International Fellows FAQs – American Film Institute

International Fellows FAQs

January 2021 Update: Negative COVID-19 Test Requirement to All Air Passengers Entering the United States

When will the US travel ban be lifted?

The Department of State has announced that F-1 students from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland can now travel to the US. However, there is still a ban preventing travel from China, Iran and Brazil with no end date specified.

View the latest updates from the US government here.

Am I required to test/quarantine after international travel?

Non-fully vaccinated individuals traveling from outside a 125-mile radius surrounding campus are required to undergo a ten (10) day quarantine period following their return. After five (5) days of quarantine, the individual may take a COVID PCR test to determine if further isolation is needed. If the test result is negative, the quarantine may be lifted, and the individual may access campus so long as they pass the on-campus screening. However, if the test if positive, the individual must remain in isolation for another five (5) days before receiving a negative COVID PCR test and being allowed to access campus.

Fully vaccinated individuals traveling from outside a 125-mile radius surrounding campus must adhere to COVID safety protocols during and following their travel, such as masking, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and self-monitoring for COVID symptoms after returning.  However, they are not required to quarantine but must adhere to AFI testing guidelines (a negative PCR test within the previous 14 days) in order to access campus. Individuals traveling from outside the country must test 3-5 days after arrival.

Please note: “fully vaccinated” means more than two (2) weeks has passed since receiving your one dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson /Janssen) or your second dose of mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna).

Can I remain in the US if the Conservatory has to close down because of a COVID outbreak?
Under the current provisions, yes.

What steps are being taken by the Conservatory to ensure my safety and good physical and mental health?
The Conservatory has dedicated Task Forces working on creating and implementing safety and health protocols for the campus, classes and production. Efforts include preparing the campus to safely accommodate a pre-determined number of individuals in this space, with priority given to AFI Conservatory Fellows and Faculty. Facilities are being retrofitted for physical distancing and protection and increased outdoor academic spaces have been identified.

The reopening plan also includes provisions for Fellows who may need to physically distance for short quarantine periods and is addressing longer periods of absence with customized programming for those individuals.

Leadership continues to receive ongoing guidance from professionals in risk assessment and management and has hired a full-time COVID compliance officer and health professional to provide ongoing oversight and expertise on our management of the space. Additional staffing includes counselors in Fellow Affairs to meet any increased demand for support services any Fellow may need.

At the heart of our safety and good physical and mental health is ensuring that there is a strong sense of community, engagement and commitment to behaviors that benefit the whole. We will be asking every member who chooses to belong to the AFI bubble to agree to abide to a set of guidelines which have been developed by a group of representative Fellows themselves.

If I am unable to return to the US because of a travel ban, does the five-month rule apply to me (revoking a visa because of a five-month absence from the US)?
No. As long as you remain enrolled and in Active status and are making normal progress in your course of study, the five-month rule does not apply under COVID conditions.

As an incoming Fellow, if visa processing resumes but is delayed because of the backlog of applications, what is the latest date I could arrive at AFI to begin my studies?
We will work with Fellows in such situations to the degree it is possible. As each individual may have a different timeline than others, Fellows who find themselves in this situation should reach out to Carl Smith, International Advisor, for assistance.

Under a hybrid program, what provisions would be made for me if I have a medically documented reason not to come to campus?
We will work to make accommodations to the extent possible considering the state of current events and the fact that a significant portion of the program is designed as practical, hands-on, collaborative work. Again, as this could be different for each individual, Fellows who find themselves in this situation should reach out to Fellow Affairs for assistance.

Can I apply for OPT remotely?
This issue is being discussed with USCIS but no decision has been made. Currently the answer is no. You must be in the US to apply for OPT.

After OPT is approved, can I work remotely?
You may work remotely if your employer has an office outside of the United States or the employer can assess your engagement using electronic means.


Can I do a CPT paid/unpaid internship remotely?
Yes, provided that CPT is integral to your program of study, is authorized before the start date, and your employer has an office outside of the United States or the employer can assess your engagement using electronic means.

Does the Conservatory have recommendations for health insurance that would offer coverage during this pandemic?
See Fellow Affairs.

If my thesis delivery is delayed to a subsequent term, will I still be in status?
Yes, your program would be officially extended in SEVIS and you would receive a new I-20 reflecting the new end date of your program.