NAFSA continues to monitor and respond to legislation and policies arising from COVID-19 that impact international education and exchange.
- Issue Brief: Asks to Sustain International Student Enrollment at U.S. Colleges and Universities Impacted by COVID-19
- Issue Brief: Asks to Support U.S. Study Abroad Programs Impacted by COVID-19
Policy & Advocacy Resources
- Fall 2020 Financial Impact of COVID-19 on International Education
- Spring 2020 Financial Impact of COVID-19 on International Education
- [TAKE ACTION] Send an email to your lawmakers to urge their support for our key asks of Congress to restore, grow, and diversify study abroad participation and to restore U.S. leadership in attracting and retaining international student and scholar talent.
Policy & Regulatory Updates
April 18, 2022
On April 18, 2022, SEVP updated its COVID-19 FAQ guidance to address the 2022-2023 academic year. The document states that the April 18 update "Added and adjusted the following items:
- Updated section, "Clarifying Questions for the 2022-23 Academic Year Based on March 2020 Guidance" to reflect the 2022-23 academic year.
- Edited existing questions and answers to reflect 2022-23 academic year. No substantive changes were made to these questions."
April 4, 2022
On April 4, NAFSA CEO and Executive Director Dr. Esther Brimmer sent a letter to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program asking the agency to publish COVID-19 guidance for the coming 2022-2023 academic year.
February 14, 2022
On February 14, NAFSA joined the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and 19 other companies and associations in a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the agency to clarify its current regulations and ensure that the Public Health Service Act requirement for commercial coverage of all CDC recommended vaccines (including travel vaccines) with no patient cost-sharing is fully implemented.
December 10, 2021
On December 10, NAFSA, as a member of the Coalition for International Education, joined a letter to House leadership in support of keeping the Higher Education Act (HEA) Title VI reauthorization provision in the final version of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) of 2021, comprehensive legislation to address 21st century security and economic challenges by increasing global research competitiveness. The Senate version, which passed in June, contains the HEA Title VI reauthorization provision, while the related, yet-to-pass, House version does not. Last month, House and Senate leadership announced that both chambers would work to reconcile the differences between the two bills.
November 3, 2021
On November 3, NAFSA, as a member of the Coalition for International Education, joined a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urging the Department to prioritize and strengthen its international and foreign language education and research programs under Title VI of the Higher Education Act and the Fulbright-Hays Act by increasing its FY 2023 budget request to match FY 20210 funding levels as adjusted by inflation.
October 14, 2021
On October 14, NAFSA joined with the American Council on Education (ACE) and 36 other U.S. higher education associations in a letter asking the Biden administration to allow international students, scholars and researchers from countries where the vaccine is not widely available or where U.S. and World Health Organization (WHO)- approved vaccines are not widely available, to enter and be vaccinated in the United States upon arrival.
September 23, 2021
On September 23, NAFSA joined with the American Council on Education (ACE) and other U.S. higher education associations in a letter to Congressional leaders asking "for support and legislation to assist students and scholars who have been displaced by the current crisis in Afghanistan." The letter includes several specific ways Congress can support Afghan scholars and students in future legislation.
September 22, 2021
On September 22, NAFSA joined with the American Council on Education (ACE) and 15 other U.S. higher education associations in a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees, flagging several necessary technical corrections to the enacted Isakson-Roe and THRIVE Acts, including restoring U.S. institutions ability to use incentive-based arrangements in international student recruitment.
September 9, 2021
On September 9, NAFSA joined with the American Council on Education (ACE) and 33 other U.S. higher education associations in a letter to the U.S. House of Representative's Education and Labor Committee to support higher education funding in the FY22 budget reconciliation bill. NAFSA and the other organizations expressed appreciation for the substantial investment this legislation makes in U.S. higher education but asks the committee to double the maximum Pell Grant award.
August 20, 2021
On August 20, Esther Brimmer, DPhil, NAFSA's executive director and CEO, sent a letter to the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to urge the agencies to take "immediate action to protect the lives of, and provide stability to, Afghan student, scholars, researchers, and those involved in advocating for, promoting, or engaging in higher education." The letter outlines nine specific actions and policies.
