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Covid-19 Updates

COVID-19: Answers to the frequently asked questions by Wheaton College F-1 Students

Reminder: general questions and answers can be found on the current Wheaton College COVID-19 FAQ Page (updated daily!)
 
I have decided to return home to an international location for the summer, what do I need to know?
  1. Those departing the U.S. will need a travel signature if:
    1. Their I-20 (page 2) does not have a travel signature; or,
    2. Their last travel signature was dated prior to October 1, 2019 (remember, signatures are valid for 12 months)
    3. To request a travel signature, undergraduates please call or text (630) 923-7964 and graduate students email Graduate.Student.Life@wheaton.edu
  2. Make sure you have your passport and check to make sure your F-1 visa is not expiring before the Fall semester begins.  If your visa will expire this summer, you will need to visit a US embassy and receive a new stamp.  You can check this site to see if the US embassy in your country is currently offering consular services.
  3. Please also review this list of all other travel documents that we recommend you have prior to departure.
  4. Make sure you understand worldwide travel restrictions as you plan your departure and return. Here is a link with up to date information about border closings
I have finished my program of study but am currently unable to return to my home country due to Covid-19, what are my options?
F-1 students have 60 days after their program end date to make plans to depart the U.S. or stay in the country to pursue a new program of study/apply for OPT. If your plan is to depart the U.S. but you are worried about not being able to leave due to Covid-19, please reach out to your DSO to discuss your specific situation.

Should I leave the U.S. or stay in the U.S. for the summer?
At this point, you and your families will need to make this decision after becoming informed. If your questions are not answered in this document or on the Wheaton College COVID-19 FAQ Page, please reach out to your DSO for assistance.
In addition, it is not possible to predict the upcoming impact of the covid-19 pandemic both in the U.S. and around the world. Please monitor your Wheaton email and the college’s FAQ website for an eventual announcement when a plan for Fall 2020 is determined.
 
I heard that President Trump signed a temporary order banning entry to immigrants- how does that impact F-1 visa students?
At this point, the president has signed a 60 day suspension & limitation of entry to the U.S. of people entering with immigrant visas or with immigrant intent (green card and work visa applicants). These are different from an F-1 student visa (non-immigrant intent) therefore currently there is no official impact on F-1 visa related  approvals or benefits (CPT/OPT). Your DSO team is closely monitoring this announcement and will let you know if implications on F-1 students become clearer.
 
I would like to stay on campus for the summer, what should I do?
Students currently living on campus received an email from Residence Life with instructions on how to apply for summer campus housing and the cost.  There will be campus housing available but it is important to know that there will be no food service available during the summer and all campus buildings will continue to be closed. The cost of housing will be $26 per day and students will be billed for the period of May 11 - August 21st for a total of $2652. 
 
Do I still need to file taxes?
The expectations for tax filing have not changed. Please review our Taxes page to determine your responsibilities. If you need a Sprintax code, please e-mail isp@wheaton.edu. Please note that the income tax filing date has been moved and the new deadline is July 15, 2020.
 
I am an F-1 student and I received a stimulus payment from the government, was I supposed to? What if I received it in error?
Our partners at Sprintax have published a very helpful blog post with specific answers to most questions related to the stimulus payment from the government. As you will read, there are categories of F-1 students who likely were eligible to receive a stimulus payment. Specifically, those that met the substantial presence test and filed their 2018 or 2019 tax return as “residents for tax purposes.” You can determine if you met the physical presence test by using the IRS website instructions or creating a free Sprintax account and following their steps (you can even use their 24/7 chat with a representative option to ask a question). We strongly recommend that you read through this material if you received a stimulus check.  

On May 6th  2020, the IRS issued this statement (question 11) about resident aliens for tax purposes receiving the stimulus payment:   
“A person who is a non-resident alien in 2020 is not eligible for the Payment. A person who is a qualifying resident alien with a valid SSN is eligible for the Payment only if he or she is a qualifying resident alien in 2020 and could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer for 2020. Aliens who received a Payment but are not qualifying resident aliens for 2020 should return the Payment to the IRS by following the instructions about repayments.”
 
