Winter Term 2023 FAQs for Continuing Students

If you plan to leave and re-enter the United States, be sure to review U.S. and U-M COVID-19 Policies: Pre- and Post- Arrival Information, as well as Re-entry to the U.S.

As was the case for Fall Term 2022, Winter 2023 courses will be offered in formats that include in-person, remote and mixed (hybrid) instruction, depending on curricular needs.

This FAQ applies to continuing students only. If you are a new student and have not yet entered the United States, please refer to the FAQs for Newly Admitted Students. The FAQs for Newly Admitted Students also apply if you are transferring to U-M after attending an institution located in the U.S. or changing to a new academic level at U-M.


Immigration Status

As a current, continuing F-1 or J-1 student, can I take all remote classes, or must I take a mixture of in-person, mixed and remote classes?

  • If you had valid F-1 status on March 9, 2020 and your SEVIS ID has not changed, you may choose any combination of in-person, hybrid or online courses (including all online) as long as you maintain a full course of study (or have an approved Reduced Course Load). However, you should check with your academic unit to make sure that your proposed course schedule, including your choices of in-person, mixed (hybrid) or remote classes, meets their requirements for your degree program. Otherwise, at least one of your classes must be in-person or hybrid.
  • You can use this chart to determine whether or not you are required to take an in-person or hybrid course in the Winter 2023 semester.

I am a continuing F-1 or J-1 student, and I would like to study remotely from outside the U.S. during the Winter Term and maintain my F-1 or J-1 status.

  • This is only possible if you had valid F-1 status on March 9, 2020 and your SEVIS ID has not changed. In that case, you may choose all online classes for Winter Term 2023, as long as appropriate courses are available and your planned course schedule is acceptable to your academic program. Your SEVIS record and I-20 or DS-2019 will remain in active status.
  • You can use this chart to determine whether or not you are required to take an in-person or hybrid course in the Winter 2023 semester.
  • Check with your academic programs regarding any requirements to be in residence or attend in person classes on the Ann Arbor campus.
  • If you are eligible for and approved for remote study, you must be enrolled full-time, participate in your online courses, and make normal progress toward your degree in order to maintain your immigration status. If you continue to do these things, your SEVIS record and I-20 or DS-2019 will remain in active status.

I would like to study remotely inside the U.S. but from outside Michigan during the Winter Term.

  • This is only possible if you had valid F-1 status on March 9, 2020 and your SEVIS ID and has not changed. In that case, as long as you remain enrolled full-time, participate in your online courses, and make normal progress toward your degree, you will maintain your F-1 or J-1 status. You must also update your current and SEVIS addresses in Wolverine Access.
  • You can use this chart to determine whether or not you are required to take an in-person or hybrid course in the Winter 2023 semester.
  • However, be sure to check with your academic unit, since they may require you to be in residence on the Ann Arbor campus. You may also be required to be in residence on the Ann Arbor campus if you are a Graduate Student Instructor or a Graduate Student Research Assistant.

Do I need a new I-20 or a formal letter from the University in order to return to the U.S.?

No. Current DHS guidance does not require this. You can use the most recent I-20 you received from U-M to enter the U.S. If you want, you can also download and print this letter, which explains U-M’s plans for the Winter Term .

If U-M must switch to all-remote classes during the Winter 2023 term, will I be required to leave the U.S.?

No. You will be able to maintain your F-1 or J-1 status through participating in remote classes as long as you are enrolled full-time

If I move to a new U.S. address, even temporarily due to isolation measures, do I need to report it within 10 days? How do I report it?

Yes, you need to report any change of residential address in the U.S. within 10 days of the change. If you need to move to temporary housing for a COVID-related period of isolation or quarantine of more than 10 days, you should also update your address. Be sure to change it again when you move back into your regular residence. Follow our guidelines for updating your address, and please remember that your “SEVIS” address needs to remain a U.S. address.


Health Insurance

Will the mandatory U-M International Health Insurance plan cover COVID-19 testing and treatment?

Yes. The International Student/Scholar Health Insurance Plan covers COVID-19 testing and treatment. GradCare also covers COVID-19 testing and treatment. Please review the health insurance FAQs for details. If you still have questions, contact the International Center’s Health Insurance Advisor.

Does the mandatory health insurance requirement apply to me if I study remotely?

If you are studying remotely in the United States, the health insurance requirement will continue to apply to you. If you will be out of the U.S. for at least three calendar months, you may apply for a waiver of your required health insurance.


Travel and Visas

If I plan to leave the U.S. during the Winter Term and need a new travel signature in order to return, what should I do?

