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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice for Expats

Right now people are in a state of panic and I understand. The best thing you can do though is to stay as calm and collected as possible and work through your options, make pros and cons lists, and assess your position. I've tried to compile here the most trustworthy information available to help you with your coming days and weeks.

Last Updated 10:34 am Wednesday, June 3, 2020

I am going to try and keep this page as up-to-date as possible with information and resources so that you can check back and have as much information presented to you as possible.

None of this is personal advice just for you, it is general in nature and everything depends on your particular circumstances. Take this, read lots of

General Advice

Don't read trust too much on social media.

Coming from a person who lives and breathes social media, I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in stories and personal anecdotes.

One bit of misinformation right now goes a very long way. It is shared as a comment on three more posts, and suddenly it is gospel fact. Don't share things you read on social media unless you have gone to the source and confirmed it.

Here are the golden rules:

  1. Take your information directly from the source. If the President or Prime Minister released something, use their official sites: and – Don't get worried about headlines that are purely clickbait.
  2. Ignore health advice given over social media and use the trusted resources below
  3. Trust in the basics:
    1. Wash your hands lots;
    2. Isolate yourself at home as much as possible;
    3. Distance yourself from others when you're around other people;

Regular Checkups

A rotating weekly panel of professionals from different relevant areas giving up-to-date advice for expats living and working in the U.S.

Each week we are presented with an overwhelming amount of information about what we should know, what we should be planning, and what we should be doing. This makes it incredibly difficult to keep on top of what is true, current, and appropriate.

I've created Regular Checkups as a way to keep you informed by relevant industry professionals as well as giving them a platform to share their best advice for you.

Join me every Thursday night at 6pmET for the most up-to-date information for those living and working in the United States.

  1. Watch Regular Checkup #1 (4/30) with Natalia, Matt, and Travel Josh
  2. Watch Regular Checkup #2 (5/7) with Zjantelle, Lisa and Jason
  3. Watch Regular Checkup #3 (5/14) with Renee, Dan, and Amy

Health Advice

For health advice, use only official resources and don't trust cures or remedies you've read about. They won't help and again lead to misinformation.

Trust in the World Health Organization‘s recommendations, their only interest is to keep you safe and well.

If you are stuck at home, then be sure to keep on a regular schedule, drink lots of water, and eat as healthily as you can.

Exercise is more difficult, I know, trust me, but you can find lots of resources online like these ones to workout from your very own living-room floor.

Be very careful at this time with travel insurance as many companies have excluded health coverage at this time. Read your policy very carefully.

If you are looking for international/global health insurance while you live in the U.S. then I can personally recommend Cigna Global who provides my insurance. It is very important that you read through what is included and excluded based on your personal positon and the plan you pick, but I have found them to be responsive and have been very vocal with updates throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

To get a quote and some options presented to you with Cigna Global you can click here.

For those who might have heard that Coronavirus (COVID-19) medical and hospital care is free for the uninsured, please be sure to read this article I've written.

I ran a webinar with Doug Lightman from Lightman Law Firm on  Thursday, March 19 at 6 pm ET to discuss the legal implications for expats who are looking for clarifications on immigration issues.

It answers lots of the scenarios and questions that we had submitted (over 200 over them!) so be sure to follow all the way through. I have also created a transcript of the webinar on this page.

Disclaimer – This webinar is strictly for informational purposes only and it is not intended, nor should it be relied upon, as a source of legal advice or opinion.

Zjantelle Cammisa Markel of Cammisa Markel has also written two fantastic articles on LinkedIn which breaks down information for both:

April 15: An update from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services relating to COVID-19 delays in extension/change of status filing.

It's also sometimes helpful to hear stories and anecdotes from people all over the world and their adventures dealing with the current global crisis, renewing visas, and living as an expat in the United States. It grounds things for you and can answer some questions that you might have had yourself. Here's Jon's story.

Financial Advice

Right now is a turbulent time so be sure to keep an eye on your finances and know your position.

If you're struggling, then use this time to analyze where you're at and make as many decisions as you can to mitigate long-term impacts. If you need to cull some subscriptions or lower repayments, then assess that for yourself and do so. If you have issues repaying rent, then contact your landlord now and come up with a plan, don't wait until it's too late.

