GENERAL

Where can I get help?

If you are ever unsure of who to contact for help, please contact your EVS advisor or call the UFIC emergency phone at 352-538-5558.  We are here to support you, and we can also direct you to other resources.

If you need J visa or other immigration-related help:

If you need medical help or information:

EVS cannot provide any medical advice, but we can refer you to official sources and medical professionals who can help you.

If you feel unwell, please call your primary care doctor first. 

If you cannot contact them or do not have a primary care doctor, please call:

Your doctor or the health department will help determine what you need to do next, including where to go if you need to visit a specialized clinic or hospital.   Calling ahead will help keep you and others safe and prepared, and make sure you are able to get the care you need.

If you feel you are in immediate, physical, life-threatening danger, call 911.

If you need mental health support and resources:

If you need help with U.S. health insurance:

You may contact UFIC’s insurance specialist, Maryshelly Quinones, at 352-273-1542 or scholarinsurance@ufic.ufl.edu.  Please be aware she cannot answer specific questions about COVID-19, but she is a U.S. health insurance expert.

If you need other types of help:

IMPORTANT: Do not accept any advice about employment, taxes, or immigration.  Verify any information about these topics with your EVS advisor.

Is EVS still open?

Yes.  As of July 5, 2020, Exchange Visitor Services is available for limited in-person services and full-time remote services.  If you need an emergency appointment, please contact your EVS advisor.

In-Person Services

  • Document pick-up, signatures, and emergency in-person services are available from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.
  • Face coverings and social distancing are required.
  • Advising is only available by phone or video call.  In-person advising is currently not available.

Remote Services

  • EVS staff are available remotely by phone, email, and video from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. 
  • EVS will continue to provide essential J visa services, including:
    • Processing new Form DS-2019s
    • Amending current Form DS-2019s
    • Individual advising (by phone, email, video call)
    • General phone and email support

Where can I find more information about…?

TRAVEL

Can I still travel?

Maybe.  EVS cannot guarantee any current or future travel conditions, especially for international travel.  Non-essential travel can increase health risks for yourself and others, and is highly discouraged.

NOTE:  The geographic COVID-19-related Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, and 10143, which suspend entry into the United States of foreign nationals who have been physically present in the People’s Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Brazil, and South Africa in the 14-day period before seeking entry into the United States, remain in effect.

  • International:  Many countries have active travel advisories and/or restrictions.  Non-essential travel is highly discouraged and travelers may experience unexpected delays.
  • Domestic:  Many states have differing state-of-emergency orders, which may include travel restrictions. Non-essential travel is highly discouraged and travelers may experience unexpected delays.

Please check all of the latest health advisories and travel regulations before you travel.

What should I do if my home country’s borders are closed?

Your options will depend on your plans and circumstances.  Please contact your home country’s embassy or consulate, as well as your EVS advisor for help.

If your J-1 program is ongoing and you want to remain in the U.S., you may do so.

If your J-1 program is ongoing and you want to return to your home country, you have two primary options:

  • Complete an Out Of Country Form.  This option is available if you intend to return to the U.S. and your current J-1 program.  It will keep your record active while you are outside the U.S.
  • Shorten your J-1 program.  This option is available if you will not or cannot return to the U.S. It will end your J-1 program early. 
    • If you leave the U.S. more than 14 days earlier than the end date on your Form DS-2019, you and your host department are required to officially shorten your J-1 program.
    • Departmental contacts must submit an amendment request to shorten a J-1 program.
    • Visitors do not need to remain in the U.S. while these requests are processed.  You may make the request from outside the U.S.

If your J-1 program is ending soon and you are leaving the U.S., you do not need to complete any check-out process or other additional actions.

If your J-1 program is ending soon and you cannot return to your home country, notify your EVS advisor and contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to request an extension of your grace period.  If at all possible, make your request before your J-1 program ends.  Include any information about your home country’s border closures in your request.

Scroll down to “Guidance for Exchange Visitors Returning to Their Country of Origin” for the most recent information.

What should I do if I can’t return to my home country because of COVID-19?

Your options will depend on your plans and circumstances.  Please contact your home country’s embassy or consulate, as well as your EVS advisor for help.

If your J-1 program is ending soon, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to request an extension of your grace period.  If at all possible, make your request before your J-1 program ends.  Include any relevant information about travel restrictions in your request.

Scroll down to “Guidance for Exchange Visitors Returning to Their Country of Origin” for the most recent information.

