Information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
As we all learn more about COVID-19 and how to keep students and communities safe, we will provide you with ongoing updates about our high school abroad programs in the USA, UK, Canada and around the world, with departures in Autumn 2020.
Our global organization follows the information and recommendations of local governments and health authorities. Schools and nations around the world are eager to re-open, but also determined to do so in a way that will ensure the safety of students and communities. We expect that there may be changes to the school environments to ensure students’ safety. Students might need to wear masks, school start dates might be delayed, and physical distancing will need to be enforced – but classes will go on.
Any confirmed changes that may affect the normal operation of the program will always be communicated as soon as possible. The safety of our students is our highest priority, so we will not consider that your child travel without first ensuring that the country is ready to accept international students. We want to confidently let our students embark on their new, exciting adventure, without having to worry.
Updated July 3, 2020
What if it is impossible to travel in the fall? If borders are closed, or the national government recommends against travel for study programs?
It is promising that in several regions like Europe and Canada, countries have allowed for more flexible guidelines when it comes to international students who come for a longer period of time and stay in a fixed place in comparison to general tourists.
We are working closely with government institutions both in your home country and your destination country to receive all relevant information regarding COVID-19 and possible travel bans. In addition to keeping you updated on the latest news, we want to make sure you know that we have the most flexible cancellation policies for Autumn 2020.
- We can defer your program start to January or Autumn 2021
- We can switch you to another program or country
- If it is impossible to travel due to border restrictions, we will refund your program fee, other than application fee.
Are students covered for COVID-19 by their medical insurance during his or her program?
Yes. The treatment of any accident or illness, including related to COVID-19 that occurs to the international student during his or her program will be covered by insurance, in the USA and all our destinations. If they are not sick, but want to get a test, that is not covered by insurance.
How will a possible 2nd wave of COVID-19 be handled?
Over the last months we have learned much about how COVID-19 spreads, who is vulnerable and what factors are effective in managing it, and we are all adjusting to a new normal. In case of a new wave of COVID-19, based on our experience, it would only influence the exchange program temporarily and on a regional basis. If new lock-downs would take place, we would not repatriate all students back to their home countries during a second wave, unless it was a governmental directive.
Can we set a firm date where we confirm that the programs will proceed or not?
At the moment we are proceeding as if our high school programs will continue in Autumn 2020. Unless is 100% clear that the exchange program in a certain can NOT take place due to governmental restrictions or other outside factors, Educatius Group and its partners will work hard and vigorously to ensure that our exchange students “once-in-a-life-time” dreams will come through. If Educatius Group receives specific information that prevents the exchange program for happening in Fall 2020, we will immediately inform our clients and partners.
Overall High School Program in Fall 2020
- The USA F-1 High School program and our staff are continuing to prepare for the coming academic season. The vast majority of our school partners are very enthusiastic about welcoming Educatius’ international students.
July 13: The US Department of State official Twitter account @TravelGov has started responding regarding the resumption of visa services:
"Beginning July 15, US Embassies and Consulates may begin the phased resumption of routine visa services depending on local conditions."
Some individual countries have already confirmed the resumption of visa services such as China, Vietnam and Norway.
July 6, 2020 SEVIS Announcement Regarding Online Classes and I-20s
- On July 6, the US State Department and SEVIS made two important statements in preparation for the resumption of F-1 and J-1 programs in Fall 2020. The announcements provide important clarity around how Fall 2020 high school programs should be conducted. We are excited to see this coordinated effort to prepare for the arrival of students back to the US starting this fall.
- For F-1 Programs, The Department of Homeland Security clarified the policy related to online programs. DHS re-affirmed the existing regulation that students may not travel to the US to participate in a program that is 100% online, but it still provides a great deal of flexibility for students and schools. Students must engage in an in-person component to be eligible to stay in or re-enter the USA on an F-1 visa.
- We actually agree that we would not want our students to travel around the world just to be enrolled in a completely online program. We’ve been speaking with all our school partners and most of them have confirmed their intention to offer a hybrid model of in person and online classes. Thus, this announcement does not jeopardize Educatius Group’s Fall 2020 program; instead, we see it as a positive indication of the Fall 2020 international student program in the USA.
- SEVIS does not specifically say when travel will resume, however SEVIS are clearly preparing for a fall season. They are requiring all F-1 schools to re-issue I-20s to confirm that at least a portion of classes will be in-person. There are 1.2 million F-1 students in the US (including High School and University), and we don’t believe that SEVIS would ask schools to re-issue 1.2 million I-20s without expectation that fall programs will resume.
- “For all students attending schools in the United States this fall 2020, designated school officials (DSOs) must issue new Forms I-20 to each student certifying that the school is not operating entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program…
- Schools must update and reissue all Forms I-20 to reflect these changes in program enrollment and student information within 21 business days of publication of this Broadcast Message, on Aug. 4, 2020. When issuing new Forms I-20, please prioritize students who require new visas and are outside of the country.”
- The positive news is that they refer to issuing of new visas for students starting in Fall 2020, indicating that they are planning to open up for processing visas in time before the Fall Semester start: "The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester."
- Additionally on July 6, U.S. Department of State confirmed the J-1 High School program would take place for Fall 2020. Although a date has not been set yet for routine visa services, the clarification about Fall 2020 to be a positive development for all participants in the J-1 High School exchange. As in the past, the J-1 placement deadline is still August 31, and students must arrive in the U.S. no later than September 30.
Visas and Travel Restrictions
- As of July 7, we are still waiting for verification regarding international students travel to the USA from regions currently under a travel ban, such as the European Union.
- In China, students are able to schedule a visa appointment with the Embassy in Beijing as of August 3.
