COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates

At Cultural Vistas, the health and well-being of our exchange program participants, hosts, and staff is of paramount importance to us.

Our team is closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and is actively assessing the potential impact on its global community.

This continues to be a fast-evolving situation. As such, we are assessing the impact of our programs and services daily and continually planning for future scenarios, including adjusted program models and planned events as warranted and/or recommended.

As the situation evolves, this page will be updated to provide the latest information, support, and guidance to our exchange community around the world and here in the United States.

News and Updates

Cultural Vistas President and CEO Discusses COVID-19’s Impact with The PIE News (3.27.20)

Message from Our President (3.23.20)

State Dept: Suspension of Routine Visa Services (3.20.20)

State Dept: Global Level 4 Health Advisory – Avoid All International Travel (3.19.20)

Message from Our President (3.13.2020)

State Dept: Temporary Pause of ECA Funded International Exchange Programs (3.12.2020)

State Dept: Global Level 3 Health Advisory – Reconsider International Travel (3.11.2020)

Cultural Vistas Alert: Novel Coronavirus Update  (2.6.2020)

Program Updates

Private Sector Exchange Visitor Programs, including Intern + Trainee Exchanges  (Updated: July 22)

On June 22, the White House signed a Presidential Proclamation suspending many new, work-based, nonimmigrant visa programs from June 24 through December 31, 2020. This proclamation does include the J-1 Intern and Trainee categories. The order is currently within a 30-day period that will allow for potential modifications, followed by evaluations every 60 days.

In sum, the proclamation means that entry into the U.S. will be prohibited for those without a valid visa issued before June 24 for the remainder of 2020, and therefore, visas will not be granted to individuals outside of the U.S. for new programs slated to start within this time period.

How programs are impacted:

  • J-1 Visa holders currently in the United States, or who were in possession of a valid visa before June 24th are not impacted by this proclamation. Valid visas will not be revoked. These individuals may continue their program and new programs may begin where companies are ready to physically host on-site and travel restrictions due to COVID aren’t in place.
    • Please note, if your participants have, or plan to extend their current J-1 programs, they should remain in the U.S. during that extension period. While they have valid federal documents to remain in the U.S., their visas usually expire during the extension period, and they will not be able to renew them overseas while this proclamation is in effect.
  • As the proclamation stands, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will not be issuing new J-1 Visas for 2020 programs. As such, if you can be flexible with the start dates of new programs, we can process sponsorship applications in the coming months and adjust the start dates accordingly with the evolving situation.
  • The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (a Department of Homeland Security agency) has provided directives to regional consular posts that Canadian citizens are exempt from this Presidential Proclamation. Legal immigration experts agree. As such, you may continue supporting Intern and Trainee programs for these individuals in 2020! Should federal guidance on this matter change, we will provide an update.
    • Canadian citizens hold official, sponsor-issued (by Cultural Vistas) travel documents, but do not need to obtain a physical J-1 Visa, as described in the restrictions outlined in the proclamation.

Programs starting in 2021 can proceed with their sponsorship requests. We can continue evaluating programs and issuing federal documents at this time. The speed and date at which subsequent visa appointments will be accommodated however, is at the discretion of individual consular posts. Be aware that some consulates may remain closed for extended periods due to COVID-19, and some that are open, may not issue the visas until after the proclamation expiration date. Under any circumstance, you should expect longer visa wait times, and if possible, plan for flexibility with program start dates. Once the visa is obtained, participants may travel to the U.S. January 1 onward.

For questions about active or pending programs, please contact your primary program contact or contact us directly via the following form.

ECA- and Embassy-Funded Exchange Programs
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announced on May 12 that due to the State Department’s Global Level 4 Health Others have pivoted to incorporate virtual programming and providing additional online resources. Cultural Vistas’ work as a National Program Agency in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) remains on hold.

Spring and Summer 2020 International Programs and Fellowships for Americans
Given the unprecedented circumstances, Cultural Vistas has made the decision to postpone or cancel the following spring and summer international program offerings for Americans. This decision was made in counsel with our Board of Directors, program funders, and many institutional partners around the world.

In addition to these measures, our staff is working with all participants taking part in active programs around the world to ensure their swift and safe return home.

In instances where departure has not been possible, we remain in regular communication with participants and program partners to determine and support the best course of action moving forward.


Alumni Resources

Through our partnership with Talkspace we are able to extend a special one-time discount of $100 (USD) to access online therapy services to all Cultural Vistas Alumni. You can message a licensed therapist from a mobile device — anywhere, at any time, making it easy to access to find support from your home, wherever in the world you are right now.

Contact alumni@culturalvistas.org to receive your alumni discount code.

Talk Space - Therapy for how we live today. image of a smartphone showing the talk space interface. download the app on the Apple App Store (for iOS) or Google Play Store (for Android)