Education News – US to open borders for vaccinated travelers



The United States will reopen in November to air travelers from 33 countries, including China, India, Brazil and most of Europe who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, easing tough pandemic-related restrictions that started early last year.

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Under current rules, travel to the US is still banned from 33 countries, including all of the EU, China, Brazil and India. However, student visa holders can still travel to the USA through National Interest Exemptions, which applies to students with F-1 and M-1 visas beginning or continuing programs with start dates in August 2021 or after.

In early November, fully vaccinated travelers will be able to enter the US, representing an end to a broad travel ban that has been in place for months. The new travel rules mean that students wanting to come to the US for shorter programs – i.e., those not on M-1 or F-1 visas but rather on visitors’ visas (like for language courses) – can now enter the country if they are fully vaccinated, as can the vaccinated parents of all international students who have so far not been able to visit their children in the US. Children and teenagers under 18 will be exempt from vaccination travel rules.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also said that from early January it will require all inbound foreign national travelers crossing US land or ferry ports to be fully vaccinated, whether travel is for essential or non-essential purposes.

To be eligible to enter the US, travelers must:

  • Be fully vaccinated with vaccines approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC);
  • Show proof of vaccination before boarding a US-bound airline;
  • Provide a negative COVID test taken no more than 72 hours prior to flying.

In addition, travelers will be required to provide their phone numbers and email addresses to border officials in order to facilitate enhanced contact tracing.

The US will accept any vaccine approved for regular or emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. That includes Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. Mixing-and-matching of approved shots will be permitted.

In-person interviews to be waived for some visa applicants

The US is still working through a massive visa applicant backlog as a result of COVID-related embassy and consulate closures around the world over the past year. The requirement that F and M visa applicants undertake an interview at an embassy/consulate in their home country has obviously created a further bottleneck in the processing backlog, since such interviews have literally been impossible for many students.

Now, the US Department of State has announced that it will drop the in-person interview component of visa applications for many students for the rest of the year to help clear that backlog.

The new rules allowing fully vaccinated students from around the world to come to the US as well as the decision to drop in-person interviews for many visa applicants will surely increase the ability of our students to come to the US for studies, while Verbalists Education’s partner educators will be even more motivated to offer scholarships and enrolment promotions.

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