Apr 27, 2021 - Health

Some foreign students will be allowed back into U.S. this fall

Illustration of a backpack with an open lock coming out of the top

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Foreign students from China, Iran, Brazil and South Africa will be exempt from pandemic travel bans and will be allowed back into the U.S. as long as they have proper visas, the State Department announced in a statement.

Why it matters: International students are a major source of revenue for U.S. universities and institutions saw their enrollments plunge last fall.

  • The number of foreign students on F-1 and M-1 visas fell by 18% and visa records for new students lowered by 72%, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Details: Students, journalists and academics will now qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE), which is a designation given to people whose entry into the U.S. is determined to be in the country's best interest.

  • "Students and academics ... may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later," the State Department said.
  • The Trump administration had previously made similar exceptions for students from the U.K., Europe and Ireland, the WSJ notes.

The big picture: Travelers coming into the U.S. must show a negative test to be allowed entry. While they are not required to show a proof of vaccination, some universities are requiring that students be vaccinated to return to in-person instruction.

Flashback: The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last July said international students could not enter the U.S. if their courses were online.

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