US State Department Announces Temporary Pause of International Exchange Programs Due to COVID-19

March 13, 2020

Yesterday, the State Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announced that all ECA-funded exchange program travel to, through, and/or from countries at CDC Alert Level 2 and above, or State Department Level 3 and above, are suspended for 60 days beginning March 11, 2020. As the State Department has now issued a Global Level 3 travel advisory, this suspension applies to all countries.

Although camp counselor and summer work travel private sector programs are not specifically governed by this suspension, the ECA has asked 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). This approach should help to protect the health, safety, and welfare of program participants and the American public, and to avoid undermining US foreign policy objectives, compromising national security, and bringing the Department or the Exchange Visitor Program into notoriety or disrepute. 

Private section exchange visitor program sponsors and placement agencies will be communicating specific advisories related to this temporary pause directly with their camp host employers.  Many camp exchange visitors are not due to arrive at camp prior to May 12th.  Camps will want to create contingency plans in place of exchange visitors in the instance that this temporary pause is extended or where exchange visitors are needed to arrive prior to mid-May.