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.
Department of State COVID-19 guidance and FAQs for J-1 Exchange Visitor Program sponsors and participants.
Latest COVID-19-Related Updates
Looking for non-COVID-19-related immigration news? Go to the Adviser's Manual 360 Home Page.
- DOL Ends its COVID-19 Flexibilities on August 24, 2023. On August 24, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Foreign LaborCertification (OFLC) rescinded its 4 rounds of COVID-19 FAQs from 2020.
- DOS Ends its J-1 COVID-19 Flexibilities on July 1, 2023. ECA Guidance Directive 2023-01 (June 8, 2023) ends ECA's temporary COVID-19 flexibilities for J-1 exchange visitors and programs effective July 1, 2023, but introduces new interpretations on hybrid or virtual work and learning. The directive also establishes a transition period.
- SEVP Terminates its COVID-19 Flexibilities on May 11, 2023. On May 11, 2023, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) terminated its Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) guidance to coincide with the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency and Public Health Emergency. An updated FAQ provides answers to frequently asked questions from SEVP stakeholders about the impact of the termination of COVID-19 flexibilities.
- COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for International Travelers to the United States Ended on May 12, 2023. As of May 12, 2023, nonimmigrant travelers to the United States are no longer subject to the requirement that they be fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccination before boarding an aircraft destined to the United States or before entering the United States through a land or ferry port of entry.
- Biden Ends COVID-19 National Emergency Declaration. On April 10, 2023, President Biden signed into law a joint resolution that terminated the national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. H.J.Res. 7, Public Law No: 118-3 (04/10/2023). President Biden originally anticipated terminating the national emergency on May 11, 2023, but by signing the joint resolution on April 10, 2023 ended it early.
USCIS Ends COVID-19 RFE Response Flexibility Effective March 23, 2023. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ended on March 23, 2023 the COVID-19 flexibilities it had 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. "You must respond to any notices or requests from USCIS dated after March 23 by the deadlines listed in the notice or request." USCIS announced this end date in its last extension of the flexibilities dated January 24, 2023.
CDC Terminates COVID Test Requirement for Passengers on Flights Originating in PRC. On March 10, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) terminated its order that required passengers on flights originating in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) to take an acceptable COVID before their departure to the United States.
DOS Extends Visa Interview Waiver Policy For Certain Nonimmigrants Until December 31, 2023. In a December 23, 2022 announcement, the Department of State (DOS) extended until December 31, 2023 the discretionary authority given to consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain "F, M, and Academic J Visa Holders" and "Petition-Based H, L, O, P, and Q Visa Holders."
DOS Update on Worldwide Visa Operations. On October 21, 2022, DOS reported that "Worldwide Visa Operations Are Recovering Faster than Expected from the COVID-19 Pandemic," and said, "Ninety-six percent of our embassies and consulates are again interviewing visa applicants, and we are processing nonimmigrant visa applications at 94 percent of pre-pandemic monthly averages and immigrant visa applications at 130 percent."
DHS Extends Form I-9 Flexibilities until July 31, 2023. On October 11, 2022, DHS extended its COVID-19 Form I-9 flexibilities until July 31, 2023, due to "continued safety precautions related to COVID-19." Starting May 1, 2022, however, employers must only accept unexpired List B documents.
CDC Rescinds Pre-Departure COVID Testing Requirement. As of 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, CDC will no longer require air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight. Nonimmigrants entering the United States will, however, still be subject to the requirement to be fully vaccinated with an acceptable COVID-19 vaccine. (But see the announcement above that requires testing for passengers on flights originating in China, effective January 5, 2023).
SEVP "reissues" April 18, 2022 COVID guidance. In Broadcast Message 2205-03: ICE Clarifies Continuation of March 2020 Guidance for the 2022-23 Academic Year (May 31, 2022), SEVP reissued its April 18, 2022 guidance, but "clarified" that "Students who enrolled after March 9, 2020, must adhere to SEVP's existing regulations regarding online learning, found at 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)." That statement seems to be internally inconsistent with other paragraphs regarding new and initial students and hybrid study that appear to remain unchanged following the May 31, 2022 reissuance of the April 18, 2022 guidance.
