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This page includes information for new and continuing international students about COVID-19 related travel and FAQs at Lehigh.

Travel Advisory

OISS continues to advise that international students and scholars undertake non-essential international travel with caution in light of the ongoing pandemic and related travel restrictions and effects on visa processing at U.S. consulates overseas. Any international travel comes with a risk of you being unable to return to the U.S. due to U.S. consulate closures, the backlog of visa applications, and/or rapidly changing COVID-related restrictions.  You can read the message about Summer 2022 sent to all enrolled international students here.  

 COVID-19 related travel restrictions and protocols are established by the CDC as well as Lehigh's COVID-19 policy, and are subject to change at any time. It is recommended that you review the guidance prior to arranging travel to Lehigh.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact us at

Current Travel Restrictions

Effective at 12:01 AM ET on January 5, 2023, a negative COVID-19 test result from no more than 2 days before departure will be required to board a flight to the U.S. from China, Hong Kong, and Macau.  This requirement applies regardless of nationality and vaccination status, and it also applies to individuals traveling from these locations who are transiting through a third country with a final destination in the United States.  The CDC has posted a detailed announcement about this on their website. Travelers should confirm exact documentation requirements for boarding with their airline.

On December 15, 2022, the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Mission China, posted an alert that U.S. Embassy and Consular Offices in China have suspended all services, except those to handle emergencies for U.S. citizens, and has cancelled scheduled visa appointments.  This action is being taken in response to the COVID-19 surge in China, and no date has been provided as to when services will resume.  If you have an a visa interview appointment scheduled at the U.S. Embassy or one of the U.S. Consulates in China, it is recommended that you contact them via e-mail to confirm if your appointment is still valid.  Individuals with a scheduled appointment should receive an e-mail to notify them if their appointment is canceled.

As of June 12, 2022, a negative COVID-19 test is no longer required to travel to the United States.  See CDC guidance for complete details.  The requirement for proof of vaccination (see below) remains in place.

As of November 8, 2021, all country-specific travel restrictions were lifted, and President Biden issued the Presidential Proclamation titled Advancing Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic. This proclamation requires that all travelers to the United States be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with either an FDA- or WHO-approved vaccine. Limited exemptions are available, and they would primarily apply to incoming students and scholars who are coming from specific countries designated by the CDC as having low access to COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC has issued detailed technical instructions outlining all available exemptions to this mandate along with the list of countries considered for exemption.

This, combined with Lehigh’s requirement that all students, faculty and staff be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 means that you should plan ahead to become fully vaccinated in advance of any planned travel to the United States. OISS recommends that you contact your airline prior to your travel to learn exactly what documentation related to COVID-19 vaccination will be required for you to board your flight to the U.S. If you have questions, please contact

For New International Students

Section 1

How do I apply for my visa?

You can learn about getting a student visa here. Please note that many US Embassies and Consulates continue to offer limited appointments and/or may have COVID-related backlogs.  You should schedule the earliest possible visa appointment at the US Embassy/Consulate that serves you.  If you are unable to schedule an appointment prior to the start of the Spring semester, you should follow the process to request an emergency appointment.  This is typically done through the same system you used to schedule your initial appointment. Approval of emergency appointments is solely at the discretion of the US Embassy/Consulate.

Section 2

What do I need to prepare for my arrival to Lehigh?

You should log in to iHome and complete all steps in your New Student Checklist.  Graduate students should note the Graduate Housing information on Lehigh’s Housing Services website.  Graduate students are responsible for securing their own housing and should make every effort to do this prior to their arrival at Lehigh.

Section 3

What are plans for new student orientation?

Graduate student International orientation will begin on Wednesday, August 10.

Undergraduate student International Orientation will begin with housing check-in on Sunday, August 14 and programming on Monday, August 15.

International Orientation is mandatory for all new international students. Please check your e-mail regularly for updates on Orientation.

