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News and Updates

Stay informed on the latest immigration, university, and program news and announcements.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Update on U.S. Travel Policy Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination

On Friday, October 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of State issued the following message:

As announced by the White House today, the new travel policy requiring foreign nationals traveling to the United States to demonstrate proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will take effect November 8. The CDC’s website explains that, for purposes of entry into the United States, the accepted vaccines will include FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines. (Please see Travel Policy Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination.)

The CDC and the interagency are working to develop the orders and guidance documents to implement this new travel policy, and those details -- for the airlines, for airline passengers, and for people coming to the land border -- will be available well in advance of November 8 to understand what is required to be in compliance. The Department will provide further information on Travel - Department of State as it becomes available.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Important Announcement on F, M, and Academic J Visas 

On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of State issued the following message:

The Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources, under the authority delegated to him by the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has authorized consular officers through the end of 2021 to expand the categories of F, M, and “academic J visa applicants” (secondary school students, college and university students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists) whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview in their consular district of residence, with certain exceptions.  Consular officers may, if they so choose, and pursuant to local conditions, now waive the visa interview requirement for F, M, and academic J visa applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and who have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived, and who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility; or first-time F, M, and academic J visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), provided they have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.

Secretary Blinken has previously found F, M, and academic J visa applicants eligible for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) under Presidential Proclamations that suspend entry of individuals present in one of the 33 countries subject to COVID-19 travel restrictions (see COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Exceptions). Students and academics traveling on J-1 visas must contact the nearest embassy or consulate prior to travel to receive an NIE.

Consular resources and local government restrictions vary widely, and each consular section is continuously reviewing its capacity to adjudicate visa applications during this worldwide pandemic and as we address global issues and competing priorities. We encourage applicants to check the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate to confirm the level of services currently offered and to find guidelines for applying for a visa without an interview. Despite this temporarily expanded authority to waive interviews, not all consular sections may be able to meet the demand for F, M, and academic J visas by the start of this academic year.

For more details on eligibility please see Important Announcement on F, M, and Academic J Visas and ECA's FAQs page at Exchange Visitor Program Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Thank you

Office of Private Sector Exchange

Monday, August 23, 2021

International Student Orientation

All students admitted spring 2020, fall 2020, winter 2021, spring 2021, and fall 2021 must attend the mandatory International Student Orientation on Wednesday, August 25 in the Heber J. Grant Building (HGB).

Please RSVP immediately using the Engage page.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Check-In with ISS at CAC 157

As summer comes to a close, we are thrilled to usher in the new semester and look forward to seeing you on campus! To confirm your SEVIS status, you must check in at our office as soon as possible. Additionally, please report any changes to the following within 10 days:

  • Residential and mailing U.S. addresses
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Biodata (e.g., name change, marital status)

As an international student or specialist in our programs, you are required to report changes timely.

Stay informed and connected by accessing our communication platforms. We look forward to serving you!

For J-1 Students and Specialists: Exchange Visitor Program Update Released August 18, 2021

We are committed to your health, safety, and well-being, desiring your success in your programs as students and specialists. As we navigate through another year of the pandemic, we ask that you continue to exercise caution in your daily interactions, both in person and online. Safeguard your personal information and be discerning of calls or emails you receive. At any point, if you are unsure about communications received, please meet with your ISS advisor, who will document your concern. If you require further assistance, your ISS advisor will be able to direct you to campus or community (even state or federal, if needed) resources.

As your sponsor, we remind you to reach out to us immediately regarding all matters of concern. We ask that you always regard us as your primary contact. We should be your "first and primary contact" per guidance from the U.S. Department of State. With that said, we are always available to you: to provide support and guide you in your experience as Exchange Visitors.

August 18, 2021

Dear Sponsors:

Reminders Regarding the Health, Safety, and Welfare of Exchange Visitors

The Department of State wishes to remind sponsors of our common goal of ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of exchange visitors who travel to the United States to participate in BridgeUSA programs. As the country responds to the pandemic, we are also facing a variety of geographic-specific health and safety-related conditions. Sponsors and exchange visitors alike should pay close attention to local health and safety guidelines and warnings.

Increase in Street Crime: Crime in the United States is on the rise, including physical assaults. Sponsors should advise exchange visitors to exercise a high level of vigilance and good judgment when spending time in new places and with people they may not know well.

Telephone Scams Targeting Exchange Visitors: Increasingly, telephone scammers are impersonating sponsors, law enforcement personnel, and immigration officers to try to extort money from foreign visitors. One telephone scam involved a caller impersonating a sponsor; the caller attempted to steal the exchange visitor’s personal information and defraud the exchange visitor of more than $1,500. A second example entailed scammers stating they were from law enforcement and that warrants had been issued for the exchange visitor’s arrest. The scammers then advised the exchange visitor to pay many thousands of dollars to stop the warrant/arrest action. Scammers often encourage exchange visitors to buy large numbers of gift cards and provide the numbers to the scammer, who then cashes them. One university-based exchange visitor provided $8,000 in gift cards to someone impersonating a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agent, who threatened action if the exchange visitor failed to provide the gift cards.

Preparedness, Survival, and Reporting of Severe Weather-Related Incidents:  Regional and seasonal severe weather (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires) may cause property damage, serious injury, and loss of human life. Sponsors are urged to remind exchange visitors to be aware of the hazards that might impact them during a severe weather event, to monitor information from the local or National Weather Service Forecast Office, to pay attention to all advisories and warnings, and to have a safety plan in place. Sponsors must remain informed of exchange visitors’ safety and well-being. Prior to, during, or after a natural disaster, the Department may reach out to sponsors to request information regarding their exchange visitors who may be or have been affected by such an event.

Reporting: Although exchange visitors may be more comfortable contacting agencies in their home countries regarding matters of concern, sponsors should be the first and primary point of contact for exchange visitors when these matters arise. To this end, sponsors should maintain open lines of communication through regular monitoring and advise exchange visitors to promptly report health, safety, and welfare-related matters to them. Sponsors must report these matters in accordance with regulatory requirements [22 CFR 62.13(d) and 62.25(n)(1)] and submit an interim update before completing a full report for the Office of Private Sector Exchange Administration (OPA) at the appropriate e-mail address below (which should not be shared with exchange visitors):

Many thanks for reminding exchange visitors to exercise appropriate caution and to report matters to you so we can help ensure their continued safety and well-being.

The Office of Private Sector Exchange