DOS Extends Exchange Visitor Program COVID FAQs but Limits Telework. In an April 22, 2022 update to its "Current Program" Exchange Visitor Program COVID-19 FAQs, BridgeUSA extended its general COVID-19 accommodations through June 30, 2023, still conditioned on the requirement that "new exchange visitors can participate in programs only if their host organizations (e.g., schools or businesses) have reinstated partial to full in-person activities." A new FAQ also continues to allow telework in the College/University Student (Academic Training and Student Intern), Research Scholar, Short Term Scholar, Intern, and Trainee categories, but institutes a limit "of one to two telework days per week."
SEVP Extends COVID-19 Guidance to 2022-2023 Academic Year. In an April 18, 2022 revision to its COVID-19 guidance, SEVP to the 2022-2023 academic year. SEVP states that it "will continue to abide by guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the 2022-23 academic year and did not make any changes to the March 2020 guidance. Stakeholders should continue to refer to existing resources at ICE.gov/Coronavirus for information about the original March 2020 guidance."
Reopening Statuses of Local Social Security Offices. A Social Security Administration (SSA) page shows the reopening statuses of in-person services at local SSA offices, stating: "Local Social Security offices are offering more in-person appointments and have resumed in-person service for people without an appointment. As we expand in-person service, we strongly encourage you to continue to go online, call us for help, and schedule appointments in advance. This webpage lists the small number of offices temporarily: may provide service only by appointment due to construction, inability to permit people to wait outside the office, or other reasons [or] may be closed to the public."
President Extends COVID-19 National Emergency Declaration. In Proclamation 9994 of March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. In Presidential Notice of February 18, 2022, published in the Federal Register at 87 FR 10289 (February 23, 2022), the President announced: "The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the Nation. For this reason, the national emergency declared on March 13, 2020, and beginning March 1, 2020, must continue in effect beyond March 1, 2022. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing the national emergency declared in Proclamation 9994 concerning the COVID-19 pandemic." Under 50 USC 1622(d), national emergencies remain in effect for one year from the effective date anniversary unless terminated sooner, or again extended before that one-year anniversary date.
Biden Proclamation Requires Nonimmigrants Traveling by Air to Be Fully Vaccinated with Approved COVID Vaccine. President Biden's October 25, 2021 proclamation lifted, effective November 8, 2021, the prior geographic travel ban restrictions, and replaced 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 day preceding their flight's departure from a foreign country traveling to the United States, in addition to proof of vaccination.
- 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 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.
- NAFSA Letter to Secretary Blinken on National Interest Exceptions. 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.
- Biden Signs India COVID-19 Entry Proclamation. On April 30, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation effective May 4, 2021, which bars entry of travelers coming from India in a way similar to the previous geographic COVID-19 proclamations. Later the same day, the Department of State included India in its National Interest Exception (NIE) policies.
- DOS Expands NIE Policy to all Countries Subject to Geographic COVID Entry Bans. On April 26, 2021, DOS updated its National Interest Exception (NIE) page to expand certain NIE eligibilities to China, Iran, Brazil, and South Africa, in addition to the Schengen Area countries, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.
- April 26, 2026 Update Continues SEVP's March 2020 Guidance for the 2021-22 Acadmic Year. "SEVP will continue to abide by guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the 2021-22 academic year and did not make any changes to the March 2020 guidance."
- Read NAFSA's response to the increase in the number of countries listed with a Level 4: Do Not Travel warning, which DOS announced in an April 19, 2021 Travel Advisory Update.
- DOS Announces Blanket National Interest Exceptions for Immigrant Visas. On April 8, 2021, DOS announced a blanket National Interest Exception (NIE) to all geographic COVID-19 proclamations for immigrant visas. "Immigrant Visa processing posts may now grant immigrant and fiancé(e) visas to applicants otherwise eligible, notwithstanding these proclamations." Other blanket NIE measures cover additional, narrowly tailored groups.
