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International Student Travel during COVID-19: Resources

Information for students traveling internationally to or from the U.S. during the current crisis.

Resources

International Travel Websites for Current Information

Requirements for International Students Entering the U.S.

At this time, anyone returning from international travel is required to do the following according to the CDC. 

  1. If you are eligible, get fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Wait 2 weeks after getting your second vaccine dose to travel—it takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination
  2. Get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel. Keep a copy of your test results with you during travel in case you are asked for them.
    • Don’t travel if you test positive; immediately isolate yourself, and follow public health recommendations
  3. All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or "documentation of recovery" from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States. 
  4. What if I recently recovered from COVID-19?

    CDC does not recommend getting tested again in the three months after a positive viral test, as long as you do not have symptoms of COVID-19. If you have had a positive viral test in the past 3 months, and you have met the criteria to end isolation, you may travel instead with documentation of your positive viral test results and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that states you have been cleared for travel. The positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.”

  5. Get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel.
    • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
    • If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 10 days after travel.
  6. Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.
  7. Delay your travel if you are waiting for test results.
  8. With limited exceptions, travelers must wear a face mask while physically present at a U.S. air, land, or sea port of entry. CBP Officers will require travelers to temporarily lower their mask during the inspection process to verify their identity.

    The mask requirement does not apply to persons with disabilities who cannot wear, or cannot safely wear, a mask due to a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19

According to the CDC:

To reduce the risk of further spread of variant strains in the United States, people who have been vaccinated should still follow CDC’s travel recommendations and requirements before, during, and after travel. This includes all travel-related testing and quarantine recommendations and requirements, such as pre-travel and post-travel testing recommendations, the pre-departure testing requirement for international air passengers to the United States, and the recommended stay-at-home (self-quarantine) period after travel.

All international air passengers (aged 2 years or older) traveling to the U.S., regardless of vaccination or antibody status, are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19. Those departing from or traveling within the United States are also recommended to get tested before traveling.

All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, should get tested 3–5 days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel, even if their test is negative. Travelers who don’t get tested should stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel. Travelers who test positive or develop symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate and follow public health recommendations.

According to U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico Border Notices, the Canada and Mexico land port (car, commuter rail, or ferry) of entry permits as coming for essential travel "Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions." While students can go through the border, tourism is not permitted. This was extended again until 21 March 2021.

For more information, see the link below.

Restrictions for Entering the U.S.

According to the CDC: To reduce introduction and spread of new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the CDC issued an Order effective January 26, 2021. It requires all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight.

In addition to testing, non-U.S. citizens from the following countries are banned from entering the U.S. according to the updated Presidential proclamations: China, Iran, European Schengen Area, Ireland and United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa.

 

 

National Interest Exemptions for Students

Announcing Additions to the National Interest Exceptions:  Travel in the national interest of the United States includes travel on a temporary basis that provides a substantial benefit to the U.S. economy including certain categories of students, academics,  as well as certain business travelersinvestorstreaty traders.  

STUDENTS – F1, M1 and their dependents 

  • Must have a valid I-20 
  • College or university must offer in-person classes 
  • Colleges or universities that move to online only classes are not included 
  • SEVIS fee paid 
  • Students will need to self-quarantine subject to local requirements 
  • If you currently have a valid F1/F2 visa and a valid I-20, you may travel to the U.S. and apply for admission.  You do not need to reapply. 
  • You will need the new I-20 issued in July and the signed letter from the college stating you are enrolled in in-person classes as well as your passport. 

F-1 or M-1 students and others traveling from Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa are not included in this special Schengen Area/UK/Ireland NIE policy, and must qualify for an NIE on an individual, case-by-case basis.