US Lifts COVID-19 Travel Restrictions for Students from China, Brazil, South Africa, Iran

US Lifts COVID-19 Travel Restrictions for Students from China, Brazil, South Africa, Iran

The Biden Administration, on April 28, announced it was ready to lift travel restrictions on Chinese and other students traveling to the US this fall, potentially helping US universities revive their international enrollments amid the pandemic.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that it would cover students and academics from across the world from August 1. Students from countries such as Brazil, South Africa, China, or Iran, who are hoping to commence studies in the Fall may now qualify for a National Interest Exception.

The National State Clearinghouse pointed out that the overall enrollments in US tertiary education dropped by 2.5% in Fall 2020, almost twice the decline in Fall 2019.

With China being the biggest source of international students in the US, Chinese students accounted for 35% of the total number of international students in 2019-20, according to the International Education Exchange (IEE).

In January last year, former US President Donald Trump restricted almost all non-US residents in China from entering the US.

These travel restrictions led to a decline in Chinese F-1 visas and 88% fewer student visas to Indian applicants.

A Beijing native planning to get enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley said that he was glad that the current administration is taking steps to restore normalcy post-Trump policies and Covid disruption.

The American Council on Education (ACE) has urged the government to fast-track its actions. It would act as a positive message to both current and prospective overseas students and further put the country back on track in terms of supporting international education recovering the US economy.

ACE highlighted that the drop in the number of international students caused a decline in the economic benefit by around $2 billion during the 2019-20 academic year. In the same school year, Chinese students contributed an estimated benefit of $16 billion to the US.

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