Don't avoid it.

If you're looking for information about the stimulus package (i.e. checks of $1,200) as part of the CARES act and wonder if you're eligible, you can find more here.

If you are looking for tax assistance or some knowledge of what is involved if you are traveling between the United States and Australia, then you can reach out to Jason Stoch at UpTrend Advisory who is great and has helped our community in the past with fantastic tax advice.

If you are sending money internationally, be sure to use the advice I've written about many times and avoid using your bank to do this (so that you don't lose out on rates).

Keeping your mind and body active during self-isolation & quarantine

It can be BORING being locked in your home.

So I've got some recommendations on tv shows to watch, recipes to cook, workout ideas and more over here!

Join me for Friday Night Drinks!

Stuck inside and missing social interaction? Join Friday Night Drinks online!

Working from home is ok for a little bit but has its drawbacks. After a whole week of being inside and distancing yourself from others I can imagine that you are probably going a little bit crazy… so why not join me for drinks?

Prepare yourself a cocktail, or a wine, or a beer, or a soda, or a cold glass of water, and join in for a chat. There'll be little breakout groups of 4 or 5 to chat, online trivia games, and we'll make it just like you're at your favorite bar!

You can join in or just sit and watch from a quiet corner of the bar. Just sign up here for free!

See you there!

Friday Night Trivia

Current Status of the United States' Borders

I recently wrote an article on who can enter the United States!

On May 19, it was announced that the closure of the Canadian and Mexican borders for non-essential travel will be extended until June 22.

On April 21, President Trump tweeted that there would be a temporary suspension of immigration to the US. This appears to now be a suspension of new green cards, but we are still light on details.

The State Department on Thursday raised its global travel advisory to a Level 4, a recommendation — not a requirement — that United States citizens either remain in place or return home. This is the agency’s top warning.

On March 20, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said it was closing the border with Mexico to any nonessential travel, beginning March 21.

The United States closed its border with Canada by mutual decision, President Trump announced on Twitter on March 18.

The measure allows trade to continue but restricts nonessential travel, such as tourism, from Canada. Canadian nationals who daily commute to the United States for work would still be allowed in.

Effective March 16, the ban will apply to foreign nationals departing from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

As of March 13, all American citizens and legal permanent residents who have been in high-risk areas and return to the United States are required to fly to one of the following 13 airports:

  • Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
  • Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
  • Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia

On March 11 the United States barred the entry of all foreign nationals who had visited China, Iran and a group of European countries during the previous 14 days.

The ban applies to countries in the Schengen Area, which are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Current Status of Australia's borders

I recently wrote an article on entering Australia and the implications.

If you have a direct flight to Australia (not via a third country):

Australian citizens holding an expired Australian passport will be permitted to enter Australia. Please advise airline staff that you are an Australian citizen and do not require a visa to enter Australia (even if you are a dual national). The airline will contact the Australian Border Force to verify your citizenship, it is important you get to the airport early in case of any delays. Departure from the country you are in is subject to the rules and decisions of authorities in that country. Australia is currently NOT allowing the entry of people who are not citizens, permanent residents or their families.

For those trying to leave Australia, from the Department of Home Affairs:

Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents are restricted from travelling overseas from 25 March 2020 at 12:00hrs AEDST.

This travel restriction does not apply to:

  • people ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
  • airline and maritime crew and associated safety workers
  • people engaged in the day to day conduct of outbound and inbound freight
  • people whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities and
  • people travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force.

Travellers who believe they meet a travel restriction exemption can apply online to the Commissioner of the ABF.​​

You will need to provide information for “why you need to travel outside Australia” and provide supporting documents.

For those trying to enter, taken directly from the Prime Minister's office:

Australia is closing its borders to all non-citizens and non-residents.

The entry ban takes effect from 9pm AEDT Friday, 20 March 2020, with exemptions only for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family, including spouses, legal guardians and dependants.

There is also a requirement for 14 days of self-isolation for everyone entering:

This means that all people – whether they be citizens, residents or visitors – will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Australia. Enhanced screening for arrivals will remain in place to identify anyone arriving sick or with symptoms of COVID-19.

