There is no doubt 2020 has been a one of a kind experience for everyone! The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact people across the world. Many countries still have travel bans, moratoriums, and other restrictions that are changing on nearly a day to day basis. Not to mention the “new normal” of social distancing and wearing masks that we are all trying to adapt to… it brings a lot of questions!

HPUSA has been available to provide as much support as possible to the cultural exchange community during these unprecedented times. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most common topics relating to the unexpected events of 2020.

The J-1 Cultural Exchange Program in 2020

There are so many success stories that come out of participating in a J-1 Cultural Exchange Program! Not only do international students, recent graduates, and young professionals benefit but so do American host company employers as well as the American economy! The Cultural Exchange program is an essential part of the American economy.

As our economy strives to reopen, the suspension of the J1 Exchange Visitor Program for the remainder of 2020 will hurt our nation’s businesses and communities. Every year, we bring the WORLD to the United States through exchange, learning, and service! Cultural Exchange visitors come from more than 200 countries and contributed over $32 billion to the US economy last year. Many businesses will have to reduce operations, lay off American workers, and possibly close! We have joined the effort with the Alliance for International Exchange and others in support of saving the J-1 Cultural Exchange Program. Together we can #SaveJ1 and support American jobs! Show your support today!

Traveling to and from the USA

We understand there are so many participants in the midst of travel to and from the United States when the travel bans, extra safety measures, and moratoriums were put into place. We have gathered resources from some of the most renowned U.S. sponsor organizations and other government entities to provide the most up to date information available.

If you are trying to depart the USA and return to your home country, please check to see if there are currently travel restrictions to your home country. If you are trying to arrive in the USA after securing your visa, please check with your home country for any travel restrictions or quarantine requirements. We know some travel bans have been lifted and are allowing international flights but it is always best to double-check before booking any flights.

In the USA on a J-1 Visa Now

Many J-1 cultural exchange participants were directly affected when the US came to a halt. For each person the COVID-19 had a different impact, resulting in limited options. Some participants returned home while others stayed in the US waiting on their programs to resume. Recently, we have seen more exchange visitors able to return to their training programs as businesses start to reopen. We were able to assist in the processing of many program extensions for those who were qualified for the one time COVID-19 extension. We also have processed numerous transfers to new host companies who have positions available for exchange visitors to finish their programs.

If your program has ended naturally, you may still take advantage of the Travel Grace Period in the U.S.A. If you have this opportunity, make the most of your time here and do some sightseeing. Even with the new social distancing and safety measures put in place by states across the country, there are still many must-see tourist spots to check out before you leave!

Related Reading: 12 Must-See Tourist Spots in the United States

The Future of the J-1 Cultural Exchange Program

There is a saying… “Nothing lasts forever and this too shall pass…” We will all overcome these challenging times and are prepared and ready to assist future participants in gaining this once in a lifetime experience of working in the USA. Do not let the events of 2020 stop you from pursuing your dream to work in America!

Bring on 2021! We are ready and waiting to get started with a new year of cultural exchange. Remember these are the times where we need to stay strong as an international community… Be safe, be alert, and be careful but most importantly… be kind!

Take the first step today in joining the cultural exchange community with a program start date in 2021 and start your application with HPUSA today!

Related Reading: We recommend that you follow the updates and healthy practices outlined by the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of State.