My classes are being shifted from on-ground to on-line because of COVID-19. How will this affect my F-1 status?
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has indicated that because of the Pandemic,
F-1 students will maintain their status even if their on-ground courses are shifted to an on-line format or other remote delivery.
As an F-1 Student can I take more than one online course?
In Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Federal Regulations now allow international students to take as many online courses as they wish.
Can I take the rest of my on-campus classes online from my home country?
We recommend that you remain in California. However, if you wish to return to your home country, you can continue to participate in your classes remotely and maintain your F-1 Visa status. Online courses and classes that have shifted from on ground to remote modality will continue to be offered on line
through the end of the spring 2020 semester.
In response to moving all classes online for spring, summer and fall 2020, will Santa Monica College issue tuition refunds? If not, why not?
Under the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Monica College has ensured that students can continue their education by transitioning all courses and services online. Students are still in contact with the same distinguished faculty and continue to earn credits toward graduation.
While the alternative teaching and learning methods we have had to put in place are certainly different from a traditional in-person campus environment, we hope students understand that continuing their education is the college’s top priority.
Our Faculty, administrators and student staff will serve students throughout the spring, summer and fall semesters remotely.
SMC students continue to have access to many services covered by their tuition and fees, including technology enhancements made to help virtual learning a possibility. The International Education Center provides a full complement of services to international students; The Center for Wellness and Wellbeing offers remote appointments; The SMC Library continues to offer online support for students; The Health and Wellness center provides assessments, follow-up care, and referrals via telehealth; and the college’s Tutoring and Counseling services are available through a variety of remote platforms. These vital services supported by tuition and student fees are ongoing and require continued support.
If I drop below 12 units because I prefer not to take my on-ground courses on-line due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will this affect my F-1 status?
F-1 students must remain enrolled full-time or must be approved for Reduced Course Load in order to maintain their F-1 status. Students may request a Reduced Course Load (RCL) by emailing a counselor in the International Education Center at
smc.edu/AskIECC. Students who remain in the U.S. must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 units if they have been approved for RCL.
I am thinking of Withdrawing from all my classes and returning home. What should I do?
Before you decide to drop your courses and return home, please be aware that the new guidelines from the Federal Government
allow you to stay in your online courses, return to your home country AND
still maintain your F-1 Visa status.
This option will allow you to gain credits in the spring semester that will count toward your graduation and maintain your F-1 Visa status even if you return home. When the travel restrictions are lifted, you can use your valid F-1 Status to return to the U.S. and resume your studies in the summer or fall semesters without having to re-apply.
This option will also keep you eligible for on campus employment, Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (OPT).
If you decide to withdraw from your courses, contact the IEC counselors at
As an F-1 student, If I withdraw from my spring 2020 semester and return home, do I have to re-apply? If I have to re-apply, do I have to pay the application fee again?
If you will be out of the country for fewer than 5 months, you will NOT need to reapply. Simply send a message in
iApp to let us know your plans and your Admissions Coach will guide you as to the next steps in your process.
If you will be out of the country for 5 months or longer, you will need to reapply. Please send a message in
The application fee will be waived if you have to re-apply due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
I am thinking of going home for spring break or for summer break. Will I be able to return to the U.S. after my break?
We do not advise you to travel outside of California at this time because this situation is fluid and we cannot be sure of what travel restrictions may be in place when you want to return. It is possible, even likely, that you may not be able to return to California if you depart now.
The campus is closed to students. How can I get help from a Counselor or from an Immigration Specialist without coming to campus?
F-1 students can receive assistance from IEC Counselors by filling out a request at
smc.edu/AskIECC or by telephoning
1-310-434-4218. Counselors are available via email, phone, chat or Zoom.
F-1 students can receive assistance from IEC Staff, including Immigration Specialists, Health Insurance Specialist, Package Program Specialist, Housing Specialist and other assistance by e-mailing
IntlEd@smc.edu, or by telephoning
What if I don’t have a computer or access to Wi-Fi? How can I participate in my class?
Please contact your instructors immediately. Computer and WI-FI resources may be made available to you.
Will the graduation ceremony still take place in June?
