June 23 Update Regarding the Presidential Proclamation on Immigration

June 23 Update Regarding the Presidential Proclamation on Immigration

Dear Volunteers, 

I am writing to bring your attention to the fact that on June 22, 2020, the White House issued a proclamation suspending some non-immigrant visas, however, to be clear, the proclamation does not include the high school (secondary school) category of J-1 visas. The White House fact sheet can be accessed here

While the proclamation does not include the high school (secondary school) category of J-1 visas, the proclamation does suspend certain categories of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) effective June 24 through December 31, 2020, with the possibility for continuation. Potential modifications may also be periodically recommended throughout the effective period. Section 2(b) of the proclamation provides details on the J-1 EVP suspensions:
“Sec. 2. Suspension and Limitation on Entry. The entry into the United States of any alien seeking entry pursuant to any of the following non-immigrant visas is hereby suspended and limited, subject to section 3 of this proclamation: 
(b) a J visa, to the extent the alien is participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, Au pair, or summer work travel program, and any alien accompanying or following to join such alien;….”

Section 3(a) specifies who the suspension and limitation on entry applies to and its details. Section 3(b) provides the exceptions to the proclamation, with Section 3(b)(iv) noting a national interest exemption as determined by the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security.

The Alliance for International Exchange (a consortium of like-minded organizations that responds to legislation impacting J-1 programs) has issued a press release that can be accessed here. As the Exchange Visitor (J1) program is intended primarily to support cultural exchange, the Alliance is continuing efforts to save these important international exchange programs. As you know, international exchange programs support the United States’ diplomatic efforts worldwide and the various categories and programs allow people who may not have the opportunity, for a variety of reasons, to take part in a high school exchange, still take advantage of this important public diplomacy effort at other points in their lives and education.  

Again, I’d like to emphasize that the proclamation does not halt high school exchange and the J1 visa category for secondary school students is not part of the proclamation. It is the case that consular services worldwide have not reopened, so we anticipate delays for our AFS students in obtaining visas, as we do not know when normal consular services will resume. We will provide updates as we are able regarding the resumption of consular services but anticipate that the resumption of consular services will happen on a country by country basis, taking into consideration conditions in each country in which US embassies and consulates operate.  

Thank you, as always, for your dedication to ensuring the well-being of all AFS participants and your contributions to a more just and peaceful world by building global families.  

With warm regards,

Tara M. Hofmann
President & CEO