For inquiries about Australian visas, migration, and citizenship you can call the Global Service Centre on +61 261 960 196. Service in English is available Monday to Friday, 09:00 – 17:00 CET.

Current Status of International Borders

Many countries are closing their borders to non-citizens so it is important you keep up-to-date with that information.

The New York Times has a constantly updating list of Coronavirus Travel Restrictions, Across the Globe

Are you Australian needing assistance?

The Australian Consulate-General in New York is still open and can help you if you have any questions.

Feel free to call them +1 (212) 351-6500 or you can now message them on their Facebook Page.

Digital care package for Aussies in the United States courtesy of the Australian Embassy.

I sat down with Consul-General of Australia to New York, Alastair Walton where Alastair answered common questions about the operations of the Consulate, what support is and is not available to expats and the implications of COVID-19 on life for Australians living in the United States. You can find a full transcript here.

Looking for last minute flights or help with flights?

We've got weekly updates for flight information between Australia and the United States now. See here!

Travel Josh, Josh Engstrom posted on Facebook:

Shout out to all the travel agents out there! Just want our community here to know that I am still booking flights.

Message me if you want to book with a human! I'm linked in to the global distribution system (from home), and can see every seat on every plane in the world – cool if you're an airfare geek like me!

I can't promise I'll be the cheapest (quite often I am though), but as I'm now working from home, I'm free to help when shit gets real (i.e. cancelled), and I care about delivering you home safe and sound, (wherever that may be) – unlike booking with a robot, who frankly doesn't give a damn.

Contact Josh if you need any travel or flight help by his email, [email protected]

Which international airlines still fly to, and from, Australia?

We've got weekly updates for flight information between Australia and the United States now. See here!

From the Australian Consulate-General New York:

There are seats available on Qantas and Virgin Australia this month (6 flights left) from LAX to Brisbane. United Airlines continues to fly from San Francisco to Sydney. More information for travellers

Keep reading

Josh Pugh

Josh Pugh

Josh is a business founding, digital marketing focused, charity driving, community builder from South Australia, living in New York City. After moving in 2017, Josh realized that there was an opportunity to curate and help the community of expats who moved to the United States – and launched America Josh. Josh is also the President of Variety – the Children's Charity of New York, Secretary at The Mateship Foundation, and Founder & CEO at Fortnight Digital.View Author posts

13 thoughts on “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice for Expats”

  1. Hi Josh,

    Thanks very much for setting up the legal immigration call last Thursday. I’m in the situation of having an E3 visa expiring shortly, but managed to get a new LCA approved today (took 5 days to process) to stay with my current employer. This is essentially rendered useless to apply for a renewal visa outside the country with consulates closed and travel restrictions in place.

    I understand that we are in uncharted waters, but I wanted to note that under the legal advice section above that Doug Lightman from the webinar and Zjantelle Cammisa Markel contradict each other in terms of what status there is for someone with an expiring E3 soon, has a new certified LCA for the same employer and an I-94 expiring long after the E3 expiration. Doug stated that to maintain status, all you need is a certified LCA and an I-94 that hasn’t expired, while Zjantelle argued that your I-94 date should match your visa expiration regardless of what CPB date they may have inadvertently entered when you last came into the country. Based on Jon’s story that you also provided in the section, it seems his lawyers agree with Zjantelle approach to file for a Form I-129 petition .

    Without really knowing who is correct, it’s a little hard to make a decision on which path to go down. However, it seems that probably filing an I-129 petition is the safest bet.


    1. Thanks, Sam for your update! Yep, we’re in uncharted waters with this question. From what I’ve seen (just from personal experience) you’ll find 33% of lawyers say that you can, 33% say you can’t, and 33% say “it depends”. So it’s really up to you which you trust and which way you want to go. They’re both great lawyers!

  2. Hi Josh,
    I attended the call this evening. It was very informative. Thank you
    Unfortunately I missed the answer to the question around someone who has been offered a job and started the E3 process. My 90 days is up end of May.
    Is there a recording I can access.. It was answered approx 6:49pm

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