ACE, Higher Ed Groups Urge Flexibility for International Students as COVID-19 Travel Ban Is Lifted
October 18, 2021

​​International students and scholars and other foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to enter the country beginning Nov. 8, a White House spokesman said on Friday. The new policy was first announced in September without an implementation date or specific details in place.

In January 2020, the Trump administration issued a policy banning foreign travelers from several countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, China, Iran, South Africa, Brazil, and India. President Biden kept the restrictions on travelers from the European Union, the UK, China, India, and several other countries, but provided a “national interest exemption” for those traveling here on F-1 student or J-1 scholarly visas for the start of the fall 2021 semester.

ACE and other higher education associations are calling on the administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make the new policy flexible enough to accommodate students and scholars from countries where the vaccine is not widely available, so they can still enter the United States and then be vaccinated upon arrival.

​“While we applaud the new policy for allowing more flexibility for international travelers and support the efforts to require vaccinations, we remain concerned that such a broad policy will impact some international students and scholars traveling from countries where vaccines are not widely available,” the groups wrote.

The CDC considers people fully inoculated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or a shot authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization such as the AstraZeneca vaccine. Vaccine mixing, common in Canada and some other countries, will be allowed, The Washington Post reports.

Unvaccinated foreigners will be barred from entering the United States under the new policy, although reportedly there will be limited exemptions. Unless an exception is made, international students and scholars will now be required to show proof of vaccination.

The CDC is expected to issue further details on the new policy before the Nov. 8 implementation date, and we will continue to advocate for flexibility for students and scholars.