"The situation regarding COVID 19 continues to evolve rapidly. Your visa fee will remain valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country where you paid within 1 year of payment. As always, sponsors should end the programs of exchange visitors who are no longer pursuing program activities or updating sponsors with their whereabouts. 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. Life in the UK test (2020) ï¸ LESSON 8 ð â¦ The Department understands that the COVID-19 situation has caused a major disruption in program participation. 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)). Please contact the Office of Private Sector Exchange Designation to discuss this option. Because of the quickly developing situation, I've included advice and a template you can send to the relevant embassies to get more information. We received several similar questions from sponsors wondering if interns will still be eligible to participate if, for example, an intern will now be beyond one year of graduation when they are able to start their program. The ECA plan to review the decision every 30 thereafter. (A) The Department of State has no plans to substitute video interviews for the in-person visa interview. US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency yesterday over the coronavirus outbreak in America and attempted to silence growing criticism by introducing new steps to make testing more available. Coronavirus We continue to strongly recommend that private sector sponsors similarly follow the guidance for the indefinite pause. Exchange visitors’ circumstances may change during their time off-program. In this situation, there is no need to wait another 60 days for the exchange visitors to go home. As noted previously, you should review the program end date. A 16-year-old cystic fibrosis (CF) patient has urged people to consider others who may have a lower immune system when they are coughing or sneezing in public. This exception, that applies only to this unprecedented situation, will reduce the sponsors' burden of reprinting and transmitting original forms. 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. 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. The Department understands that the suspension has caused a major disruption in program participation. (A) The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly and its potential impact remains impossible to predict. Yes, if the program dates on the Form DS-2019 are still valid. Please visit. At this time the Department is not extending categories beyond the maximum duration but is continuing to monitor the situation. Of course, sponsors can make their own decisions based upon the needs of their organizations. Japan Visitor Hotline. The Department acknowledges that the best way to meet sponsor obligations to protect the health, safety, and welfare of minor exchange visitors is, in some cases, to move them into new host family homes. 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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)). I'll call it a "note to file" but you should maintain this change in the exchange visitor's program for future reference. We will advise all sponsors by email when the suspension period for ECA-funded program ends. On July 14, 2020, DOS announced the beginning of a phased resumption of visa services on a post-by-post basis. For the privately funded programs we are asking sponsors of these programs to follow published ECA guidance for the ECA-funded programs (which as aforementioned has generally not required high school students to return home) and to make decisions based upon what best protects the health, safety, and welfare of exchange visitors and the Americans with whom they interact. Staff are being asked to work from home and supermarket shelves across the country are being frantically emptied in preparation for the worst. 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. The Department is not waiving this requirement. US Visa Travel Advisory for Coronavirus. The regulations at 22 CFR § 62.8(a) give the Department the sole discretion to waive this requirement. TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said the response to the coronavirus outbreak is âcomplicatedâ by the North-South divide in Ireland. As the State Department has issued a Global Level 4 Travel Advisory, the suspension applies to ALL countries. Oct 1, 2020 National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from â¦ This is an option for au pairs who are in the USA, and would like to stay with their current host family. 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. Blue murder springs to mind. "ECA strongly recommends that all sponsors of J-1 Visa exchange visitor programs take the steps that ECA is taking to address COVID-19-related concerns for ECA-funded exchange programs. In fact, the majority of public school districts view the enrollment of exchange students in the Secondary School Student (SSS) category as a voluntary cultural exchange and charge no tuition. We recommend that you keep SEVIS program dates updated and document their files with the unique circumstances. However, a spokesperson for travel agency USIT told Independent.ie that the pause will only impact those travelling between now and May 11, 2020. In response to the last question on refunds, you can pursue SEVIS fee refunds with SEVP. A growing number of embassies are posting special communications on their websites and social media for their exchange visitors (students and others) in order to make contact with them. Update on U.S. Department of State extension options due to COVID-19 for in country au pairs. attendance requirements) to meet their visa conditions. 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. Exchange visitors still technically have a 30-day grace period following the program end date. Current exchange visitors may continue on programs that, as intended/designed, fully complied with the regulations – including with regard to the number of hours to be worked – 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 visitors control. With respect to exchange visitors who are currently in “active” status in SEVIS and are continuing programs that were underway in a manner compliant with regulations when the pandemic reached the United States, ECA understands that program sponsors have adjusted program activities to meet their obligations to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of their exchange participants. § 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." 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. Specifically, “Sponsors may also keep an exchange visitor’s SEVIS record active until the exchange visitor is able to return to the United States to continue with his or her original program objectives. Trinity College Dublin is encouraging students living in college accommodation to return home and offering them a partial refund. 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. Visa applicants can visit the website of the US embassy or consulate where they are applying for a visa for more specific information.". To try to respond to this we in ECA have stood up a Repatriation Working Group to try to assist sponsors with this difficult situation. 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. Update â November 4, 2020 The Proclamation & J-1 Visa suspension. (A) This is not within the State Department’s control, so of course we would defer to DHS for any definitive statements. On June 22, 2020, President Trump announced the expansion of his April 22nd Proclamation 10014âsuspending J-1 visas through the end of 2020. K Visa Processing Update Exchange visitors participating in an EVP category that is not subject to P.P. If the exchange visitors were prepared to end their programs early and their travel arrangements are in place with no anticipated delays or restrictions, they should leave as originally planned. Routine visa services will resume as soon as possible, but a specific date at this time cannot be provided. The regulations generally do not identify specific requirements for criminal background reports themselves, except that for certain programs they must include a search of the Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Public Registry (which is online). Sponsors should be mindful of the program end date and can extend the program end date in SEVIS if the exchange visitor returns to complete the program.