Given this information, there is no indication if participants without visas will be able to attend visa appointments this season. If you remain in the United States longer than authorized, you may be barred from returning and/or you may be removed (deported) from the United States. (April 13, 2020) EVP updated its "Program Disruption" FAQs on the ECA COVID-19 page with the following: What should a sponsor do if the Exchange Visitor cannot meet the cross-cultural activity requirements in the regulations? The Department is working with sponsors to individually address situations that involve minors (on the Secondary School Student program) who remain in the United States either involuntarily or by choice. • An individual’s visa will be automatically extended by one year if it is due to expire before 1 October 2020. If exchange visitors do not need them for formal processing, sponsors may electronically transmit to exchange visitors updated and fully executed Forms DS-2019 reflecting last week's 60-day extension. Exchange visitors should be mindful of the validity dates of their J-1 visas; they may need to renew their visas before they return to the United States.”. (A) Routine visa services will resume as soon as possible, but a specific date cannot be provided at this time. Sponsors may continue to temporarily allow active students to continue their Academic Training remotely to prevent unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. VA C&P examinations due to COVID-19, VA has the authority to grant time limit extension requests and postpone final actions on a claim, provided good cause is shown for the delay. The health, safety, and welfare of exchange visitors continues to be the Department's primary concern. Sponsors are strongly encouraged to document all such unique situations. Sponsors should document all such unique circumstances. Where commercial flights are unavailable or travel to a country is suspended, ECA refers all sponsors and exchange visitors to the websites and social media sites of the embassy in the United States of the exchange visitor's home country. Updates to "Current Programs" FAQs, Following Automatic 60-Day Extension of Program End Dates. For guidance on matters related to visa services, Presidential Proclamations (including those related to travel restrictions), and eligibility for NIEs, please refer to the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) at. Please review the guidance emailed to sponsors by the OPA teams for incident reporting criteria regarding COVID-19-related cases for specific categories. Go to: The Department of State is currently working with the sponsor community to protect the health, safety and welfare of U.S. persons and all exchange visitors to the greatest extent possible, which may involve repatriating exchange visitors, if it is safe and feasible to do so. Important Notice for K visa applicants affected by COVID-19. As that guidance states, current exchange visitors may continue on programs that, as designed, fully complied with the regulations – including with regard to the number of hours to be worked – as long as the deviation is not excessive for the circumstances. As per §62.7(a), sponsors must file for redesignation no more than six months and no fewer than three months before the designation expiration date set forth in the sponsor’s most recent letter of designation or redesignation. As previously noted, if the exchange visitor needs the original form with signature in order to participate on the Program - perhaps due to a separate requirement for original documents for a visa interview or the DHS requirement for entry to the United States - then the sponsor needs to transmit documents to exchange visitors that meet that regulatory requirement. ECA is aware some foreign governments are using such sites to provide assistance, including registering citizens who are seeking flights home. The extension grants flexibility to Visa Waiver Program travelers who have difficulty returning to their countries due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, flight cancellations or illness. Yes, the Department expects to look favorably upon requests submitted by sponsors pursuant to 22 C.F.R. In addition, foreign visitors and residents whose visas expired in early March 2020 or are due to expire later will receive an extension of their visas until the end of December 2020. See what you must do if you have to stay longer due to COVID19. COVID-19 - Visa Services and Restrictions. Sponsors and their exchange visitors are also encouraged to review the following USCIS website detailing special situations for extensions and change of visa status, including those individuals subject to INA 212(e): Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement: For travel inquiries and up-to-date information on travel restrictions, please visit. Following is a template for a sample letter requesting a visitor visa or tourist visa extension. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that given the immigration related-challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, non-immigrants could … The extent of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has taken Governments around the World by surprise. The guidance there applies to all categories that require a minimum of 32 hours, such as interns, trainees, and teachers. It is intended that refunds will be available from late February 2021. • Individuals do not need to apply. This is an exceptional and short term and temporary measure due to COVID-19 pandemic. CAI Comprehensive Air-quality Index PM10 Particulate Matter Less than 10㎛ PM2.5 Particulate Matter … Any potential new exchange visitors (i.e., individuals currently in “initial” status in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)) may start their exchanges only if their programs and host academic institutions will be able to comply with regulatory requirements. For the privately funded programs we are asking sponsors of these programs to follow published ECA guidance for the ECA-funded programs and to make decisions based upon what best serves the health, safety, and welfare of exchange visitors, the interests of natural parents or legal guardians, and those of the Americans with whom they interact. With pre-booked COVID-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport; and, Subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry. There are roughly 19,000 people in New Zealand who hold visitor visas that will be eligible for the automatic five-month extension. Are we entitled to compensation or just refund? Thus, host academic institutions should have reinstated partial to full-time classroom participation or be able to meet other formal in-person requirements before hosting new participants. Individuals can apply for the COVID-19 short-term visitor visa from mid-September. § 62.25(f)(1)(ii) does require sponsors to secure "prior written acceptance for the enrollment of any exchange student in a United States public or private secondary school" which must include "written arrangements concerning the payment of tuition or waiver thereof if applicable." Yes, the Department expects to look favorably upon requests submitted by sponsors pursuant to 22 C.F.R. Also, for host families that have not previously and successfully hosted for a sponsor, the Department recommends an additional level of approval (e.g., by a regional coordinator or headquarters staff) of the placement and the sufficiency of the technological substitution for in-person activities. In this situation, there is no need to wait another 60 days for the exchange visitors to go home. There have been many relevant changes to employee-related immigration processes and procedures as a result of COVID-19. Family members with a visa due to expire before 1 October 2020 will also have their visa extended. Moving Towards and Online Environment. Expansion of Interview Waiver Eligibility. In keeping with ECA's message on March 11, 2020 (https://j1visa.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/3.11.2020_Exchange-Visitor-Program-Sponsor-Guidance.pdf), ECA continues to ask sponsors and exchange visitors to consult with host organizations to find alternative ways to maintain program objectives, including online classes or other arrangements, while preventing unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. For example, college/university student programs must generally take place "at a degree-granting post-secondary accredited academic institution" (2 CFR 62.23(a)); Teachers must teach "in an accredited primary or secondary school" (22 CFR 62.24(d)(5)); and Professors "must conduct their exchange activity at the site(s) of activity" although occasional lectures or consultations are allowable at other locations (22 CFR 62.20(f)). (A) This concern has been voiced to us by many. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but we are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Commission Recommends to EU Countries to Ban Non-Essential Travel From UK Due to New COVID Variant December 23, 2020 The EU Commission has adopted a new recommendation for the Member States in the light of a new COVID variant detected in England, … 13. Over 200,000 have work visas whose visa conditions may need to be varied as we respond to the effects of COVID-19. When we have more definitive information we will share it with you. As a matter of general operating procedure, most visa sections worldwide schedule visa interviews for students and exchange visitors separately from regular B1/B2 visa applicants (visitors for business and tourism). Given the uncertainty of available flights and ongoing travel restrictions, Private Sector Exchange strongly recommends exchange visitors proactively reach out to their respective embassies if they are unable to book return flights home. For exchange visitors who will complete programs online and not return to the United States for the next semester, sponsors should shorten their programs and their status will revert to “inactive.” For exchange visitors who are continuing programs online and intend to return to the United States this fall, sponsors should leave their SEVIS records in “active” status. The U.S. Department of State (see Future Programs, Updated 5/15/2020), in response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, has temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. If you have an emergency, please consult the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you are applying for a visa for more information. If the exchange visitor does travel outside of the United States during their current exchange visitor program and after their J-1 visa has expired, they must apply for a new J-1 visa in their home country in order to re-enter the United States to continue their program. The sites of activity will remain the same (since they will continue to be enrolled at the same institutions), but sponsors should note in remarks that the exchange visitors have returned to their home countries due to the COVID 19 pandemic. If the SEVIS record is still active, you can amend the program end date and issue a new DS-2019. