Graduate FAQs Related to COVID-19

We are here to support you! Please check back often. Answers will be updated as the situation evolves.

COVID-19 IMPACTS at University at Buffalo

What is the current situation at UB regarding COVID-19?

At this time UB is open and fully operational and courses will be offered online for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. For specific details on University operations and policies, please visit the University at Buffalo COVID-19 FAQs webpage, our official channel of COVID-19 communication for the entire University community. You can also visit the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s COVID-19 Information webpage for school specific updates.

How is COVID-19 affecting students’ lives who are planning to attend UB?

Admitted students have shared with us their fear of not being able to make it to Buffalo in time to start their academic program. We understand that it may be hard to make plans for your arrival in Buffalo. As we receive information from various authorities like the U.S. Federal Government, New York State and the University at Buffalo, we are committed to sharing it with you in a timely and transparent manner through multiple communications channels.

Will 2020 semester start dates be impacted by COVID-19?

At present, we have made no changes to the university academic calendar. The university is anticipating regular enrollment for summer or fall 2020. However, these are extraordinary circumstances and it is possible that will change between now and August. If any changes occur that impact your specific program, we will be in contact directly with you via email regarding enrollment options. In addition, we will share information via our FAQ and email.                                                                                                  

Course Format and Enrollment

Will courses now be distance education/online learning or on-campus?

Currently, fall 2020 courses are scheduled to be delivered in their original format. Summer 2020 has moved to a distance learning model. If any changes occur that impact your specific program, we will be in contact directly with you via email regarding enrollment options.

If we are unable to join UB in August, will UB allow us to take online classes to begin our program and then join UB after restrictions are lifted?

We admit students from many countries, but not all countries may lift COVID-19 restrictions at the same time, so we are currently evaluating all options for admitted students to begin their program on time. We are looking at both partial and full distance learning possibilities. If any changes occur that impact your specific program, we will be in contact directly with you via email regarding enrollment options.

Deferral Process

Can I defer my admission to spring 2021?

Some of our programs have both spring and fall start dates, some have a summer start date, while some of our programs are fall-start only. Please speak with your admissions team to find out if you are eligible for a deferral and what would be your next applicable term for enrollment. As a normal policy, we allow any admitted student to defer admission for one year.

Would I have to go through the application process again if we have to defer admission due to COVID?

No, you would not have to go through the application process again. We can defer your application to the next applicable admissions term.

International Students, I-20s and Visas

Is the university going to send us I-20s?

Due to the national emergency and at the direction of the NYS Governor, SUNY, and UB Human Resources all International Admissions staff are working remotely. Academic review, international admission decisions, immigration review, and creation of I-20 SEVIS records are all being done remotely. At this time, it is not possible to complete the USPS and UPS labeling and courier shipment processes. In addition, we recognize that shipping and mail services in your country may also be disrupted or suspended. As an admitted student, you do have access to see your SEVIS ID Number in the student portal. I-20s will be mailed/couriered as soon as we have access to do so.

When are I-20s issued?

We can begin processing I-20s once we receive your documentation. The timeline for you to receive your I-20 is 3-4 weeks after you submit all required documentation. Be sure to select the “Express Courier” shipping option.

What is the last date to send documents for I20 processing?

We encourage you to submit them as soon as possible. There is no specific deadline for submitting immigration documents. However, we encourage you to complete these steps as soon as possible so that when visa appointments do resume, you have your I-20 in hand.

Can the DS-160 and SEVIS fee be paid now?

Yes, you can complete the DS-160 and pay the SEVIS fee now.

What if I pay the SEVIS fee and complete the DS-160 and admission is deferred?

The I-901 SEVIS fee remains valid regardless of the I-20 start date. If your admission is deferred, UB can also defer the I-20 to a future term. You can visit for more information on the I-901 SEVIS fee.

Many banks are closed due to COVID-19 situation. I am having issues getting bank documents for I-20. What should I do?

We understand the challenge you may have securing appropriate financial documentation due to COVID-19 closures. Please continue to the best of your ability to work to get your bank documents and other I-20 documents as soon as possible. We can begin processing your I20 once we receive all of your required documentation.

Will I be able to apply for a U.S. Visa?

All visa issuance questions should be directed to your local U.S. Consulate office. Visa appointment and issuance are regulated by the U.S. government. Information about visa appointment wait times and news and alerts can be found at the U.S. Department of State website. You can also contact your local U.S. consulate office for specific information about the impact of COVID-19 on visa issuance in your area.

Please note, if you are considering using a private visa documentation processing firm, be aware of their specific calendars as separate from those of the U.S. Department of State or Consulate Offices. It is possible that the private visa processing firms have different availability and dates.

US Visa Appointments are currently suspended indefinitely. When will they begin issuing appointments?

US embassies and consulates have cancelled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. Embassies and consulates will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Students are encouraged to check in with the embassy and consulate regularly to monitor visa appointment changes.

What if I can’t get a visa due to suspension issues and am unable to reach Buffalo by August?

If your arrival in Buffalo is delayed by any COVID-19 related issue, we will continue to inform you of your enrollment options and ask that you work with your admissions team to understand the impacts for your specific program. Please also refer to FAQs on course format, enrollment options and deferral process.

Admissions Documentation

Should I pay my tuition deposit?

Yes, we recommend for all admitted students that you pay your tuition deposit to secure your seat in the incoming class as soon as possible. Should you defer to the next enrollment term, your tuition deposit will be deferred to that term, as well.

What if my school or university is closed and I can’t get my final transcript and proof of degree?

We understand that there may be disruptions in services at other institutions related to COVID-19. We will evaluate each situation and be as flexible and accommodating as possible.

My GRE score is valid until January 2021. I have an admit for fall 2020. In case there are visa issues and I have to come in spring 2021, do I have to take the GRE again?

No, you will not need to retake the GRE in this situation, as you would be an admitted student deferred to the next available term. However, if you decide to apply to a different program than that in which you are admitted, you may need to retake the GRE exam.