Winthrop University: Return to the Nest - International Student Guide for Fall 2020
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Return to the Nest - International Student Guide for Fall 2020

Published July 13, 2020 Last Updated July 14, 2020, 9:17AM

The International Center (IC) staff is here to support Winthrop International Students. Our top priority is your health, safety and well-being.  As you make plans to return to Winthrop’s campus, please review the guidance below when Winthrop Eagles “Return to the Nest.”


Travel and Arrival to Campus

While Winthrop University is not requiring international students to quarantine upon their arrival to the U.S., international students should follow all guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which includes frequent hand washing, social distancing, monitoring your health daily, and avoiding high-risk activities.  Please carefully review and follow the CDC recommendations related to domestic and international travel and going out for essential errands.  

Winthrop University’s international students should also review the COVID-19 International Student FAQs regularly for information about required travel documents as well as answers to commonly asked questions.

Helpful links:


SEVP/Immigration Information for Returning Students on F1 Visas

On 7/6/2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released guidance about enrollment requirements for F1 visa holders for the Fall 2020 semester. The full statement issued on July 6, 2020 may be accessed via the SEVP website.  SEVP also released an FAQ on July 7, 2020.  The following information is what every F1 visa holder needs to know based on the guidance received:

  • Fall Semester 2020 at Winthrop.  As approved by the Winthrop University Board of Trustees on June 19, 2020, Winthrop is currently planning for a fall semester that offers BOTH in-person and online courses.  That means we are considered a hybrid institution by SEVP for Fall 2020.  Additionally, fall classes begin on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 8 am.

  • Your Physical Presence in the U.S.  Returning F1 international students must be physically present in the United States by September 14th (the SEVIS registration deadline) and enroll in at least one face-to-face course. If you cannot enter the U.S. for Fall 2020, then you may enroll online. It is currently unclear whether or not your SEVIS record will be subject to termination if you remain outside the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester.  The International Center is working to gain additional clarification on this issue.  We will post updates as they become available.

  • Online Course Enrollment.  If you decide to enroll in only online courses for the Fall 2020 semester, you must remain outside the United States. It is currently unclear whether or not your SEVIS record will be subject to termination if you remain outside the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester.  The International Center is working to gain additional clarification on this issue.  We will post updates as they become available.

  • Face-to-Face (F2F) Course Requirements.  If you are an F1 international student who is physically present in the U.S., you must enroll in at least one face-to-face course.  Since Winthrop University is utilizing a hybrid model of course instruction, you will not be subject to the restriction of only one 3-hour online course for the Fall 2020 semester. However, F1 international students must take as many F2F courses as possible and enroll in the minimum amount of online courses required to make normal progress for your degree. Remember F1 international students must be enrolled in at least one F2F course to physically be in the U.S. for Fall 2020.

  • New I-20 Issuance. All F1 international students who will be in the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester must receive a new I-20. The International Center will be in touch with you via your University email account to give you instructions on how to access your new I-20 by early August. Priority will be given to newly admitted F1 students and those returning to the U.S. from overseas.  Thank you in advance for your patience as we work to issue everyone’s updated documents.

  • F-1 Visas in your Passport.  Your F1 student visa does not need to be updated unless you are outside of the U.S. and the F1 visa has expired. Students who have a valid (unexpired) F1 visa do not require any updates to their F1 visa. Students who have an expired F1 visa and are currently in the U.S. do not require any update to their F1 visa unless they depart the U.S. and need to re-enter.

  • Students on OPT.  There is no substantive change for students on OPT. You do not require a new I-20. You are still subject to the 90 days of allowable unemployment and/or the 150 days of allowable unemployment for STEM OPT students.


SEVP/Immigration Information for New and Transfer Students on F1 Visas

New F1 International Students

If you are a new international student outside the U.S., contact the International Center regarding your options if you are not able to successfully obtain an F1 visa and enter the U.S. New international students outside the U.S. without active SEVIS records can enroll entirely online for the Fall 2020 Semester, subject to your academic department's approval and course availability.

If you are a new international student for Fall 2020 and you are able to enter the U.S., you will be required to attend at least one in-person course.


Transfer F1 International Students

If you are a transfer student and you are able to enter the U.S., then you are subject to F2F course requirements and will be expected to report to campus in-person.


Financial Help & Assistance

In these unprecedented times, we recognize that some Winthrop students may need additional financial support for hardships caused by COVID-19.

Winthrop’s Division of Student Affairs is a resource for currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students.  Student Affairs may be able to offer assistance with food, housing, and financial insecurity.  The Dean of Students office also has an emergency fund for students. To learn more, visit their website for more information.


