NAFSA has assembled these resource links to help you navigate issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

ICE and SEVP

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) COVID-19 guidance and FAQs for F-1 and M-1 schools.

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DOS EVP

Department of State COVID-19 guidance and FAQs for J-1 Exchange Visitor Program sponsors and participants.

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Visas and Entry

NAFSA is actively tracking the U.S. visa and entry restrictions related to COVID-19.

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Latest COVID-19-Related Updates

      Looking for non-COVID-19-related immigration news? Go to the Adviser's Manual 360 Home Page.

  • USCIS Extends COVID-19 RFE Response Flexibility until March 26, 2022. On December 30, 2021, USCIS extended until March 26, 2022 the COVID-19 flexibilities it established for responses to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and other similar response-based notices and requests, and filing date requirements for filing Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

  • Lifting of the Southern Africa COVID Entry Ban. Proclamation of December 28, 2021, A Proclamation on Revoking Proclamation 10315, revokes the southern Africa entry ban effective 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on December 31, 2021.

  • DHS Extends Form I-9 Flexibilities until April 30, 2022. DHS has extended its COVID-19 Form I-9 flexibilities until December 31, 2021, due to "continued precautions related to COVID-19."

  • New Geographic COVID-19 Proclamation Restricts Entry from Southern Africa Regions. In response to concerns over the COVID-19 Omicron variant, Proclamation 10315 of November 26, 2021 restricts entry to the United States by most noncitizens who have been in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, or Zimbabwe in the 14-day period before their entry or attempted entry to the United States, with limited exceptions. The proclamation went into effect on November 29, 2021, and operates in addition to the November 8, 2021 vaccination requirement.

  • Biden Proclamation Requires Nonimmigrants Traveling by Air to Be Fully Vaccinated with Approved COVID Vaccine. On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued a proclamation which, effective November 8, 2021, lifted the four current geographic travel ban restrictions, and replace them with a global requirement that "noncitizens who are nonimmigrants" traveling to the United States by air from any part of the world establish that they are fully vaccinated, with some limited exceptions. All air travelers will also continue to have to show results of a negative coronavirus test performed on a specimen taken during the three days preceding their flight's departure from a foreign country traveling to the United States, in addition to proof of vaccination.

  • CBP Extends Canada-Mexico Land Port of Entry Restrictions Through October 21, 2021. On September 22, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) extended through October 21, 2021 the COVID-19 entry restrictions that that limit entry through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S. Mexico borders for "essential travel" only.

  • Administration Says It Plans to Replace Geographic COVID Entry Bans with Vaccine Requirement. On September 20, 2021, media outlets reported that the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Jeffrey Zients, announced Biden administration plans to lift geographic travel ban restrictions in November for individuals who establish that they are fully vaccinated if they also show results of a negative coronavirus test performed on a specimen taken during the three days preceding their flight's departure from a  foreign country traveling to the United States.

  • Senators Ask DOS to Address Visa Backlog for International Students. On August 10, 2021, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) led a group of 23 Senators in calling on Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the State Department to address the backlog of visas for international students, which grew significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • NAFSA Seeks Clarification on National Interest Exceptions. NAFSA joined with the American Council on Education and 23 U.S higher education organizations in a July 20, 2021 letter seeking clarification on the current travel restrictions due to COVID-19 and the blanket national interest exception (NIE) for F-1 and M-1 students. The letter also urges that the blanket NIE be extended to include J-1 students as well as faculty and researchers traveling under other visa categories.

  • NAFSA Meets With Department of State Regarding Consular Operations. On July 12, 2021, Esther Brimmer, DPhil, NAFSA’s executive director and CEO, met with U.S. State Department Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, Edward Ramotowski, to discuss growing concerns regarding limited visa appointment availability and processing delays affecting international students and scholars planning to arrive on U.S. campuses this fall. NAFSA members can read a meeting summary.

  • A July 6, 2021 NIE statement extends individual (non-blanket) National Interest Exceptions to 12 months of validity for multiple entry.

  • DOS Updates Page on COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, Exemptions, and NIE Exceptions. On June 24, 2021, DOS updated its COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Exceptions page (originally posted on June 1, 2021) by reordering the page's content.

  • DOS Reduces Number of Level 4 Do Not Travel Advisories. The State Department has adjusted its travel advisories to reflect new CDC guidance for institutions of higher education. As of June 8, 2021, 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. Visit the DOS website for the latest Travel Advisory levels.

  • Education Department Updates HEERF Policy To Allow Grants for Undocumented and International Students. On May 11, 2021, the Department of Education (DoEd) released an updated set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) grants under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Notably, the FAQs reverse a narrow position that had been taken by DoEd under the former Trump administration, and the policy now allows "Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, other DREAMers, and similar undocumented students" as well as "international students" to receive HREEF grants.

  • NAFSA Letter to SEVP on 2021-2022 Academic Year COVID-19 Guidance. On May 6, 2021, NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Dr. Esther Brimmer sent a letter to SEVP Director Rachel Canty, to thank SEVP for its April 26, 2021 COVID-19 guidance for the 2021-2022 academic year, and suggesting "additional clarifications to further help schools and students operate responsibly and responsively during this year of transition," the "overarching recommendation is to provide schools greater flexibility to operate as international, national, state, and local safety considerations allow." Director Canty responded to NAFSA on May 21, 2021. See NAFSA's page for the NAFSA letter and SEVP's response.

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