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status before your authorized stay expires. (A) At the appropriate time, the Visa Office will provide guidance to our visa sections worldwide on the resumption of routine visa services. Even a home tour can be conducted using such virtual technology. In addition, our visa sections worldwide routinely expedite visa interviews for students and exchange visitors upon request if there is a compelling need to expedite visa processing. Sponsors are encouraged to provide data and/or narratives on the number of exchange visitors that had to shorten their programs or those who had difficulties with repatriation. In this situation, there is no need to wait another 60 days for the exchange visitors to go home. NAFSA. We are not scheduling routine interviews for most visa types, including H-1B, H-2B, L, and most J visas. Entering the USA under current restrictions with a B2 visa. PM10 Good DSS Very Bad PM2.5 Bad O₃ Moderate. 10014, which suspended the entry to the United States of certain immigrant visa applicants, through December 31, 2020. The Department recognized that its decision to extend all programs based on program end date criteria would result in the reactivation of the records of certain exchange visitors who are no longer pursuing program objectives. For, individuals applying for fellowship training for whom ECFMG already has SoN letters on file for the related specialty, it is not necessary to submit new SoN letters. Sponsors must also closely monitor the health, safety and welfare of each exchange visitor to determine if remaining on the exchange program is truly feasible. As noted during the conference call with sponsors on March 27th, sponsors are advised to print Forms DS-2019, fully execute them with original signatures in blue ink, and transmit them in accordance with regulatory requirements if exchange visitors need Forms DS-2019 for formal processing. Many people had to leave the UK due to job loses and future uncertainty while others stayed with commitments to our employers and our ambition to build a life here. In response to the last question on refunds, you can pursue SEVIS fee refunds with SEVP. Sponsors should document all such unique circumstances, and must continue to monitor exchange programs to ensure they meet program objectives to the fullest extent possible during this situation. Sponsors are responsible for exchange visitors who are in Active status, and they are required to monitor programs and accurately update SEVIS daily, as necessary. If the exchange visitor is no longer pursuing program objectives, the sponsor should use the shorten program function in This ends the exchange visitor's program and the SEVIS status will be "inactive." 10052 may seek to obtain J visas but may still be unable to enter the United States due to the European Travel Proclamations. HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO; IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP; TRAVEL AND CROSSING THE BORDER; IMPORT, EXPORT AND BUYING ONLINE; NATIONAL SECURITY ; CRIMINAL JUSTICE; EMERGENCY … The longer this situation remains, the greater the risk to these programs, but we are not yet at a point where a decision would be made by the Department. Sponsors must adhere to all other aspects of the vetting and monitoring requirements. (A) The Department of State has no plans to substitute video interviews for the in-person visa interview. Department of State Issues Automatic Two-Month Extension to Most J-1 Visa Programs Jonathan A. Grode. As per §62.7(a), sponsors must file for redesignation no more than six months and no fewer than three months before the designation expiration date set forth in the sponsor’s most recent letter of designation or redesignation. Other conditions, criteria and requirements under the regulations remain in effect. In the case of a College or University Student participating in Academic Training, for example, the regulations require that the student be primarily in the United States to study rather than to participate in Academic Training, that the Academic Training be directly related to his or her major field of study, that the student be in good academic standing with the post-secondary accredited academic institution; and the student receive written approval in advance from the responsible officer for the duration and type of academic training (22 CFR 62.23(f)). Last updated: 12/29/2020 Country-Specific Information: The U.S. Embassy continues to closely monitor COVID-19 developments in the Philippines. COVID-19 Pandemic visa will allow the applicant to: remain in Australia if they have no other visa options and are unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Please see the below notices which contain detailed information about the current status of visa services worldwide and visa restrictions related to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Extensions beyond the maximum program […] And please update SEVIS to reflect accurate and up-to-date U.S. address and site(s) of activity. The Department of State has also temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. (A) This is not within the State Department’s control, so of course we would defer to DHS for any definitive statements. 