Travel Warnings and Updates

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Travel Restrictions

Due to concerns regarding coronavirus transmission, a presidential proclamation has been issued suspending entry to the U.S. for all nonimmigrants, including F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors, who were physically present in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) within the 14 days preceding their attempted entry. This policy went into effect February 2nd, 2020.

Another presidential proclamation was issued suspending entry to the U.S. for all nonimmigrants physically present in Iran within the 14 days preceding their attempted entry. This policy went into effect March 2, 2020.

A third presidential proclamation was issued suspending entry to the U.S. for all nonimmigrants physically present in Europe (in countries that participate in the Schengen agreement) within the 14 days preceding their attempted entry, excluding the United Kingdom. The European Schengen area includes: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. This policy went into effect March 13, 2020.

However, effective March 16, 2020, nonimmigrants physically present in the United Kingdom and Ireland within the previous 14 days period before attempted entry are also restricted from entering the U.S. Review the presidential proclamation.

On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced that all routine visa services, including nonimmigrant visa appointments, have been suspended worldwide. At this time, it is unclear when services will resume. Review the announcement and check country specific information.

On March 20, 2020, all non-essential travel was restricted along the United States and Canadian border (land ports of entry).  However, essential travel is defined to include traveling to attend educational institutions. For more information, please see the Federal Register. It is anticipated that this restrictions will be expanded to include the United States and Mexican border as well.

The U.S. has issued travel warnings cautioning against travel to countries experiencing high levels of confirmed cases of the virus. Many U.S. airlines have cancelled flights in response to the crisis. The COVID-19 situation is developing and all international travel includes some degree of risk.

Other Travel Restrictions

As a result of presidential proclamation and court order, travel restrictions to the U.S. exist for nationals of certain countries. Effected countries include:

  • Iran–F and J visas may likely be subject to additional scrutiny, enhanced screening, and vetting requirements
  • Libya–No impact on F and J visas
  • North Korea–Entry as a nonimmigrant is suspended
  • Syria–Entry as a nonimmigrant is suspended
  • Venezuela–F and J visas may likely be subject to additional scrutiny, enhanced screening, and vetting requirements
  • Yemen–No impact on F-1 and J-1 visas
  • Somalia–F and J visas are subject to additional scrutiny, enhanced screening, and vetting requirements

The U.S. Department of State issued guidance on how restrictions impact visa issuance; students or scholars from these countries are advised to consult with ISSS before making travel plans outside the U.S.

Effective February 21, 2020, travel restrictions expanded to include the following countries:

  • Eritrea
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Nigeria
  • Myanmar
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania

As of now, restrictions only apply towards immigrant, not nonimmigrant, entry. As a result, it is possible for a national of these countries to apply for a visa and enter the U.S. as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor. Review the most recent presidential proclamation.

Extreme Vetting

Additionally, the executive branch has mandated “extreme vetting”; therefore it is possible that some individuals may be subject to additional scrutiny or security checks. Due to possible additional processing, ISSS encourages students and scholars to allow sufficient time when applying for a student or scholar nonimmigrant visa.