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Coronavirus Information (COVID-19)

UK Update - Monday 10th May

We were happy to hear the Transport Secretary confirm international travel will resume on May 17th and it will no longer be illegal to travel abroad without a permitted reason to travel abroad and a declaration form. 

While we would have liked to see the United States of America in the initial Green list, participants will be able to travel to the U.S., which sits in the Amber list, from airports in England. See the U.K. Government guidelines for more information. 

However, while this is good news, we are still in the same position of waiting for President Biden to lift the travel ban on the UK and Europe. We are hopeful this will happen soon and that once it does the U.S. Embassy will resume non-immigrant visa services. 

Please read below for more information.

Update - Monday 26th April 2021 

As we draw closer to summer and the beginning of the summer camp season we wanted to take the time to provide you with a clear update on what information we have, and how we will proceed over the coming month.

Right now, like many of you, we are frustrated with the situation we find ourselves in. 

In the UK, COVID-19 restrictions have been significantly lifted, the vaccination programme is moving ahead successfully and international travel is set to resume with the new traffic travel light system (the traffic light system is currently confirmed for England only).

Likewise, in the US, many states have lifted restrictions and the vaccination rollout is moving forward at a great pace, with President Biden recently announcing that 200 million vaccine doses have been delivered and more than 50% of adults in the US have received at least their 1st dose. 

With that, we had hoped by now we would have been able to confirm that early to mid-May departures could go ahead as planned. 

However, we find ourselves with one key roadblock still in place, the Presidential Proclamation restricting entry into the US from travellers who have recently been in the UK and Ireland remains in place. 

In the past couple of days, many embassies, including the US Embassy in London and Dublin have confirmed they will resume non-immigrant visa appointments (including J-1) when the inbound travel ban to the US is lifted and/or camp counselors are included in a National Interest Exception (NIE).

There are many advocacy groups in the US, including your visa sponsors working hard to encourage the US Government to add camp counselors to the National Interest Exception, including CHI Camp Leaders who sent a letter last week to various government officials with signatures from over 150 Camp Directors.

We expect to receive more information regarding the US travel ban in early to mid-May and we are hopeful that the ban on the UK and Ireland will be lifted. 

Once the travel ban is lifted or an exception is applied, visa interviews can resume and we can get underway with the summer season. 

As of now, the Camp Leaders program is still moving ahead and our commitment to all of our participants is to provide you with a key update no later than May 21st. 

This update will provide you with all the information we have available and allow you to make an informed decision on how to proceed with the summer ahead. 

In the meantime, we will continue to process DS2019 forms and do everything possible to get you as ready as you can be once visa interviews resume and the travel ban is lifted. This summer is likely to be more last-minute than ever before but we are committed to making it work if the US Government allows us to.

For any participants with departure dates before May 21st, we will be in contact directly to arrange alternative departure dates in June.

We would like to thank all of our participants for your patience and understanding through this frustrating time and for all of your proactive efforts in getting your applications ready for the season ahead. 

If you would like to speak to us about your application or summer camp placement please feel free to email us or contact us via LiveChat. 

Summary:

  • The Camp Leaders program remains open and is moving ahead
  • The key factor currently preventing embassy appointments from being scheduled is the inbound travel ban to the US from the UK/Ireland and the absence of camp counselors as a National Interest Exception to that ban
  • We are hopeful the US travel ban will be lifted in early to mid-May or camp counselors will receive a National Interest Exception
  • We will provide you with an update by May 21st with everything we know, to allow you to make an informed decision on your summer
  • We will continue to get everything ready for the summer ahead, including processing DS2019 forms
  • For any participants with departure dates before May 21st, we will be in contact directly to arrange alternative departure dates in June
  • Our goal is to get you to camp as close to your intended arrival date as possible
  • There has been some indication that returning participants may be able to travel to camp this summer without a visa interview. While we are still awaiting confirmation, this is good news for both returning participants and first-time applicants as it will free up capacity in the US Embassy
  • Contact us via email or LiveChat if you would like to speak to us about your application

Ireland 

Please note the majority of update above also applies to participants from Ireland. The US inbound travel ban includes UK, Ireland and the Schengen area. Once this is lifted we are hopeful the US Embassy in Dublin will resume visa interviews. We will provide you with an update by May 21st with everything we know, to allow you to make an informed decision on your summer

For specific Irish government COVID-19 rules please visit: https://www.dfa.ie/

Frequently Asked Questions

My departure date is in early May, can I still travel then?

We will be in touch directly with any participants with a departure date prior to May 17th to arrange an alternative start date based on the current restrictions. If you have not heard from us and are due to depart in early May please get in touch via email or Livechat. 

Will the program go ahead this summer (2021)?

As we move towards summer 2021 we feel positive that travel will go ahead based on the encouraging news of vaccine development, improvements in mass testing and developments in the U.S. Administration. Time is on our side, with the majority of camps only beginning their sessions in June. As always your safety and welfare is our utmost priority and we will only facilitate travel if it's safe to do so.

We are encouraged by the latest announcement from the U.K. Government and hopeful, that international travel will resume from May 17th. 

We are monitoring news from the Irish Government and are hopeful that international travel can resume as they progress through the COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery plan.

What happens if the program is suspended similar to 2020?

If for any reason the program is suspended and travel cannot take place this summer, participants will have two options. Firstly, we will offer deferral of all fees to summer 2022 and guarantee no program fee increases. Secondly, if you cannot travel in 2022 we can discuss your refund options. Refunds are calculated based on the services you have received and are done on a case-by-case basis. 

Are there as many places available at camp this summer as in previous years?

This year we have limited places available due to the number of deferrals from summer 2020. The sooner you apply, the better your chances of securing your spot.

I have instalments to pay, should I pay them now or wait?

We understand that people may be anxious to pay or want to wait until their departure date is confirmed. If you do not feel comfortable paying your 2nd or 3rd instalment at this time you can wait until your departure date is confirmed. Please speak to a team member to find out more.

Do I need to upload/pay for my documents now? E.g Police Check

We understand that people may be anxious to pay 3rd party organisations for documents such as Police Checks and want to wait until a time closer to summer. To help, we will only require all 3rd party documents to be completed from March onwards. 

Should I book my flights to America?

We would advise holding off booking flights until your departure date has been confirmed and your US Embassy appointment has been booked. Our team will be in touch with you directly when you need to book your flight. If you do book a flight we would advise looking for airlines with flexible COVID options such as free date changes. 

Will it be possible to fly to the US this summer? (Referring to current travel restrictions?)

We feel positive that the current travel restrictions will be lifted or exemptions will be made for participants travelling on the Bridge USA (J1) visas. Time is on our side, with the majority of camps only beginning their sessions in June. 

If travel is possible will vaccination be required?

At this point, we are not aware of any travel restrictions that require vaccination for international arrivals in the US. If you do qualify for vaccination, we highly recommend receiving it. Should any restrictions arise, this will put you in the best position to travel.

What happens if I test positive before my departure to the US?

If you test positive close to your departure you may not be able to travel on your existing departure date. At this point, we will work closely with your camp to try and arrange an alternative arrival date. If this is not possible we will do our utmost to find you an alternative placement. If that is not possible then we will be able to offer deferral to the 2022 summer program. 

We would advise all participants to be responsible and follow government guidelines closely before their departure. To ensure you do not contract COVID-19 we highly recommend you isolate or reduce contact with people in the weeks before your departure.

What happens if I contract COVID-19 during the summer/while at camp?

Each camp will have its own quarantine procedures in place following guidance from the U.S. Government and their local state. These procedures may differ from camp to camp. 

If I contract coronavirus (COVID-19) whilst on the program, will I be covered by the medical insurance?

Yes. You will receive regular insurance coverage in this case, provided you were not diagnosed with Coronavirus before starting your trip. If you are experiencing any symptoms of illness before departure, we ask that you follow your local health authority's guidance.

Will I have to quarantine after landing in the US?

Currently, if you are eligible to enter the USA, the CDC requires that you self-isolate for at least 7 days on arrival and that you take a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after your arrival. In most cases, the quarantine and testing after arrival will be facilitated by your camp. At this point in time, it is unclear whether international arrival quarantine procedures will be in place during summer. As we move closer to the summer we will bring you the most up to date information from our visa sponsors and the U.S. Department of State. 

Will there be any social distancing or COVID-19 restrictions in place at camp?

Each camp may have its own social distancing restrictions in place. These restrictions will likely differ from camp to camp depending on their location in the United States. To find out more about any social distancing restrictions your camp may have in place please contact your camp directly. 

Will a pre-departure test be required before flying to the US?

Currently, if you are flying to the US from any foreign country on or after 26 Jan 2021, you must have either a negative pre-departure test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 provided by a licensed health care provider or public health official. 

