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Announcements : Immigration and Travel Updates

Announcement: Immigration and Travel Updates

New expansion of travel restriction exemptions and SEVP extends the March 2020 Guidance


On April 26th the U.S. State Department announced an expansion of the travel restriction exemptions to Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9984, 9992, and 10143 related to the spread of COVID-19.

This means that F-1 students from China, Iran, Brazil, and South Africa now qualify for a National Interest Waiver (NIE) as has been the case for students and scholars from the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.  Students from these countries now may enter the United States directly without first travelling to another country for 14 days.


The Biden Administration issued a Presidential proclamation on April 30, 2021, mentioning a travel restriction from India beginning on May 4, 2021. Later the same day, the Department of State included India in its National Interest Exception (NIE) policies. This means that F-1 students from India with valid F-1 visas are permitted to travel to the U.S. Unfortunately, in light of the travel suspension, all routine visa and VAC appointments, both in-person and interview waiver, at U.S. Embassy New Delhi and the consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai are cancelled until further notice. 
 
 If you have a valid F-1 visa and intend to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later, you do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel.  You may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the start of your academic studies, as noted on the form I-20.  
If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa, check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; if you are issued an F-1 visa you will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.
For additional information review the web sites of the US consulates where you will be applying for a visa.
 
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will extend the guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the 2021-22 academic year. 
 
This guidance enables schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the continuing public health concerns created by COVID-19. The March 2020 guidance applies to nonimmigrant students who were actively enrolled at a U.S. school on March 9, 2020, and are otherwise complying with the terms of their nonimmigrant status, whether from inside the United States or abroad. 
 
Students can refer to SEVP’s current policy guidance and frequently asked questions at ICE.gov/Coronavirus, under the Nonimmigrant Students and SEVP-certified Schools header:
·         Broadcast Message 2003-01: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Potential Procedural Adaptations for F and M Nonimmigrant Students (March 9, 2020).
·         COVID-19: Scenarios for SEVP-certified Schools for Emergency Procedures (March 13, 2020).
·         Frequently Asked Questions from SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19.


SEVP recently updated its frequently asked questions with information to clarify the application of the March 2020 guidance to the 2021-22 academic year and will continue to update these resources with the latest information and guidance for stakeholders. 
 
As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions!