"Peace Corps staff in Washington, D.C. and around the globe are working tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of our Volunteers."
On March 15, the agency announced it would temporarily suspend Volunteer operations and begin evacuating Volunteers from all posts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As COVID-19 continues to spread and international travel becomes more and more challenging by the day, we are acting now to protect the health of Volunteers and prevent a situation where Volunteers are unable to leave their host countries and return to the United States.
Frequently asked questions
Last updated: March 25, 2020, at 10:39 a.m. ET
- What will be my status as a Peace Corps Volunteer/trainee (PCV/T)?
- What if I was already medevac’d to the U.S when the evacuation began?
- What if I was on administrative hold when the decision to evacuate was made?
- What if I elected Interrupted Service (IS) due to the COVID-19 outbreak prior to the decision to evacuate my country?
- Do I have to fly directly to my Home of Record (HOR) or may I choose to take a “travel stipend” instead of an air ticket?
- What if my HOR has changed since I joined Peace Corps service?
- Can I stay in my country of service and not go to my HOR at this time?
- Will I be reimbursed for baggage charges on domestic flights?
- What will happen to the things I had to leave in country?
- What if I have a pet? Can I take my pet home with me?
- If I am not in my country of service at this time, how do I proceed?
- What about my health care and insurance?
- How do I receive my prescription medications?
- How do I obtain Primaquine and Praziquantel?
- Will I have to be quarantined when I return to the U.S.?
- What if I cannot return to my HOR or do not have a place to self-quarantine?
- Can I self-quarantine at an alternative location (such as hotel or Airbnb) with other PCVs, who are not my spouse?
- What if I test positive for COVID-19?
- Can I take Chloroquine to prevent COVID-19?
- What will I need to do to close out my service?
- What will happen to my Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate?
- Am I eligible for unemployment as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer?
- Will my student loan status change?
- What about incoming cohorts to my country?
- What will happen to the Peace Corps staff?
- Should I be interacting with local press?
- How will this affect Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE)?
- What is the Readjustment Allowance (RA)?
- How much Readjustment Allowance will I receive?
- What is the Evacuation Allowance (EA) and who is eligible?
- How much Evacuation Allowance will I receive?
- What if I was originally placed on Administrative Hold before the COVID-19 Evacuation? Will my allowances be affected by the Admin Hold Allowance I received?
- Will my monthly RA allotment payment (for my student loan/credit card/etc.) be issued for April?
- When should I expect my payments (RA and EA) to come?
- What if I need to update or correct my U.S. bank account in order to get my allowance payments?
- What are the tax implications of these allowance payments?
- Will the full amount of my Readjustment Allowance payments be included on my 2020 W-2?
- Who is eligible for Coverdell Fellowships?
- Is Peace Corps HQ open?
- What do these evacuations mean for the Peace Corps?
- How is Peace Corps communicating with family and friends about the evacuations?
- How is the Peace Corps monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak?
- Does Peace Corps have an emergency plan in place?
- Is Peace Corps in communication with Volunteers?
- Why is Peace Corps evacuating and suspending its overseas operations, is it because of COVID-19? There is more COVID-19 in the U.S. than at some posts.
What will be my status as a Peace Corps Volunteer/trainee (PCV/T)?
All evacuated Volunteers and trainees, regardless of length of service, will be classified as having undergone a Completion of Service (COS), and will receive allowances as per below.
Trainees are not eligible for Coverdell Fellowships or for Non-Competitive Eligibility.
What if I was already medevac’d to the U.S when the evacuation began?
PCV/Ts who were on medevac status when the decision to evacuate their country was made will be COS’d and will receive allowances as per below.
What if I was on administrative hold when the decision to evacuate was made?
All PCV/Ts who were previously on administrative hold, whether due to the evacuation of their post or for other reasons, before the global evacuation was put into place have been converted to COS status. All benefits will apply as below.
Do I have to fly directly to my Home of Record (HOR) or may I choose to take a “travel stipend” instead of an air ticket?
There is no option for a “travel stipend” under evacuation. All Peace Corps-paid flights will go to your HOR by the most immediate and direct route available.
What if my HOR has changed since I joined Peace Corps service?
Please discuss this immediately with your Director of Management and Operations (DMO) at post.
