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International Student and Scholars Information

Fall 2020 Semester

South Dakota State University will return to on-campus instruction in Brookings, South Dakota in the Fall 2020 semester. New international students may find it difficult to obtain visas in time to begin their studies in August 2020. To accommodate these students, SDSU will offer a variety of options to earn credits online in the Fall 2020 semester.

Please visit the Information for New Students Starting in Fall 2020 site for important information regarding:

  • International Freshmen and Transfers - Undergraduate Students with full admission
  • International Graduate (Master and PhD) Students with full admission
  • Intensive English Program (IEP) Students
  • Online Pathway Program – New! – Gain full admission to SDSU and earn credit while doing so!

You may also contact the Office of International Affairs with any questions you may have.

Office of International Affairs
Briggs Library Suite 119
Telephone: 605-688-4122

International Student Orientation (Fall 2020)


Additional Correspondence

Message to the Students - March 24, 2020

Greetings Students,

The Office of International Affairs hopes you are well and successfully navigating the transition to online learning. Today we received news from the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) and University administration that instruction will remain online for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester AND the semester will conclude as scheduled on Friday, May 8th. Some important things to keep in mind:

F1 and J1 students will be considered to be maintaining their status regardless of if they return to their home country or remain in the U.S. If you choose to return home, please make sure to:

  • Stop by the back door of the Briggs Library (located on the loading dock on the North or back side of the building) to have their I-20 signed for travel. This should occur between the hours of 11am and 12pm daily. Please call 605-688-4156 when you arrive at the loading dock so AVP Dr. Jon Stauff can step out of his office and provide a signature.
  • Email their flight itineraries to Ms. Melisa Zaug. This documentation is necessary for students enrolled in a GeoBlue health insurance plan to receive a refund for any unused months of their plan (for ex: student leaves on Monday, March 30th and would receive a refund for the months of April, May, June, and July).

Students who currently reside in on-campus housing and are unable to return home are able to access their housing assignment until the end of the Spring 2020 semester. Per the guidance found here (https://www.sdstate.edu/covid-19-response-rest-spring-semester-moved-online) refunds will be provided in the following situations:

  • The refund will be 50% of the original amount for housing, except for those students approved for housing at the close of the extended spring break.
  • Meal plans will be pro-rated for meal plans not utilized and all unused flex dollars will also be refunded to each student.
  • The General Activity Fee (GAF) will not be refunded as counseling services, health services, etc. will continue to provide services.

We would like to introduce virtual group advising sessions. These session are “come and go” by clicking on the ZOOM link for the corresponding day:

This is an opportunity to ask Greg, Derek, or Kirsten your immigration questions or just to stop by and say “hi.”

We understand you have received a lot of information again today and thank you for reading! Our goal is to provide you the most up-to-date information and support possible. Please hang in there, we are glad you are part of the Jackrabbit Family!

Kind Regards,

Office of International Affairs
Briggs Library Suite 119
Telephone: 605-688-4122

Message to the Students - March 20, 2020

Dear Students,

Happy Friday from the Office of International Affairs! As we all prepare for the start of online instruction on Monday, we wanted to share the following information with you:

For many Monday will be the first time completing coursework online. Please make sure to read through the Online Information for Students found here: https://www.sdstate.edu/online-information-students. If you need assistance with D2L, Zoom, or any other SDSU-affiliated platform, please make sure to reach out to the SDSU Support Desk at 605-688-6776 or email SDSUsupportdesk@sdstate.edu. We understand many students and their families are making the difficult decision on whether they should stay in the U.S. or return home. If the University makes the decision to continue online instruction, you are considered to be maintaining your status whether you choose to remain in the U.S. or return to your home country. However, if the decision is made to return to in-person classes and you make the decision to return home your SEVIS record will need to be terminated for an authorized early withdrawal. Should this occur, you will need a new I-20 prior to returning for the Fall 2020 semester. We encourage all students making the decision to return home to reach out to each of their instructors to determine if they are willing to work with you on the completion of coursework from home. We encourage all students returning home to obtain a travel signature on the second page of their I-20 prior to their departure. AVP for International Affairs, Dr. Jon Stauff, is available for travel signatures Monday through Friday, 11am to 12pm, by stopping by the loading dock on the North side (back or side facing the Facilities and Services Building). When you arrive at the loading dock, please make sure to call Dr. Stauff at 605-688-4156 so he can step out of the office. Students returning home may access the following transportation options:

