International Fellows FAQs – American Film Institute

International Fellows FAQs

When will the US travel ban be lifted?
While travel restrictions from certain countries to the United States due to COVID-19 are still in effect, the U.S. Department of State released an additional statement on April 30, 2021 stating that students from restricted countries who are applying for an F-1 visa and beginning studies as of August 1st or later, may qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE).  It is unknown how long the existing restrictions will remain in place. We recommend monitoring travel restrictions throughout summer as it is anticipated these restrictions may be lifted as conditions continue to improve around the world. Any questions regarding eligibility for the NIE should be directed to the U.S. embassy of your country of residence.

Am I required to test/quarantine after international travel?

Any Fellow, Faculty or Staff member returning from international travel must monitor for symptoms for 10 days after travel as well as PCR test 3-5 days after returning to Los Angeles.

If I have not been vaccinated in my home country prior to traveling to Los Angeles to begin my program at AFI Conservatory, will I be eligible to receive the vaccine in LA?
The COVID vaccine in Los Angeles County is available free of charge to anyone 16 years of age or older, regardless of immigration and insurance status. You may visit the LA Country Public Health website for more information.

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, updating, and implementing safety and health protocols for the campus, classes and production. Efforts include preparing and maintaining the campus to safely accommodate a pre-determined number of individuals in this space, with priority given to AFI Conservatory Fellows and Faculty. Facilities have been retrofitted for physical distancing, air filtration systems efficiently maximized, and protective measures 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 the AFI team includes a full-time COVID compliance officer and health professional who provides 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 ask 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 individually with Fellows in such situations to assess if an accommodation is possible. As each individual may have a different timeline than others, and Fellows who find themselves in this situation should reach out to Lena Purtu, International Advisor, for assistance.

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. 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?
All physical OPT applications must be sent from within the U.S. There is also an option to file the application online.

After OPT is approved, can I work remotely?
You may work remotely if your U.S.-based employer has an office outside of the United States and/or if the U.S.-based 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?
Please see Fellow Affairs for more information.

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.