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COVID-19 FAQs for International Students and Scholars

What are Bechtel’s hours?

Bechtel is currently closed for traffic due to the shelter in place order. Individuals with documents to pick-up will be sent an email with instructions on how to arrange to have documents mailed.  We are temporarily moving to advising primarily by email. Additional advisors are now dedicated exclusively to answering emails.  If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us via email at

We are also currently offering very limited phone and zoom advising in order to allow student advisors to answer the very high volume of emails we are receiving now as quickly as possible.  Please read through FAQs posted on our website as well as on Health Alerts. If you still find your question unanswered, you can email or you can make an appointment to speak to a student advisor.

I may need to take a Leave of Absence  for spring quarter and go back home. What is the deadline for submitting the LOA form?

The deadline for submitting the Leave of Absence (LOA) is April 13 in order to receive a full refund. You must email Bechtel at BEFORE requesting a LOA. You can find more information here.

What should I do if I cannot avoid international travel?

If international travel is unavoidable, please register your travel here and make sure you have a valid travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019. You do not need a valid travel signature on your visa document to depart the U.S., only to re-enter. Please request a new I-20/DS-2019 with a travel signature here. Please note that the Bechtel International Center cannot advise on individual travel situations.

It is difficult to know at this point in time, when you will be able to return to the U.S. because of border closings (if you do travel internationally). Currently the U.S. borders are closed to many foreign nationals.  Please check the Department of State website to see how you may be impacted.  The other issue that may be applicable to some is visa renewals. If you travelled internationally and your visa stamp has expired, please also know that U.S. consular services have been suspended temporarily worldwide.

If I do travel internationally, will they record the virtual classes so that I can watch them in my time zone?

Requirements for synchronous attendance and availability of recorded lectures will vary from course to course. If materials available online are not clear about the structure and requirements of the course, please contact your instructor. To get information on how you can attend classes online using zoom, please go to Learn Anywhere.

What should I do if I am an international student in the U.S. and exposed to COVID-19?

Call the Vaden Health Center at 650-498-2236 if you are experiencing symptoms. You may be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Will my visa be impacted if I am out of the country for more than 5 months?

If you enroll  full time for Spring Quarter and attend classes virtually, then your visa status should not be impacted by being outside the country.  This is true even if you do not re-enter the U.S. until Fall Quarter.

I still need to apply for OPT. Can I do this outside the US?

You must be physically present in the U.S. at the time you mail your Optional Practical Training (OPT) application to USCIS.   Bechtel will continue to process OPT applications requests submitted in Axess, and will email you about when to pick up your I-20. We will also provide guidance on assembling your OPT application and mailing your application to the USCIS. Please find more information here about OPT and please refer to our OPT videos for both an overview of the process and specific instructions on completing the application.

I am going to be living with family friends off-campus instead of staying on campus during the break and the beginning of Spring Quarter. Do I need to report my change of address?

Yes. You are required to notify Bechtel by updating your address change in Axess within 10 days of moving. Please follow the instructions to do so here

I have many questions  and concerns about my academic program as well as about housing and dining options.  Who should I reach out to?

You will find many answers here: 
For undergraduates: Information for undergraduates - Health Alerts
For graduate students: Information for graduate students and postdocs - Health Alerts