Language Institute - English as a Second Language (ESL) | Georgia Tech Professional Education | Atlanta, GA

GTLI Operations During COVID-19 Outbreak

Following guidance from Georgia Tech (GT) administration and the University System of Georgia (USG), the Georgia Tech Language Institute (GTLI) has implemented its continuity of operations plan. This plan moves GTLI to email and other internet-based forms of communication until further notice. When you have questions or require support, please email the following contacts:

GTLI remains committed to providing excellent service to all of our stakeholders. We look forward to working with you virtually to continue supporting GT's global mission.

Thank you for your support, patience, and understanding as we test our pandemic continuity of operations plan. If you have any questions or need additional support, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Jump to our Question and Answer section for answers to common questions.

GTLI Operations

Access to Paper-Based Documents
During this pandemic continuity of operations testing period, we will move from an in-person document pick-up to providing mailing services for original documents and secure transmission of scanned documents for those services which do not require an original, paper-based document.

E-Form Services (istart)
GTLI will continue to process all e-forms and will honor the processing times below for time-sensitive services:

  • Travel signatures: 2-3 business days
  • Initial I-20 Issuance (for new students): 3-5 business days

As we adjust to the new system, we’ll be studying our processing times for other services. We are committed to a timely, high-quality, and responsive approach to e-form processing and will be monitoring to ensure services meet these expectations.

Tutoring Center
GTLI's tutoring center continues to operate in a virtual environment. Students may sign up for a tutoring appointment online at https://gatech.mywconline.net.

Communications to Students
GTLI will continue to use the In The Know course in Canvas as the primary channel of communication with IEP students. Students should check the Announcements tab in In The Know and check their GT email accounts for communications sent through Canvas.

Social Media
GTLI will continue to share information and suggestions for students through social media. Follow GTLI on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Questions and Answers

Q: What are the implications for my F visa status if the Institute moves to a remote online learning format for the rest of Spring 2 2020 session?
A: The US Department of Homeland Security announced a special exception allowing international students to continue full-time studies this session via remote online learning. You are encouraged to remain enrolled full-time in your coursework for the remainder of the Spring 2 2020 session to maintain your international student visa status.

Q: May I return to my home country and continue to study online with my F-1 visa status?
A: Under the current conditions, if an active F student leaves the United States to complete the Spring 2 2020 term online, their SEVIS record will remain in Active status and not be terminated. Students are deemed to be maintaining their F-1 visa status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. Students are expected to return to the Georgia Tech Language Institute when in-person classes resume to maintain their F-1 visa status.

Q: Can I stay out of the country for more than 5 months and study online?
A: While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, students deemed to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. For that reason, the five-month temporary absence provision will not apply for students who remain in Active status. Students are expected to return to the Georgia Tech Language Institute when in-person classes resume to maintain their F-1 visa status.

Q: How can I learn more about institutional announcements regarding COVID-19?
A: You can stay up-to-date with all of the latest GT announcements on COVID-19 online at http://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus.

Q: How will I receive copies of my I-20 Certificate of Eligibility during this time?
A: GTLI advisers are continuing to process all benefit requests and updates at this time. Once your request is processed you will receive instructions on how to request shipping. Shipping options include domestic shipping via UPS or Express shipping with DHL at your expense.

Q: How can I receive a travel signature?
A: Students can submit a request to travel via iStart. Once the travel signature is approved, GTLI will scan your I-20 with a travel signature on page 2 of the document and securely email it to you.

Students that do not have their return flight information can send an email to english@pe.gatech.edu and attach a copy of your airline ticket or itinerary to request a travel letter in lieu of a travel signature on your I-20. A request for a travel letter must be made at least one (1) week prior to your schedule flight.

Q: Can DSOs electronically send signed Forms I-20 to students instead of physically mailing the forms?
A: If necessary, due to COVID-19, Designated School Officials (DSO) may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS. In the case of a minor students, the email address may belong to their parent or legal guardian. Schools do not need to request permission from SEVP or report their plans to electronically send Forms I-20 as part of their COVID-19 procedural changes.

Q: What methods can DSOs use to sign and send Forms I-20?
A: SEVP has identified the following methods to sign and send the Form I-20:

  • Email a scanned version of the physically signed Form I-20
  • Email a digitally signed Form I-20 using electronic signature software
  • Email a digitally signed Form I-20 that contains a digitally reproduced copy of a physical signature

Q: How can I speak with a GTLI immigration adviser during this time?
A: Please send any immigration questions to dawn.edwards@pe.gatech.edu. Questions will be answered in one to two business days.