- DOS Working on Visa Interview Backlog. DOS updated its "resumption of routine visa services" message on April 6, 2021, with messaging that focuses on the challenges of reopening and reduced appointment capacity that have created a "significant backlog of both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications awaiting a visa interview... The State Department is working to reduce this backlog while ensuring the safety of our staff and applicants and protecting our national security." The DOS page also contains several FAQs. The first FAQ on that page states that, "after meeting demand for services to U.S. citizens... Posts processing nonimmigrant visa applications will continue to prioritize travelers with urgent travel needs, foreign diplomats, and certain mission critical categories of travelers such as those coming to assist with the U.S. response to the pandemic, followed by students and exchange visitors (F-1, M-1, and J-1) and temporary employment visas."
- Proclamation 10052 Expires as of March 31, 2021. April 2, 2021. The Department of State confirmed that former President Trump's Proclamation 10052 expired on March 31, 2021. As of April 1, 2021, President Biden had not renewed or replaced it. The proclamation had suspended entry of certain H, J, and L nonimmigrants.
- DOS Expands Visa Interview Waiver Policy to 48 Months, Through December 31, 2021. March 11, 2021. The Department of State (DOS) announced a temporary expansion of statutory and regulatory provisions that allow consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying to renew a visa in the same nonimmigrant visa classification and category if not more than 48 months have passed since the prior visa expired. The expansion of this authority lasts until December 31, 2021.
- DOS EVP Updates COVID-19 FAQs. March 1, 2021. BridgeUSA (the Department of State Exchange Visitor Program) updated its COVID-19 FAQs. This revision replaces the prior set of FAQs that had been updated over time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. NAFSA has transcribed both the prior and current FAQs.
- DOS Reissues Schengen/UK/Ireland NIE Guidance. The March 2, 2021 version of the DOS National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland page retains the same wording of prior versions to continue the "blanket" national interest exception (NIE) determination for F-1 and M-1 students traveling from those countries. The policy also continues to require "academics, J-1 students, and journalists" to individually apply for an NIE exception.
- Proclamation of February 24, 2021: A Proclamation on Revoking Proclamation 10014. President Biden's Proclamation of February 24, 2021 revoked former President Trump's Proclamation 10014 and the proclamations that extended it, effective February 24, 2021. Proclamation 10014 had suspended and limited entry into the United States of many classes of immigrants.
- ICE announces extension to I-9 compliance flexibility. February 12, 2021. On January 27, 2021, ICE announced "an extension of the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance that was granted earlier this year. Due to the continued precautions related to COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will extend this policy until March 31, 2021."
- CBC Announces Compliance with Presidential Executive Order Requiring Face Masks at Ports of Entry. February 4, 2021. "Effective Feb. 2, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is enforcing the requirement that travelers wear face masks at all air, land and sea ports of entry in the United States in accordance with President Biden's Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order Regarding the Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks While on Public Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs."
- Proclamation Continues Schengen, UK, Ireland, Brazil, China and Iran COVID Restrictions and Adds South Africa. A January 25, 2021 Proclamation by President Biden continues the 14-day U.S. entry restrictions on individuals who were recently present in the Schengen Area, UK, Ireland, Brazil, China or Iran, and adds South Africa to the list of countries.
- Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. January 21, 2021. Executive Order. Directs relevant agencies to incorporate, to the extent feasible, CDC recommendations on public modes of transportation and at ports of entry to the United States, including recommendations such as mask-wearing, physical distancing, appropriate ventilation, timely testing, and possibly self-quarantine after U.S. entry.
- COVID Viral Tests Required for Boarding All U.S.-Bound Flights Effective January 26, 2021. (January 13, 2021)
- H, J, L Entry Ban Extended Until March 31, 2021. On December 31, 2020, President Trump extended Proclamation 10052 until March 31, 2021. It had been set to expire on December 31, 2020. Proclamation 10052 suspends entry of certain H, J, and L nonimmigrants because of the Trump administration's assertion that their entry "presents a significant threat to employment opportunities for Americans affected by the extraordinary economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak."
