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.
Policy & Advocacy Updates
View NAFSA's COVID-19 Legislation and Policy Resources
Latest COVID-19-Related Updates
Looking for non-COVID-19-related immigration news? Go to the Adviser's Manual 360 Home Page.
- NAFSA Letter to SEVP on Fall 2020 Guidance. (July 10, 2020) Dr. Esther Brimmer, NAFSA Executive Director and CEO, sent a letter to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) asking the agency to takes steps to revise the guidance immediately to once again allow continuing students within the United States to enroll in a full online course of study and to allow schools to maintain SEVIS records in Active status for all continuing students enrolled in online studies outside the United States, among other suggestions.
- NAFSA Joins Association Letter to DHS. (July 10, 2020) 81 associations, including NAFSA, sent a joint letter to DHS coordinated by the American Council on Education (ACE) concerning SEVP's Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance.
- NAFSA Town Hall: SEVP Fall 2020 Guidance. On Thursday, July 16, 2020, NAFSA will host a virtual Town Hall from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. EDT. It will feature a discussion of SEVP’s recent guidance and the anticipated rule on COVID-19 and Fall 2020. We will provide an update on related litigation and NAFSA’s liaison and advocacy efforts, including steps you can take. We will review some key aspects of the guidance to consider as you plan for Fall 2020, and two Directors of ISSS offices will share their ideas and issues as they grapple with implementing the guidance.
- Lawsuits Filed Against SEVP Fall 2020 Guidance. On July 8, 2020, Harvard and M.I.T. filed suit against DHS and ICE over SEVP's Fall 2020 COVID-19 guidance. Other Universities and States have filed additional lawsuits. NAFSA's page keeps track of the litigation.
- SEVP Publishes Fall 2020 COVID-19 FAQs (July 7, 2020)
- SEVP Issues Fall 2020 COVID-19 Guidance. (July 6, 2020) SEVP communicated its long-awaited Fall 2020 Guidance in a July 6, 2020 Broadcast Message. Briefly, some flexibility will continue for schools that adopt an in-person or hybrid model for Fall 2020, but will not continue for students in the United States studying at schools operating entirely online for Fall 2020. Schools are also directed to reissue Forms I-20 by August 4, 2020.
- USCIS Expands 60-Day Grace Period to Respond to RFEs, NOIDs or to File I-290B. (July 1, 2020)
- White House Amends H, J, L Proclamation. (June 29, 2020) A June 29, 2020 amendment clarifies that the exception at Section 3(a)(ii) of Proclamation 10052 applies only to individuals with a valid H, J, or L visa who seek admission to the United States in one of those categories.
- EVP Issues FAQ on Teaching and Studying for Fall 2020. (June 25, 2020) On June 25 EVP published a new FAQ covering the limits of online coursework and teaching policy for Fall 2020. The FAQ says that program sponsors may continue the accommodations they implemented for the Spring 2020 term only for exchange visitors in "active" SEVIS status who "are continuing programs that were underway in a manner compliant with regulations when the pandemic reached the United States," but that for new participants currently in "initial" SEVIS status, "host academic institutions should have reinstated partial to full-time classroom participation or be able to meet other formal in-person requirements before hosting new participants."
- USCIS Describes Budget Woes That May Lead to Furlough of USCIS Staff. (June 25, 2020) On June 25, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a statement describing "the agency’s fiscal outlook due to the COVID-19 pandemic." USCIS said that unless Congress acts on the agency's request for $1.2 billion in emergency funding before August 3, 2020, "USCIS will need to furlough over 13,000 staff members." The statement did not identify which USCIS staff would be furloughed. USCIS also said that if it receives the emergency funding from Congress, it "would repay these funds by adding a 10% surcharge to applications."
- New Presidential Proclamation Suspends Entry of Certain H, J, and L Nonimmigrants Through End of Year. (June 22, 2020) President Trump issued a proclamation that effective June 24 will suspend through December 31, 2020 the entry to the United States of H-1B and H-2B nonimmigrants, J-1 nonimmigrants in the intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program categories, and L-1 nonimmigrants unless they fall one of the specified exceptions. The proclamation also extends the prior proclamation on immigrant visas until the end of the year.
- EVP Communication to Student Intern Program Sponsors on Special Extensions. (June 22, 2020) The Exchange Visitor Program emailed program sponsors instructions on how to request a special "one-time opportunity to seek an extension of program participation beyond the maximum duration for student interns to make up for the time missed on their exchange programs because of the COVID-19 situation."
- Canada-Mexico Essential Travel Restrictions Extended. (June 22, 2020) COVID-19 restrictions that restrict entry to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders to "essential travel" only, will be extended through July 21, 2020.
- OFLC Announces Extension of Issuance of Electronic PERM Labor Certifications Through September 30, 2020. (June 16, 2020) Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, OFLC is extending the period during which the Atlanta NPC will issue PERM labor certification documents electronically through September 30, 2020.
- Status of Passenger Flights by Chinese Airlines to and from the United States. (June 15, 2020) On June 15, 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an amended order that will "permit Chinese carriers to operate, in the aggregate, a total of four weekly round-trip scheduled passenger flights to and from the United States."
- 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.
- June 11, 2020 Updates to Exchange Visitor Program COVID-19 FAQs. (June 11, 2020) The Department of State Exchange Visitor Program updated its COVID-19 FAQs with new FAQs on these topics:
- Academic sponsor annual reports still due by July 31
- Programs Under 5 participants must seek waiver of requirement
- Summary of limits on electronic DS-2019s
- Managing SEVIS status for exchange visitors who return home but continue to be enrolled in U.S. academic institutions
- What should exchange visitors do if they are unable to return home within the 30-day grace period following their program end dates due to lack of commercial air flights or border closures?
- DOL Issues Round 4 COVID-19 FAQ. (June 3, 2020)
- 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).
- Interpreting Immigration Regulations and Sources of Authority while Mitigating Risk in a Crisis (May 8, 2020)