Q: What time zone do I need to consider for remote online learning?
A: To minimize conflicts, faculty have been encouraged to offer classes at the regularly scheduled time while being flexible with students who may have difficulty because of varying time zones. Additionally, some classes may move to an asynchronous format where there is no uniform, scheduled class time. GTLI recommends that you consult with your teacher regarding the timing considerations for your courses.

Q: Will travel restrictions still be in place when I arrive to the Language Institute?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation. It is not possible for us to predict what travel restrictions may be in place over the course of the next several months. If you are interested in international travel during this time, please be aware of the following:

  • Many U.S. embassies and consulates are providing emergency services only to U.S. citizens and not issuing student and Exchange Visitor visas.
  • Travel restrictions for non-US persons entering the U.S. are in place for several countries and more countries may be added in the future.
  • Many countries are implementing mandatory quarantines and re-entry restrictions for individuals attempting to enter with presence inside the U.S. within the last 14 days.

Travel disruptions and restrictions are expected to continue and could affect your ability to maintain your student visa status if you are unable to return to the U.S. and enroll in a full course of study. We encourage you to carefully consider avoiding non-essential international travel during this worldwide health crisis.

Are you currently studying at the Language Institute and will continue your studies in Summer 2020? Click here.

Or will you be a NEW student for Summer 2020? Click here.


I am a student continuing my studies from the Spring 2 2020 session...

Q: What are the implications for my F visa status since the Institute will remain in a remote online learning format for the Summer 2020 session?
A: The US Department of Homeland Security announced a special exception allowing international students to continue full-time studies this session via remote online learning. You are encouraged to remain enrolled full-time in your coursework for the Summer 2020 session to maintain your international student visa status.

Q: May I return to my home country and continue to study online with my F-1 visa status?
A: Under the current conditions, if an active F student leaves the United States to complete the Summer 2020 term online, their SEVIS record will remain in Active status and not be terminated. Students are deemed to be maintaining their F-1 visa status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. Students are expected to return to the Georgia Tech Language Institute when in-person classes resume to maintain their F-1 visa status.

Q: Can I stay out of the country for more than 5 months and study online?
A: While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, students deemed to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. For that reason, the five-month temporary absence provision will not apply for students who remain in Active status. Students are expected to return to the Georgia Tech Language Institute when in-person classes resume to maintain their F-1 visa status.

Q: How can I learn more about institutional announcements regarding COVID-19?
A: You can stay up-to-date with all of the latest GT announcements on COVID-19 online at http://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus.

Q: How will I receive copies of my I-20 Certificate of Eligibility during this time?
A: GTLI advisers are continuing to process all benefit requests and updates at this time. Once your request is processed you will receive instructions on how to request shipping. Shipping options include domestic shipping via UPS or Express shipping with DHL at your expense.

Q: How can I receive a travel signature?
A: Students can submit a request to travel via iStart. Once the travel signature is approved, GTLI will scan your I-20 with a travel signature on page 2 of the document and securely email it to you.

Students that do not have their return flight information can send an email to english@pe.gatech.edu and attach a copy of your airline ticket or itinerary to request a travel letter in lieu of a travel signature on your I-20. A request for a travel letter must be made at least one (1) week prior to your schedule flight.

Q: Can DSOs electronically send signed Forms I-20 to students instead of physically mailing the forms?
A: If necessary, due to COVID-19, Designated School Officials (DSO) may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS. In the case of a minor students, the email address may belong to their parent or legal guardian. Schools do not need to request permission from SEVP or report their plans to electronically send Forms I-20 as part of their COVID-19 procedural changes.

Q: What methods can DSOs use to sign and send Forms I-20?
A: SEVP has identified the following methods to sign and send the Form I-20:

  • Email a scanned version of the physically signed Form I-20
  • Email a digitally signed Form I-20 using electronic signature software
  • Email a digitally signed Form I-20 that contains a digitally reproduced copy of a physical signature

Q: How can I speak with a GTLI immigration adviser during this time?
A: Please send any immigration questions to dawn.edwards@pe.gatech.edu. Questions will be answered in one to two business days.

Q: What time zone do I need to consider for remote online learning?
A: To minimize conflicts, faculty have been encouraged to offer classes at the regularly scheduled time while being flexible with students who may have difficulty because of varying time zones. Additionally, some classes may move to an asynchronous format where there is no uniform, scheduled class time. GTLI recommends that you consult with your teacher regarding the timing considerations for your courses.

