International Education Program at College of San Mateo - Current Students
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International Education Program

Current Students

CSM World Gala & Graduation Celebration 2020

Enjoy this special virtual presentation on World Cultures, Talents, Fashion & Graduation Celebration.

Health Information


Frequently Asked Questions about F-1 Student Status and Traveling Issues during COVID-19

For all CSM international students who are going to travel outside of the U.S., please complete this CSM international student travel survey.

Q: What does online/distance learning mean to my F-1 status when we return to fall?

A: CSM will continue reporting via the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) for international students who are enrolled online but otherwise maintaining their full-time F-1 status. Based on the pre-July 6th guidance, we anticipate that your F-1 status will remain active should you decide to study remotely from outside the U.S. If you encounter any personal, academic or medical issues that may prevent you from enrolling in 12 units, please make sure to contact ( for assistance immediately. if you are dropped below 12 units and can no longer return to a full-time status, you SEVIS I-20 may be terminated. A terminated SEVIS record means you no longer maintain F-1 status.

Q: Does online learning mean I can take any classes online ?

A: As long as you are enrolled in a minimum of 12 units for the fall semester, you are not required to check if the classes are coded as online or in-person. 

Q: Can I take classes at all three colleges at SMCCD?

A: You are still required to take classes from only 2 colleges in the San Mateo Community College District. To maintain your F-1 status, you must enroll in a minimum of 6 units of courses taught by CSM professors and coded as CSM classes.

Q: Am I going to lose my F-1 status if I leave the U.S.?

A: The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a memo on March 25. Based on the memo, F-1 students were given the permission to temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes elsewhere. On May 21, 2020, the Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19 provided additional clarifications that “the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in Active status during COVID-19.”  In other words, as long as your F-1 student status remains in "Active" status during the spring and fall semester, the 5-month rule does not apply to you. Read the most up-to-date Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19.

Q: If I am going to take online classes from my home country, what would happen to the health insurance fee which was paid with my fall classes?

A: For those of you who have already requested a fund for the fall health insurance fee by the July 14th deadline, you will be contacted by the Cashier Office regarding the request you submitted. If you have not submitted the request, you must complete this International Health Insurance Refund Request as soon as possible.    

Q: What is the last day to leave the U.S. in order for me to receive the health insurance refund?

A: As the fall health insurance coverage begins on August 1st, you should depart the U.S. prior to August 1st to avoid potential issues. Due to travel restrictions related to COVID-19, some unique circumstances may qualify for an exception. If you are not able to leave by August 1st, please contact Aubrey Kuan Roderick ( as soon as possible and no later than Thursday, July 30.  

Q: Would I be able to get the same health insurance coverage for spring if I opt out of the coverage for fall?

A: As long as your refund is requested by the above-mentioned deadline and you do not use the insurance after August 1, you will not have any issues getting the coverage for the spring 2021 semester. 

Q: Do I need to report my trip before leaving the U.S.?

A: Due to the current campus closure, all CSM international students should report their international travel by filling out this CSM international student travel survey

Q: Do I need to get a new signature on my I-20 before leaving the U.S.?

A: A travel signature on your I-20 is not required to depart the U.S. Due to the current college closure, we will not be able to physically sign your I-20 at this time. For those who have a signature signed within the last 6 months or so, we’d ask you to review the date it was signed first. If you have a signature that will still be valid upon your re-entry (each signature is valid for 1 year), you do not need a new signature. If you are going to transfer to a 4-year university or another community college at the end of the fall semester, please contact the new school to inquire about getting your new I-20. If you are not returning to CSM to resume coursework, we will not provide you with a new travel signature on your I-20 at this time. 

Q: I checked my I-20 and verified that I need a new travel signature so that I can return to CSM.  What should I do?

A: According to the most recent update published on March 26, 2020 by the The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, schools now can provide electronic I-20 travel signatures to students via email. If you do need a new travel signature, we ask you to first complete the CSM international student travel survey  A staff member will contact you in the following business day after your travel signature request is received. 

Q: How would I know if I am allowed to re-enter the U.S.? 

A: Due to travel restrictions are constantly evolving and current regulations are subject to change, we encourage you to continue monitoring the following websites to ensure your safe return to the U.S. while planning your travel accordingly.
Q: What F-1 student documents should I prepare in order to re-enter the U.S.? 

Please make sure to have ALL of the following F-1 travel documents before returning to the U.S. Make sure to carry documents with you in carry-on luggage, NOT in your checked baggage! You need access to your visa documents at all times including on a transit flight. 
  • Passport (must be valid at least 6 months beyond your re-entry date)
  • F-1 visa (must be valid when re-entering the U.S.)
  • SEVIS Form I-20 (must have a program end date beyond your re-entry date on page 1 of your I-20--see sample below and must have a valid travel signature on page 2 of your I-20--see sample below)
      I-20 page 1         I-20 page 2

It is also recommended to review the re-entry requirements and prepare the following supporting documents when re-entering the U.S.
  • Your SMCCD class schedule and academic transcripts (you may print out from your WebSMART account) 
  • I-901 Fee payment receipt (you may print out from this website)
  • Your financial support documents provided by the sponsor whose name is listed on your I-20 
Q: Do you have any information regarding inspection of personal phone and social media accounts I should know about when re-entering the U.S.?

A: Given the current U.S. immigration climate, you should be prepared for the possibility of increased scrutiny at the U.S. port of entry and/or inspection of your phone or social media. Please b
e aware that U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) Officers may question your purpose for entering the U.S., your planned activities in the U.S., and/or information about your academic program. 
  • If you are questioned, you should remain calm and answer the questions honestly and succinctly. What NOT to say: Jokes about terrorism or anything that is in violation of breaking U.S. laws including drugs, alcohol and gun ownership.

  • Preparing Your Electronic Devices: CBP Officers may also ask questions about your electronic devices or inspect them. This may include all of your social media accounts. For tips on how to prepare your devices, read this article published by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Finally, we also ask you to keep a close contact with the Center for Global Engagement when planning your travel schedule to return to the U.S. Please make sure to email ( once you determine the date of your return to the U.S.  We will make sure to provide you with the most up-to-date information to ensure your safe return.

For additional questions and concerns, please contact Aubrey Kuan Roderick, Program Manager by email at