- USCIS Provides Application Support Center Appointment Updates. (December 29, 2020)
- NAFSA and Others Ask SEVP to Issue Flexible Guidance for Spring 2021. (December 4, 2020) NAFSA signed on to a multi-association letter led by the American Council on Education (ACE), asking SEVP to issue COVID-19 guidance for the Spring 2021 term "as soon as possible," and to provide for "maximum flexibility." SEVP ended up telling schools to continue to use the Spring 2020/Fall 2020 guidance for the Spring.
- DHS and TSA Terminate Designated COVID-19 Airport Restrictions Effective September 14. (September 11, 2020) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will publish notices in the Federal Register that terminate COVID-19 designated arrival airport restrictions, effective September 14, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The restrictions had required all flights to land at one of 15 designated U.S. airports if they carried persons who within the last 14 days traveled from, or were otherwise present within, one of the countries designated in the five country-specific Presidential Proclamation coronavirus bans. The country-specific coronavirus proclamations themselves remain in place, however, subject to specific exemptions.
- USCIS Allows Limited Temporary Use of I-797 Approval Notices Due to COVID-19 EAD Production Delays. (August 19, 2020) USCIS posted a notice on its I-9 Central site, authorizing the temporary use of an I-797 EAD approval notice (not a receipt notice) as a List C # 7 document that establishes employment authorization (but not identity) for I-9 purposes. To qualify, the I-797 approval notice must have "a Notice date on or after December 1, 2019 through and including August 20, 2020." I-797 approval notices with Notice dates outside this range will not qualify. Employers who use this flexibility will have to reverify the employee on Form I-9 with the actual EAD (or suitable other combination of documents) by December 1, 2020.
- Resource on SEVP Fall 2020 COVID-19 Guidance. (August 18, 2020) NAFSA and the Student Subcommittee of NAFSA's Committee on International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice (ISS RP) have developed a scenario-based resource on what's clear and unclear about SEVP's COVID-19 guidance and "clarifying" FAQs.
- NAFSA Signs on to Letter to DHS and DOS in Support of Hybrid Programs. (August 12, 2020) On August 12, 2020 NAFSA co-signed a letter coordinated by the American Council on Education (ACE) and also co-signed by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) to urge the Departments of State and Homeland Security to work together to ensure new and returning international students enrolled in hybrid academic programs at U.S. institutions are able to have their visas processed and enter the country.
- Phased Resumption of Premium Processing. (May 29, 2020)
- USCIS Faces Funding Challenges During COVID-19 Pandemic. (May 27, 2020)
- Brazil COVID-19 Proclamation. (May 24, 2020).
- Canada-Mexico Congregate Settings Restrictions Extended Indefinitely. (May 25, 2020).
- Executive Order on Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery. (May 19, 2020)
- NAFSA Joins Letters Urging Consideration of International Students and Scholars. (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 when reviewing non-immigrant programs such as the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.
- ECA Extends Pause of ECA-Funded Exchange Visitor Programs (May 12, 2020)
- Advising in Place: Keeping up with Agency Guidance in a Changing World (May 13, 2020).
- USCIS Policy Memo PM-602-0178, Temporary Policy Changes for Certain Foreign Medical Graduates During the COVID-19 National Emergency (May 11, 2020). "This Policy Memorandum (PM) provides guidance to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers in relation to H-1B foreign medical graduates who have received a waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement under section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) through the practice of medicine with or based on the recommendation of an Interested Government Agency (IGA) or through the Conrad State 30 program in response to the Public Health Emergency prompted by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). USCIS is issuing this PM to introduce temporary policy changes regarding the full-time work requirement for such foreign medical graduates and the provision of telehealth services by those foreign medical graduates in light of the evolving Public Health Emergency concerning the COVID-19 pandemic."
- Interpreting Immigration Regulations and Sources of Authority while Mitigating Risk in a Crisis (May 8, 2020)
- April 30 Revisions to SEVP COVID-19 FAQs.
