Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

See here for information on recent travel restrictions and National Interest Exceptions for F-1 students

Please refer to Mason’s Coronavirus COVID-19 information page ( for the most up-to-date information on coronavirus and links to other resources, including Student Health Services, the Virginia Department of Health, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Summary Advice

  • Follow guidance on preventing the spread of flu and coronavirus.
  • Promptly read OIPS e-mails for updates on maintaining your legal status.
  • Visit for University updates.
  • Consult with websites (below) for the most up-to-date travel information..
  • Stay home if you’re sick, and contact your physician for advice.
  • Conduct business by phone and e-mail when possible.
  • Schedule virtual appointments with OIPS advisors if you have questions.

Information Specific to International Students and Scholars

Departing the US Anyone who wishes to depart the United States is always free to do so. Through Fall 2021, GMU will operate on a hybrid model of face-to-face and online instruction. This means that as long as you have reliable internet access, you can complete your coursework from anywhere in the world. To keep your SEVIS record active, make sure that you are enrolled full-time and meet the academic requirements of your program.


Effective January 26, travelers to the U.S. are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. You must get tested no more than 3 days before you travel to the U.S. and show your negative test result before you board your flight. This order applies to all travelers over the age of 2, including F-1 and J-1 visa holders and their dependents, non-immigrant visa holders in other categories, U.S. Citizens, and U.S. Permanent Residents.

See Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-10 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States for more information.

As the progression of the global pandemic is uncertain, we cannot offer reliable travel advice for the future. Restrictions on entry to the US and many other countries change frequently and without advance notice. Visit the web page of your country’s embassy for the latest information on international airport operations. Also, see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information on port-of-entry screening procedures.

If you need a new F-1 or J-1 entry visa:  Please monitor the website of the US embassy and/or consular post closest to your residence to learn when they will be open to accept visa applications and interviews. See Suspension of Routine Visa Services on the U.S. Department of State website for more information.

COVID-19 US Entry Restrictions:  Currently, entry restrictions apply to individuals who have lived or visited the following places within the past 14 days:

  • The Schengen area of Europe
  • The United Kingdom
  • The Republic of Ireland
  • Iran
  • Brazil
  • China
  • South Africa
  • India

Note that these restrictions apply to most individuals who have visited these areas, irrespective of citizenship or national origin. US citizens, lawful permanent residents, and certain other classes of non-US persons are exempt. See Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the United States on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for more information.

Travel within the US may also be subject to local and state restrictions on non-essential movement. Visit the city, county, and state websites of areas where you may be traveling to learn about these restrictions. Unless your intended travel is urgent and essential, you should stay where you are. This is for your own safety and the safety of those around you.

Additional details about international travel restrictions, travel-related health notices, and port-of-entry screening procedures can be found on the following sites:

US Department of State:                                      
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 
U.S. Customs and Border Protection:                  

New J-1 Scholar Arrivals:  Every new scholar needs to check in with the J-1 Responsible Officer in OIPS and receive orientation materials.  This is part of your responsibility for maintaining your J-1 legal status in the United States.  Please e-mail for instructions.

J-1 Program Extensions: For Exchange Visitor students and scholars whose programs may be ending but who cannot return home at this time, the US Department of State has authorized some flexibility with respect to program extensions.  Please consult with a member of the J-1 advising staff in OIPS if you need a program extension.

Mailing Documents to OIPS: To increase safety for students and staff during COVID-19, pick-up and drop-off services are not available. We will continue to give and receive documents by other methods.  We cannot accept delivery of your EAD card from USCIS. Do NOT use the OIPS address as the mailing address on your OPT application. Consider setting up a P.O. Box at USPS:

Connecting with OIPS Advisors: OIPS is currently delivering services virtually. Because of the health emergency, to protect both staff and students, our offices in Fairfax and Arlington are not open to walk-in visitors.  Advisors will be available for virtual appointments. Please call OIPS to schedule an appointment or ask a question. You can reach the OIPS receptionist at 703-993-2970 on weekdays (Monday-Friday) from 9.30 am-noon, and from 1.30 – 4.00 p.m.

If you have more specific, detailed questions, please send an email to us:

  • For Appointments and General Questions:                  
  • F-1 Status Questions:                                                   
  • J-1 Student Questions:                                                 
  • J-1 Scholar Questions:                                                 
  • OPT Questions:                                                           
  • Events/Activities/Orientation:                                       
  • New Student I-20 Questions:                                      
  • INTO Mason Visa Questions:                                      
  • Mason Faculty H-1B Questions:                                  
  • Mason Faculty LPR & Invoices: