On April 2, 2020, the Department of State (DOS) emailed exchange visitor program sponsors to inform them that DOS "will now push a two-month extension to program end dates in SEVIS on active records with a program end date between April 1 – May 31, 2020 in order to provide exchange visitors the opportunity to complete either their educational or training programs, or continue to finalize travel plans to return home." It appears from the message that this will happen automatically in SEVIS, and not require any action on the part of the sponsor or the participant.

DOS also says that it will "work with sponsors to push a reinstatement and extension in SEVIS resulting in a program end date of May 31, 2020... for exchange visitors who completed their exchange programs in March but remain in the U.S. due to circumstances outside of their control (lack of flights home, etc.)." Sponsors would have to send DOS a list of participants to whom that action should be applied.

Update: DOS EVP Updates FAQs with Questions Arising From Automatic 60-day Extensions. (April 7, 2020) The DOS Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) updated its set of Frequently Asked Questions to clarify continued obligations for health insurance and program participation during the automatic 60-day J-1 program extension it implemented on April 2, 2020.


Read the message on the EVP website

Text of the email sent to program sponsors reproduced below for convenience

From: AGexchanges [email protected]
Sent: Thursday, April 2, 2020
Subject: [Ext] RE: Sponsor Update - COVID-19 extension

Dear Sponsors,

The Department appreciates your continued efforts in addressing the health, safety and welfare concerns of your exchange visitors during this challenging time. This email contains important updates regarding a two-month extension of program end dates for certain categories during the COVID-19 situation.

Pursuant to an approval by Assistant Secretary Royce, the Department will now push a two-month extension to program end dates in SEVIS on active records with a program end date between April 1 – May 31, 2020 in order to provide exchange visitors the opportunity to complete either their educational or training programs, or continue to finalize travel plans to return home. Examples of categories with exchange visitors who could be extended are au pairs, interns, trainees, scholars, and specialists.  

Additionally, for exchange visitors who completed their exchange programs in March but remain in the U.S. due to circumstances outside of their control (lack of flights home, etc.), the Department will work with sponsors to push a reinstatement and extension in SEVIS resulting in a program end date of May 31, 2020. Please submit to the Office of Designation no later than April 15, 2020, a spreadsheet with SEVIS IDs, names of exchange visitor, date of birth, country of citizenship, sponsor program number, category, current program begin date, and current program end date to whom this action should be applied.

Sponsors should reprint Forms DS-2019 for those exchange visitors whose programs are extended through these actions, and provide the updated and signed forms to the exchange visitors when possible.   Sponsors should also review and correct records that inadvertently extended the program end dates that should not be in Active status (ex: the exchange visitors already departed the United States, but sponsors had not yet updated their records).

Academic exchange visitors (students and teachers) and alien physician categories that have program end dates in June or July will not be extended at this time. However, the Department will continue to monitor the situation as it relates to the exchange visitors in these categories and will provide later guidance if a determination is made on possible extensions.

More generally, the Department is continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation and its effect on the Exchange Visitor Program closely. We will supplement this guidance with additional information and/or will adjust guidance going forward, as needed.

Once again, thank you for your work, patience and understanding as we navigate through these unprecedented times together.

Sincerely,

Office of Private Sector Exchange