- At the moment, international students have been able to book visa appointments online, but recent appointments have since been canceled.
- Our international students arrive in the United States on a F-1 "Student visa” (with which our students enter the United States). This visa belongs to the “non-immigrant visa” category. Because of this, any possible US immigration restrictions do not apply to our program.
- Additionally, the US State Department has confirmed that student visas will be among those prioritized, when visa offices are fully opened. (source)
- Our staff is constantly in touch with the local embassy and we will notify you when we have any updates.
- The recent Council of the European Union has released its recommendation on non-essential travel into the EU. It bans "non-essential" travel by any citizens outside of Europeans and those listed in Annex I, but what is very important and promising is that the recommendation does allow travel by "specific categories of travellers with an essential function or need". The essential travel categories are listed in Annex II and they include "Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of study". Therefore, students from the US and other "third-countries" will still be able to travel to Europe to study. This is very positive news and helps open the door, politically speaking, for the US to allow European international students to enter, even if travel for general tourism remains restricted.
Will I need to Quarantine?
In the USA, there is a recommendation from the CDC that international travelers should quarantine – what that actually will mean in the worst-case scenario is that students arriving may need to stay at home for 2 weeks upon arrival. They will generally be able to catch up on their courses online if this is the case.
US High School Start Dates
- We expect that most schools will delay their start dates and not re-open until September, and this will be dictated on a state by state, and possible district by district basis. Many schools expect to start confirming their start dates by mid-July. There is enormous social, political, and economic pressure to re-open schools as soon as possible, but states want to ensure that it is being done in a safe way.
- There is no universal school start date in the United States, so your departure date will depend on when the school year in your host school is starting. As we expect schools to reopen in September, departures to the United States based on start dates would take place from late August to beginning of September.
- The great news is that we have seen that that families in the United States are confident that students can arrive to the United States despite the current situation and that COVID-19 has not affected the families’ interest in welcoming an international student to their home.
THE UNITED KINGDOM
UK Visas and Travel
- On Friday 3rd July the UK Government will release information on approximate 95 countries whom may travel to the UK without the need for self-isolation. Notable exceptions include Sweden, USA and Brazil. Travellers from these countries will need to spend 14-days in self-isolation after arrival.
- Visa application centres are starting to reopen with over 100 now accepting visa applications. Check which centres are available: https://www.gov.uk/find-a-visa-application-centre
- UK Home Office Website: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-immigration-and-borders
English Tests (IELTS for UKVI)
- IELTS test centres are now starting to reopen. The latest list can be found on the website: https://www.ielts.org/news/2020/covid19-information-for-our-global-test-taker-community
UK High Schools
- Schools in England are planning to reopen in September. The UK government and schools are working hard to ensure that a full return is in place for the majority of students at the beginning of the academic year. It may be that there is a blended approach for the very beginning of term where students complete a mixture of on site learning and some teaching online.
- The social distancing rules in England were recently relaxed from 2m to 1m apart, and this will now allow schools to plan to have all students in at the same time, so we anticipate getting further clarification from individual schools and colleges in the coming weeks.
Ireland Study Visas and Travel
- The Irish government is planning air bridges between European & some extra-EU destinations. This will allow movement between these countries without the need for a 14-day period of self-isolation upon entering the Republic of Ireland. This announcement is due imminently with the measures due to take place from 7th July. Students from regions not on the list may be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
English Tests (IELTS)
- If students need to have an English test before they start their visa application, IELTS test centres are now starting to reopen. The latest list can be found on the website: https://www.ielts.org/news/2020/covid19-information-for-our-global-test-taker-community
Irish Visa Processing Centres
- Limited resumption of visas commenced on 23rd June with the Long Stay (D) Visa being the priority. This visa is the one that exchange students should apply for. For up to date information in your location, you should go to the local Irish Embassy/Mission website for that location.
Ireland High Schools
- Schools in Ireland are planning to reopen fully at the end of August. Blended learning (online classes mixed with physical classes) is not expected to be widely utilized in Ireland during the 2020/2021 school year. However, contingency plans involving blended learning will be put in place should a second outbreak occur.
- The Irish government has decided that students will not need to keep a one or two-metre distance from classmates that they have direct contact with.
Canada Study Visas and Travel
The Canadian government as of July 1 has extended the travel restrictions from all countries into Canada until July 31.
Currently, those travelling by air will need to pass a health check before boarding their flight. Those arriving in Canada will have their health checked before they leave the port of entry. Travellers must have a realistic plan to self-isolate for 14 days (with their host families), even if they have no symptoms.
Canada High Schools
Canada is large, and the reopening of schools will be handled on a province by province basis. In British Columbia, the province has very few new cases and is preparing for a full re-opening of schools in September (source). In Quebec, elementary schools reopened in May (outside of Montreal). In addition, Canada’s federal government says the processing of study permit applications is continuing ahead of the start of the fall term, despite the coronavirus crisis, albeit from our perspective at a slower pace than normal. In addition, although some biometrics sites are closed, the IRCC website states that “Your application won’t be refused or closed if you can’t give your biometrics due to COVID-19 closures.”
What is the current situation in Europe?
Travel and Visas
The Council of the European Union has released its recommendation on non-essential travel into the EU and opened up to more countries as of July 1. It bans "non-essential" travel by any citizens outside of Europeans and those listed in Annex I (Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay).
- What is very important is that the recommendation does allow travel by "specific categories of travellers with an essential function or need". The essential travel categories are listed in Annex II and they include "Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of study". Therefore, students from the US and other "third-countries" will still be able to travel to Europe to study.
As we continue to receive updates and information from partners and government officials in our destinations and here at home, we commit to keeping you updated.
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