FAQs for Exchange Visitors

Chapter News, J-1 & YE | September 22, 2020

Updated: October 27, 2020

  1. Can I travel internationally?

The FACC-NY strongly discourages any international travel for Exchange Visitors who are currently in the United States. 

  • There are still travel restrictions in place for entry into the United States. Travelers from several locations (such as the Schengen area) are still restricted from entering.
  • Many countries and territories have their own restrictions for travelers coming from the United States. For example, even though Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, currently they are requiring proof of negative Covid-19 test results and a mandatory quarantine upon arrival for all travelers.
  • For V.I.E.’s - Business France is not authorizing any travel to or from the United States for Exchange Visitors on a V.I.E. contract. Failure to comply with this policy can result in the termination of your V.I.E. contract and, consequently, your J-1 visa. As always, all V.I.E.’s must receive approval from Business France in order to travel internationally.
  1. Will I be able to fly home for winter holidays?

We are hopeful that the restrictions will be lifted in time for winter holidays, but we cannot guarantee this. If travel restrictions are still in place, please do not travel outside the United States. 

  1. As an Exchange Visitor on a V.I.E. contract, am I allowed to travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean islands?

It depends. Business France is not allowing international travel, including to Canada, Mexico, and most Caribbean islands.

For travel to U.S. territories in the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands), you must first speak with your Host Company and then reach out to Business France for approval.

For all inquiries, check the instructions from the Embassy of France in the United States as well as from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  1. I am not on a V.I.E. contract. Does this travel policy apply to me?

No, the Business France travel policy does not apply to you; however, it is strongly advised that you follow the recommendations of the Centre de Crise et de Soutien in France (or the federal public health authority from your home country). The FACC-NY is strongly recommending no international travel at this time.

  1. How can I get a Social Security number if the Social Security Administration offices are closed?

Each Social Security Administration field office has different levels of operation during Covid-19. We understand that many offices have already resumed services for original SSN applications, and you can begin this process either online or by phone.

You should check with your local field office to learn more about the services they are offering. Please remember to not share personal information by email. 

  1. Can I travel within the United States?

Yes, you can travel within the United States. However, every state has different COVID-19 regulations. Please consult the local government websites of both your current state and destination for more information.

  1. Can I fly back to my home country and work remotely from there until the travel restrictions lift?

No, as this goes against the purpose of the J-1 visa program. If you do, we will likely have to end your J-1 program. 

If you have recently been approved for a program extension, you are not allowed to work remotely from another country.

  1. I am stuck outside the United States and have been for more than 30 days. What will happen to my visa status?

Under normal circumstances, J-1 Exchange Visitors should not be outside the United States for more than 30 days. 

If you have been outside the country for more than 30 days, please reach out to your FACC Account Manager (if you have not done so already). In some exceptional situations, we can keep Exchange Visitors in “Active Status” in the government tracking system.

  1. I am currently outside the United States. Can I come back to finish my program?

You should come back to the United States as soon as the travel restrictions are lifted. The J-1 visa program is a cultural exchange and should be completed in the United States.  

Additionally, before you travel to the United States, you should get approval from Business France (for V.I.E.’s). 

Please let your FACC Account Manager know if you are currently outside the United States.

  1. I have recently extended my program. Do I need to get a new visa in my passport?

Not necessarily. You do not have to update your visa if you do not travel outside the United States during your extension period.

However, if at any point you do travel internationally during your extension period, you must get an updated visa at a U.S. Embassy to re-enter the United States. 

The process to apply for a new visa is much like the first time you applied, except you do not need to pay the SEVIS fee a second time, just the MRV/visa fee.

  1. Are you signing DS-2019s for travel validation?

No. We are not signing DS-2019s for travel validation while our office is closed. Keep in mind that we strongly discourage any international travel. Upon our re-opening, we will be happy to accept DS-2019s for validation.

  1. When will your office be re-opening?

Our office in New York remains closed until further notice. We apologize for the inconvenience! 

If you have a more specific question or one that is not listed above, please email us at coordinator@faccnyc.org.