Can I stay in my country of service and not go to my HOR at this time?
Although you will be COS’d like all others, this would be treated as a “field termination.” You would have to surrender your Peace Corps issued no-fee passport, and the visa within it, to the Peace Corps at your post. In most of our posts, this would make it very difficult for you to legally remain in country. Additionally, you would not be eligible for a PC-paid flight home, a travel per diem, or transport of your belongings home.
Given the global public health threat that has led to this evacuation, Peace Corps very strongly recommends you return directly to your HOR with a PC-issued ticket.
Will I be reimbursed for baggage charges on domestic flights?
Yes, Peace Corps will reimburse these fees.
In some cases, the US domestic airlines are charging baggage fees for two checked bags. Peace Corps does not have a mechanism to pay these fees as Volunteers are transferring from international to domestic flights. Volunteers are advised to pay for these flights by any means at their disposal and submit a reimbursement using the “Trainee/Volunteer Travel Authorization Form” available at: https://learning.peacecorps.gov/mod/page/view.php?id=55918
What will happen to the things I had to leave in country?
Our current priority is to get every PCV back home safely. If you were unable to take your belongings with you, Peace Corps will be working to return them to you. Please stay tuned for updates regarding the timing and procedures on Learning Space.
What if I have a pet? Can I take my pet home with me?
Especially given the urgency of this evacuation, you may not change your travel plans to accommodate your pet. We recommend that you leave your pet in the care of a friend or community member.
Regrettably, Peace Corps is unable to pay any expenses for pets.
If I am not in my country of service at this time, how do I proceed?
If you are currently in the U.S., please communicate immediately with your Country Director (CD), or Director of Management and Operations (DMO) for further guidance.
If you are in not in either the U.S. or in your country of service, please communicate immediately with your CD or DMO for guidance.
What about my health care and insurance?
As your service will be completed (COS), you will no longer receive health care directly from the Peace Corps. For service-related conditions, you should contact Office of Post Service at 1-855-855-1961, extension 1540 (toll free) or +1-202-692-1540.
Usually the Peace Corps purchases one month of limited health insurance for you to cover non-service-related conditions. Due to the exceptional nature of this evacuation, the Peace Corps has made the decision to pay for two months of coverage. You can add an additional month to that coverage at your expense as long as you do so before the second month paid for by PC has ended. To extend coverage, you may utilize your Readjustment Allowance (which may take 3-4 weeks) or utilize a credit card.
For questions about post-service medical and dental care, please see Finding Health Care After Peace Corps Service on Learning Space at https://learning.peacecorps.gov/login/index.php.
How do I receive my prescription medications?
Universal Rx is your prescription drug plan administrator, with a network of more than 60,000 pharmacy locations nationwide.
Full details: Prescription medications FAQ [PDF]
How do I obtain Primaquine and Praziquantel?
If you departed your country of service without your Primaquine and/or Praziquantel medications, please call the Post Service Unit at 1-202-692-1540 and select option 2 to notify us.
Note, most pharmacies within the United States do not routinely carry Primaquine Phosphate (used as an anti-malarial medication) and/or Praziquantel/Biltricide® (used to treat schistosomiasis) because they are not common conditions in the United States. Your pharmacy will likely need to order the medication for you. Do not worry if it takes 2-3 weeks for the pharmacy to receive your medications. However, we encourage you to complete both medications within 6 weeks of your COS.
For additional information about your prescription medications, please refer to Prescription Medication FAQ [PDF].
For specific information about Primaquine and/or Praziquantel, please refer to the medication information sheets:
Will I have to be quarantined when I return to the U.S.?
To protect others, and according to guidance by the CDC and World Health Organization, Peace Corps recommends that you self-quarantine for 14 days upon return to the U.S. In particular, please consider the risks your travel might pose to high risks groups, including elderly family and friends.
More detailed guidance on self-quarantine is posted on Learning Space, at https://learning.peacecorps.gov/login/index.php.
What if I cannot return to my HOR or do not have a place to self-quarantine?
If you do not have a place to self-quarantine, please see these documents for detailed guidance:
Can I self-quarantine at an alternative location (such as hotel or Airbnb) with other PCVs, who are not my spouse?
No. This is not considered self-quarantine and is not consistent with the of concept of social distancing. If one Volunteer is infected in this type of arrangement, it will amplify the disease, because all of the Volunteers are together in close quarters for 2 weeks. Peace Corps cannot support or reimburse PCVs for these type of arrangements.
What if I test positive for COVID-19?
If you test positive for COVID-19 before April 19, 2020, please contact the Epidemiology Unit at Peace Corps at [email protected] as soon as possible so we may begin notifying possible contacts and your former post. Include your post, date of departure and date of positive test in your message.
If you test positive for COVID-19 after April 19, 2020 contact your local Public Health authorities.
HIPAA Privacy Rules protect the privacy of your protected health information, but is balanced to ensure appropriate use. Disclosures of your information may still be made when necessary to treat a patient, to protect the nation’s public health, and for other critical purposes. The Peace Corps’ MS294 provides similar purposes.
Can I take Chloroquine to prevent COVID-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are no antiviral drugs recommended or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for COVID-19. Chloroquine has not been approved by the FDA for use in the treatment of COVID-19.
Furthermore, experts at Sanford University and University of Alabama Birmingham have cautioned that “inappropriate/overuse of Chloroquine could rapidly lead to viral mutation and resistance.”
Preventive measures include frequent hand-sanitation (washing or use of sanitizer), social distancing to protect yourself and others, wearing a mask if sick and disinfecting surfaces commonly touched.
What will I need to do to close out my service?
The specific procedures will differ according to each post. In general, there are several issues for you to take care of before you leave the country, including administrative matters (such as grants, bank accounts, etc.), return of PC property, medical matters (which may include COS medical and post-service testing), etc. Please pay close attention to the information coming from your post about these matters.
Because travel options are narrowing extremely quickly, your departure may be highly expedited and a number of close-out procedures will be handled by PC staff after you leave country.
Please make all efforts to collect personal effects and take them with you.
What will happen to my Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate?
We will do our best to help PCVs complete TEFL certifications, considering the requirements of the certificate program. We will be exploring this important question with the TEFL team at HQ to see what options we may have for those who have not completed all requirements.
Am I eligible for unemployment as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer?
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are not eligible for unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor has ruled that individuals enrolled in the Peace Corps are Volunteers who perform services under terms and conditions that do not rise to the legal relationship of employer and employee and, therefore, are not considered in employment covered under Title II of the Emergency Jobs and Unemployment Assistance Act of 1974, Public Law 93-567.88, Stat. 1845.
Will my student loan status change?
Each lending institution will handle your situation differently. We recommend that you reach out to your institution upon return to the U.S. Please check Learning Space in forthcoming days to see any updates.
What about incoming cohorts to my country?
At this time, all stagings scheduled through the end of May 2020 have been postponed and we will be closely watching upcoming staging dates as the outbreak comes under control.
What will happen to the Peace Corps staff?
There are no plans at this time to change our staffing in countries. This is a temporary evacuation to attend to PCV safety and health and is not a reflection of the viability of our country programs. Your post staff will ensure your safe evacuation and close of service and promptly begin preparing to welcome back Volunteers once conditions allow.
Should I be interacting with local press?
As a private citizen and member of the RPCV community, you are free to speak to media as you feel comfortable and appropriate. We also encourage you to redirect any inquiry to the Peace Corps Press Office at [email protected] or the Peace Corps website where we try to keep up to date information.
How will this affect Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE)?
Peace Corps Director Olsen has waived the 12-month minimum eligibility requirement under Manual Section 285, 5.3(a) and has authorized Country Directors to certify NCE for those Volunteers whose service ended as a result of the COVID-19 evacuation and who demonstrated the ability to satisfactorily complete the full term of service. NCE eligibility for RPCVs shall be determined as follows:
- Peace Corps Volunteers: Volunteers whose service ended as a result of the COVID-19 evacuation, regardless of how long they served, and who demonstrated the ability to satisfactorily complete the full term of service, may be certified by their Country Director for NCE.
- Peace Corps Response Volunteers: Peace Corps Response Volunteers whose service ended as a result of the COVID-19 evacuation and who have 12 months of service over a 24-month period will receive NCE for only Peace Corps employment purposes, and those returned PCRVs who have two years of service in a 24-month period will receive NCE for federal employment. In addition, any individual who previously served satisfactorily as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years and then was appointed to a Peace Corps Response assignment immediately following his or her two years of service may be certified by their Country Director for NCE.
