COVID-19 FAQ for Viterbi International Students
Updated July 23, 2021
I understand your aspirations, your tenacity, and your dreams. We will continue pursuing all possible avenues and options to ensure that your education and degree progress will be affected as minimally as possible by the unprecedented pandemic and the ensuing actions.
2021 Summer/Fall First Semester Student
We plan to resume a normal range of campus activities in the Fall, though with some measures to reduce density where needed. Overall, we expect primarily in-person classes and resumption of most student life activities. To accommodate the possibility of some students attending remotely — those with a medical accommodation from the Office of Student Accessibility Services or who are unable to travel to the United States because of visa or travel restrictions — we want to share that nearly all Fall 2021 Viterbi courses will be available for both in-person and remote attendance.
Please see the letter from Dean Yortsos.
We were recently informed that visa F-1 appointments are now open in India and students do not need a Visa Emergency support letter. Upon reading this information on this website, if you would still like to request a Visa Emergency support letter from Viterbi, please submit a request for the Visa Emergency Support letter by following this link (password is: visa2021). Please submit only one request per student. Submitting multiple requests will only delay processing. The VASE office reviews requests once a week. Requests received by 5pm (PST) on Monday are processed and letters are issued the following Tuesday by 5pm (PST).
For Master's students ONLY: During your interview, if you were asked about your advisor's information, please clarify that your program is course-based, research is only optional towards the end of the program. You would not engage in research in your first semester, so you were not assigned any research advisor yet. You can also print a program page from the USC catalogue to show to the officer. For example, the page for MS Applied Data Science is the following (please search for your own program on the catalogue): https://catalogue.usc.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=12&poid=13441&returnto=4257
If you are still asked to provide research advisor’s information after the interview, please contact us at with the notice you received from the interview at email@example.com
ISE and ITA Exam: The International Student English (ISE) Exam and International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Exam are free placement exams given to assess the English proficiency of international students at USC.
To find out if you are required to take the exams, check your letter of admission or I-20. Registrations are open now! After you sign up, you will receive more detailed instructions regarding taking the exams online. Students are either released from any ALI requirement (ALI 01 hold) or receive an ALI placement based on the exam results.
All new international students are required to complete Passport Verification (PPV) with the Office of International Services (OIS) before they can register for classes.
Please check detailed steps to remove or temporarily lift the STU 50 hold on OIS website.
Questions regarding PPV requirements? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
USC does not defer admission, but you can have your application updated within one year of your original application term. Admission is not guaranteed, and updating your application requires review and admission for the new term. Please email the following information to the Viterbi Graduate Admission team(email@example.com) to request the update
- Student name and USC ID
- Date of birth
- The major you want to update admission term
Yes, you can have access to classes online and graduate in your home country.
*USCIS requires students to be in the U.S. to apply for OPT.
As of spring 2021, as long as continuing students enroll in a full course load and maintain their immigration status, USC keeps their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records active even if they are outside the United States for more than five months.
Guidelines for Fall 2021 will be available soon.
For students who were admitted to Fall 2020 and/or Spring 2021 and took coursework online outside of the United States during the COVID-19 emergency:
In order to provide you a new I-20 for the semester you intend to arrive in Los Angeles for on-campus coursework, please make sure you complete this I-20 request form. Please make sure you follow the instructions on the from and complete it as soon as possible as it is a necessary step for USC to create your new I-20. If you have questions about the I-20 process, please contact USC Graduate Admission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RCL - CPT - OPT
You can enroll in the online courses if you are outside of the U.S..
Current regulations state that you must be present in the United States when submitting your Optional Practical Training (OPT) and OPT STEM applications. You cannot mail your application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from abroad. You must be present in the United States at the time USCIS issues a receipt number to acknowledge acceptance of your packet.
The application requires an I-94 number, which is only valid while you are in the United States. If you depart the United States, you will not have a valid I-94 and your application will likely be rejected. If you are able to re-enter the United States before your I-20 program end date, you can apply for OPT up to 60 days after the program end date listed on your I-20.
USC and other universities have made this issue known to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and have urged the agency to provide special accommodations for OPT application rules due to the COVID-19 situation. We will share any updates as soon as they become available.
Health & Safety
Please check out the following websites from USC Student Health for related requirements: