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Information and FAQ for students facing visa processing delays

(Updated June 16, 2021)

Stanford expects to return to an in-person academic experience for fall 2021. This is based on rapidly improving public health conditions; increasing vaccination rates among Stanford faculty, staff and students, exceptionally low on-campus prevalence of COVID-19, and the university’s COVID-19 testing and safety protocols.

This of course will depend upon the trajectory of the pandemic and the public health rules in effect this fall. But our current expectation is that we will be returning to an in-person academic experience. Undergraduates who plan to enroll at Stanford for the fall quarter therefore should plan to be on campus, in person.

We realize that some new and returning international students are facing delays in visa processing preventing them from coming to the United States. Stanford is working to provide support and information through the Bechtel International Center for students in this frustrating and stressful situation. Below is the latest information about Stanford’s policies affecting admitted and returning international students.

Current guidance

Newly enrolling and returning graduate students: Since our academic programs and the nature of graduate students’ research and education activities are so varied, we are asking schools and departments to work with international graduate students on a case-by-case, program-by-program basis to determine what is possible for the fall quarter if they are affected by visa delays. Those students who are facing visa processing delays should contact their degree program staff and faculty for information specific to their academic situation. Please feel free to contact the Bechtel staff for any additional guidance.

Newly enrolling undergraduates: For new international undergraduates who are unable to arrive in person for the fall quarter due to visa delays, we expect to provide two options: (1) Students in this situation may choose to defer their enrollment for one year. (2) Students in this situation who wish to proceed with enrolling may do so virtually and can take a limited set of frosh courses that will be available online during the fall quarter and can be completed from abroad. We will not be able to offer a great deal of choice, but these courses will support meaningful academic progress until you can arrive in person for the winter quarter. We expect to have more information about these offerings in the early summer. When the winter quarter begins, we’ll also work to provide a supportive and welcoming “cohort” experience for students arriving on campus one quarter late due to these visa processing delays.

Returning undergraduates: We know that some currently enrolled undergraduates who are physically away from Stanford may also be facing visa processing delays in certain countries. As our faculty return to in-person instruction, due to the wide variety of undergraduate courses Stanford offers, we do not expect to be able to offer online courses broadly. If a visa delay prevents you from arriving at Stanford for the fall quarter, you will be able to take a leave of absence and arrive at Stanford for the winter quarter. We will allow you as much time as possible to make this determination; a leave of absence can be taken without financial penalty up until the beginning of the fall quarter. You also will have guaranteed on-campus housing when you arrive at Stanford in the winter quarter. For any students who need three consecutive quarters of enrollment for eligibility for post-graduation employment, you will have the option of enrolling in the winter, spring and summer quarters of the upcoming year.

For all students: With our peer institutions, Stanford continues to express to Congress and the federal administration our concerns with federal policies that negatively affect international students, including these visa delays. We sincerely hope that those who are currently experiencing delays will see improvement in the situation soon. Both the Bechtel International Center and the Office of Undergraduate Admission will continue to provide as much support as possible to international students who are confronting these challenging issues. Please be in touch with any questions you have.

FAQs | New & Continuing International Undergraduates

If I’m a continuing international undergraduate who can’t get back to campus because of a visa delay in my country, how do I take an LOA?

  • As a continuing student, you can take a Leave of Absence.

  • You’re normally allowed 8 quarters of leave total during your Stanford career. These can either be taken continuously or spread out over a period of time.

  • For more details on submitting an LOA please visit this website.

What other resources are available for international undergraduates? Can I still meet with my advisor if I’m taking a LOA?

  • A great resource for all undergraduate students is the Advising Student Handbook which addresses most of the academic advising issues that a Stanford student might encounter. You can also continue to meet with your Academic Advisor while on an LOA.

What if I’m a continuing student and still not able to get back to campus for winter quarter due to visa issues?

  • If you are unable to return to campus for winter quarter, you can extend your LOA.

If I’m a new student and can’t get to campus in winter quarter due to visa issues, what do I do?

  • If you are an incoming student and cannot return to campus for winter, you will need to file a Leave of Absence (for LOA process details, see above.)

Can I arrive mid-quarter and transition to in-person courses?

  • No. A student will need to wait until the winter quarter to move back to campus.

When is the deadline to submit a Leave of Absence or take a Gap Year?

  • The deadline to submit a Leave of Absence and receive a full refund is the first day of the quarter (September 20, 2021).

  • The deadline to request a Gap Year (available to frosh and new transfers only) is July 1, 2021. Please contact the Office of Undergraduate Admission through your specific Admissions Counselor or by writing to request a Gap Year.

What if I begin the quarter remotely but it's not working out for me?

  • You can submit a Leave of Absence and get a prorated tuition refund.

Can I take courses in my home country this fall and transfer credit to Stanford when I’m able to return?

  • Yes, it might be possible to transfer credit to Stanford from an international institution. Students requesting transfer credit evaluation(s) of course work completed at an international institution after enrolling at Stanford should refer to the Bing Overseas Study Program Transfer Credit Request Page.

  • Students requesting transfer credit for courses taken outside of the United States prior to enrolling at Stanford must submit all of the below information along with the Transfer Credit Evaluation Request eForm in order for an evaluation to be completed and any eligible credit to be awarded. Please note that all documentation must be in the English language (or all documentation must have a certified English translation).

    • Course syllabi for all requested courses

    • Level of course work (transfer credit can only be awarded for courses that are equivalent to undergraduate level work)

    • The institution's grading scale / system. Note: if a course has a 'P' or 'Pass' grade listed, then the grading scale must explicitly state what the minimum grade is to earn a passing grade. Pass grades are accepted only for courses for which the standard of passing is 'C-' (or better) quality work

    • The minimum number of credits required to complete the undergraduate program at the institution (this must be from an official source, such as a course catalog)

    • The institution's credit system (quarter, ECTS, semester)

    • The institution's accreditation (must be officially recognized)

Can I just take a flex quarter in the fall? Will those still be an available option in the 2021-22 academic year?

  • No, taking a flex quarter is not going to be an option for undergraduate students in the 2021-2022 academic year.

This site will continue to be updated to reflect any changes to current visa delays or to updates to public health guidance that impact the policies described above.