Unfortunately, we will not be able
to host an in-person graduation ceremony in June, however the College is
currently exploring all options for a remote ceremony. We will send out further
information when it is available.
What if I am sick and cannot continue in my online classes?
If you are sick and cannot continue to participate in your online courses, please contact the International Education Center at
IntlEd@smc.edu to inquire about a Medical Reduce Course Load option.
Please refer to the Health Insurance questions below for more information on seeking medical help.
Does the college health insurance (Relation) cover COVID-19?
The Relation health insurance covers all COVID-19 treatment that is medically necessary and prescribed by a doctor.
Will my Relation health insurance cover COVID-19 testing if I do not have any symptoms?
No. Testing, if you do not have symptoms, is not considered medically necessary at this time. All services must be considered medically necessary and prescribed by a doctor in order to be covered under the insurance plan.
If I choose to take my on-campus classes online and return home, can I still use my Health Insurance in my home country?
YES. Your health insurance will cover your doctor visits while you’re in your home country with the same in-network cost share that you experience in the U.S.
This means medically necessary treatment will be covered at the in-network level of benefits subject to any in-network deductible, coinsurance and co-payments.
If you receive treatment in your home country, please submit a completed claim form along with a copy of the bill to Wellfleet. Claims forms are located at
studentplanscenter.com. Please scroll to the forms page.
What do I need to know before visiting a doctor’s office?
During the COVID-19 pandemic and until further notice, International Students are not required to call Student Health Services for a referral before visiting their doctor.
If you need medical care, please read below:
you have any questions about your health insurance, your coverage, or a
bill you have received, please feel free to contact us at Intled@smc.edu.
Please Note: Student Health Services is open virtually providing telehealth for all SMC students. Students can receive referrals, health consultation, health education, and illness prevention via telephone or zoom by a nurse or nurse practitioner.
Student Health Services is open from 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached at
310-434-4262. Students who leave a message within business hours will receive a call back that day. Students who leave a message after hours, will receive a call back the next business day.
What should I do if I have to return to my home country?
Please contact an International Education Counselor at
smc.edu/AskIECC or by telephoning
1-310-434-4218 immediately. See information elsewhere in this FAQ for instructions about returning to SMC in the future.
What activities will take place?
Reinstatement workshops and employment workshops will be offered online. Details will be posted on the IEC web page as they become available.
In-person social activities have been cancelled or postponed. On-line social activities are currently being planned. Information will be shared with you once details are confirmed.
How do I request a verification letter?
Please complete, sign, and submit the
Request for Verification Letter form to
email@example.com from your SMC email address. We cannot accept typed signatures: please print the paper and sign it.
If you are submitting a form to be completed, please select ‘Attached Form’ and submit the form you would like completed along with the verification letter request form.
Sign up to receive your letter
via Express shipping. Using your SMC ID number. Pay for your order and email your order number, name, and SMC ID number to
firstname.lastname@example.org from your SMC email address.
Note that verification letter requests take up to 10 business days for processing, and we will finish each request as soon as possible. You will receive an email to your SMC student email account when your request is completed.
What do I do if I need a travel signature?
Federal regulations now allow I-20s with travel signatures to be sent to students electronically by email.
To obtain a travel signature for your I-20, you will need to do the following:
Please complete the
I-20 Travel Signature Request Form
Email the Travel Signature Request to the International Education Center (IEC) at
IntlEd@smc.edu from your SMC student email.
IEC will reissue and send you a new I-20 with a valid travel signature electronically through your SMC student email account.
Print all three pages of your I-20 and Sign it.
Print the SEVP regulations sheet that was included in the email you received. Have these regulations with you when you reenter the U.S.
Please Note: An I-20 is not required to depart the US. Our processing time may take up to 2 weeks due to the high volume of travel signature requests that we are processing.
Important: You may use this I-20 to reenter the U.S. for the summer or fall as long&
as you have maintained your F-1 status during the spring 2020 semester. To Maintain your F-1 Status for the spring 2020 semester, you must be enrolled in 12 credits or be approved for a Reduced Course Load (RCL). You can maintain your status even if you have left the U.S. so long as you complete your remote and online courses.