J PROGRAM AND VISA STATUS

How will COVID-19 affect my ability to participate in the J-1 program?

Guidance and regulations depend greatly on your plans and circumstances, and may change suddenly.  EVS will send notices to all visitors of any important information.  If you have specific questions, please contact your EVS advisor.

  • If you are an active J-1 or J-2 visitor inside the U.S., you may continue your normal J-1 program activities.  Please contact your EVS advisor if you must travel internationally, work away from your normal site of activity, or have any other specific questions or concerns.
  • If you are an active J-1 or J-2 visitor outside the U.S., please contact your EVS advisor if you have concerns about re-entering the U.S. or need to complete an Out Of Country Form.
  • If you are an initial J-1 or J-2 visitor inside the U.S., please do the following:
    • Confirm you have U.S. health insurance that complies with UF and J visa requirements.
    • Complete and submit your online check-in application in the ISSS portal.
    • Communicate with your UF faculty sponsor and host department to tell them you have arrived in the U.S. and are allowed to begin your J-1 program activities.
    • Continue to monitor your UF email for important updates.
  • If you are an initial J-1 or J-2 visitor outside the U.S., please contact your EVS advisor and host department for assistance.

As of July 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of State has announced an ongoing phased resumption of routine visa services in all countries.  For more details, please see the U.S. Department of State announcement.

If you are affected by an ongoing suspension, please contact your EVS advisor and host department immediately.

NOTE:  The geographic COVID-19-related Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, and 10143, which suspend entry into the United States of foreign nationals who have been physically present in the People’s Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Brazil, and South Africa in the 14-day period before seeking entry into the United States, remain in effect.

Is my J-1 program canceled?

Unlikely.  Your J-1 program has not been canceled unless you receive written notice (e.g. email, letter) from your host department confirming that information.  Otherwise, you may continue your normal J-1 program activities.

Can I choose to cancel my J-1 program?

Yes.  EVS can cancel a J-1 program if you and your UF faculty sponsor decide to end it early.  We need written proof of this agreement (e.g. email, letter, etc.) to complete the process.

What happens to the EVS processing fee if a J-1 program is canceled because of COVID-19?

If a J-1 program is canceled because of COVID-19, the visitor’s EVS processing fee can be deferred or potentially refunded.

  • If you intend to still participate in your J-1 program in the future, a deferred fee can be used for the future submission instead.  The fee may be deferred whether or not a Form DS-2019 has been processed.
  • If you do not intend to participate in your J-1 program in the future, you may request a refund if and only if EVS has not yet processed the From DS-2019.  We are unable to issue a refund after the Form DS-2019 has been processed.

Can my J-1 program be deferred?

Yes.  EVS can defer programs as far into the future as is necessary, provided you and your UF faculty sponsor have agreed on the new start date.  Department administrators must submit an amendment request to defer a J-1 program start date.

Can my J-1 program be shortened?

Yes.  If you will be leaving more than 14 days earlier than the program end date on your Form DS-2019, you are required to officially shorten your J-1 program.  Department administrators must submit an amendment request to shorten a J-1 program.

NOTE:  Visitors do not need to be inside the U.S. while their request is processed.

Can my J-1 program be extended?

Likely.  EVS can extend programs up to your J-1 visa’s maximum duration, provided you and your program sponsor agree and can show appropriate funding and continuing program activities.  Department administrators must submit an amendment request to extend a J-1 program.

Maximum Duration for Common J Visa Categories

  • Research Scholar/Professor: 5 years
  • Short-Term Scholar: 6 months
  • Student Intern: 12 months

If your J-1 program is ending soon and you cannot return to your home country, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to request an extension of your grace period.  If at all possible, make your request before your J-1 program ends.  Include any relevant information about travel restrictions in your request.

Can I amend my J-1 program more than once?

Yes.  EVS can amend a program as many times as necessary to adapt to the situation.   However, some restrictions do apply if you have already received your J-1 visa.  For more information, please contact your EVS advisor.

Can I start a new J-1 program?

Yes.  EVS cannot advise on potential travel restrictions, but our office is processing new Form DS-2019s normally for all J-1 visa categories.  For more information, please contact your EVS advisor.

How do I complete my check-in and orientation process?

