Return to the Nest - International Student Guide for Spring 2021

Last Updated December 2nd, 2020

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 as Winthrop Eagles “Return to the Nest.”


Travel and Arrival to Campus

ALL students are expected to have a COVID-19 test taken no earlier than 72 hours prior to their arrival at the Rock Hill, SC campus. The negative COVID-19 test result should be uploaded to each student’s individual Patient Portal account (via the Patient Portal). 

While Winthrop University is not requiring international students to quarantine upon their arrival to the U.S. or return to campus, 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. If a student’s COVID-19 test is taken in another country before flying to the United States, the negative test result must be in English and updated into the student’s Patient Portal. Another COVID-19 test is required and should upload 7 days after arrival. Additionally, the Patient Portal symptom tracker must be completed by the student for a minimum of 14 days. 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

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released guidance about enrollment requirements for F1 visa holders for the Spring 2021 semester. As approved by the Winthrop University Board of Trustees, Winthrop is currently planning for a spring semester that offers BOTH in-person and online courses.  That means we are considered a hybrid institution by SEVP for Spring 2021.  Additionally, spring classes begin on Monday, January 11, 2021.

  • If taking in-person courses, returning F1 international students must be physically present in the United States by January 31st.

  • Face-to-Face (F2F) and Online 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 Spring 2021 semester. However, F1 international students should enroll in the minimum number of online courses required to make normal progress for your degree.

  • 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.  Currently, there is no substantive change for students on OPT. 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 Spring 2021 Semester, subject to your academic department's approval and course availability.


Transfer F1 International Students

If you are a transfer student and if you are in the U.S., then you 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

Center for Student Wellness at Winthrop offers a variety of healthcare services to current students via the Patient Portal.


COVID-19 Testing and Immunizations

Free COVID-19 testing is currently available and provided by Genetworx on campus.  Information about this free testing can be found on the DHEC/Genetworx online flyer. In addition, Winthrop’s Center for Student Wellness department can administer tests to students showing symptoms, but there will be a charge added to a student’s account. For other locations, continue to check DHEC's testing site for updates.

Students can use the Patient Portal to enter their health information (including proof of immunizations) and then talk to Center for Student Wellness 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.

  • Center for Student Wellness 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, and students will receive e-mails from the International Center regarding Health Insurance options, enrollment deadlines, and the process to request a waiver in favor of personal health insurance plans that meet minimum requirements.  New international students will receive health insurance information before and during International Student Orientation. Contact the International Center with any questions.