Fully vaccinated travellers should be able to enter the US from November.

The Biden administration’s decision to relax travel restrictions was prompted by the success of vaccine rollouts in various parts of the world. It comes as welcome relief for those working in industries including airlines, hospitality, and international education, and it will especially appease UK and EU governments who have been frustrated at continued travel bans affecting their citizens.

To be eligible to enter the US, travellers must:

  • Be fully vaccinated with vaccines approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC);
  • Show proof of vaccination before boarding a US-bound airline;
  • Provide a negative COVID test taken no more than 72 hours prior to flying.

In addition, travellers will be required to provide their phone numbers and email addresses to border officials in order to facilitate enhanced contact tracing.

Impact on US educators

Universities and schools in the US have in recent months been able to recruit and accept students from several countries under the “National Interest Exception” (NIE) which applies to students with F-1 and M-1 visas beginning or continuing programmes with start dates in August 2021 or after. Students from China, Iran, Brazil, and South Africa – as well as from the UK, Ireland, and the 26 European countries of the Schengen area – had been covered by this exception.

But the NIE did not extend to other important student sending markets for the US – including Asian countries other than China and India (e.g., South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Taiwan), Latin American countries other than Brazil (e.g., Mexico, Colombia), and African countries other than South Africa (e.g., Nigeria).

The news that all fully vaccinated travellers can enter the US will come as welcome news to both educators and prospective international students.