Office of International Services closes, goes fully remote

The Office of International Services operates out of locations on both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses. Beginning Saturday, it offers only essential services, including providing visa assistance to international students, answering questions about immigration status and mailing personal documents. (Daily Trojan file photo)

The Office of International Services has closed its physical locations on both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses, the office announced in an email to international students Saturday.

OIS staff will continue to respond to emails sent to the office address, the email read. The office will offer remote services until further notice. In the email, OIS stated it would send international students their immigration documents by mail.

“Although we have planned for the possibility of this change due to COVID-19, our operational plan will continue to evolve in the days ahead,” the email read.

The transition to online instruction has presented unique challenges for international students, who may face difficulty returning home. Students able to vacate their on-campus residences have been encouraged to do so to promote social distancing and slow the spread of coronavirus, but students unable to return to their permanent residences are permitted to remain on campus if they email USC Housing.

The University will continue to support the international student population and offer virtual coursework for students who are unable to return to campus by the time in-person classes resume, Provost Charles Zukoski told the Daily Trojan in an interview.

“If [international] students leave the country and cannot get back, then we are delivering education online,” Zukoski said. “We are committed to supporting [students’] academic progress, so we want the students to know that we’re going to work with them under those circumstances.”

USC’s informational website on coronavirus includes a page of topics relevant to international students, including travel, housing and immigration services. The site recommends international students contact OIS by email to discuss visa status before making plans to return to their home countries.

International students will be permitted to take classes virtually during the remote instruction period, in accordance with the Student Exchange Visitor Program’s policies for non-U.S. citizens enrolled at U.S. schools.