- USPS COVID-19-Related International Service Interruptions. (April 28, 2020) Consult USPS's updated International Service Disruptions page for details.
- USCIS Extends Suspension of In-Person Services at Local USCIS Field Offices. (April 24, 2020)
- Coronavirus Proclamation of April 22, 2020 Limits Entry of Certain Immigrants. (April 22, 2020)
- CRS Reviews CARES Act Immigration-Related Eligibility. (April 7, 2020)
- NAFSA Asks Congress to Implement Key Stimulus and Policy Changes. (April 20, 2020) See NAFSA's COVID-19 Legislation and Policy Resources page.
- SEVP Updates FAQs on April 16, 2020. (April 20, 2020)
- DHS and CDC Extend Canada-Mexico Restrictions for 30 Additional Days. (April 20, 2020)
- EVP Message to Program Sponsors on J Exchange Visitor Receipt of 2020 Recovery Rebate from IRS. (April 20, 2020)
- EVP Updates "Program Interruption" FAQ. (April 20, 2020)
- NAFSA Joins in Letters to Congress on Financial Support for Higher Ed and Students. (April 17, 2020)
- NAFSA Town Hall: Public Health and International Education – What's Now and What's Next. (April 14, 2020
- SEVP Updates its COVID-19 FAQs. (April 14, 2020)
- USCIS Announces Data Entry Delay for Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions Until at least May 1, 2020. (April 13, 2020)
- President Trump issues Presidential Memorandum - INA 243(d)(April 10, 2020)
- NAFSA Writes to DHS and DOS on COVID-19 Regulatory Matters. (April 8, 2020)
- DOS EVP Updates FAQs with Questions Arising From Automatic 60-day Extensions. (April 7, 2020)
- SEVP Clarifies Telework OK to Continue On-Campus Positions. (April 6, 2020)
- USPS COVID-19-Related International Service Interruptions. (April 6, 2020)
- Questions and Answers Related to Temporary Policies for Form I-9 and E-Verify. (April 3, 2020)
- DOS Implements Automatic J-1 Program Extensions for Some in Response to COVID-19. (April 2, 2020)
- USCIS Will Reuse Biomtetrics for I-765 Extensions . (March 30, 2020)
- SEVP updated its COVID-19 FAQ with a variety of added questions and responses (March 27, 2020)
- EVP Sponsor Call Questions and Answers (March 27, 2020)
- Update on Visas for Medical Professionals . (March 27, 2020)
- SEVP Updates FAQ to Allow Emailing Form I-20 to Students (March 26, 2020)
- Canada-Mexico "Congregate Settings" Restrictions (March 26, 2020)
- OFLC to Issue Electronic PERM Labor Certifications in Response to COVID-19 (March 24, 2020)
- SEVP Clarifies "Five Month Rule" Not Applicable While COVID-19 Measures In Place (March 25, 2020)
- COVID-19 and Federal Financial Aid for Education Abroad FAQ from NAFSA (March 23, 2020)
- TSA will Accept Expired Driver's Licenses on Flights (March 23, 2020)
- National Governors Association Advocates for Delay to October 1, 2020 Real ID Deadline (March 23, 2020)
- NAFSA Writes to Congressional Leadership on Economic Stimulus and COVID-19 . (March 20, 2020)
- USCIS Announces Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for All I-129 and I-140 Petitions (March 20, 2020)
- USCIS Announces Flexibility in Submitting Required Signatures During COVID-19 National Emergency (March 20, 2020)
- DHS announces some limited flexibility in requirements related to Form I-9 compliance (March 20, 2020)
- OFLC Provides COVID-19 FAQs (March 20, 2020)
- Limits on entry to U.S. from Canada and Mexico through Land Ports of Entry (March 26, 2020)
- DOS Raises Global Health Advisory to Level 4 - Do Not Travel .
