Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19

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General Information

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

During this challenging time, we know you have questions about how the coronavirus (COVID-19) could impact your impending enrollment, especially if you are traveling to us. If you are planning to enroll in a College of Arts and Sciences program in summer 2020, fall 2020 or spring 2021, we want you to know that we are busy preparing and planning an impactful academic experience for you, and eagerly awaiting your arrival. However, as of March 17, 2020, we are not taking in-person meetings, appointments, walk-ins or information sessions. We have moved to a fully virtual system for all conversations, recruiting activities, information sessions and events.

For any questions not addressed in this FAQ, contact us directly:

  • For prospective MA/MS and doctoral students, send an email to
  • For all conversations after your initial email, subsequent conversations may take place by telephone, WhatsApp, WebEx, Zoom and/or other digital means of communication.
  • Visit our Admissions Calendar often to see our list of 2020 events. We will be adding more daily.

COVID-19 Impact at the University at Buffalo

What is the current situation at UB regarding COVID-19?
At this time, the University at Buffalo is open and fully operational, and courses are being offered online for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. We are evaluating academic options for the summer and fall 2020 terms. For specific details on university operations and policies, visit the University at Buffalo COVID-19 FAQs webpage, the official channel of COVID-19 communication for the entire UB community.

How is COVID-19 affecting students’ lives who are planning to attend UB?
Admitted students have shared with us their concern over not being able to make it to Buffalo in time to start their academic program. We understand that it may be difficult to make plans for your arrival in Buffalo. As we receive information from various authorities, including the U.S.  and New York State governments and the University at Buffalo, we will share it with you in a timely and transparent manner through multiple communications channels: via this FAQ page and email.

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 and fall 2020. However, these are extraordinary circumstances, and it is possible the situation will change between now and August. If any changes occur that impact your specific program, we will contact you directly via email regarding enrollment options.

Admissions and Admissions Process Documentation

Are you still accepting applications?
We are still accepting fall 2020 applications for select programs. Check the individual program website for relevant dates. For programs that have a deadline that has already passed, we encourage you to apply for spring or fall 2021 when applications open in July.

Have you changed application or admission decision deadlines?
Yes, where possible, we have extended application deadlines for master’s degree programs. Contact to see if deadlines have changed for your program of interest.

Admissions testing has been suspended where I am. What should I do?
Complete your application with all materials except your scores. We will review your application materials on an ongoing basis. However, we encourage you to take advantage of online testing resources as soon as possible.

The Educational Testing Service announced an online version of the GRE and TOEFL is available in specific countries and will likely be extended to other areas soon. The College of Arts and Sciences will accept the online version of the above exams.

My GRE score is valid until January 2021. I have an admissions offer for fall 2020. In case there are visa issues and I have to start 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 the one to which you are admitted, you may need to retake the GRE exam.

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

Current and Future Course Format/Enrollment

Will courses now be distance education/online learning or on-campus?
Currently, summer and fall 2020 courses are scheduled to be delivered in their original format. However, the university is evaluating which additional courses may be converted to online or distance education to best serve our students. If any changes occur that impact your specific program, we will contact you directly via email regarding enrollment options.

If I am unable to attend UB in August, will I be able to take online classes to begin the program and then move to Buffalo after restrictions are lifted?
We admit students from many countries, and recognize that not all countries will 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 contact you directly 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, while some of our programs are fall start only. Speak with your admissions team to find out if you are eligible for a deferral and what the next applicable term would be for your 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-19?
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

Is the university going to send us I-20s?
Due to the national emergency and at the direction of the New York State’s governor, the State University of New York, 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 now have access to your SEVIS ID number in the student portal. I-20s will be mailed/couriered as soon as we have access to do so.

What is the last date to send documents for I-20 processing?
There is no specific deadline for submitting immigration documents. However, we encourage you to complete these steps as soon as possible so when shipping and visa appointments resume, you have the appropriate materials to move forward.

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. Visit for more information on the I-901 SEVIS fee.

Many banks are closed due to the 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. You should 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 I-20 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, 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.

Note, if you are considering using a private visa documentation processing firm, be aware that their specific calendars are separate from those of the U.S. Department of State or consulate offices. Private visa processing firms may have different availability and dates.

U.S. visa appointments are currently suspended indefinitely. When will they begin issuing appointments?
U.S. 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 the time my program starts?
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. You can also refer to FAQs on course format, enrollment options and deferral process.