4. Previously approved applicants may delay their start date to participate in a program where the program as intended/designed complied with the regulations, provided that the delay is not excessive for the circumstances and that it occurred due to factors (like the current COVID-19 situation) outside of the sponsors’, hosts’, and exchange visitors’ control. (A) Please know that we are fully aware of how this situation is causing financial distress on many sponsors. Migration expert Elaine Nuñez Caguioa says if it is unsafe to travel, don't risk it. (A) First, review the regulations at 22 CFR 62.12 and the SEVIS RO/ARO Manuals for specific details on when to print a new Form DS-2019. A complete application includes confirmation of payment of the required non-refundable application fee through. How is Venice during COVID times? Effective June 24, 2020, P.P. Some of the exchange visitors who are subject to the European Travel Proclamations may be eligible to enter the United States if they qualify for a national interest exception (NIE) to the European Travel Proclamations. (A) Yes, we have had a lot of questions about COVID diagnoses and quarantines. We will work with you on collection of supporting materials. DOS Implements Automatic J-1 Program Extensions for Some in Response to COVID-19. The President has issued several proclamations suspending entry of non-U.S. citizens and legal residents into the United States who have been physically present China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, or Ireland within 14 days of their entry or attempted entry into the United States. Some of the exchange visitors who are subject to the Proclamation may be able to enter the United States if they qualify for a national interest exception (NIE). 1. More details. Those visa holders who have been laid off due to coronavirus should leave the country in line with existing visa conditions if they are unable to secure a new sponsor. If the document is needed for either visa issuance or port of entry, the exchange visitor must have the original form - with your original signature in blue ink - on hand to apply for the visa or entry to the United States. A new Form DS-2019 reflecting the extension is issued to the participant. That said, I looked at the I-901 Fee Frequently Asked Questions at the SEVP I-901 Fee website, and per the website, The SEVIS fee is paid for an individual's opportunity to participate on an exchange program and remains valid for one year after payment. 10052 does not apply to exchange visitors who were in the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation (June 24), or who had a valid J nonimmigrant visa (and plans to enter the United States on that visa). The Department is assessing the situation for both redesignation fees and management audits and will provide further guidance at a later time. The Department understands that conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic may make it difficult for some sponsors to meet this minimum program size requirement. I wasn’t able to travel due to Covid-19 restrictions. Hot Network Questions Am I allowed to call the arbiter on my opponent's turn? The Department is not waiving this requirement. Please contact the Office of Private Sector Exchange Designation to discuss this option. The Department understands that the COVID-19 situation has caused a major disruption in program participation. (A) Sponsors should consult with the host placements to seek alternative ways to maintain program objectives, while preventing unnecessary exposure to the disease and its spread. There is no need to provide evidence of the impacts of COVID-19 with your Student visa application. Nevertheless, temporary regulations apply to ensure that residence law matters can be … Various other countries have adopted similar rules with regards to visa extensions for foreign visitors. Sponsors must maintain monthly contact with exchange visitors to confirm their health, safety, and welfare, and that their programs continue to meet the objectives. You may keep the SEVIS record active if the exchange visitor plans to return to the United States after the travel restrictions and quarantine period are lifted, to complete his/her exchange program. That statement urged EVP sponsors to follow the guidance issued for ECA-funded programs. EVP updated the Future Programs FAQ on the ECA COVID-19 page with the following new FAQ: ONLINE VS. IN-PERSON CLASSES: Can exchange visitors participating in the Teacher, Professor, and College/University Student categories of the Exchange Visitor Program teach/take online/hybrid classes in the academic session starting this fall or must all courses be in person? Please update SEVIS when necessary to reflect accurate program information including current U.S. address and site(s) of activity. Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) regulations at 22 § CFR 62.8(a) require sponsors (other than federal government agencies) to have at least five active exchange visitors during the annual reporting cycle (e.g., academic, calendar, or fiscal year) stated in their individual letters of designation or redesignation. No. While the Department generally requires SoN letters to be provided by the relevant Ministries of Health, this may not be possible at this time. Please visit, Please refer to ECA communication dated March 16, 2020 regarding exchange visitor SEVIS records in Initial or Active status. Gaining an extension may prove even more complicated than usual given the latest travel bans, border closures, and restrictions implemented in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). §62.8(a) seeking Department waiver, for up to one year, of the requirement that sponsors have no fewer than five actively participating exchange visitors