August 20, 2021
On August 20, NAFSA joined a group of intensive English program associations and accrediting bodies in signing a letter in support of the Departments of State and Education's Joint Statement of Principles in Support of International Education and urging that the English language program sector be included in the renewed commitment to international education.
August 18, 2021
On August 18, NAFSA added its name to a Scholars at Risk letter outlining additional requests for the Biden Administration, including waiving the intent-to-return and home residency requirements for Afghan exchange visitors for the foreseeable future.
July 12, 2021
On July 12, Esther Brimmer, DPhil, NAFSA's executive director and CEO, met with Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, Edward Ramotowski, with the U.S. State Department to discuss growing concerns regarding limited visa appointments availability and processing delays affecting international students and scholars planning to arrive on U.S. campuses his fall. See the meeting summary.
June 10, 2021
On June 10, NAFSA joined with the American Council on Education (ACE) and other U.S higher ed organizations to request a briefing from the State Department, specifically from representatives of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, the Office of Consular Affairs, and the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, for higher education associations on the implications of Presidential Proclamation 10043, "Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants Certain Students and Researchers from the People's Republic of China" on international students and scholars.
June 8, 2021
On June 8, the State Department adjusted its travel advisories to reflect new CDC guidelines for institutions of higher education. 58 countries and territories - including popular study abroad destinations France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Japan - were moved out of the Level 4: Do Not Travel category and are now designated as Level 3: Reconsider Travel.
May 6, 2021
On May 6, NAFSA urged SEVP Director Rachel Canty to make additional clarifications to its April 26 COVID-19 guidance for the 2021-2022 academic year that would provide schools greater flexibility during this year of transition. NAFSA's specific requests include clarifying the procedures and implications for a school that returns to 'normal operations,' streamlining processes to facilitate students timely return to the U.S., and cooperating with USCIS to develop a policy that allows a student to apply for OPT from outside the U.S.
May 5, 2021
On May 5, 2021, NAFSA sent a letter to DOS Secretary Antony Blinken thanking the agency for its April 26 and April 30 announcements extending eligibility to international students and exchange visitors for national interest exception waivers from the countries currently covered by COVID-19 travel restrictions, but asking that DOS remove reference to an August 1, 2021 “condition” in the NIE policy.
May 5, 2021
On May 5, 2021, NAFSA sent a letter to DOS Secretary Antony Blinken cosigned by eleven associations expressing collective concerns regarding the April 19, 2021, travel advisory update that increases the number of countries at “Level 4: Do Not Travel” to approximately 80 percent worldwide.
April 26, 2021
On April 23, NAFSA CEO Esther D. Brimmer, DPhil wrote a letter to Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Ian G . Brownlee expressing disappointment in the U.S. Department of State's announcement that 80 percent of countries would soon be placed at a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory.
On April 26, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Ian G. Brownlee replied to Dr. Brimmer's letter expressing his thanks, and his hope that NAFSA and the Bureau of Consular Affairs continue to engage on important and pertinent issues. He wrote that "Your suggestion to provide a more nuanced approach to our Travel Advisories is well-taken. As we look at ways to evolve the Travel Advisory system, this is indeed something we wish to explore."
February 2, 2021
NAFSA joined with the American Council on Education (ACE) and 53 other U.S. higher education associations requesting the acting U.S. Secretary of Education clarify that emergency student aid funds provided by the recent COVID-19 relief package can be distributed to international students and Dreamers. While the legislation does not restrict these students from receiving funds, former Education Secretary DeVos issued guidance last year placing limitations on the emergency aid.
January 28, 2020
NAFSA joined the American Council on Education (ACE) and 53 other U.S. higher education organizations in requesting that the acting U.S. Secretary of Education clarify that emergency student aid funds provided by the recent COVID-19 relief package "can be used to help all students, including undocumented students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, as well as international students."
September 25, 2020
As negotiations surrounding a supplemental COVID-19 spending package continued, NAFSA and higher education associations wrote to leadership outlining the financial toll colleges and universities have taken due to COVID-19, and requesting any supplemental bill include at least $120 billion for higher education.
August 6, 2020
NAFSA joined the American Council on Education (ACE) and other higher education associations in a letter to congressional leadership supporting changes to the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) that would increase financial support options for colleges and universities.