It is likely that the U.K. Government will require travellers to take a PCR test before travelling. While we hoped for lateral flow tests to be accepted we are encouraged by the government's aim of reducing the cost of PCR tests before travel resumes. 

Will testing be required when I arrive at camp? 

Currently, if you are eligible to enter the USA, the CDC requires that you self-isolate for at least 7 days on arrival and that you take a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after your arrival.

Each camp is working with federal, state and local governments in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These along with the American Camp Association (ACA) have been developing protocols for camps to operate safely since last Spring. These protocols may include testing, social distancing, and modified programming until everyone has tested negative.

As we move closer to the summer we will bring you the most up to date information from our visa sponsors and the U.S. Department of State. 

Will testing be continuous throughout the summer?

Each camp is working with federal, state and local governments in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These along with the American Camp Association (ACA) have been developing protocols for camps to operate safely since last Spring. These protocols may include testing, social distancing, and modified programming until everyone has tested negative.

To find out more about any social distancing restrictions your camp may have in place please contact your camp directly. 

Will I have to quarantine when I arrive back home?

Due to the frequency of updates to the rules provided by the U.K and Irish Governments please visit your government website for the most up to date advice.

Regardless of what measures are in place now, we are hopeful that any significant quarantine measures will be lifted by the time the majority of our participants arrive back home in August and early September. 

If I wish to defer to 2022 instead of travelling this summer can I?

Yes. We understand that some people may not be able to travel this summer due to various individual circumstances or may simply want to go next year instead. If you wish to defer to 2022 please speak to a team member and they will transfer your application and fees to next season.

When will the U.S. Embassy resume J1 visa interviews?

The US Embassy in London have confirmed they will resume non-immigrant visa appointments (including J-1) when the inbound travel ban to the US is lifted and/or camp counselors are included in a National Interest Exception (NIE).

How to contact us

If you have any questions about your application you can:

  • Email us at info@campleaders.com
  • Visit our website between 9:00am - 5:00pm (GMT) to talk to us via LiveChat.

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Archive

United Kingdom Update - April 13th 2021

While the latest update from the U.K. Government did not include as much detail and clarity as we had hoped for, we are encouraged by the news of the traffic light system. 

The new traffic light system will introduce a green category with no isolation requirement on return to the UK - although pre-departure and post-arrival testing will still be needed. The new category will include countries where the risk is judged to be lower based on vaccination rate, infection rate and the prevalence of variants.

With the Biden Administration aiming to make the entire adult population eligible for vaccination by 19th April we are hopeful that the US will sit in the green category when international travel resumes.

Alongside the new traffic light system, the UK Government announced that regardless of which category the destination country sits in, travellers will have to take a PCR test before travelling. While we hoped for lateral flow tests to be accepted we are encouraged by the government's aim of reducing the cost of PCR tests before travel resumes. 

At this time, we are still awaiting confirmation on when the US Embassy in London will resume nonimmigrant visa interviews, specifically for the J1 category. However, the US Department of State has indicated nonimmigrant visas such as student and exchange visas will be prioritized soon.

Right now, we are doing everything possible to get our participants ready for when visa interviews resume and travel bans are lifted. Over the coming days and weeks, you will receive frequent communication from us in order to get your application in a position that when restrictions are lifted we can move quickly to facilitate your summer abroad. Thank you for your patience. 

Ireland Update - April 13th 2021

With summer approaching we understand our participants may be feeling uncertain and anxious about the months ahead. While we do not have all the answers we would have hoped for at this point we wanted to provide you with an update of the information we do have available. 

The Presidential Proclamation (10052), which temporarily suspended the entry of certain categories within the Exchange Visitor Program, including the J1 visa, expired on March 31, 2021.

Currently, the Irish government advises against all non-essential international travel. Additionally, from April 15th, all passengers arriving into Ireland from the US will be subject to a 10-day hotel quarantine. It is unclear when these travel restrictions will be eased for people travelling for work. 

However, with the Biden Administration aiming to make the entire adult population eligible for vaccination by 19th April we are hopeful that the US will move out of the quarantine list to allow international travel to resume by summer. 

At this time, we are still awaiting confirmation on when the US Embassy in Dublin will resume nonimmigrant visa interviews, specifically for the J1 category. We are keeping a close eye on developments and will notify you as soon as we have an update from the embassy. 

Right now, we are doing everything possible to get our participants ready in anticipation of visa interviews resuming and travel bans lifting. Over the coming days and weeks, you will receive frequent communication from us as more news is released and more clarity is available. Thank you for your patience.