during the annual reporting cycle. Therefore, the wait time for a student or exchange visitor is generally much shorter than the wait time for a B1/B2 applicant. (A) As mentioned in my opening comments these are very complex decisions that need to be made on a case by case basis. Visa extension due to COVID-19. For example, college/university student programs must generally take place "at a degree-granting post-secondary accredited academic institution" (2 CFR 62.23(a)); Teachers must teach "in an accredited primary or secondary school" (22 CFR 62.24(d)(5)); and Professors "must conduct their exchange activity at the site(s) of activity" although occasional lectures or consultations are allowable at other locations (22 CFR 62.20(f)). Sponsors are reminded that contact with exchange visitors during the first month following replacement is required. Program Extension The responsible officer has the discretion to extend a participant’s program to its maximum regulatory duration, that is, to the limit imposed by the regulations specific to a program category or to a program sponsor’s designation. We will advise all sponsors by email when the suspension period for ECA-funded program ends. Please use this opportunity to remind your exchange visitors of the requirement for them to report to you within ten calendar days any changes in their telephone numbers, email addresses, actual and current U.S. addresses, if any of that information does change. Unfortunately, U.S. law has no provision for extensions of nonimmigrant visas. The Department of State has not directed high school students return home, except for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program which is jointly run by the U.S. Department of State and the German Bundestag. I had my first flight to come back home in Italy scheduled on March 15th. No. Current exchange visitors may continue on programs that, as intended/designed, fully complied with the regulations – including with regard to the cross-cultural activity requirements – provided that the deviation is not excessive for the circumstances, and that it occurred due to factors (like the current COVID-19 situation) outside of the sponsors’, hosts’, and exchange participants control. Please direct all general COVID-19 questions […] This exception, that applies only to this unprecedented situation, will reduce the sponsors' burden of reprinting and transmitting original forms. Your sponsor organization is still the best point of contact to address this issue and we encourage you to follow their guidance. (A) Sponsors can reference the Frequently Asked Question on our website “What if an exchange visitor is unable to participate in his or her exchange program for the required minimum of 32 hours?”. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Department (or Embassies) will resume routine visa services as soon as possible, but we are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Emergency visa services will still be available on a case-by-case basis. For further guidance, please reach out to ECFMG at: EVSP-support@ECFMG.org. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. The Department understands that the suspension has caused a major disruption in program participation. Immigration News. Please refer to ECA communication dated February 7, 2020, for guidance, specifically the section on exchange visitors currently inside the United States. 2. This fee is nonrefundable and non-transferrable. The Department understands that the COVID-19 situation has caused a major disruption in program participation. If your institution has moved to an online environment, please send to AGalert@state.gov a completed Incident Report Form, if you have not already done so. The Department of State is currently working with the sponsor community to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all exchange visitors to the greatest extent possible, which may involve repatriating exchange visitors if it is safe and feasible to do so. In certain circumstances, a fee payment can be transferred to another SEVIS ID. Visit that page to read all FAQs and communications. Sponsors and their exchange visitors are also encouraged to review the following USCIS website detailing special situations for extensions and change of visa status, including those individuals subject to INA 212(e): Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement: https://www.uscis.gov/i-539. If your visa is due to expire after 31 March 2021, or you are changing employer, you cannot extend your visa for free. No. Please also continue to send inquiries to the Office of Private Sector Exchange, and we will share your concerns with CA. Yes, if the program dates on the Form DS-2019 are still valid. Temporarily, and to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of exchange visitors as program regulations require, the Department will allow virtual, real-time communications among host families, exchange visitors, and local coordinators during this crisis, when in-person contact is not safe. If exchange visitors remain in homes long enough to require second home visits, having exchange visitors conduct virtual tours of their homes could fulfill the second home visit requirement. (A) We refer you to ECA website guidance to sponsors dated March 16, 2020. (A) Au pairs or interns with program start dates in the next few months who met the age requirements at the time of selection and have already received their visas have met the regulatory requirements. 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