Spring 2021 Information/COVID Guidelines

The Center for Global Engagement is committed to supporting Baylor University's international student and scholar population.  International students and scholars are valuable members of our community and we will assist them in whatever way we can during this time.  This page contains information for new and current (returning) international students and scholars for the Spring 2021 term.  This webpage will be updated as new information becomes available.  If you have questions that are not addressed here or you have unique circumstances that you need to discuss, please email ISSS at ISSS_Support@Baylor.edu.   Last Updated:  December 17, 2020 4:30 AM CST.

DHS Guidance for Spring 2021 UPDATED

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed that the Fall 2020 guidance will continue for Spring 2021 for international student study amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please check below for specific information about Spring 2021 regulations regarding enrollment, online courses, etc.  Also, continue to check your Baylor email for direct messaging, or revisit this website in the near future for further information and guidance.


Spring 2021

COVID Procedures for Spring 2021 for Students Coming to Campus

What are the procedures that international students must follow if  coming from outside of the United States (based on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance)?

1.  Students must have a negative COVID Test 1-3 days prior to departure from their home country (many airlines are requiring this already).  The test MUST be an ANTIGEN or PCR test (using nasal swab or saliva NOT from blood test).  Save your test results to show as proof if necessary.

2.  Students should plan for self-quarantine upon arriving into the U.S.  For self-quarantine and testing guidance, students should follow the information posted on the CDC website under the section entitled “Get Tested and Stay Home After Higher Risk Travel” which has directions for self-quarantine and testing options.  The CDC Webpage is: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html  Also, you should check the state health department for the state where you will do your self-quarantine – each state has its own guidelines.  Remember that guidance changes regularly so please check this information just before you fly to the U.S.

A student who has traveled internationally and fulfilled their 7-day quarantine and completed a negative COVID test during their quarantine after arriving in the U.S. does NOT have to test again before the start of the semester. Students will join the regular surveillance testing program starting the first week of the spring semester.  Students should submit their quarantine test result to Baylor Health Services at health_services@baylor.edu.  If students do not take a test during their quarantine after arrival, they must have a Negative COVID Test within 48 hours (2 days) of coming to campus.  

If you have questions about your testing requirements, you should email the Baylor Health Center with your questions at health_services@baylor.edu.

Baylor does provide a self-quarantine option for those who need it, but students do not have to quarantine with Baylor.  They can also self-quarantine in a hotel or in their off-campus housing. If a student does their quarantine with Baylor, then Baylor will assist the student with obtaining a COVID test during the self-quarantine timeframe. In order to self-quarantine with Baylor, the student must register to use that service.  The earliest a student can start self-quarantine with Baylor is January 6. 

What are the procedures that international students must follow if they have been in the United States and have not traveled international?

  1. Students must have a negative COVID Test 1-3 days before returning to Waco if you have been out of Waco during the holidays. 

  2. Students must have a COVID Test within 48 hours of returning to campus.

*These are the same procedures for Baylor domestic (U.S.) students.  

What do I do if I need Baylor to assist with my self-quarantine requirement?

  • Make your reservation through Baylor ISSS.  If you arrive before Wednesday, January 6, you will be required to self-quarantine on your own and at your own expense. Here is the link to request Self-Quarantine with Baylor:  Quarantine Request Link

  • Baylor Self-Quarantine is available beginning January 6. 

  • You may arrive and begin your self-quarantine between Wednesday, January 6 and Monday, January 18.  The latest you will be allowed to begin your Self-Quarantine is by Monday, January 18.

  • You must self-quarantine for the full time period even if your COVID test comes back negative.

IMPORTANT:  If CDC guidance changes, Baylor may change its procedures as well in order to be consistence with the new guidance.

Traveling to Campus

When will classes begin and end for the Spring 2021 semester?

Classes will begin Tuesday, January 19, 2021.  The last class day will be Wednesday, April 28, 2021.  Final exams will end on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. 

How soon should I travel to Baylor if I am a coming from outside of the U.S.?

While we cannot tell you when to travel, you should pay attention to the various regulations that are impacting travel between other countries and the US. 

You cannot just come to the U.S. any time during the fall semester when you get a visa.  See the next question for more information if you are an initial student.

How early can I arrive to Baylor if I am coming as an initial (new) student? 

As an initial (new) student you are allowed to arrive in the US up to 30 days before the program start date on your I-20.  