August 5, 2020
Higher education associations wrote a letter to congressional leadership outlining what student and institutional aid provisions should be included in a supplemental COVID-19 spending bill.
July 22, 2020
NAFSA and other higher education associations sent a letter to Congress requesting assurance that any new initiatives created in a new COVID-19 relief package are implemented effectively by the Department of Education.
July 2, 2020
In response to questions raised at a June 4 hearing, NAFSA joined the American Council on Education (ACE) and other higher education associations in a letter sharing information on costs involved in safely reopening college campuses.
June 22, 2020
NAFSA joined a letter led by the American Council on Education (ACE) to Chairman Powell of the Federal Reserve, commenting on the Main Street Lending Program nonprofit organization facilities, and encouraging the inclusion of higher education institutions in the lending program.
June 8, 2020
NAFSA joined the Alliance for Peacebuilding and 70 additional organizations in sending a letter to Congress urging robust support for foreign assistance in a new COVID-19 supplemental funding package.
June 1, 2020
NAFSA has joined the American Council on Education (ACE) and other higher education associations in letters to Congress advocating for increased financial support options for colleges and universities in future COVID-19 relief legislation. The letters encourage Congress to expand the Main Street Lending Program to nonprofits, including public & private institutions of higher education, expanding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to nonprofits of all sizes, and to create a new lending facility in the Main Street Lending Program specifically for higher education institutions.
May 21, 2020
NAFSA joined ACE and other higher education associations and more than 320 members of the business community in letters urging the White House to consider international students and their positive impact on U.S. higher education and economy twhen reviewing non-immigrant programs such as the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program—a key factor in attracting hardworking students from around the globe to study in the United States.
April 30, 2020
Last month, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation pausing entry of certain immigrant groups and directing the Secretaries of State, Labor and Homeland Security to review nonimmigrant programs. NAFSA joined with higher education associations to send a letter to these agencies sharing the value of international students and scholars and offering to serve as a resource during this review period.
April 23, 2020
NAFSA joined higher education associations in letters led by the American Council on Education (ACE) requesting changes to the Main Street Lending program, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the Economic Impact Disaster Loans (EIDL) to allow greater funding assistance options to higher education institutions.
April 9, 2020
NAFSA joined a coalition of associations led by the American Council on Education (ACE) in letters to the Senate and House of Representatives calling for increased financial support for higher education institutions and students.
March 20, 2020
NAFSA sent letters to U.S. House and Senate leadership requesting as part of any federal stimulus or relief measures considered by Congress support for international education programs and activities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NAFSA also joined the American Council on Education and other higher education associations in letters to House and Senate leaders outlining ways the federal government can assist students and U.S. institutions of higher education in recovering from this crisis.
May 18, 2021
On May 18, 2021, seven Congressional committee chairs sent a bicameral letter to the Departments of State and Homeland Security urging them to use their existing authority to facilitate the issuance of visas and entry of international students, and others, to the United States. The letter listed several recommendations for increasing capacity for visa processing including designating alternative posts, interview waivers, and remote interviews, and expanding National Interest Exemptions.
December 27, 2020
In the last few days of 2020, the U.S. Congress passed an agreement on another COVID-19 relief package, which was signed into law on December 27 as part of a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill consisting of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills and authorizations.
July 21, 2020
The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing examining the State Department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
July 4, 2020
The deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program has been extended through August 8, 2020. The extension was passed unanimously by both the House & Senate.
June 5, 2020
President Trump signed into law H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, an update to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was established by the CARES Act in March 2020. The bill loosens requirements to expand the type of forgivable expenses for employers to allow for more assistance for fixed costs such as rent. It also lengthens the loan forgiveness period from eight weeks to twenty-four weeks. The application deadline for PPP loans remains June 30, 2020.
May 15, 2020
The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) as an additional COVID-19 relief package. The bill would expand access to PPP loans to all non-profit organizations and included $100 billion in funding for K-12 and higher education, as well as a provision extending the immigration status, employment authorization, or other authorized period of stay for those whose status or stay expired or will expire during the declared public health emergency. It passed with support from only one House Republican, and has not yet been taken up for consideration by the Senate.
March 27, 2020
President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.