Scholars (non-students)

Coming To UMass Amherst

If you are flying into the United States, please be aware of certain travel requirements.

Requirement for negative pre-departure Covid-19 test result or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 for all airline or other aircraft passengers arriving into the United States from any foreign country.

Travel Restrictions

Scholars should be aware of the current travel restrictions currently active:

  • Schengen Transit Exception: J Visa Exception for academics in Research Scholar, Short Term Scholar, Professor, Student and Specialist category for traveling directly from and transiting through the Schengen Countries will require a National Interest Exemption. Scholars are urged to reach out to their consulates and airlines regarding how to obtain this before travel. Please see the announcement from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), we recommend you print this for travel.  
  • National Interest Exemption to current Travel Bans: “Students and academics subject to these proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later.” DOS Although Department of State indicates ‘may qualify’, the ability to obtain a NIE is limited. Scholars are urged to contact their local consulate or embassy for further information.
  • Traveling to a third country and then flying to the US as a way to avoid the COVID travel ban: Note that the Department of Homeland Security has access to airline manifests and other information that may reveal your prior travel. People attempting to enter the US after spending 14 days in a third country have been denied entry to the US.
  • Canadian and Mexican Travel Ban: Until September 9, 2021, travel through Canadian land border are still restricted to essential personnel only.  

Students and scholars currently outside of the U.S. may be subject to various travel restrictions that make returning to or arriving in the U.S. difficult at this time. Please read below for more information:

Routine Visa Issuance Resuming on a Country by Country Basis

As of April 1, 2021, some U.S. Embassies and Consulates have started to resume routine visa services depending on the in-country situation. Please note that different embassies and consulates have different policies and procedures in place about reopening, and they are facing severe backlogs of applications that have accrued during their closures. All incoming students and scholars currently outside of the U.S. require a visa stamp issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country in order to enter the U.S. with, except for Canadian citizens. For specific information, please go to the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

Presidential Proclamations Suspending Travel        

As of April 30, 2021, individuals from the countries listed on the CDC website may be suspended or limited to entering the United States:

  • China
  • Iran
  • European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Brazil
  • India

This suspension also applies to individuals traveling or connecting through one of these countries. 

Stuck Outside the U.S. due to COVID Travel Restrictions

Please reach out to Nichole Hunley as shunley[at]umass[dot]edu and work with your hosting department on whether you can continue your work while abroad. Those that are outside the U.S. on UMass Amherst J-1 sponsorship while continuing their projects will be required to complete an Out of Country notification. 

UMass Amherst Extensions 

If more time is required for your appointment to allow you to remain in the U.S., your hosting department will need to initiate this BEFORE the end date of your original DS-2019 end date. You must have sufficient funding shown as well as continued medical coverage. 

30 Day Grace Period

Currently there is no amendment to the 30-day grace period after the end date of your DS-2019. Please make plans to depart the U.S. within this period. If you are having trouble locating flights home, please contact your home country's Embassy for assistance. Please makes sure to check in with your airline regarding travel restrictions and COVID testing as this may delay your departure. 

Early Departure

If you depart the U.S. and UMass Amherst and do not plan to return, and the departure is more than 15 days before the new SEVIS end date, please contact shunley[at]umass[dot]edu to amend your SEVIS record.

Medical Coverage


If you are feeling sick, please do not hesitate to contact a local care facility or the local hospital to be tested for COVID-19. If you are concerned your medical coverage will not be accepted, please see additional options on the IPO website. United Health Care will cover medical visits at UHS and regional doctors.



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