Q: Will travel restrictions still be in place when I arrive to the Language Institute?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation. It is not possible for us to predict what travel restrictions may be in place over the course of the next several months. If you are interested in international travel during this time, please be aware of the following:

  • Many U.S. embassies and consulates are providing emergency services only to U.S. citizens and not issuing student and Exchange Visitor visas.
  • Travel restrictions for non-US persons entering the U.S. are in place for several countries and more countries may be added in the future.
  • Many countries are implementing mandatory quarantines and re-entry restrictions for individuals attempting to enter with presence inside the U.S. within the last 14 days.

Travel disruptions and restrictions are expected to continue and could affect your ability to maintain your student visa status if you are unable to return to the U.S. and enroll in a full course of study. We encourage you to carefully consider avoiding non-essential international travel during this worldwide health crisis.

I am a NEW student beginning my studies in the Summer 2020 session...

Q: What are the implications for my F visa status since the Institute will remain in a remote online learning format for the Summer 2020 session?
A: The US Department of Homeland Security announced a special exception allowing international students to continue full-time studies this session via remote online learning. You are encouraged to enroll full-time in your coursework for the Summer 2020 session to maintain your international student visa status.

Q: May I remain in my home country and study online with my F-1 visa status?
A: Under the current conditions, if an active F student remains outside the United States to complete the Summer 2020 term online, their SEVIS record will remain in Active status and not be terminated. Students are deemed to be maintaining their F-1 visa status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. Students are expected to return to the Georgia Tech Language Institute when in-person classes resume to maintain their F-1 visa status.

Q: Can I stay out of the country for more than 5 months and study online?
A: While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, students deemed to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. For that reason, the five-month temporary absence provision will not apply for students who remain in Active status. Students are expected to travel to Atlanta and report to the Georgia Tech Language Institute when in-person classes resume to maintain their F-1 visa status.

Q: How can I learn more about institutional announcements regarding COVID-19?
A: You can stay up-to-date with all of the latest GT announcements on COVID-19 online at http://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus.

Q: How will I receive copies of my I-20 Certificate of Eligibility during this time?
A: GTLI advisers are continuing to process all benefit requests and updates at this time. Once your request is processed you will receive instructions on how to request shipping. Shipping options include domestic shipping via UPS or Express shipping with DHL at your expense.

Q: Can DSOs electronically send signed Forms I-20 to students instead of physically mailing the forms?
A: If necessary, due to COVID-19, Designated School Officials (DSO) may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS. In the case of a minor students, the email address may belong to their parent or legal guardian. Schools do not need to request permission from SEVP or report their plans to electronically send Forms I-20 as part of their COVID-19 procedural changes.

Q: What methods can DSOs use to sign and send Forms I-20?
A: SEVP has identified the following methods to sign and send the Form I-20:

  • Email a scanned version of the physically signed Form I-20
  • Email a digitally signed Form I-20 using electronic signature software
  • Email a digitally signed Form I-20 that contains a digitally reproduced copy of a physical signature

Q: How can I speak with a GTLI immigration adviser during this time?
A: Please send any immigration questions to dawn.edwards@pe.gatech.edu. Questions will be answered in one to two business days.

Q: What time zone do I need to consider for remote online learning?
A: To minimize conflicts, faculty have been encouraged to offer classes at the regularly scheduled time while being flexible with students who may have difficulty because of varying time zones. Additionally, some classes may move to an asynchronous format where there is no uniform, scheduled class time. GTLI recommends that you consult with your teacher regarding the timing considerations for your courses.

Q: Will travel restrictions still be in place when I arrive to the Language Institute?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation. It is not possible for us to predict what travel restrictions may be in place over the course of the next several months. If you are interested in international travel during this time, please be aware of the following:

  • Many U.S. embassies and consulates are providing emergency services only to U.S. citizens and not issuing student and Exchange Visitor visas.
  • Travel restrictions for non-US persons entering the U.S. are in place for several countries and more countries may be added in the future.
  • Many countries are implementing mandatory quarantines and re-entry restrictions for individuals attempting to enter with presence inside the U.S. within the last 14 days.

Travel disruptions and restrictions are expected to continue and could affect your ability to maintain your student visa status if you are unable to return to the U.S. and enroll in a full course of study. We encourage you to carefully consider avoiding non-essential international travel during this worldwide health crisis.