COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some updates from the IRS regarding the stimulus incentive: 

Q: Does someone who is a resident alien qualify for the payment? 

A: A person who is a non-resident alien in 2020 is not eligible for the Payment. A person who is a qualifying resident alien with a valid SSN is eligible for the Payment only if he or she is a qualifying resident alien in 2020 and could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer for 2020. Aliens who received a Payment but are not qualifying resident aliens for 2020 should return the Payment to the IRS.

Q: What should I do to return an Economic Impact Payment (EIP)? 
AYou should return the payment as described below: 

If the payment was a paper check:

  1. Write "Void" in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  2. Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  3. Don't staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
  4. Include a note stating the reason for returning the check.

If the payment was a paper check and you have cashed it, or if the payment was a direct deposit:

  1. Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  2. Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (social security number, or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.
  3. Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the EIP.
For more important updates, follow this link to the IRS FAQ’s section on the Covid-19 stimulus payment. 

Q: I recenly arrived in the US, how can I apply for my Social Security Number (SSN)? 
A: Social Security Administration (SSA) Offices will make appointments only for applicants filing for original Social Security Numbers (SSNs).  (Exchange visitors previously issued an SSN can call to request a printout.) Appointments are available only two weeks after exchange visitors have entered the country, and only if exchange visitors do not display symptoms of COVID-19.

Q: My training hours have been reduced and my host company is not following the contract of the mandatory 32 hours of training per week.
A: If your host company is able to provide you with any amount of hours at this time, this is the best case scenario. The 32 hour minimum requirement is being suspended in an attempt to limit the amount of program cancellations. Please speak with your host company about additional options for supplemental training.

Q: My internship has been cancelled. What should I do?
A: Your host company may have had to make the difficult decision to end your internship early. Obviously, there has been an extreme drop in business and not all businesses can keep their regular employees or interns. If your internship has been canceled, you should begin making arrangements to return home. If you are the citizen of a country that still has flights from the U.S., we strongly advise you depart the country as soon as possible. Odyssey will confirm the exact end date of your program, after which you will have access to your 30 day grace period to arrange your departure. If you are unable to return to your home country due to a travel ban or unavailability of departure flights, please reference the emergency extension option below. Please note that transfers are not available at this time considering the nationwide effect the outbreak has had on the hospitality industry and economy at large.

Q: My host company has offered me a furlough. What does this mean?
A: If your host company is suspending business temporarily, they may offer you a furlough. A furlough will keep you on as an active employee, without receiving training hours or an income. This is at the discretion of your host company in hopes business will resume as normal. Odyssey will allow you to be on furlough for up to 30 days. You should only consider accepting a furlough if you are confident you can support yourself without pay during this time. Please also note that there is no guarantee your program will resume. If after 30 days your host company still cannot offer you any amount of training hours, you will need to return home.

Q: My host company has not updated us on the status of our internship. What should we do?
A: Please speak with your host company. How many hours you receive for training and whether your internship will be ended early, is at the discretion of your host company.

Q: Why are some Exchange Visitors receiving hours and we’re not?
A: Please be aware every city, state and country are being impacted by this crisis at a different level, which will affect each host company response and how much business they are receiving.

Q: Will I be permitted back to my home country?
A: Please consult with your country’s embassy to check for the latest updates on travel bans.

Q: How can I apply for an emergency visa extension?
A: If you would like to remain in the US because you do not want to travel right now or because you cannot return home, you may be able to apply for an emergency extension. Please be aware that there may be a fee associated with this extension. Additionally, Odyssey cannot assist you with the extension as it is managed by USCIS. Please reference a previous message from Odyssey regarding this:

If there are currently travel restrictions (DOS- Current Travel Restrictions) to your home country, please use your grace period to wait and see if they are lifted. However, if you need to extend because of a travel restriction to your country, this will need to be done with an immigration lawyer and through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you need to file for this, you will need to use a i-539 form (attached with instructions). Please note natural catastrophes and other extreme situations can sometimes affect the processing of your USCIS application, petition, or immigration request. USCIS has discretion to take the following measures on a case-by-case basis upon request, if you have been affected by a natural catastrophe or other extreme situation.

Q: What if I cannot break my lease and/or receive fees for breaking my lease?
A: Please consult with your landlord. Since this is a difficult time for the entire country, your landlord may be offering a deferment or waive fees. Every case will be different and we cannot guarantee this as an option, but it is worth reaching out to your housing management to see what they can offer.

Q: What if I cannot schedule a flight home because of a travel ban and/or all flights are booked already?
A: Please remain patient and continue to look for flights. You have a 30 day grace period to remain in the country. You can also apply for an emergency visa extension if needed (see below).

Q: I cannot afford a plane ticket home. Can Odyssey or my host company offer financial assistance?
A: All Odyssey exchange visitors signed a financial verification document confirming access to at least $1,500 in case of emergency. If you do not have sufficient funds to return home, please ask for assistance from friends and family. Odyssey cannot purchase flights on your behalf. We also unfortunately cannot offer any refunds to your program cancellations. We also suggest asking your host company if they can assist in anyway, however this is also not guaranteed and will be determined on a case by case basis.

Q: If I return to my home country, can I return to the U.S. to finish my program?
A: This may be a possibility if your host offers to welcome you back and if you still have time left on your program. We will consider this on a case by case basis. Please note that Odyssey cannot extend the end date of your program, so you will need to comply with the original end date listed on your DS-2019 if you decide to return.

Q: Will my insurance cover services related to COVID-19?
A: Please consult with your insurance provider and reference the attachment previously provided to all Exchange Visitors: "Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)."

Q: I want to return to my home country regardless of the status of my internship. Can I end my internship and go home early?
A: If you want to return home regardless of host company decision, you are always at liberty to end your internship early. Please communicate with your host company and with Odyssey if you plan to return home.

Q: How can I keep myself and others safe?
A: Please see the Center of Disease Control's recommendations for preventing the spread of the Coronavirus

Q: Why have I not received a response from Odyssey?
A: Odyssey is monitoring the situation as it continues to unfold and will send you updates as we receive them. Please keep in mind this is impacting all of our communities, near and far. We are doing our best to answer as many questions as we receive, though you may receive a delay in response. Please continue to check the Odyssey website for up-to-date information.

Q: Can I get another job while I am not training?
A: Unfortunately, due to the regulations of the J-1 Exchange Visitor program, under no circumstance are J-1 visa holders permitted to seek a second form of employment. You can only train at the host company listed on your Training Plan.