International students from Europe, the UK, and Ireland can finally return to the US, a decision which has been taken irrespective of the coronavirus situation in the US. Just last Thursday, the US State Department informed congressional offices that international students from the aforementioned countries, who have US study visas, will be exempt from the travel bans.
A few days ago the Trump administration introduced a rule which says that international students enrolled in online programmes in the US this fall, should be deported. Currently, the US is aiming to slowly open international borders, after having been closed for months. These travel restrictions have affected people worldwide, including international students.
“Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas, do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel. Students from those areas who are traveling on a J-1 may contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate an exception request,” reads the announcement on the US State Department website.
The US sees this latest decision as a way of helping the economy of the country, which has been impacted by the pandemic, as well as a way to strengthen the “key components” of their transatlantic relationship. Currently, only international students, from the EU, UK, and Ireland, with valid F-1 and M-1 visas, will be allowed to enter the country without having to seek a national interest exception to travel.
The announcement on the US State Department website highlights that numerous categories may seek a national interest exception to travel, including qualified travelers who want to enter the US for reasons related to humanitarian travels, public health response, as well as national security.
“Certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students may qualify for National Interest Exceptions under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland). Qualified business and student travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may travel to the United States even as PPs 9993 and 9996 remain in effect,” the announcement also reads.
As for international students who are from the EU, UK, or Ireland and wish to start study in the US, they should check with the US embassies in their home countries and inquire whether they will be able to apply for a visa. The latest US announcement only mentions international students who already have a study visa to the US. Additionally, official guidelines do not specify whether these students will be required to go through mandatory quarantine, yet, they might be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days, according to CDC recommendations. Currently, the EU has already started lifting bans for people who come from countries marked as ‘safe’. US residents, however, are still not allowed to travel to the EU, due to their current coronavirus situation.