May 2020 Letter to Membership

Dear CSIET Colleagues,

I write to you today with some important updates.

Interim Guidance for F-1 Programs

In response to limitations posed by COVID-19, CSIET has issued interim guidance for F-1 programs relative to host family interviews:

The current situation with COVID-19 and efforts to reduce the spread of the virus causing the disease creates many challenges. CSIET is aware that some existing guidelines in the CSIET Standards for a Long-Term, Inbound International Student Exchange Program, in place to ensure student safety, are currently at odds with the best interests and safety of students, host families and staff. Specifically, this applies to the requirement to personally interview all prospective host families in their home, as well as the requirement that screening procedures shall include personal interviews with student applicants and that students shall be given a suitable orientation before departure. To ensure the well-being and safety of all involved parties, CSIET wants to give guidance to organizations regarding how to handle these activities.

For the time being, CSIET strongly recommends that an “on-camera” interview with host families be conducted virtually. The organization conducting the interview should create a record of who interviewed the family, when the interview happened, and the names of the family members that took part. Signatures from family members will not be required. If possible, this interview should be followed up with a visit in the home, before the student arrives, or if such a visit is impossible, a recorded virtual-visit. CSIET will not require that all family members be present at this visit. The organization should create a record when this visit happened and who conducted the visit.

CSIET also recommends that personal interviews with students, as well as orientations before departure, take place virtually and be recorded. The organization responsible should create a record of who conducted the interview and the orientation, and when they happened. Signatures from students will not be required.

This guidance will be in place until further notice and continually reviewed with regards to the situation related to COVID-19.

2020-2021 CSIET Conference Update

After much deliberation and consideration, and out of an abundance of caution, the CSIET Board of Directors has agreed to postpone the 2020 CSIET Annual Conference, which was originally scheduled for October 14-16 in Cleveland, Ohio. Instead, CSIET’s 36th Annual Conference will take place April 7-9, 2021 at the same location. 

CSIET Evaluation Review

Below is a review of the 2019-2020 CSIET evaluation cycle. The 2020-2021 Advisory List is fully updated on www.csiet.org.

This year’s evaluation process was thorough. We received 131 applications for certification this year compared with 118 last year. Of the 131, 10 programs were new applicants. By the deadline of February 28, 2020, four F-1 programs had either withdrawn their application or had not submitted an audit report, and therefore were not eligible for certification. This is two more than last year at this time, resulting in a slightly lower rate of retention (93.22%, down 4% from FY 19) of F-1 programs throughout the evaluation process. 

  • In March, CSIET reviewed 65 audit reports and accompanying application materials – 55 F-one Inbound (six fewer inbound audits than FY 19), 7 outbound (1 fewer than FY 19) and 3 F-1 International Student Recruitment Agencies (new program, 3 more than FY 19).
  • Of the 61 J-1 programs, all 61 were in compliance according to the requirements for certification, and organizations were issued the appropriate certification letters.  
  • Of the 55 F-1 audit reports submitted, 52 were in full compliance: 41 were given a Full Certification, nine were conferred Provisional Certification, two were conferred Conditional Certification and one was denied certification.  Of the 131 applicants for certification, 12 organizations received Provisional Certification.  
  • The number of outbound audits increased to seven.  The number of outbound students represented by these audit reports is below 1000, which is reflected in the results of this year’s Statistics Report.  

For more information, navigate to the Advisory List Online or CSIET’s Program Finder. The CSIET Accreditation Committee will conduct a review of the F-1 Audit Template during the month of June.

Should you have any questions about these updates, please contact me directly at cpage@csiet.org.

Thank you for all you do to provide safe and valuable international student exchange experiences.

Sincerely,

Chris Page

CSIET Executive Director