Update for the J-1 Visitor Exchange Program

Person looking up airport schedule board

On March 11, 2020, a 60-day travel ban was placed on international exchange programs, including the J-1 program, by the Department of State. United States embassies around the world were also closed. The travel ban is set to expire on May 11. There is no official information at this time whether the ban will be lifted or extended or when US embassies will reopen to process new visas. The Department of State and your visa sponsors are still moving forward to facilitate the J-1 programs. 

What Camps Can and Should Do

  • Check with your J-1 participants who already have visas and review your agreements. Give them accurate information of what’s happening in your location and what to expect when they arrive. Remember, they only have media reports about the status of COVID-19 in the United States. Be sure they work with your sponsor for finalizing travel arrangements.
  • Encourage participants waiting for visa appointments to keep contacting the US embassy to get an appointment. Review the latest date they can potentially arrive at camp to help them with that scheduling.
  • Stay in contact with your sponsor. If you are making changes to dates, hours, number of participants, or canceling any of your participants, let your sponsor know before notifying the participant. There may be an opportunity for participants to be placed in another camp if you cannot keep the placement.

There is still concern from the White House that the J-1 program displaces American workers. If you have laid off American staff during this spring, be sure to hire those staff back before accepting J-1 participants and document that activity. Also document all of your efforts in recruiting and hiring American staff for this camp season. Share with your sponsor.

Some sponsors have paused arrivals until June to give camps and participants time to plan and to make arrangements based on travel bans in the US or their home country, quarantine requirements, and extended training needs. Be sure you know all of the local government requirements that you will need to meet in order to have international participants in your camp. Develop a plan to implement those special procedures and review that plan with your sponsor. Be flexible . . . and stay positive.

For more information, check out the US Department of State's web page for exchange visitor program information on coronavirus (COVID-19).