Please note that the U.S. is now requiring travelers to the United States be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to traveling to the United States, except for very limited exceptions for students coming from countries with low vaccine access.  If this applies to you, you will be required to quarantine for 7 days upon arrival.  Please plan your travel accordingly so that you will complete your 7-day quarantine before orientation begins.  If this applies to you, please e-mail to notify OISS.

Section 4

Can I take all my courses online remotely instead of coming to campus in Spring 2022?

Lehigh returned to in-person instruction for the Fall 2021 semester. Accommodations for fully remote learning are permitted only in very rare cases, such as students who cannot get visas or students with approved medical accommodations. If this is the case for you, please contact an advisor in OISS and your college as soon as possible to make individual arrangements.

Please keep in mind that Lehigh is not able to pay students for GA/TA/RA positions if they are outside of the U.S.

Section 5

What is the latest that I can arrive on campus for the Fall semester?

Students can enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the start date listed on the I-20/DS-2019.  Students should plan to arrive in time to attend the appropriate International Student Orientation (beginning August 10 for grad students, August 14 for undergraduate students).  All new students must arrive no later than the 10th day of classes, and students who are not arriving by the start of classes (August 22) should notify their College and OISS.  We understand that travel may be challenging for Fall 2022, so we encourage students to arrive earlier in the 30 day arrival window in case of delays.

Section 6

What is the first-year composition test and is it still required during the new student orientation?

The placement essay test will not be given this year. However, you may have English testing during international orientation. 

Immigration and Visa Information

Section 1

If I am applying for a new visa or my first visa, do I need a new I-20?

You will need your SEVIS ID and Lehigh’s school code PHI214F00005000 to complete the DS-160 form. Your SEVIS ID number can be found at the top of your Form I-20, which was sent to you via e-mail once it was issued.  If you have questions about your I-20, contact

You can list OISS (school official) as your contact information in the United States on the DS-160.

Your OISS Advisor's Name as listed on your I-20 (Stephen Deduck, S. Nichole Hunley, or Olga Scarpero)
32 Sayre Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18015


Section 2

Do I need my I-20 in paper form to apply for my visa?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program has allowed OISS to send your I-20 electronically during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has extended this permission permanently.  OISS will send your I-20 to you electronically, and you must print all three pages, sign at the bottom of P. 1 and bring the printed I-20 to your visa appointment.  If you have submitted all of your documents into the New Student Checklist in iHome, please allow OISS 10 business days to review.  If you have not heard from us after 10 business days, please contact to inquire about your I-20.

Section 3

If I already have a visa, what documents do I need to receive from OISS? How do I receive them?

If you already have a valid visa and you are coming to the U.S. for the first time, you will need an updated I-20 from OISS with a new program start date. You can email if you need an updated I-20 

If you already have a valid visa and you are returning to the U.S., you will need a travel signature on your I-20 from OISS that is not more than one year old. You can request a travel signature through iHome using the “I-20/DS-2019 Change or Reprint Request” e-form found under General Services.

Section 4

Do I need to pay the SEVIS fee again?

Your SEVIS I-901 fee is valid for one year. However, fee transfers are available for students who already paid the fee if you reapply for a visa within 12 months from the date of your initial SEVIS fee payment. To check the status of your SEVIS fee, print your payment confirmation, or transfer your fee, visit this page. You can also check the SEVIS I-901 fee FAQ page for more information.We recommend that you pay the SEVIS I-901 fee only if you are certain that your visa appointment will take place. You can pay for it up to the day before your appointment so long as you take the payment receipt with you to your interview. If OISS handled your SEVIS I-901 fee and you need assistance, contact

Section 5

Am I supposed to receive any documents in the mail from OISS to apply for my visa?

No. We are not mailing I-20s at this time. We will issue your I-20 electronically and send it to your Lehigh e-mail via iHome.

Section 6

Do I need to do anything in iHome?

If you are a new student joining Lehigh in Summer or Fall 2022, you should make sure that the New Student Checklist is up to date. You may need to complete some e-forms again. Closer to your arrival date, you should complete the Pre-Arrival and Orientation sections.