Health Care and Insurance

  • Health Care.  Health and Counseling Services at Winthrop offers a variety of healthcare services to current students via the Patient Portal.

  • COVID-19 Testing and Immunizations.  While COVID-19 testing is not currently available on campus, students can use the Patient Portal to enter their health information (including proof of immunizations) and then talk to Health and Counseling Services to get a referral to a local facility as needed.

    • Tests may be conducted for a clinical diagnosis (your health provider would do a screening and potentially recommend PCR nasal swab testing) or for public health purposes (PCR nasal swab or blood test for antibodies).

    • Service Providers – Rock Hill currently has several locations for COVID-19 testing. If you feel that you need to be tested, contact Health Services though the Patient Portal for more information.

    • Make sure that all REQUIRED immunizations (MMR1, MMR2, and Tdap within last 10 years) are up-to-date and your documentation is uploaded to the Patient Portal before the first day of class. The immunization record MUST be translated into English.  Please note:  A $50 late fee will be placed on your student account if your immunization record is not uploaded to the Patient Portal prior to the first day of classes.

  • Health and Counseling Services also recommends the following to keep ourselves and our community safe and healthy:

    • Take your temperature daily to monitor for fever. It is recommended that each student bring their own thermometer with them.

    • Bring 3-4 cloth masks that can be washed and reused. A mask will need to be worn:

      • Anytime you are outside your residence (where you live)

      • Anytime you are in class

      • Anytime a 6 ft (1.83 meters) distance cannot be maintained

      • Anytime a large group is gathering

      • Wash your hands regularly and practice proper cough etiquette.

      • Get your Flu vaccine.

      • Follow all relevant CDC guidelines.

  • Health Insurance.  Returning international students should visit the International Student Support Services section of their personal Blackboard accounts to review health insurance information for the coming year.  Details regarding plan coverage, costs, and accessing your insurance card are updated regularly within Blackboard.  New international students will receive health insurance information during International Student Orientation and should contact the International Center with any questions.  

Frequently Asked Questions for Winthrop International Students

* Please note that the International Center guidance may change as additional information is obtained. SEVP is releasing updates regularly and the International Center will continue to communicated these changes with students, faculty, and staff as fast as we possibly can. 

    On July 6, 2020 the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published updated guidance for F1 students for the Fall 2020 semester.

    F1 students physically present in the U.S. will need to enroll in at least one in-person class. Students will need to enroll in the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. The student and respective academic advisor are responsible for determining this limit.

    Students currently abroad may continue to enroll in all online classes. It is currently unclear whether or not the International Center will be required to terminate the SEVIS records of students outside the U.S.

    Under the new SEVP Guidance for Fall 2020, F1 students in the United States are permitted to take more than one online class and continue to maintain their immigration status. However, at least one class must be in-person (F2F) including hybrid courses that contain some type of face-to-face requirement. Please work with your academic advisor to determine how you can meet the minimum one in-person class requirement. Review your course registration regularly through Wingspan to determine the type of classes in which you are enrolled.

    F1 students currently abroad and not able to return to the United States for the fall semester may continue to enroll in all online classes. It is currently unclear whether or not SEVIS records will remain active for students in this situation. The International Center will provide updates once we receive clarification from SEVP.


    The International Center will provide guidance via email on how F1 students can obtain their new I-20 to reflect their updated enrollment status. Please allow time for us to process your updated I-20 as every F1 student at Winthrop will be required to receive a new document. All I-20s will be distributed electronically and signed with an electronic signature.

    You do not need a new F1 visa if your current F1 visa is valid (unexpired).

    Students who have taken at least one in-person course and maintained their F1 immigration status through the fall semester will continue to be in status after November 24 and will not need to depart the U.S.

    Yes, an approved CPT internship counts as F2F. Make sure that you obtain CPT authorization from the International Center prior to starting your internship.

    Per the SEVP guidance, if the University were to go completely online mid-semester, international students would need to depart the U.S. However, the University is confident that we will be able to offer a strong mix of F2F, hybrid, and online options for the Fall 2020 semester. Keep in mind that this information is subject to change.

    Yes.  To maintain F1 and J1 status, international students are required to maintain full-time enrollment status.  International Students should not fall below full-time status unless they have been permitted to do so either through a Reduced Course Load (RCL) or Leave of Absence (LOA) approval by Winthrop’s International Center. 

    Continuing F1 students who are outside the U.S. and plan to enroll remotely should contact their departments to determine whether you can continue your assistantship.

    As an international student, you are required to enroll in at least one F2F course. Please consult with your academic advisor to see what your options are for enrolling in an in-person course while continuing to make normal progress towards your degree.

Last Updated: 10/4/21