All new visitors must do the following within 30 days of their Form DS-2019 program start date:

  1. Confirm you have U.S. health insurance that complies with UF and J visa requirements.
  2. Complete and submit your online check-in application in the ISSS portal.
  3. Check your UF email for an invitation to your virtual orientation.
  4. Complete your mandatory virtual orientation session.
  5. Continue to monitor your UF email for important updates.

After you complete these steps, EVS staff will validate your immigration record.  This means your visa status will be active and your record will remain in good standing.

For public health and safety, all orientation sessions are virtual until further notice.  If you cannot attend your scheduled orientation session, please contact your EVS advisor.

What if I need to obtain or renew my visa?

Your solution will depend on your plans and circumstances.  If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your EVS advisor.

As of July 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of State has announced an ongoing phased resumption of routine visa services in all countries.  For more details, please see the U.S. Department of State announcement.

If you are affected by an ongoing suspension, please contact your EVS advisor and host department immediately.

  • If you are currently inside the U.S.:  A visa is an entry document, and you may remain legally inside the U.S. with an expired J visa if you have a valid passport and J-1 program.
  • If you are currently outside the U.S.:  Please contact your EVS advisor and host department for help immediately.

If you cannot renew your visa because your J-1 program is ending soon, and you cannot leave the U.S., contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to request an extension of your grace period.  If at all possible, make your request before your J-1 program ends.  Include any relevant information about your situation in your request.

What if I need to renew my passport?

Please contact your home country’s nearest embassy or consulate for help.

If they are unable to help you or your home country currently does not have an embassy or consulate in the U.S., please contact your EVS advisor.

Can I change my visa status inside the U.S.?

Maybe.  It will depend on your current and desired visa status.  Currently, most change-of-status visa applications inside the U.S. take an average of 8-12+ months to complete.  If you need to change your visa status inside the U.S., please contact your EVS advisor.

How can I receive my Form DS-2019 or other documents from EVS?

You may pick up any documents during EVS walk-in hours: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.  Masks and social distancing are required while on campus.

Alternatively, you may have documents mailed directly to you.  Contact your EVS advisor with your mailing address, and they will ship your documents to you via USPS.

Please note that if you are outside the U.S., or need something urgently, you may need to provide an international or expedited waybill.

WORK AND LEAVE

What if I can’t work at my normal site of activity (e.g., working from home, alternate location, etc.)?

You are allowed to work from home or another location other than your normal site of activity as needed by the current COVID-19 situation.

This is okay, but you must have department approval AND notify your EVS advisor.  We will work with you and your host department to make any necessary adjustments.

Once you receive department approval, email the following to evs@ufic.ufl.edu:

  • Full name
  • UFID
  • Address of your alternate work location
  • How your supervisor is communicating with you and how often
    • e.g., phone, email, video conference, etc.
    • Include any relevant phone numbers, email addresses, etc.

As always, your U.S. address must be current and up-to-date with EVS.  You must report any changes to your U.S. home address or phone number to your EVS advisor within 10 days of the change.

What if I can’t work remotely?

The University of Florida’s reopening plan includes guidelines for faculty and staff returning to campus.  Your supervisor will provide detailed instructions for you within your workplace.  If you have any questions about returning to campus, including possible accommodations, please contact your supervisor.

If you cannot work on campus or remotely, you may qualify to use paid leave to cover that period.

For more information, please review the UF Human Resources’ Working through COVID-19 page and the UF COVID-19 Faculty and Staff FAQ section.  If you have additional questions, please email humanresources@ufl.edu.

What if I need more leave?

If you need an extended period of leave, you may request additional support through several emergency sources.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

As of April 1, 2020, the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act allows eligible UF employees to use additional benefits through the Family and Medical Leave Act.  This is also referred to as EFMLEA leave, and it allows for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid leave.

UF COVID Leave Donation Plan

As of April 6, 2020, the UF COVID Leave Donation Plan allows UF employees to donate or request additional leave through a UF Sponsored Pool.  This leave plan is separate from the Sick Leave Pool and Aid-A-Gator, and is meant to support employees who have exhausted other leave options.

Aid-A-Gator

Aid-A-Gator is an emergency grant program available to support UF employees and students with unexpected financial hardships.  UF employees should visit HR – Gator Perks and students should visit the Office for Student Financial Affairs.

For more information on these options and other UF resources, please review the UF Human Resources’ Working through COVID-19 page and the UF COVID-19 Faculty and Staff FAQ section.  If you have additional questions, please email humanresources@ufl.edu.