Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Fulbright Scholar Program Status Update

October 6, 2020 — In planning for the resumption of in-person exchanges for U.S. participants, the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Program continue to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of participants and host communities. Fulbright is a global program and is tailoring its plans on a country-by-country basis to resume in-person exchanges for U.S. participants after January 1, 2021. These plans will take into consideration the varying degrees to which the pandemic is affecting countries and communities around the world.  

Over the coming weeks, the U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education (IIE) will be working closely with Fulbright Commissions and U.S. Embassies around the world to determine, on a country-by-country basis, whether it is feasible for 2020-2021 exchange programs to take place in the spring 2021 semester. A number of factors will influence this decision, including: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department travel warnings; the ability of participants to obtain visas; flight availability; the operating status of foreign host institutions; administrative resources at U.S. Embassies and Fulbright Commissions to support grantees, and the availability of local facilities to protect public health. If in-person participation is not possible this spring, the intention is for 2020-2021 participants to be able to pursue their Fulbright programs at a later date, including in the following (2021-2022) academic year.

2020-2021 U.S. Scholar Finalists
Those selected for a 2020-2021 award received an email on October 6th, 2020 with detailed information on the Fulbright Program’s plans for resuming in-person exchanges. Any selectee who did not receive this communication, or who has further specific questions, should contact their program advisor.

2021-2022 U.S. Scholar Applicants
The application deadlines for 2021-2022 U.S. applicants have not changed. Review of applications will continue as normal for 2021-2022 Fulbright awards. For applicant questions contact

Fulbright Alumni
Please contact your regional program advisor with specific questions.

General FAQ

2021-2022 U.S. Applicants

  • What does this mean for 2021-22 applicants?
    2021-2022 Application Cycle: The 2021-2022 Fulbright U.S. Scholar award competition is moving forward as normal. All applications submitted by the national deadlines (September 15, 2020) will be reviewed as part of the merit-based selection process.
    2021-2022 Cycle Competitiveness: It is not possible to predict the competitiveness of future application cycles. Regrettably, far more applications are received every year than the number of awards available.  

2020-2021 U.S. Scholar Finalists

  • When will I receive a conclusive notification of whether my Fulbright is going forward in January, being further postponed, or being deferred to 2021-2022?
    We anticipate notifying 2020-2021 Fulbright recipients no later than November 15th, 2020 about their host country's operating status. This notification will come from IIE or from the Fulbright Commission in your host country.
  • If my program goes forward in January 2021 or is delayed to later in spring/summer 2021, will I still have the option of deferring to next year if I am uncomfortable going abroad in the current academic year?
    Individual participants cannot choose to postpone their Fulbright grants if in-person opportunities are offered this academic year. Postponements will only be allowed if it is determined that in-person participation is not possible in the host country. Requests for deferral based on medical necessity will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Will requests for country reassignments be considered if I’m uncomfortable traveling to the country that I originally applied to?
    We are unable to accommodate requests for country reassignments.
  • Are candidates who withdrew prior to this announcement eligible to postpone their participation?
    Candidates who withdrew from the 2020-2021 cohort may not be reinstated and elect to delay their start date. If you are interested in pursuing a Fulbright opportunity, we strongly encourage you to reapply to the Fulbright Program at a future date.
  • Am I still considered an alumnus of the Program if my award is moving forward but I choose not to participate?
    Participants who decide that they are unable to participate in the Fulbright Program due to personal or professional circumstances may elect to withdraw from the program. They will still be considered Fulbright finalists, but will not receive any grant benefits and will not be considered program alumni. They will be able to re-apply for future Fulbright opportunities without prejudice.

Fulbright Alumni

  • Do the Fulbright Program’s plans for reopening affect my 2019-2020 grant?
    In the interest of grantee safety in the face of an emerging global pandemic, the Fulbright Program was suspended worldwide in March 2020. All U.S. Fulbright participants who were on their programs at that time were provided with travel assistance to quickly and safely return to the United States, funding equivalent to at least three months of stipend payments, an additional $1,000 transition allowance to help cover health insurance and other unanticipated needs, Fulbright alumni status, and the ability to re-apply for future Fulbright opportunities without prejudice. 2019-2020 participants who had not yet begun their grants at the time of the program suspension have been offered the opportunity to reschedule or defer their grants.
  • I reapplied for the 2021-2022 application cycle; how will my application be impacted?  
    The 2021-2022 Fulbright U.S. Scholar award competition is moving forward as normal. All applications submitted by the national deadlines (September 15, 2020) will be reviewed as part of the merit-based selection process. More information can be found here.
  • 2019-2020 Fulbright grantees will not be held at a competitive disadvantage due to their alumni status.

Fulbright Visiting Scholars

  • I’m a Fulbright Visiting Scholar coming to the United States this year--what does this mean for me?
    More information on the status of the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program will be communicated to participants in the near future.

Fulbright Specialists

  • Information about the resumption of Fulbright Specialist programming is forthcoming. For more information please see the status of the program.