Course Requirements During COVID

What is Baylor's institutional model for classes for Spring 2021?

Baylor is using a Hybrid Model for Spring 2021 (face to face and online courses).

What are the current requirements for students who will be in the U.S. for Spring 2021?

  • If circumstances or institutional plans result in students taking all online courses from within the U.S., this appears to be allowed at this time.  This includes students at all academic levels, including Global Gateway Program students.

  • Student information (Frequently Asked Questions) from the U.S. Government states that “students in new or initial status…will not be able to enter the United States to enroll in a U.S. school …for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online.”  This means:  
    • If you are a new/initial student planning to come to Baylor for the spring, you must be enrolled in at least one face to face class (includes Baylor’s hybrid courses) for the spring.  If you are planning to be in the U.S. this spring for courses, please check your schedule to be certain that you do not currently have ALL online courses.  If you do currently have all online courses, please contact your Academic Advisor immediately and request assistance to find at least one face to face or hybrid course.  The updated information also states that if a new student comes to the U.S. and is taking 1 or more face to face classes but then the institution or program moves to all online courses at any time during the semester, the student would NOT have to leave the United States.  The student could remain and complete the semester fully online from inside the U.S. 
    • If you are a new/initial student and plan on taking ALL ONLINE courses for the spring, then you must remain outside of the U.S. for the spring term.

What are the requirements for students who will NOT be in the U.S. for Spring 2021

  • Current Baylor students  - Based on the recent decsion to rescind the guidance, current students who are out of the U.S for the Spring 2021 term will be able to keep their I-20s ACTIVE as long as they maintain full time enrollment.
  • New (Initial Status) students who will be out of the country for spring term will simply have their I-20s deferred (change the dates) to summer (June) or fall term (August) 2021.  This DOES NOT prevent students from taking courses online during fall term from outside of the U.S.   It does impact the student's I-20.
  • New (Transfer) Students who will be out of the country for fall term will not be able to have their new status validated while out of the country.  When the tranfer student decides to return to the U.S. for coursework, the student should contact their Baylor International Student Advisor to have their SEVIS record reactivated. Please contact us for more details or clarifications if you are transferring from a U.S. university or high school but will not be able to be in the U.S. this fall term.

U.S. Visas

When will U.S. Embassies and Consulates continue with student visa appointments?

Many embassies and consulates remain closed at this time and will not schedule visa appointments; however, study visas (F & J) are considered essential travel at this time and many locations will allow students to request an expedited appointment within 60 days of the arrival date on the student’s I-20.

If I have an unexpired F-1 visa stamp in my passport, do I have to get a new visa to go with my Baylor I-20?

No, if your F-1 visa has not expired, you can use it together with your Baylor I-20 to travel to the U.S.          

Travel Bans/Requirements and U.S. Presidential Proclamations

What is the U.S. International Travel Ban and when will it be lifted?  Would traveling from a country that is not on the banned lists help an international student avoid the ban? 

The travel ban affects individuals who have been in certain countries within 14 days of arriving into the U.S.  For more information, please go HERE.  We do not know when the ban will be lifted.  While some international students may choose to travel from a third country, we cannot confirm that this will absolutely help to avoid the ban.

Will the Presidential Proclamation about Chinese Graduate Students impact my ability to return to Baylor?

The proclamation is quite specific and only impacts certain people in certain academic programs.  Here is a link to the proclamation. Please read it carefully to determine whether it relates to you.  We will provide any updates that we receive regarding this matter (Updated 01/26/2021):


Will the Presidential Proclamation regarding specific work-related visas affect F-1 and J-1 visa status students and scholars?   

The proclamation clearly identifies which visa categories are included.  The F visa category is not included in the proclamation and therefore OPT and STEM OPT are not impacted at this time.  While the J visa category is included in the proclamation, the student and scholar/researcher categories are NOT included.  Below is a link to the proclamation. Please read it carefully to determine whether it relates to you.  We will provide any updates that we receive regarding this matter.  https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/25/proclamation-on-the-suspension-of-entry-as-immigrants-and-non-immigrants-of-certain-additional-persons-who-pose-a-risk-of-transmitting-coronavirus-disease/

(Updated: 01/26/2021)


Center for Global Engagement

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Waco, TX 76798

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Waco, TX 76798-7012

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