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December 2019 News Tour Operator News Tourism Industry Travel Agent Travel News

Select Foreign Students Now Exempt From US Travel Ban

Late last week, the U.S. State Department announced some new exceptions to existing bans against travelers coming from the European Schengenarea, and the United Kingdom and Ireland, Forbes revealed.

Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9993 (Schengen area) and 9996 (U.K. and Ireland), which bar such travelers from entering the U.S., were imposed back in March while the COVID-19 outbreak escalated in those areas.

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Restrictions continue in effect for travelers from those locations, except those who already hold valid F-1 and M-1 visas, who may now come to the U.S. without having to apply for an exemption. Also, those who hold J-1 visas, “may contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate an exception request,” the State Department website explains.

F-1 visas are designed for foreign students who plan to attend U.S. educational institutions at various levels, while M-1 visas are issues for those pursuing nonacademic or vocational studies in the U.S., and J-1 visas enable researchers, teachers, etc. to come to the country on exchange.

The policy change came just a few days after the Trump administration saw fit to forget its plans to force foreign students to leave the country in the event that their schools held classes solely online this fall. Such a move would have seen tens of thousands deported and stripped of their visas.

Lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities, plus pressure from businesses, reportedly convinced the White House to back down from its proposed course of action and return to the status quo.

On its side of the Atlantic, the European Union (E.U.) has already encouraged its member nations to make entry exceptions for students, highly skilled workers, au pairs and family members of E.U. citizens coming from countries that didn’t make it onto the “safe” list, including the U.S.

The State Department’s notice specified that it also continues to grant National Interest Exceptions for those who qualify to enter the U.S., “for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security.”

It’s also clear that this policy alteration is intended to encourage new levels of reciprocity on the part of the U.K. and E.U., as those areas continue to reopen to international travel.

The State Department asserted that its move, “will assist with the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster key components of our transatlantic relationship.” It went on to say: “We appreciate the transparency and concerted efforts of our European partners and allies to combat this pandemic, and welcome the E.U.’s reciprocal action to allow key categories of essential travel to continue.”

For more information, visit travel.state.gov.