, you will need to provide this information on the day of the test (enter a negative test result initially). Employees and students are required to follow protocol to report all positive COVID-19 tests to campus.
  • 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). Theywill ask you a series of questions to identify anyone who might have been exposed, and to determine if you cannot safely quarantine in your current living situation.

    If SHCS determines that you cannot safely isolate, then they will reach out to the Isolation & Quarantine Housing team and let them know. The Isolation & Quarantine Housing team is part of the Student Housing & Dining Services office on campus. There are specific quarantine spaces that have been reserved in on-campus housing for students, including those who live off-campus, who cannot safely isolate if they receive a positive COVID-19 test. These rooms are located in the Primero Grove housing area (near the ARC in the Segundo dorm complex): http://campusmap.ucdavis.edu/?l=5. If you receive a positive COVID-19 test, then the Isolation and Quarantine team will reach out to you to begin the housing check-in process, if needed.

    SHCS staff will notify and consult with each individual student for health care, symptom monitoring and contact tracing, and support will be provided by SHCS and Student Housing & Dining Services. Support will include health care, housing, dining, instructional support, and other services as needed.

    More information about the quarantine and isolation policies at UC Davis can be found here: https://campusready.ucdavis.edu/testing-response/quarantine.
  • 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. 
  • What are UC Davis’ public health policies for Fall Quarter? Will I be required to wear a mask?
  • •    Participate in the university’s daily screening process. Everyone must complete a Daily Symptom Survey to access a university building or worksite.
    •    Participate in the university's testing program. Unvaccinated people are required to participate in the COVID-19 Testing program once every four days. Vaccinated people are mostly exempt from the university's testing program requirement. However, occasional surveillance testing may be required, regardless of vaccination status. Read more about the Scope of the COVID-19 Testing and Screening Program.
    •    Wear a face covering in certain settings and circumstances. As of July 28, everyone is required to wear face coverings indoors regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated people are also required to wear face coverings while outdoors in crowded spaces and when inside vehicles with other people. If a person is vaccinated, the only time a mask can be removed indoors is when that person is alone in an office or in a cubicle. If a person is unvaccinated, they must wear a mask indoors at all times.
    •    Assist in the contact tracing process. If you’re contacted by a Yolo County Public Health department or university-designated official, please respond promptly. This will assist with identifying other individuals who might have some degree of risk due to close contact with individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    •    Follow CDC guidelines for domestic and international travel.
         •    International travel: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html
         •    Domestic travel: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html

    A complete overview of the current policy may be found online: https://campusready.ucdavis.edu/public-health-policies-requirements.
  • Do I have to get a flu vaccine?
  • An influenza vaccine is not required to enter the U.S. or to start fall quarter. According to the Student FAQs for University of California Covid-19 Vaccination Policy, the influenza vaccination will be required for students attending the 2021-2022 academic year. More information about the flu vaccination can be found here: https://campusready.ucdavis.edu/testing-response/flu-vaccination.

    Students who are eligible may schedule a flu vaccine at the UC Davis Student Health & Counseling Services by calling 530-752-2349 to make an appointment. Students who do not receive routine medical care through Student Health & Counseling Services may schedule a flu vaccination appointment through their preferred healthcare provider.

Resources

Learn more about international visas on our website