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State Department to Exempt International Students from Travel Restrictions

February 12, 2021

The State Department announced yesterday, February 11, 2021, that international students holding valid F-1 or M-1 visas would be granted national interest exemptions to President Biden’s presidential proclamation on January 25, which suspended entry for travelers coming directly from Europe, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa due to COVID-19 variants. Student visa holders from Europe and the U.K. would not need to separately apply for individual exemptions under this policy.

Those seeking new student visas will need to contact an embassy or consulate but will automatically be considered for a national interest exemption if they are qualified for the visa. The State Department also indicated that qualified travelers, including business travelers, investors, academics, and journalists traveling under a valid visa, or visa waiver, can apply for a national interest exemption or purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security.