Coronavirus (COVID-19) update from CHI
We are excited about the news of the travel ban into the U.S. being lifted for vaccinated international travelers beginning November 8, 2021 and thrilled to welcome back many corners of the world to our CHI BridgeUSA programs.
With Covid-19 safety in mind for our program participants and stakeholders, CHI is following government and CDC mandates and guidelines. This means CHI program participants entering the U.S.:
- Will be required to have the full doses of a WHO or CDC approved vaccine at least two weeks prior to arrival in the U.S. List of approved WHO vaccines here. List of approved CDC vaccines here.
- Will need to be prepared to provide proof of vaccination status at any point during the program participation, including but not limited to pre-arrival/application process, upon arrival in the U.S., at the host placement location and at general public venues.
Can I apply to a CHI BridgeUSA program if I am not vaccinated?
Yes, you can apply to a CHI BridgeUSA program, but be aware that you will need to comply with the U.S. government’s requirement to be fully vaccinated before you enter the country.
I have already been accepted in a CHI BridgeUSA program but I have not yet received a vaccine. Can I stay in the program or do I need to withdraw?
You may remain on your program of choice as long as you comply with the U.S. government’s requirement to be fully vaccinated before your arrival in the U.S. If you are unwilling or unable to get vaccinated, CHI may not be able to facilitate a placement for you.
Vaccines are not yet available to me or the vaccine is not approved by the WHO or CDC. Can I still apply to a CHI BridgeUSA program or stay on the program if I have already been accepted?
Yes, you can apply to your CHI BridgeUSA program of choice, but keep in mind the U.S. government’s entry requirement for inbound international visitors to be fully vaccinated upon arrival.
If the vaccine available to you is not on the approved WHO or CDC list, consult with your doctor or medical professional to discuss vaccine options and issues, and of course, always follow your home country’s official guidelines when it comes to health and medical decisions. If the vaccine is still not available prior to your scheduled program start date, you may be eligible for a program deferral.
As the Covid-19 situation evolves, travel requirements and program protocols may change as well. Your flexibility and willingness to pivot are essential to a successful CHI BridgeUSA program.
We look forward to welcoming you to the U.S.!
Cultural Homestay International (CHI)
The Department of State has confirmed that Presidential Proclamation 10052 expired yesterday, March 31, 2021. This proclamation suspended visa services for BridgeUSA J1 programs including Summer Work & Travel, Camp Counselor, Intern, Trainee and Au Pair since June 2020 and had been extended by the previous Administration.
CHI advocated against the continuation of PP 10052, while a federal court had enjoined the Administration from applying the restrictions to CHI participants, as a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, allowing a limited number of participants to begin programs.
As U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad work to resume regular visa services according to Department of State prioritization, increased visa interview availability at each post remains subject to local conditions related to the pandemic and will vary in speed.
We continue to urge President Biden and our Department of State partners to immediately increase availability of visa appointments. Our collective efforts in advocating for our programs will pay off, and we appreciate your efforts in working together toward our common goal. We will continue to keep you posted as the resumption of exchanges continues to unfold.
In the meantime, CHI participants are receiving J1 visas in countries where appointments have become available and we look forward to increased visa successes around the world. Our committed U.S. hosts and international participants are ready to safely experience the U.S. in 2021 as we remain committed as ever to our public diplomacy mission and goals through exchange programming.
Please keep in touch with your CHI point of contact for any questions or concerns.
Cultural Homestay International (CHI)
Greetings from CHI.
We hope you are staying healthy and your 2021 is off to a positive start. At CHI, we have been focusing our energy to restore and strengthen our programming, as well as moving forward to rebuild our organizational presence. We thank our partner agents and U.S. host communities for their resilience and strong interest in our continued partnership for cultural exchanges.
CHI is encouraged by the recent trends indicating a hopeful road ahead for the cultural exchange community:
- The Biden Administration is placing diplomacy back at the center of the U.S.’s foreign policy and is taking a pro-immigrant policy position, including welcoming international visitors.
- In his first speech to the Department of State staff, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that he has “… gained an even deeper appreciation for how people‑to‑people exchanges bring our world closer together and convey the best of America to the world, especially to its young people.”
- An overwhelming show of confidence for the exchange visitor program was on display by host community leaders, host companies, Department of State representatives and J-1 visa program sponsors during a Summer Work & Travel virtual conference last week. Stakeholders are committed and determined to ensure cultural exchange programming will prevail this year and beyond.
- CHI participants in our high school, au pair, intern trainee and work & travel programs have been arriving in the U.S. and fully engaging in their program activities. In the weeks ahead, we anticipate this small number of arrivals to steadily increase. Gradually in certain countries, a few U.S. Embassies are opening up and approving visas.