- USCIS Suspends In-Person Services at Local Field Offices and Application Support Centers (March 19, 2020)
- General suspension of visa services announcement from travel.state.gov . "In response to worldwide challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of State is suspending routine visa services in most countries worldwide." (March 18, 2020)
- NAFSA Letter to DHS on Regulatory Issues and COVID-19 (March 16, 2020)
- USCIS on COVID-19 Treatment and Public Charge Rules (March 14, 2020)
- Follow-Up COVID-19: Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders (March 13, 2020)
- SEVP Optional Coronavirus School Reporting Template (March 13, 2020)
- SEVP Responds to NAFSA Inquiry, OKs Temporary Online Coursework Taken Abroad Under School's COVID-19 Policy (March 12, 2020)
- COVID-19 Resources from Organizations Serving International Education
- DOS ECA Guidance on Exchange Visitor Program Online Class and Telework Reponses to COVID-19 (March 11, 2020)
- CDC Responds to NAFSA's Coronavirus Questions Regarding International Travel and Study Abroad Programs (March 11, 2020)
- SEVP Guidance on COVID-19 Impact on School Operations (March 9, 2020)
- CDC Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education with Students Participating in International Travel or Study Abroad Programs (March 9, 2020)
- COVID-19 Country Information from DOS Visa Office (March 9, 2020)
- Department of Education Federal Financial Aid Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to COVID-19 (March 5, 2020)
COVID-19 Information and Resources
- NAFSA Letters to the Agencies. (June 12, 2020) In a series of letters to SEVP, DOS Consular Affairs, and the DOS Exchange Visitor Program, NAFSA asked the agencies to issue clear guidance for Fall 2020, and to instruct their respective bureaus and offices to honor their partner agencies' guidance as it is issued.
- NAFSA Joins Letters Urging Consideration of International Students and Scholars. (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 when 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.
- NAFSA Asks Congress to Implement Key Stimulus and Policy Changes. (April 20, 2020) NAFSA is urging Congress to "provide critical financial resources, oversight, and policy changes in order to revive and restore international student enrollment and study abroad programs at U.S. colleges and universities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the global response to it." Read an Executive Summary and NAFSA's detailed recommendations in NAFSA's Issue Brief, "Revive and Restore International Education Impacted by COVID-19." Links to the Issue Brief and other NAFSA policy documents are available on NAFSA's COVID-19 Legislation and Policy Resources page.
- NAFSA Joins in Letters to Congress on Financial Support for Higher Ed and Students. (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.
- NAFSA Writes to DHS and DOS on COVID-19 Regulatory Matters. (April 8, 2020) NAFSA sent a letter to the Departments of State (DOS) and Homeland Security (DHS), asking the agencies to continue developing creative flexibilities and to work collaboratively during and after the COVID-19 crisis to ensure efficient visa and immigration processing and the smooth entry this fall of returning and newly-arriving international students and scholars.
- NAFSA Writes to Congressional Leadership on Economic Stimulus and COVID-19. On 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. (March 20, 2020)
- March 16, 2020 NAFSA Letter to DHS. In a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership, NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Esther Brimmer requested DHS exercise its discretion to allow for flexibility in adjudication of benefit requests and status determinations for international students and scholars who are impacted by COVID-19 and the measures institutions of higher education are taking in response to it. (March 16, 2020)
- NAFSA Signs on to ACE Higher Education Association Letter to DOS and DHS on COVID-19. (March 16, 2020)
- NAFSA Special Update on COVID-19, by Dr. Esther Brimmer, NAFSA Executive Director and CEO (Video - March 12, 2020)
- SEVP Responds to NAFSA Inquiry, OKs Temporary Online Coursework Taken Abroad Under School's COVID-19 Policy (March 12, 2020)
- NAFSA Advocates for Use of Online Study in Context of COVID-19. On March 5, 2020, NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Esther Brimmer contacted SEVP leadership and Bureau of Educational and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) leadership about the COVID-19 contingency planning that institutions have been doing. She asked SEVP and ECA to recognize the recent guidance from the Department of Education (Guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)) and take a similar proactive approach by issuing guidance to the field on temporary closures and by modifying and adapting some current restrictions. She specifically requested that they enable schools facing temporary closure to use online and distance education delivery strategies to continue providing instruction without compromising school certification or students' and exchange visitors' SEVIS status or immigration status. She made several more detailed suggestions about this and also asked the agencies to consider every other possible measure within their authority to ameliorate potential problems for students and exchange visitors and their institutions. Both agencies responded the following day. SEVP stated that they anticipate SEVP guidance to be released shortly, which will be largely based on the Department of Education guidance (Note: SEVP issued guidance on March 9, 2020). ECA stated that they are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to provide guidance informed by common sense to mitigate potential adverse consequences (Note: EVP issued guidance on March 9, 2020).