If you properly filed your taxes as a resident alien (having met the physical presence test), and continue to reside in the United States, the IRS statement indicates that you were eligible to receive and keep the payment.

I am not in the U.S. anymore but was a resident alien last year, should I keep the stimulus payment?
No, you are no longer a 2020 qualifying resident alien. This is not your fault, but you need to give it back.  Check the Sprintax blog on how to return the payment.

What if I filed my taxes incorrectly and erroneously received a stimulus payment?
The Sprintax blog provides instructions on how to fix your incorrect tax returns and return the stimulus payment to the IRS. We recommend you do this promptly.
 
If I am given the option to choose a class grade as Pass/Fail, how will doing so impact my F-1 visa status?
As noted by the Provost’s e-mail on April 22nd, students are being given the option to designate some or all of their Spring 2020 classes as Pass/Fail, due to Covid-19. Ending the semester with a pass/fail grade in some or all classes does not impact your F-1 visa status and you will still be considered as having pursued a “full course of study” per F-1 regulations. Please read the Provost’s email fully to understand all other implications. However, if you need to  withdraw from / drop a class (or all classes), please speak to your DSO first to understand your options and possible impact on your visa status.
 
I am staying in the U.S., what are my employment options?
During the summer months you may only work on campus up to 40 hours per week. You should check with your supervisor to verify if your position will continue for the summer. You can check Handshake for any new postings if you are looking for campus employment. Or, you can reach out to departments that often need help to inquire about job opportunities (ex: Buswell Library or Facilities, located at Chase Service Center). If you would like to pursue an internship please review our CPT website and discuss with your DSO to ensure your eligibility. You may not work off campus unless you have CPT approval. If you'd like to do some volunteer hours this summer please read our volunteer policy. Graduating students cannot work on campus past their program end date. You may apply for employment authorization via OPT or at your new institution if transferring to another program of study.
 
Can I apply for off campus employment authorization due to unforeseen economic difficulties?
If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. Please know that this requires an application for an Employment Authorization Document to the USCIS which carries a fee of $410 and may take several months to process.  Follow this link if you would like more information about this type of employment authorization.
 
How does COVID-19 impact my current OPT application or hope to apply for OPT after I graduate in May?
If you have applied for OPT or plan to, please email your DSO to set up a meeting to discuss your options.
 
Am I permitted to participate in a CPT placement / practicum / internship this summer?
If your CPT site continues to offer you the opportunity to participate, you can do summer CPT while staying in the country. Please ensure your I-20 shows your CPT approval and dates (page 2) prior to beginning your summer CPT hours. To apply for CPT approval please complete this application listed on the CPT page of our F-1 visa student website.
 
Am I allowed to do remote work while I'm on approved OPT? What if I lose my job? What if I want to leave OPT early and leave the U.S.?
If you are still employed, you are permitted to work remotely while on OPT. If you lose your job, be careful not to exceed your 90 days of permitted unemployment while searching for another opportunity. Make sure to use the SEVP Portal and e-mail your DSO to report a change in your employment dates.
If you want to leave the U.S. and end your OPT early, please inform your DSO. Expect further communication from your DSO, but please feel free to email them with any questions regarding your current OPT.
 
Is the testing and treatment for Covid-19 included in our international student's healthcare (LewerMark) plan?
LewerMark has responded to this and other coverage questions via your student e-mail. You can find a helpful summary of their response on the SHS "LewerMark Covers COVID-19" website.
 
If I am leaving the country do I still have LewerMark coverage? What if I leave and no longer want my Lewermark insurance plan, will I be reimbursed for this expense?
Lewermark and SHS have also provided a "LewerMark respond to COVID-19" website that details what out of country coverage looks like and who is eligible for a credit to their student account if they choose to unenroll from the LewerMark plan when departing the U.S.
 
Don’t see your F-1 visa related question answered on this page?
E-mail isp@wheaton.edu and / or graduate.student.life@wheaton.edu and we will work on finding you an answer.
 
 
Updated April 23rd