The Office of International Affairs would like to introduce group virtual advising sessions via Zoom. “Stop” on in to ask Greg, Derek, or Kirsten your status questions or just to say “hi”. To join, please click on the link below:

Residence halls will be open. Students should complete the Spring 2020 break housing application and list the date they need to access their residence hall.  Once the application is approved, students will have access to their residence hall and meal plan. To apply for Spring break housing go to MyState > Resources > Forms > University Housing Application > Apply Now > Spring Break Housing 2020. More information can be found here: https://www.sdstate.edu/extended-spring-break-residence-hall-information. Dining Services  will be open daily for students:

  • The Market (located within the Student Union): 9am to 7pm
    • Grille Works, The Bindle, Papa John’s, Grab n Go
    • Block meals and flex dollars of your meal plan will work at this location.
  • Starbucks: 7am to 9pm
    • Flex dollars of your meal plan, cash or credit card will work at this location.
  • Jack’s C-Store in Larson Commons: 9am to 4pm
    • Flex dollars of your meal plan, cash or credit card will work at this location.

Please remember that although the Wellness Center is closed, SDSU Student Health and Counseling is still open Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm. Please make sure to call 605-688-4157 to schedule your appointment ahead of time.

We understand the last few weeks have been an exercise in patience. Thank you for hanging in there and being part of the Jackrabbit Family. We look forward to continuing to support you and hope to “see” many of you at our new virtual group advising times.

Until then, please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns.

Take care and stay well,

Office of International Affairs
Briggs Library 119
Telephone: 605-688-4122

Message to the Students - March 16, 2020

Dear Students,

We hope this finds you well and hanging in there with all the changes that are occurring as a result of COVID-19. This afternoon the South Dakota Board of Regents announced that beginning Monday, March 23rd, all classes will be temporarily moved online and on-campus, in-person classes will resume on Monday, April 6th. As this situation is fluid and continually evolving, the SDBOR will revisit and communicate any changes in course delivery again March 27th.

What does this mean for our international students in F-1 and J-1 student status? Everything is okay – you will continue to maintain your status during this period of on-line instruction just as though you were taking the classes on campus. Some students may choose to go home; however, we urge you to please keep in mind the University has only committed to online instruction until April 6th. Hosting online classes may or may not be extended past this date, but unfortunately, we do not know what decision will be made by our University administration and the Board of Regents until we get closer to that date. If you choose to go home, that is your decision; however, we are worried about what happens if you are not able to return to the U.S. to complete your semester. We would like to have a short discussion with you via Skype, Zoom, or telephone to advise you of the risks if you are not able to complete your semester. F-1 students choosing to return home and who need a travel signature should plan to meet Dr. Jon Stauff, AVP for International Affairs, between 11am and  12pm daily this week. Please make sure to call Dr. Stauff at 605-688-4156 once you have arrived at the loading dock on the North side of the library (side facing Facilities and Services) so he can step out and sign your documents. J-1 students needing travel signatures should give Kirsten (kirsten.linke@sdstate.edu) a minimum of 24 hours’ notice so a new DS-2019 can be created and pick up location determined.

From today until Friday, April 3rd, the Office of International Affairs will be conducting online advising Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Please email Kirsten (kirsten.linke@sdstate.edu), Derek (derek.schmidt@sdstate.edu), or Greg (greg.wymer@sdstate.edu) to request a Skype, Zoom, or telephone appointment and indicate which form of appointment you are most comfortable using. Skype and Zoom appointments will receive a link unique to their appointment date and time. Students who are requesting updates to their SEVIS record (for example those applying for OPT, STEM OPT, CPT, Reinstatement, or Program Extensions) will be asked to email materials to the staff member they are working with prior to their designated appointment. Documents for these appointments will be mailed out via regular, first class mail the following business day. As a result, we urge students to contact us well ahead of their anticipated need so we can get the documents out to them as quickly as possible under these constraints.