At the same time, we acknowledge the challenges and share in the frustration with the difficulties regarding visa appointments and issuance due to the limited services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the globe. CHI has been communicating with the Department of State staff regarding the situation. Much of how Embassies/Consulates operate varies greatly from country to country, depending on how they can open safely based on local conditions and evolving restrictions.
Despite the hurdles, CHI remains optimistic. With the Covid-19 vaccine being rolled out, the call for unity and inclusiveness coming from Washington, D.C., as well as recent visa approval trends, a strong resumption of cultural exchanges in 2021 is within sight.
Cultural Homestay International
The recent Presidential Proclamation suspending or limiting entry for several non-immigrant visa types has impacted the cultural exchange program community, effectively preventing many 2020 CHI program participants from being able to apply for a J1 visa to join a program in the U.S. for the remainder of this year.
Despite the challenges the suspension poses, CHI is proactive in supporting the 2020 program participants currently in the U.S. and working daily to offer a successful exchange experience. We also continue to work closely with our partners around the world to promote our programs for those participants exempt from the 2020 visa restrictions as well as those interested in participating in 2021.
As an active member of the sponsor community, at CHI, we share the concerns about the impact of the June 22 Proclamation and have actively engaged with our government and elected officials in asking that J1 visa programs be allowed to continue in 2020 by removing them from the Proclamation.
Through these unprecedented times, we remain fully committed to our mission to bring peace and understanding through people-to-people exchanges. Thank you for your continued partnership.
Please continue to check back for updates.
On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order suspending or limiting entry for several non-immigrant visa types.
As several exchange program categories are mentioned in this complex presidential proclamation, we will provide further updates as we determine how exactly our 2020 programming will be impacted moving forward.
We remain committed to our mission to bring peace and understanding through people-to-people exchanges. Thank you for your partnership in our public diplomacy efforts.
Please continue to check back for updates.
On May 12, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the Department of State announced that federally-funded exchanges continue to be paused until further notice. CHI’s programs are privately funded and are not affected by this announcement.
As we continue to move forward in navigating the challenges and in offering meaningful exchange program experiences, we remain committed to support the health, safety and welfare of our participants and host communities throughout the U.S.
Please continue to check back for further updates.
Click here for a message from our Executive Director and CHI Co-founder, Tom Areton.
Learn more about our caring host communities and dedicated staff.
Earlier this week, President Trump announced an upcoming Executive Order with the intent to suspend immigration due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The content of this Proclamation is now available on the White House website here.
The Executive Order temporarily restricts legal immigration into the U.S. for individuals abroad that are seeking permanent residency (green card). The language primarily focuses on immigrant visas and does not include short term visas such as the J-1 Exchange Visitor Programs.
However, the cultural exchange community continues to remain vigilant and is engaging in active outreach to ensure that restrictions are not placed on our programs. At CHI, we continue to work through these evolving circumstances in order to provide meaningful exchange programs in the U.S. in Summer 2020 and beyond.
Please continue to check back for further updates.
Given the active and changing situation of the COVID-19 outbreak, CHI is continually monitoring, assessing and making programmatic decisions based on government advisories as well as local, national and international health authorities’ guidance. Pulling from CHI’s 40 years of experience as a leader in international exchange programs, and based on our tradition to always put safety first, we are advising our upcoming Summer 2020 participants, as well as those who are scheduled to join any of CHI’s programs in 2020, to plan accordingly for their arrival in the USA. At the same time, we encourage you to stay informed on updated recommendations from health officials and plan for flexibility relative to changing travel restrictions.
With your health and safety always at the top of our mind, CHI remains firmly committed to offer you an excellent exchange program experience. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, there is a temporary pause in exchange programs already in effect. However, CHI continues to prepare for your future arrival in the US, operating daily and planning ahead in optimal force for our Summer 2020 programs and beyond, with anticipated arrivals after May 16, 2020.
The good news is that while there are temporary disruptions in many parts of the world affecting visa interview scheduling, US embassies remain fully committed to resume normal operations as soon as possible. To reiterate, CHI has not suspended any of our cultural exchange programming.
With the ever changing challenges, this uncharted territory will present to us the need to be flexible and adjust accordingly. As a partnership, CHI is here for you.
The health, safety and well-being of CHI’s participants, hosts, staff and stakeholders is paramount and is at the forefront when making decisions related to the administration of our programs.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has created uncertainty and anxiety among the general public and the global cultural exchange community. CHI understands the disruption that the outbreak has caused in specific countries and that individual travel plans may be affected due to travel restrictions, government and global health official guidance, as well as personal decisions concerning international travel.
While engaging and participating in cultural exchange programming demonstrates a commitment to travel and global connections, CHI’s priority is to ensure everyone’s safety and will handle individual inquiries related to the outbreak with the utmost respect and care. Please contact us if your scheduled or current program has been affected, and you require assistance.
We are closely monitoring developments and communicating with those government agencies involved in the administration of our programs, including our partner associates and host communities within the US and around the world.