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Chinese Students Can Resume Classes at US Colleges This Fall

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The United States will ease COVID-related travel restrictions for Chinese and other international students starting this fall, the Department of State announced on Tuesday.

Starting August 1, students, academics, and journalists with F-1 and M-1 visas who “provide vital support for critical infrastructure” will be allowed to begin classes at US universities.

Travelers must enter the country “no earlier than 30 days” before classes begin and carry a negative COVID report upon arrival. 

In addition to China, students from Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the EU Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland will also be eligible to come to the US for the fall semester. The decision was made “in keeping with the Department of State’s commitment to facilitate legitimate travel to the United States,” a statement said.

Last month, the American Council on Education requested Secretary of State Antony Blinken to deliver “a welcoming message to current and prospective international students, which can do much to restore the US as a destination of choice as the US economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Reasons Behind the Move

Chinese students accounted for 35 percent of international students in the 2019-20 academic year —  nearly twice as many as the second-highest, India — according to the International Education Exchange. Since educational institutions are financially dependent on international students, they have been pushing President Joe Biden to ease travel restrictions imposed by the Trump administration last year. 

The latest move will help postsecondary institutions recover from financial losses suffered during the pandemic.

However, with more and more US colleges mandating the COVID-19 vaccine, it remains to be seen whether the government will recognize vaccinations received by international students that have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

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