Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ

General

The latest updates from the University of Hawaiʻi are available here. This page is updated frequently.

FSIS does not recommend international travel due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts to global travel. International travel is currently unpredictable. The CDC does not recommend traveling internationally until you are fully vaccinated. If you do choose to travel, be prepared for delays or the inability to re-enter the U.S. All travelers returning from international travel are required have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months. UH faculty and staff are also required to follow UH Travel Policies following travel and re-entry. More information is available on the UH COVID-19 website.

A travel ban currently suspends entry into the U.S. of all aliens (except immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and others excluded in section 2 of the proclamations) who were physically present within 1) India; 2) South Africa; 3) Brazil; 4) United Kingdom and Ireland; 5) the 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, and Switzerland), 6) the People's Republic of Iran; and 7) the People's Republic of China (excluding the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau) during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

Effective March 20, 2020 according to a U.S.-Canada Border Federal Register Notice and a U.S.-Mexico Border Federal Register Notice, entry is only allowed to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S. Mexico borders for “essential travel” only. “Essential travel” includes “Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions; Individuals traveling to work in the United States.” The restrictions have been extended until May 21, 2021 for both Canada and Mexico.

separate order from the CDC also suspends "the introduction of persons into the United States" who are traveling from Canada or Mexico "who would otherwise be introduced into a congregate setting in a land Port of Entry (POE) or Border Patrol station at or near the United States borders with Canada and Mexico." The order states that it is not applicable to "Persons from foreign countries that hold valid travel documents." It is unclear how this could apply for travelers sent to Secondary Inspection, because their documents cannot be verified or if they are missing appropriate travel documentation.

Additionally, many other countries may have travel restrictions of their own, which could impact your ability to enter those countries or move freely.

Global travel conditions are highly impacted and the Department of State has announced a phased resumption of routine visa services. Visit your local U.S. embassy or consulate website to confirm operating status and find information about appointment rescheduling and/or emergency services. If you do make the personal decision to travel internationally, please contact FSIS. If your visa is expired, be aware that applying for a visa for entry could be unpredictable and could cause you to face further delays.

The CDC recommends to delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. Review the CDC domestic travel recommendations for fully vaccinated people and for unvaccinated people. Also review the State of Hawai‘i Safe Travels Program website. If you are unable to obtain a negative COVID-19 test from a Trusted Testing Partner, you must follow the State of Hawai‘i mandatory 10-day self-quarantine. If you choose to travel domestically, please consider your own health and safety. Aside from any risk from COVID-19 itself, be prepared for possible localized shelter in place orders, transportation bans or infrastructure disruption which may impact your travel plans.

J-1 Exchange Visitors

Following UHM Administration's guidance, we ask that faculty sponsors encourage their J-1 Exchange Visitor (EV) to transition to working from home or to limit their time on campus. We also understand that there may be disruptions in meeting program objectives. However, our highest priority is the EV’s health, safety, and welfare. We recommend faculty sponsors to communicate weekly with their EV via online methods. It is important now more than ever that faculty sponsors maintain communication with them.

If your EV would like to return to their home country, please contact our office. A J-1 visa is not necessary for the EV to continue collaborating with their faculty sponsor while in their home country. Although there are no restrictions for EVs to leave the US, they may be unable to reenter the US to complete their program. Therefore, we will suggest shortening program end date. For EVs who are in the Research Scholar category and subject to the 24-month bar on repeat participation, the department can invite them back as Short-Term Scholar during the 24-month bar. Please contact our office if your EV would like this option.

FSIS staff are teleworking until further notice and are available via email and voicemail.

During this period we will continue to process requests and advise colleges/schools remotely. Departments can continue to submit DS-2019 Initial Requests. Please keep in mind that start dates may be subject to change as US embassies and consulates have slowly started to resume regular visa services. Please submit all requests via UH FileDrop to the appropriate International Scholar Specialist.

EV’s last name A-M – Janet Murasaki (janetyz)
EV’s last name N-Z – Pei-Chin Liao (peichin)

We are still required to abide by the U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program regulations and are unable to transmit Form DS-2019 electronically. FSIS will coordinate deliveries with department contacts.

H-1B, E-3, O-1, and TN Workers

A Labor Condition Application (LCA) is filed with each H-1B petition and the worker’s place of employment is reported on the LCA. During this time, H-1B workers are allowed to work from home without FSIS having to file a new LCA and H-1B petition if your home resides on the same county as your worksite. If your UHM H-1B employee is working outside of Honolulu County (or UHH H-1B employee working outside of Hawaii County) during this time for more than 30 days, please contact FSIS. We may need to file a new LCA and H-1B petition.

FSIS staff are teleworking until further notice and are available via email and voicemail.

Since USCIS is still paper-based, colleges/schools must continue to submit hard copies of all nonimmigrant petition requests.

UH Disbursing has made an exception for Colleges/Schools to request for Special Handling for checks made payable to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." When creating the DV, please enter "JR Disbursing" in the "Special Handling Name" field, and "SPECIAL HANDLING" in "Special Handling Address 1" field. Also, please include her name as a FYI AdHoc.  FSIS can create FedEx mailing labels for your department. Please either 1) email your FedEx account number; or 2) email the UH account number we can charge the invoice to.