NAFSA has assembled these resource links to help you navigate issues arising from the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China." According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans."

The respiratory disease caused by the virus is designated as COVID-19. The virus itself has been named SARS-CoV-2.

Critical Updates

Temporary U.S. Consular Office Closures in China. U.S. consular services in China are currently suspended.

  • On February 1, 2020, the U.S. Embassy in China announced: "Mission China will be closed to the public from February 3-7 in accordance with Chinese government guidance. Emergency American citizen services will be available."
  • On February 10, 2020, the U.S. Embassy posted this message: Mission China Regular Visa Services Temporarily Suspended. "As of February 10, 2020, regular visa services at the U.S Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulates General in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang are suspended. Due to the ongoing situation relating to the novel coronavirus, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates have very limited staffing and may be unable to respond to requests regarding regular visa services."

HHS Announcement. In a January 31, 2020 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) press briefing, Secretary Alex Azar declared that the Novel Coronavirus represents a public health emergency in the United States. Secretary Azar also announced that effective 5 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 2, the following restrictions on U.S. citizens returning from travels in China will be implemented:

  • Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in Hubei province in the 14 days prior to their entry to the United States will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they have been provided proper medical care and health screening
  • Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been anywhere else in mainland China in the 14 days prior to their entry to the United States will undergo "proactive entry health screening at a select number of ports of entry," and up to 14 days of "monitored self-quarantine" to ensure they've not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk.

For details, see:

Presidential Proclamation Coronavirus Travel Ban. Also on January 31, 2020, President Trump signed Proclamation 9984 titled Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The proclamation cites INA 212(f) to suspend entry into the United States of all aliens (immigrants, nonimmigrants, and other non U.S. citizens) who were physically present within the People's Republic of China, excluding the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. This coronavirus travel ban is effective starting 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 2, 2020. However, Section 2 of the proclamation provides that the coronavirus travel ban does not apply to any alien who is:

  1. a lawful permanent resident of the United States
  2. a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  3. a parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  4. a sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  5. a child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
  6. an alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  7. C (transit) or D (air or sea crewmember) nonimmigrants
  8. seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa;
  9. an alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee;
  10. an alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; or
  11. an alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.

For aliens not excluded by the Section 4 of the proclamation, "Orderly Medical Screening and Quarantine," directs that the "Secretary of Homeland Security shall take all necessary and appropriate steps to regulate the travel of persons and aircraft to the United States to facilitate the orderly medical screening and, where appropriate, quarantine of persons who enter the United States and who may have been exposed to the virus. Such steps may include directing air carriers to restrict and regulate the boarding of such passengers on flights to the United States."

Designated U.S. Airports to Receive Flights with Recent Travelers to China

Joint U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Federal Register notices announced that DHS has directed "all operators of aircraft to ensure that all flights carrying persons who have recently traveled from, or were otherwise present within, the People's Republic of China only land at one of the following airports":

  1. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
  2. Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
  3. San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
  4. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
  5. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
  6. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), California
  7. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
  8. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia
  9. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
  10. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
  11. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), Michigan

According to the February 4, 2019 Federal Register notice, these are airports "where enhanced public health services and protocols are being implemented... This list of affected airports may be modified by the Secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Transportation. This list of affected airports may be modified by an updated publication in the Federal Register or by posting an advisory to follow at www.cbp.gov. The restrictions will remain in effect until superseded, modified, or revoked by publication in the Federal Register. For purposes of this Federal Register document, "United States" means the States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and territories and possessions of the United States (including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and Guam)."

The notice also clarifies that "[t]his direction considers a person to have recently traveled from the People’s Republic of China if that person departed from, or was otherwise present within, the People’s Republic of China (excluding the special autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau) within 14 days of the date of the person’s entry or attempted entry into the United States. Also, for purposes of this document, crew, and flights carrying only cargo (i.e., no passengers or non-crew), are excluded from the measures herein. This direction is subject to any changes to the airport landing destination that may be required for aircraft and/or airspace safety as directed by the Federal Aviation Administration."

Read the two Federal Register notices:

NAFSA Statements

  • NAFSA Statement (January 31, 2019): Coronavirus Travel Ban Impacts International Education
  • NAFSA has asked the Department of State to exercise favorable discretion and to give all due consideration to requests to assist affected J-1 students and scholars.
  • Register Now for a NAFSA virtual Town Hall: Responding to a Worldwide Health Crisis and Travel Restrictions, to be held on February 20 at 2:00 p.m. (EST). The Town Hall will provide context for the challenges international educators are facing and updates on the China travel restrictions. The event, which is open to all NAFSA members, will conclude with a panel discussion on possible talking points, collaborations, and responses. Ravi Shankar, president of NAFSA's Board of Directors, will be joined by Education Abroad Knowledge Community Chair Eduardo Contreras and International Students and Scholars Knowledge Community Chair Tina Rousselot de Saint Céran.

Government Links and Advisories

Department of State (DOS)

Department of Homeland Security

World Health Organization (WHO)

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

White House

Department of Health and Human Services

NAFSA General Crisis Management Resources

Additional Resources