On May 12, 2020 the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) ​announced​ that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, "all ECA-funded in-person exchange programs will remain paused until further notice." This extends indefinitely for now the 60-day temporary pause that ECA had put into place effective March 11, 2020. See ECA's March 13, 2020 communication and its March 12, 2020 Media Note for background on the original pause.

ECA's March 13, 2020 communication also contained the following recommendation regarding the original 60-day pause for private-sector programs that are not funded by ECA: "Although private sector programs are not specifically governed by this suspension, ECA asks all private-sector Exchange Visitor Program sponsors to follow this guidance as they make decisions regarding exchange visitors who have not yet entered the United States. ECA also encourages sponsors to continue to follow guidance for ECA-funded programs as the situation evolves, particularly with respect to future exchange visitor recruitment (e.g., for summer or fall programs)."

That recommendation in the March 13, 2020 recommendation was not included in the May 12, 2020 announcement, so it is unclear if that carries over. On May 15, 2020, EVP updated their COVID-19 FAQs with the following:

"FUTURE PROGRAMS (Updated 5/15/2020)

  • In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State has temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but we are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

  • Visas that are currently valid will remain valid. Travelers may be subject to entry restrictions or quarantined if they choose to travel to the United States.

  • Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) sponsors are reminded to continue to follow guidance that ECA/EC has posted at j1visas.state.gov, e.g., reconfirming summer placements, ensuring exchange visitors not take positions U.S. workers might fill, and protecting the health, safety, and welfare of any participants and the Americans with whom they may interact. ECA/EC thanks sponsors for their continued support of the EVP through these unprecedented times."

Private-sector program sponsors with questions about their programs should contact ECA.