March 16th Email to our International Graduate Students: Covid-19 Update

Thursday, Mar 19, 2020

The following email was sent out to our international undergraduate students on March 16, 2020:


Please do not respond to this email. Should you have any questions, please email or contact your assigned advisor

Dear Princeton Graduate Student,

On behalf of the Davis International Center, I am writing to let you know we are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and working with our campus partners to ensure the needs and concerns of international students and scholars are being addressed. Your safety is our highest priority during these trying and uncertain times so please bear with us while we adapt our processes to make them safer for you as well as our staff.

Please take a moment to carefully review the email from Dean Sarah-Jane Leslie and VP for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun as well as the latest University update.

As many of you need to be on campus to conduct research and also consider the campus your home, you are therefore not required to leave campus, and your housing situations will remain unchanged. Some of you have raised valid questions related to travel, your F-1/J-I immigration status, and other important concerns that we will address below.  If you still have questions after reviewing the information below, please email with general inquiries or schedule a call/virtual meeting with your assigned international student advisor.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and travel plans should be made with great care. All University sponsored travel is prohibited. We are recommending that you consult with your assigned international student advisor as well as with Kara Amoratis ( in the University’s Global Safety and Security Office before making travel plans back to your home country.  

Some have asked if your already-submitted OPT applications will continue to be processed by USCIS if you are outside the U.S. There is no indication that travel alone will place your application in jeopardy.  However, as COVID-19 progresses, we may see processing delays and/or employer actions that might negatively impact your ability to receive work permission or work in the U.S.  Keep in mind that you must be physically present in the U.S. to apply for OPT.  For those students eligible for CPT, that process should not be impacted based on currently available information. 

Some departments may have research or experiential learning requirements that would be conducted abroad under normal circumstances. Please discuss these concerns and alternative options with your Faculty members and other professional staff in your departments.

Changes to Davis IC Advising:
To minimize risk and align with University guidance on social distancing, the Davis International Center will be limiting in-person advising. Effective March 16, 2020, our office will only be open for document pick-up, travel signatures, and emergency situations. For all other advising, we ask that you follow the instructions for virtual/phone advising that we sent via email on Friday.  You will be able to speak with an advisor about your situation whether you are on or off campus.

Remote Learning:
As a general rule, international students on F-1 and J-1 visas must receive in-person instruction. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recently issued guidance allowing schools to temporarily adopt other learning methods to better comply with government health requirements. This means you can participate in remote learning either on or off campus with no negative impact to your immigration status. If you remain off campus please be sure to comply with U.S. address reporting requirements. If you need to update your address, please do so through TigerHub. The Davis IC will report any change of address on your behalf, based upon the information extracted from TigerHub.

Absence from the U.S. for more the 5 months:
Under certain circumstances, this can have negative consequences for your immigration status. However, if you continue being enrolled and maintain normal academic progress this will not be an issue.

Again, please reach out to us if you have questions and visit the University’s COVID-19 page frequently for the latest information.

With my warmest regards,

Albert Rivera
Davis International Center
Princeton University
Louis A. Simpson International Building