Section 7

I’ve already completed the New Student Checklist for a previous semester, but I had to defer my admission. Do I need to submit any new documents to OISS?

In order to receive your updated I-20 for Summer or all 2022, you will need to provide a recent bank statement within six months. The amount should cover the projected cost of attendance for the upcoming academic year. If your source of funding has changed since last year, you will also need to complete an updated Certification of Finances form (pdf). Please note that the bank account holder on the statement should match the name on the COF form. If you are a graduate student who deferred to Summer or Fall 2022, you will also need to provide an updated admissions letter with funding details.

Section 8

Do I need to tell OISS my visa appointment date?

Yes, please tell us your visa appointment date by e-mailing If the appointment is cancelled, let us know as well. If you are able to successfully obtain your visa, please upload a copy of your visa stamp to iHome in the New Student Checklist.


Section 9

Do I need to tell OISS about my travel plans once I book my plane ticket?

Yes! OISS will use this information to help with airport pick-up options.  We suggest that students fly into Newark or JFK (New York) International Airports.  Once you book your flight, please enter your flight infomration in the New Student Checklist in the Visa Stamp and Travel Plans e-form.

COVID-19 vaccine and quarantine Information

Section 1

What COVID-19 restrictions and measures will be in place?

Lehigh will require all undergraduate and graduate students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as part of their required immunizations. Lehigh continues to review national and state guidance in order to make plans for the fall semester. If you would like to stay updated on Lehigh’s COVID information, please visit the Lehigh COVID-19 Information Center. The Lehigh COVID Dashboard provides a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions as well as information about the current campus status. Additionally, you can find information about Pennsylvania’s current infection and vaccination rates here.

Section 2

Can international students receive the vaccine in the U.S.?

With the changes to the travel restrictions, we anticipate that most students will be fully vaccinated upon arrival at Lehigh.  If you qualify for an exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination travel restrictions, the exemption will require that you become fully vaccinated within a limited period of time after you arrive in the U.S.  At this time, all people in the U.S. aged 6 and above are eligible to be vaccinated, regardless of their immigration status.  Please visit the Health and Wellness Center’s COVID-19 Vaccination Resources page for more info

Section 3

If I am arriving at Lehigh from abroad in the fall, will I be required to quarantine and take COVID tests?

Students who have received an authorized vaccine do not need to quarantine upon arrival. Fully vaccinated students should plan get tested three to five days after arrival. 

Students who qualify for an exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination travel restrictions must quarantine for 7 days upon arrival in the U.S. These students should be tested for COVID-19 based on the requirements of their quarantine and travel exemption. Students requiring quarantine should work independently to identify accommodations where they can complete quarantine before arriving on campus. OISS staff will be available as a resource to provide recommendations for hotels or local accommodations, if needed, and we are providing notice now to allow you as much time as possible to make arrangements.

Section 4

I still have questions about the COVID-19 vaccination requirement or COVID-19 testing. Whom should I ask?

Students with individual questions about their personal situation should send the Health and Wellness Center a secure message through the Health Center Portal. This is the best way to get a quick response.

Other Health Information

Section 1

I am a new student. What if I cannot meet all of the (non COVID-19 related) immunization requirements prior to coming to campus?

We understand that all vaccinations (non COVID-19 related) may not be available prior to your arrival. If you are unable to receive ALL required vaccinations, please email the Health and Wellness Center through the Health Center Portal to notify the staff of which vaccinations you will require upon your arrival to campus.

Section 2

How can I enroll in Lehigh’s health insurance? Can I waive it?

All international students must be enrolled in Lehigh’s Student Health Insurance program.  Students beginning in Spring 2022 should e-mail the Bursar’s Office to request an enrollment form.

If you believe that you qualify for a waiver, you must request a health insurance waiver by emailing for approval. OISS will work with the Bursar's Office and there is nothing you need to do further. You can learn more about health insurance enrollment here.