Medical

*The following has been extracted from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) webpage. Please continue to monitor the following site for updates regarding the COVID-19 situation: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC

Q: Am I at a higher risk than others?

A: According to the CDC, “Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more severe complications from COVID-19.”

For more information, consult the following: People Who Need to Take Extra Precautions | CDC

Q: I am feeling sick but don’t know whether or not I have the COVID-19. How should I proceed? Do I need to get tested?

A: Not everyone needs to get tested. If you think you may be sick, stay home and consult your healthcare provider on the need for testing. 

The CDC states the following: “If you have a fever or cough, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider immediately.” 

For more information, consult the following: What to Do If You Are Sick

(The site also includes a “self-checker” tool to assist you in making the appropriate medical decisions.)

Q: When would need to I immediately seek medical attention? 

A: If you have a medical emergency, call 911 and notify the operator that you have/might have COVID-19.  Seek medical attention immediately if you develop any of the “emergency warning signs” outlined by the CDC. 

Please view the following page for more information: When to Seek Medical Attention 

Q: What are my options for getting tested?

A: “CDC has provided guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians. COVID-19 testing differs by location. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your medical provider first. You can also visit your state or local health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing. While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested. “

Consult the following for more details: Testing for COVID-19

Q: What if I might be in need of medical care in the future but do not know if I have health insurance?

A: Receiving medical care should always be held paramount. However, it is to be noted that all international students studying in the US are mandated to have health insurance. This is generally provided through one’s university itself so it is recommended that you check your status with your university. The closure of on-campus operations should not affect the validity of your health insurance policy.


Immigration

Q: I am completing my current academic program at my university this semester? What are my options?

A: F-1 students are entitled to a grace period of 60 days after they complete their academic program. The following advice consists of three options you can choose from after you graduate.

  1. You can start a new academic program at either your existing institution or at a different institution of your choosing in the Fall 2020 term. While you wait for your new classes to begin, you can remain in the US.
  2. You can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). You must be physically present in the US to apply and can remain in the country while your application is processing, even if your 60 day grace period has expired.
  3. You can choose to depart the US during the 60 day grace period. 

Q: My OPT or STEM OPT period will end soon and I will not be exceeding the limits of unemployment. How long can I remain in the United States? 

A: OPT / STEM OPT participants who do not exceed the limits of unemployment receive a 60 day grace period. During this grace period, students can prepare to leave the United States, prepare to start a new academic program at the participant’s existing institution or a different school (you must start classes within 5 months of OPT end date), or submit a Change of Status application to the federal government. 

Q: What if I can’t depart the U.S. by the end of my 60 day grace period?

A: It is strongly recommended that you depart the U.S. as close to the end of your 60 day grace period as possible. You may also choose to submit a Change of Status application to the federal government if they cannot return home for months. 

Q: I may exceed the 90 day limit on unemployment for OPT. What can I do?

A: During the first 12 months of post-completion OPT, students can work or volunteer to satisfy the government’s “employment” requirements. For activities to count as “employment”, they must be directly related to a student’s major field of study, and amount to more than 20 hours per week. 

If you aren’t able to find a qualifying position, it is strongly recommended that you leave the United States as close as possible to the 90th day, or inform your collegiate institution about your intent to start a new academic program there or at a different school 2 weeks before your 90th day of unemployment (must start classes within 5 months of 90th day of unemployment). You may also choose to submit a Change of Status application to the federal government. 

Q: Can I still work from home if I am on OPT/STEM OPT?

A: Yes, as long as you maintain an employee-employer relationship with your employer.

Q: Has the federal government changed its limits for unemployment for either OPT or STEM OPT?

A: No, and there is no current indication of it doing so. The unemployment limit for OPT is still 90 cumulative days and the unemployment limit for STEM OPT is still 150 total cumulative days, including the first 12 months of OPT. 

Q: I am staying in the US but my visa is expiring. Will my situation affect my OPT application?

A: As long as you remain in the US and have a valid I-20 status, having an expired visa will have no effect on your OPT application.

Embassy Information

Q: Can I still travel to and/or within India?

A: No. The government of India has extended its lockdown till May 3, 2020, thereby all suspending international as well as domestic commercial passenger flights.

Q: I would like to contact the Indian consulate. How should I proceed?

A: If you wish to get in touch with the Indian embassy, please consult the table below to locate the nearest consulate near you, where you will find its phone number and hours of operation included.

LocationStates CoveredPhone #Timings
Washington DCDE,DC,KY,MD,NC,VA,WV (202)-939-98889:30am-1pm, 2pm-6pm (EST) 
Chicago, ILIL,IN,IA,MI,MN,MO,ND,SD,WI(312)-595-0405OCI queries between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm
New York, NYCT,ME,MA,NH,NJ,NY,OH,PA,RI,VT (212)-774-0600 or (212)-774-0699 for after hoursOCI from 2pm-4pm, General Inquiries between 9:00am and 5:30pm 
San Francisco, CAAK,AZ,CA,GU,HI,ID,MT,NV,OR,UT,WA,WY(415)-668-0662, Extension for OCI is 1709:30am-11:00am, 4:00-5:00pm 
Houston, TXAR,KS,LA,OK,TX,NM,CO,NE(713)-871-1727- OCI only or (713)-626-3153 for general consul 2:00pm-4:00pm for OCI only, 
Atlanta, GAAL,FL,GA,MS,PR,SC,TN,VI  (404)-963-590210:00am to 12:30pm 

*Please refer to the following page for more information about the Indian Embassy’s advisory regarding the COVID-19 situation: Advisory for Indian Nationals in USA – COVID 19 (Update: 15 April 2020)