Finally, we know many of you have questions about your GeoBlue health insurance and how it may cover someone in the event of a COVID-19 test and/or diagnosis. Our GeoBlue representative shared the following information with us this morning:

GeoBlue will cover, with no cost-share to members, medically-necessary, prescribed diagnostic testing for the virus, known officially as COVID-19, consistent with U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. This coverage includes the cost of the COVID-19 test, physician/doctor consultation fee and associated costs related to administering the COVID-19 test. GeoBlue will waive prior authorizations for medically-necessary, prescribed tests and covered services related to COVID-19, consistent with CDC guidelines. If an eligible member contracts COVID-19, the GeoBlue medical plan would cover eligible medical costs, including quarantine in a hospital/medical setting. It would not cover preventive quarantine in a hotel, cruise ship or any other location. The plan would cover medical evacuation if deemed medically appropriate for the illness/injury, subject to the usual plan provisions.

For complete information on GeoBlue coverage and COVID-19, please see: http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/276181/436cf62906/TEST/TEST/. Students with insurance other than GeoBlue are encouraged to contact their health insurance provider with questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 coverage.

We understand the number of emails and communications on this topic have been overwhelming – we think they are, too! – but we want to make sure you have the most up-to-date information. Hang in there – we are here to help, whether through an immigration-based meeting or a quick phone call/email chat session to reduce your worries and address your concerns.

Take care,

Office of International Affairs
Briggs Library Suite 119
Telephone: 605-688-4122

Message to the Students - March 12, 2020

Dear Students:

Greetings from the Office of International Affairs!  We know that the past few days have been filled with uncertainty and tense moments – things have been challenging for us in this office, too!  We are here to share some important information with you.  Please read the message thoroughly and in its entirety, and we will be available for questions as they arise.

International Travel – All SDSU international students and scholars on F and J visas are able to stay in the United States and continue their studies through the end of the semester or until their program end date. Students or scholars with a program end date before the end of the Spring semester will receive separate communication on the process for obtaining a program extension.  We anticipate OPT and CPT will remain available to all F students.  We are aware that the federal government has issued travel restrictions upon visitors entering the USA from Europe, and there is no way we can predict these restrictions will not be extended to other visitors from other countries in the future.  However, these restrictions do not apply to anyone already in the USA.

Kind Regards,

Office of International Affairs
Briggs Library Suite 119
Telephone: 605-688-4122

The COVID-19 situation is very fluid, and the University is addressing it as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.  We understand your frustrations, and we are here to share that we are very frustrated, too.  We are here to support and assist you during this time of turbulence. Please know we will work alongside you to make sure your status is safe guarded and you have every opportunity that is available to you as an F-1 or J-1 visa holder.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us – we are here to help!

Please note: Students who obtain on-campus jobs in certain SDSU offices in Summer 2020 and who work a minimum of 35 hours per week may be able to live on campus without having to pay rent. 

Employment – Students employed on campus may work up to 40 hours during the extended Spring Break 2020. If you are a student on OPT or STEM OPT, we encourage you to work with your employers to determine work from home scenarios or adjustment of schedule to work the minimum hours necessary for you to maintain your status. Virtual Advising Sessions – We will be expanding our virtual advising opportunities in the coming week.  If you need assistance and are not able to get to campus next week, please feel free to request a virtual advising session and we will set up a meeting using Zoom.  We will announce group virtual advising sessions for OPT/CPT as well as status maintenance next week. Academic Concerns – Graduate students who have concerns about the completion of their thesis/dissertation requirements and oral exams should contact the graduate school and their committee to determine steps necessary to meet requirements for graduation. Undergraduate students should continue to correspond with their academic advisors for assistance with plan of study auditing to insure all graduation requirements have been met.

While most of our international students and scholars should be able to travel to their home countries at this time, we are not able to say with any certainty that they will be able to return to the USA to resume classes in upcoming academic terms (e.g. Summer 2020 or Fall 2020).  We cannot predict what the US government will do, nor can we predict what any other government in the world will do to restrict travel within their borders.  At this time, we discourage international students and scholars from traveling outside of the USA.

Housing – International students currently living on campus are welcome to return to campus at any time.  There will be access to rooms in the residence halls, and there will be food service available in some form.  We anticipate that there may be students who need to stay in the USA after the end of the Spring 2020 semester.  Please know that the University is aware that students may need to stay in Brookings through the summer, and we will be able to share more information about housing opportunities on campus in the coming weeks.