F-1 students: Go to M-Passport > Requests > Travel Signature and submit your request. Check your Requests page to see when your request has been completed. You will then be able to download your signed I-20 with your travel signature.

J-1 students: Fill out and print the DS-2019 Signature Request Form. Hand the form in at the International Center reception desk. Please be sure to include all attachments listed in the instructions at the top of the form. If you cannot or prefer not to visit the International Center in person, you can submit a DS-2019 replacement request using "travel" as the replacement reason. We will reprint and sign your form, and you can arrange to have it shipped to your address. To request a replacement DS-2019, go to M-Passport > Requests > Reprint DS-2019 and submit your request.

If I am enrolled for classes but have been or will be outside the U.S. for more than five months, will I lose my F-1 status?

Under normal circumstances, if an international student were to remain outside of the U.S. for five or more months, they would need a new initial I-20 in order to resume their studies at U-M. This is known as the five-month rule. However, according to the SEVP guidance currently in effect, if you were enrolled full-time for online courses during Fall Term 2022 and continue full-time enrollment during Winter Term 2023, then the five-month rule will not apply to you. As long as your visa stamp is valid (unexpired with multiple entries) you can use it to re-enter the U.S.

My visa has expired, or will expire before I plan to return to the U.S. If I leave the U.S. now, will I need a new visa, or can I re-enter on an expired visa?

If you leave or have left the U.S. and your visa will expire by the date you wish to re-enter the U.S., then you will need to obtain a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you can re-enter the U.S. (Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S.).

Visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and local conditions and restrictions continue to impact availability of visa appointments. Check with the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you for more information.

If you will be travelling to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands, please contact the International Center to see if you are eligible to return to the U.S. with automatic visa revalidation.

If I need to renew my F-1 or J-1 visa, will an in-person visa interview be required?

Due to a recent U.S. State Department policy change, you may not need to have an in-person visa interview. This policy change is in effect through December 31, 2022. If you need to renew your visa to re-enter the U.S., check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan to apply for your visa for detailed information on what services are currently available as well as for eligibility information and instructions on applying for a visa without an interview.



I have an on-campus job. May I continue that work remotely from my home in the U.S.? May I continue that work remotely from my home country?

Yes, SEVP has issued special guidance confirming that if your on-campus employment has transitioned to remote work or can be performed through remote means, you may continue to engage in on-campus employment remotely. However, be sure to check with your on-campus employer to make sure that remote work will be acceptable. 

I need to apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training). Can I do this from elsewhere in the U.S.? Can I do it from outside the U.S.?

You must be physically present in the U.S. at the time you submit your OPT application to USCIS. The International Center will continue to process OPT requests as we receive them. If you are interested in applying for OPT, review the OPT information on the International Center website.

Can I leave the U.S. and return home after I mail my OPT application to USCIS? Will I be allowed to re-enter the U.S. to start working once my application is approved?

Yes, you can leave the U.S. when an OPT application is pending with USCIS, but there has always been an element of risk in doing so. The basic risk factor is that if you receive correspondence from USCIS in the mail, such as a Request for Evidence (RFE), you would not be there to respond. This has always been true, and in these extraordinary times, it remains so.

In the best-case scenario, if your application is approved without any issues, your EAD will be delivered to a valid U.S. address (see the OPT online course for more information). USCIS will not send your EAD to an address outside the U.S. You will need to arrange for someone to send you the EAD because you should have it with you when you re-enter the U.S. Please be aware that you are still considered to be an F-1 student while on OPT, and you will need to have valid travel documents with you when you re-enter the U.S. Please also review current U.S. Covid-19 vaccination requirements.

I am a J-1 student, are there any changes to Academic Training I should be aware of?

As Academic Training requirements are different than OPT, you should refer to Academic Training for J-1 Students for guidance. The Department of State has confirmed that active J-1 students engaged in Academic Training can continue their Academic Training remotely in light of current circumstances.


Taxes and Social Security

How do I apply for my Social Security Number?

Follow the instructions at Applying for a Social Security Number and Card. You should plan to apply for your SSN as soon as possible after you receive a job offer. However, since you do not need an SSN to begin working, a delay in obtaining your SSN should not affect your employment start date.

I have questions about U.S. taxes.

For the 2022 tax year, the filing deadline for both federal and state tax forms is April 18, 2023. The International Center’s Tax Information Session has general filing tips. The Glacier Tax Prep software for the 2022 tax year will be available in early February.

Reminder: International Center staff are not tax experts. The tax information on our website does not substitute for advice from a qualified tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service.


Last Updated: 12/05/2022