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COVID-19 Update: FAQs for Newly Admitted Students

Congratulations from the International Center on your admission to the Illinois Institute of Technology. We look forward to having you on campus soon.

The International Center provides professional support, services, and resources to the Illinois Tech community in matters related to international education and cultural exchange by supporting international students, faculty, and staff, as well as students studying abroad, and assisting in the compliance of immigration and other related regulations.

We know that you are concerned about getting a United States student visa and arriving in time for the Spring 2021 semester. We want to assure you that despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois Tech will continue to provide you with the current information you need to successfully navigate your way here.

Since we are in an environment of always evolving information, please make sure to regularly check the institution’s webpage on COVID-19. This page is updated frequently with new information and guidance as it becomes available.

Admission & I-20 Questions

Will Illinois Tech continue to issue immigration documents (I-20 or DS-2019) for newly admitted students?
Yes. Illinois Tech’s Office of Undergraduate Admission, Office of Graduate Admission, and all other admission offices for any university academic programs will continue to process immigration documents and serve newly admitted students while working remotely.

What actions should I take to have immigration documents sent to me?
Once you have accepted your admission offer from Illinois Tech, be sure to follow all of the instructions that come as part of the communication flow from your Admission office. Once you have submitted all of the necessary documents to your admissions office, your I-20 or DS-2019 will be sent to you electronically, via email. Unless otherwise requested by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate you plan to go to for your visa appointment, the electronic copy of your signed I-20 or DS-2019 will suffice for obtaining your visa stamp and entering the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status. Please contact your specific admission office for more information about when to expect your immigration documents.

Is it possible to defer my admission?
Students are allowed to defer their application for one calendar year. Please submit your deferral request via your app tracker or contact your enrollment advisor.

F-1 & J-1 Visa Questions

Will I still be able to get a student visa?
The global COVID-19 situation is dynamic and quickly changing. However, as of November 2020, many U.S embassies and consulates have either re-opened, or have built in temporary processes that allows incoming students to request for an appointment for their F-1 or J-1 visa. Please continue to check the U.S. Department of State's visa page for announcements and updates in order to stay informed about the current situation of your preferred embassy or consulate.

Travel Questions

Will I be able to travel to the U.S. to start my program this Fall if I get my visa?

The current global situation is fluid, making it is impossible to predict whether further restrictions will be put in place by the United States government for travelers from high risk countries, or if international travel to the U.S. will be restricted due to the situation within the U.S.

However, international travel has resumed significantly and there should not be any restrictions to travel into the U.S. for the upcoming Spring semester. Please continue to monitor the travel updates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as resources from your own country’s governmental agencies. The International Center is carefully monitoring updates from the CDC, Student and Exchange Visitor Program, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Department of State, and will update our website and communicate changes to students as we receive new information.

What is the university planning when I arrive for orientation? Will I need to be quarantined?
We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic daily. We will make the decision regarding a quarantine (or not) by following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

What are the quarantine requirements for students, faculty and staff entering Chicago from other countries and U.​S.​ states?

At this time, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has issued an Emergency Travel Order directing travelers entering Chicago from states experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases to quarantine in accordance with Chicago Department of Public Health guidance. Though the states on the list may well change over the next few weeks, it is Illinois Tech’s expectation that the order’s quarantine requirements will be in effect for some number of states when you arrive for move in and the beginning of classes this fall. The university also requires all international students or visitors to follow the same quarantine guidelines.

In order to comply with the order, students, faculty, and staff may either:

  1. Quarantine for two weeks prior to coming to campus with a method of documenting adherence;
  2. Quarantine for two weeks after arrival on campus;
  3. Quarantine at home for one week prior to coming to campus with a method of documenting adherence, followed by:
    1. A negative test consistent with university deadlines for submitting test results.
    2. Quarantine for another week when arriving to Chicago/campus.

Based on the foregoing, if students do not reside in Illinois and will be living and/or participating in classes in person on Illinois Tech’s campuses, we need to gather some information regarding their plans for arriving on campus so we can best accommodate their individual needs and circumstances. Students are requested to please fill out our Illinois Tech Returning Student Arrival and Quarantine Preferences Form to help us identify their needs.

Distance Learning Questions

How are online classes delivered? Will instruction be synchronous or asynchronous? Will students be allowed to interact with faculty outside of the online classroom?
Course delivery and format may vary depending on the faculty and the department. Classes will consist of captured lectures, and live online collaborative courses via blackboard. Lastly, faculty will be available during designated office hours and via email.

How do I get my textbooks if I’m online in a different country?
Our graduate students often purchase their course materials online. Students have identified a number of competitive options by performing a simple internet search. Prior to purchasing any course materials online we strongly recommend consulting with your professor to ensure you have the correct edition, volume, etc.

What if my internet is not able to download materials as required? Would you recommend deferring?
In order to participate in online classes students are required to have a computer and access to the internet which allows them to perform all the functions required for online instruction. In an event a student does not have a computer and the required internet access they will not be able to register for online instruction.

Registration Questions

When would I be able to start my program physically in the U.S.?
Many of our programs were offered in a hybrid format during the current Fall 2020 semester, and many more will also be available in the same hybrid format for the Spring 2021 semester. Therefore, as long as you have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp, you should be able to travel safely to the U.S. to start or continue your program during the Spring 2021 semester.

If I register for online classes for Spring 2021 and then I am able to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa stamp, will I be allowed to switch from online classes to in person classes?
We understand the potential complexity of this current pandemic. It is our goal here at Illinois Tech to be as flexible as possible. Students will be allowed to switch from online course delivery to ground course delivery for Spring 2021 semester as long as we are notified by the add drop deadline, which is 1st, February 2021.

What if I enroll for online classes for the Spring 2021 semester and my visa application is rejected, and I am not ready for the online classes, will my paid tuition be refunded?
Illinois Tech will process all refunds requested by the add/drop deadline for the Spring 2021 semester, which is 1st, February 2021.

CPT & OPT Questions

When will I be eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training?
If the current pandemic continues and you are not able to start physically during the Spring 2021 semester, you may be eligible—depending on your program—to apply for Curricular Practical Training at the end of the Summer 2021 semester, provided that you complete the Spring and Summer 2021 semesters enrolled full time.

What if I am currently in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status?
Please contact your specific admission office about your eligibility to transfer your F-1 or J-1 status from your current United States institution to Illinois Tech.

Undergraduate Transfer in Form

Graduate Transfer in Form

Contact Information Questions

Who do I contact if I have questions?
Please contact your specific admission office if you have questions about your application, acceptance, admission letter, the processing of your immigration documents, or deferring your admission.

If you have questions about the United States visa process or other immigration-related issues, please contact the International Center at

General questions, concerns and information related to how our campus is handling the on-going pandemic is available on IIT’s COVID-19 website.