- Message from NAFSA President Ravi Shankar on the Coronavirus (March 3, 2020)
- NAFSA 2020 Conference Corona Virus Update
- 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.
NAFSA Crisis Management and Other Resources
- NAFSA resource page: COVID-19 Public Charge Issues (May 4, 2020).
- NAFSA Town Hall: Public Health and International Education – What's Now and What's Next. (April 14, 2020) A NAFSA Town Hall featured a public health expert and an IIE researcher alongside seasoned international educators, who reflected on public health trends that affect our work, current triage plans, and lessons learned. They also shared their thoughts on what’s next and helpful tips on managing future change. The Town Hall concluded with a panel discussion. A recording is available to the public.
- COVID-19 and Federal Financial Aid for Education Abroad FAQ. NAFSA’s Education Abroad Regulatory Practice Subcommittee on Financial Aid developed an FAQ to help education abroad professionals stay informed of federal financial aid guidance during the disruption of the COVID-19 crisis. The FAQ covers common questions related to Cost of Attendance (COA), Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), online learning, and others. (March 23, 2020)
- NAFSA Advisory on on Online and Distance Education Strategies in the Context of COVID-19 (March 11, 2020)
- Coronavirus/COVID-19: Questions for Guiding a Holistic Response (March 2, 2020)
- NAFSA Virtual Town Hall. NAFSA members can access a recording and transcript of the February 20, 2020 NAFSA Virtual Town Hall: Responding to a Worldwide Health Crisis and Travel Restrictions. The Town Hall provided context for the challenges international educators are facing and updates on the China travel restrictions. Ravi Shankar, president of NAFSA's Board of Directors, was joined by Education Abroad Knowledge Community Chair Eduardo Contreras and International Students and Scholars Knowledge Community Chair Tina Rousselot de Saint Céran. The event concluded with a panel discussion on possible talking points, collaborations, and responses.
- Resources for Health and Safety in Education Abroad
- Responding to a Worldwide Health Crisis
- The 5 C's of Crisis Communication
- Before, During and After a Crisis: Questions to Ask
- Responding to a Crisis in a Student's/Scholar's Home Country
- Crisis Management in a Cross-Cultural Setting: International Student and Scholar Services Checklists
- Immigration Assistance for Students from Countries in Crisis
- NAFSA's International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice (ISS RP) Committee offerd two free virtual professional development opportunities as part of its Government Connections webinar series. Recordings of the events are available to NAFSA members only. Details and registration at the links below. Please note that no government officials will be participating in these two events.
- CRS Reviews CARES Act Immigration-Related Eligibility. An April 7, 2020 Congressional Research Service (CRS) Legal Sidebar reviews immigration-related eligibility criteria for recovery rebates and unemployment compensation under the CARES Act.
- ACHA Guidelines on Preparing for COVID-19. By the American College Health Association (ACHA). "The ACHA COVID-19 Task Force has prepared these guidelines [pdf] to help college health staff and campus administrators prepare for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and related issues on their campuses." (March 3, 2020)
- COVID-19 Resources from Organizations Serving International Education
Quick-Reference Agency Guidance
- Executive Actions on Travel and Visa Related Issues Due to COVID-19
- NAFSA's Compilation of Immigration-Related Executive Actions under the Trump Administration
Department of Health and Human Services
- January 31, 2020 HHS press release linking to a video of a press briefing by HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and a transcript of HHS Secretary Azar's press briefing statements.