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IENA Update – COVID-19, Global Pandemic

This page will be update with news as we have it

COVID-19 Update 5/12/2020, 12:00pm

We hope this finds you all healthy.  Seems things are still as uncertain as they were 3 weeks ago as far as the summer season and J-1 Programs.  We continue to ask for your patience and see where this goes.  Today the ECA released an extension on their pause of Federally funded programs with the statement below (found HERE)

“Due to State Department Global Level 4 Health Advisory, all ECA funded in-person programs will remain paused until further notice.

Some programs continue to accept applications. Some programs have pivoted to incorporate virtual programming. Other programs have provided additional online resources. Please consult with a specific program office for current operating status.

Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) sponsors are reminded to continue to follow guidance that ECA/EC has posted at j1visa.state.gov, e.g., reconfirming summer placements, ensuring exchange visitors not take positions U.S. workers might fill, and protecting the health, safety, and welfare of any participants and the Americans with whom they may interact. ECA/EC thanks sponsors for their continued support of the EVP through these unprecedented times.”

Please note that IENA’s programs are NOT federally funded.  Whilst a sponsor may decide to follow the guidelines above, they do not apply to our programs.

Currently IENA are not allowing program start dates before June 15th for any of our Summer Work and Travel participants who are NOT placed in a Summer Camp.

COVID-19 Update 4/20/2020, 12:01pm

We hope this update finds you healthy.

As we enter month 2 since COVID-19 turned us here at IENA into hermits with new found homeschooling skills, we wanted to loop you in on some updates that we have had pertaining to counselor travel and camp openings.  This is a long one.

CONSULAR UPDATES

Here are some embassy updates we have had:

AUSTRALIA – Although there has been no formal announcement, we hear Embassies are preparing to remain closed until the end of May.  This of course does not effect any Australians who currently have a visa granted.  Our hope is any Australians that have not yet been granted a visa will be available to travel during the last week of June.  However nothing is certain.

MEXICO – Last week we heard participants were able to make June appointments at the embassy.  When we contacted the consulate directly, they simply said there was no update in policy on their end.  Mexico did end its shutdown until May 30th.  This means that any participant not in possession of a passport will have great difficulty travelling this summer.  Mexico has a 30 day turnaround for passports, and if they are not processing until May 30th, its highly unlikely they will have a passport, then be able to attend their embassy appointment in time to travel.  For Mexicans with a passport, we are hoping for a last week of June arrival.

UNITED KINGDOM – The UK consulate sent a survey last week to all sponsors to ascertain what our needs were when they open.  Although no date was given, the fact they are looking at what will need to be done when they do open was very encouraging.

We have had reports from participants that consulates in GERMANY, POLAND and HUNGARY have been taking May appointments.  No official word though.

We have also received questions about the status of the Department of State 60-day pause on J-1 programs. There has not been an update yet.  They had originally said there would be a 30 day review.  That has not yet happened.  The Department have been gathering information from sponsors as to our needs and the effects on the program though.  We are all monitoring the J-1 COVID-19 website daily.

 

OPENING UP CAMP

Here are the current published white house guidelines in conjunction with the CDC.  Whilst we know this will be up to each individual state, Camp is part of “Phase 2”.

 

Our continued goal is to do everything we can to assist making camp happen.  We are optimistic that we can all overcome the challenges and provide a wonderful experience for thousands of children this summer.

 

COVID-19 Update 3/16/2020, 3:00pm

As predicted on Saturday, many US embassies around the world may be temporarily halting their non-immigrant visa interviews, such as the J-1 visa.

While this might seem to be unfortunate news, this was an expected short-term measure put in place to help limit large gatherings of people in combating the COVID-19 virus.

 

Please visit your country’s US Embassy for the most up to date information on their interview schedule for J1 exchange visitors. You can visit them here: https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-US/countries_list/niv. It’s important to remember that this is a short term measure and the summer season will be moving forward.

 

COVID-19 Update 3/14/2020, 1:00pm

Like many of you around the world, we have been keeping a close eye on the impact of the COVID-19 virus.

We expect the Summer season to happen. It is full steam ahead at IENA for this summer.

The US administration has given a strong and robust response to the management of the virus and have taken steps to restrict travel from 28 countries in mainland Europe for 30 days, beginning Friday March 13th. In addition, the US Department of State have closed all programs funded by them (Our programs are not) and have requested no program participants enter the country before May 10th.  In addition certain embassys have been closed temporarily (Spain and Ireland for 2 weeks).  We expect more to follow suite.

IENA welcomes this move.  Social distancing and other measures should prove to curtail the spread of this virus.

Summer is still a few months away.  IENA will continue to work towards our later May and June arrivals. Recent developments in many countries will of course mean that we may all have to work to accommodate changes that may occur to original plans, but we are confident we can work through these challenging times.

Our participants’ safety is always our number one priority and IENA are constantly reviewing our procedures and processes.  Equally, we know that host employers will be putting stringent procedures in place to ensure their customers, campers and staff stay well and they remain operational.

This is a situation that is updated daily and we will continue to update you should anything arise.

Finally, for more information about COVID-19, look to the World Health Organization (WHO) web site at: https://www.who.int/.

As always, IENA is here to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have