Travel restrictions to ease on international students

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UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA-CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Pandemic travel bans that have barred some students from traveling directly from their home countries to the U.S. will be adjusted for the fall semester.

According to the U.S. State Department, national interest exceptions for certain travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom and Ireland will be established for students, journalists and academics.

The travel ban exception will allow students with valid entry visas to travel, but many students will need a new visa to be issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy. That may make travel more complicated since some consulates and embassies remain closed or have limited services still.

Martin McFarlane, UIUC’s Director of International Student and Scholar Services, says the university is eager to welcome students who were impacted by the ban back to the Illinois family.

“It means that hopefully, we will see a lot of our international students either return or for the first time come to campus,” McFarlane says. “We had so many students who were admitted to Fall 2020, who have never even arrived in the United States, let alone Urbana-Champaign.”

He says an important cornerstone of higher education is the exchange of ideas.

“If you’re saying that we welcome our international students, except from country X, Y, and Z, then you’re not getting that full exchange of ideas that we pride ourselves on on campus,” he says.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the number of foreign students on F-1 and M-1 visas fell by 18%, with visa records for new students dropping by 72%.

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