- Trainees: Trainees whose service ended as a result of the COVID-19 evacuation are not eligible for NCE.
Please note: NCE does not mean that RPCVs are entitled to federal employment. Non-competitive eligibility permits, but does not require, an agency to hire non-competitively an RPCV who meets the minimum qualifications for the position. The decision whether to hire an RPCV under non-competitive eligibility is at the discretion of the hiring agency which provides some federal agencies the flexibility to hire you in an expedited manner.
What is the Readjustment Allowance (RA)?
The Readjustment Allowance is a “payment authorized by the Peace Corps Act to assist returned Volunteers in their transition from Peace Corps Service to other endeavors.” RA begins accruing on the first day you began service and continues until your Completion of Service (COS) date.
How much Readjustment Allowance will I receive?
Trainees and Volunteers who have served less than 24 months since the date they swore in as Volunteers earn $375/month. Response Volunteers and Volunteers who have served more than 24 months since the date they swore in earn $475/month.
An easy way to see your accumulated RA is to take a look at your March Statement of Earnings (sent to your email in early March). It provides your RA balance, which reflects your total RA earnings since the start of your service, less federal tax withholding and any withdrawals or allotments you might have requested.
What is the Evacuation Allowance (EA) and who is eligible?
Evacuation Allowance is provided for Trainees and Volunteers who had to close their service due to a country evacuation or suspension, and is intended to provide support to you as you return to the US on very little notice. Everyone who was in service as a Peace Corps Trainee or Volunteer when the COVID-19 crisis required evacuation is eligible, including Response Volunteers and those on medevac, admin hold, or leave.
The EA is a separate allowance from Readjustment Allowance (RA), and is in addition to the RA you already earned. It is intended to replace the future RA you would have earned in the next 12 months of service but will not now earn due to the evacuation.
How much Evacuation Allowance will I receive?
The amount of EA you will receive is based on two things. The first is the monthly accrual rate of your RA on the date you COS’d due to the evacuation. As shown in section on RA, that rate is $375/month for Trainees and Volunteers who have not yet completed 24 months since their swear-in date. For Response Volunteers and Volunteers who have extended beyond 24 months since their swear-in date (e.g. Third Year Volunteers), the rate is $475/month.
The second thing affecting your EA is the time you had remaining in service when on the date of your COS due to the evacuation. If you were scheduled to serve for 12 or more months beyond that date, you will receive 12 months of EA. If you were scheduled to serve for less than 12 months beyond that COS date, you will receive EA for the number of months you had scheduled to remain in service (i.e. up until your original COS date).
What if I was originally placed on Administrative Hold before the COVID-19 Evacuation? Will my allowances be affected by the Admin Hold Allowance I received?
Your Evacuation Allowance will be reduced by the amount of Admin Hold Allowance you received, but your Readjustment Allowance will remain the same.
What if I elected Interrupted Service (IS) due to the COVID-19 outbreak prior to the decision to evacuate my country?
You will be converted to Completion of Service (COS) status and will receive benefits and allowances as all other COVID-19 evacuees. However, eligibility for benefits differ according to how long you have served. Please see FAQs for Non-Competitive Eligibility, the Coverdell Fellows Program, Readjustment Allowance and Evacuation Allowance.
Will my monthly RA allotment payment (for my student loan/credit card/etc.) be issued for April?
No. Monthly allotments paid from your RA on the first of each month will not be issued in the April payroll. No further allotment payments will be issued from your RA. The entire balance of your RA account will be paid directly to you.
When should I expect my payments (RA and EA) to come?
- Payment #1 – 1/3rd RA Payment – You should see this payment in your US bank account on/about 3/23/2020. This payment will be for 1/3rd of your RA balance as of 3/19/2020, which is the day we initiated these payments.
- Payment #2 – Evacuation Allowance Payment – You should see this payment in your US bank account by on/about 3/30/2020. This payment will be for your Evacuation Allowance amount, as outlined below.
- Payment #3 – Final RA Payment – You should see this payment in your US bank account approximately 10-15 business days after your Evacuation COS Date. This payment will be for your final RA balance.
Please note that some Volunteers will also receive payments for quarantine reimbursements, or for expenses related to evacuation-related travel allowances that could not be paid to the Volunteer before departure from Post.
What if I need to update or correct my US bank account in order to get my allowance payments?
Please direct your inquiry to update banking info to [email protected].
What are the tax implications of these allowance payments?
The IRS considers Readjustment Allowance to be taxable income. Social Security and Medicare were deducted from your RA earnings every month when they were credited to your RA account. Federal Income Tax was only withheld from RA if you requested Federal Income Tax to be withheld. Since taxes have already been withheld from your RA, there will not be additional tax withheld at the time of your RA payments.
The IRS considers EA to be taxable income. Unlike Readjustment Allowance, however, Evacuation Allowance does not qualify for Social Security and Medicare withholding. No taxes will be withheld from your Evacuation Allowance payment.
Will the full amount of my Readjustment Allowance payments be included on my 2020 W-2?
Only your Readjustment Allowance earnings for your service in 2020 – about 3 months of RA – will be reported on your W-2 for Tax Year 2020 that will be issued in January 2021. Your RA earnings for service in previous years was reported on the W-2 you received from Peace Corps for those Tax Years.
Who is eligible for Coverdell Fellowships?
All evacuated 2-year Volunteers are eligible for Coverdell Fellowships. Response Volunteers who have served at least 12 months over a 24 month period are also eligible for Coverdell Fellowships. Trainees are not eligible for the Coverdell Fellows program.
Can I return to Peace Corps service in my country of service after the threat of COVID-19 subsides?
You may apply to do so as long as your country of service is cleared to once again host PCVs and as long as you are reinstated within one year of your COS date. To allow for medical clearance, you should request reinstatement via the Country Desk Officer not later than 8 months after your COS date. Approval for reinstatement is not guaranteed.
Our HQ offices will send a notice out to all affected PCVs with guidelines about when you can request reinstatement.
Can I re-enroll in Peace Corps?
You may apply to for another 27-month term of service with expedited processing within one year of your COS date, either in your original country or another PC country. Information about how to apply for re-enrollment will be provided to all impacted PCVs at a later date. Approval for re-enrollment is not guaranteed.
You may also have reached a level of expertise to qualify you for a Response assignment. Assignments posted on the Response site will be evaluated on an ongoing basis, and will depart once the country of interest is again open to safely place Volunteers.
You will be receiving additional information via email over the next few weeks on all of the details related to re-enrollment.
If reinstated to my country of service, could I get my same site?
Circumstances are changing every day and Peace Corps is not able to promise this at this time. Posts will be better prepared to answer this question once they are again ready to receive Volunteers.
Is Peace Corps HQ open?
Headquarters is open under its own Continuity of Operations Plan, and agency personnel are working 24/7 to support Volunteers and our staff overseas.
What do these evacuations mean for the Peace Corps?
These evacuations represent the temporary suspension of Volunteer activities. We are not closing posts, and we will be ready to return to normal operations when conditions permit.
How is Peace Corps communicating with family and friends about the evacuations?
The Peace Corps will provide updates to this web page as they become available. Because of the security concerns involved, we ask that people do not share evacuation details with others or online, including on social media.
How is the Peace Corps monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak?
The Peace Corps is closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak with the State Department Bureaus of Medical Affairs and Diplomatic Security, as well as other experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
Does Peace Corps have an emergency plan in place?
Each Peace Corps program has an Emergency Action Plan developed in coordination with Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington and the local U.S. Embassy. Volunteers are thoroughly trained in their roles and responsibilities, and posts are prepared to respond to emergency situations.
Is Peace Corps in communication with Volunteers?
Peace Corps Headquarters is in regular contact with staff at each post to see that Volunteers are consistently updated regarding the latest developments.
Peace Corps Medical Officers are in communication with Volunteers on how to mitigate risks of exposure. We continue to communicate with all Peace Corps posts to ensure risk reduction and preparedness measures are in place.
Why is Peace Corps evacuating and suspending its overseas operations, is it because of COVID-19? There is more COVID-19 in the U.S. than at some posts.
Closure of airports globally has restricted the ability to perform safe aeromedical evacuations for any non-COVID-19 related illnesses such as trauma or surgical emergencies.