The Biden administration said on Tuesday it was easing restrictions on Chinese students and others traveling to the United States this fall, potentially helping colleges whose enrollment declined during the coronavirus pandemic.
The US State Department said it was expanding its national interest exemptions to cover students and academics around the world from August 1. He made the switch for European students in March.
About 372,000 Chinese made up 35% of international students in the United States in the 2019-2020 school year, according to the International Education Exchange (IEE), almost twice as many as the second highest, Indian students.
Overall higher education enrollments fell 2.5% in fall 2020, nearly double the drop recorded in fall 2019, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.
In January 2020, then-President Donald Trump banned nearly all non-US citizens in China from entering the United States.
“I’m really happy that the Biden administration is restoring at least some level of normalcy after the disruption caused by the pandemic and the horrific policies of Trump,” said Zhang, 23.
The Beijing native said he plans to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
The American Council on Education (ACE) had urged President Joe Biden’s administration to act quickly, saying in a letter last month that it could “send a welcome message to current and potential international students, which may help. to restore the United States as a destination of choice, as well as to support significant economic activity as the U.S. economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. “
“This is a positive step for the United States,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday.
“We hope that the United States can make the necessary arrangements for Chinese personnel to travel to the United States and create favorable conditions for the resumption of personnel exchanges.”
It’s still unclear whether U.S. colleges or the U.S. government will recognize vaccines received by Chinese students that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some American schools require that students be fully immunized before class resumes.
Another big issue is the requirement that first-time student visa applicants must have face-to-face interviews at U.S. embassies and consulates. The State Department said Tuesday it “continues to look for ways to process more visa applications, in accordance with scientific advice from health authorities.”
ACE cited a study that found that the economic benefits generated by international students declined from around $ 2 billion in the 2019-20 academic year to around $ 39 billion.
In the 2019 school year, Chinese students brought an estimated profit of $ 16 billion to the United States, according to the IEE report.
Jessica Yuan, 20, a sophomore student at the University of Southern California, said she hopes to return before mid-August.
“I can’t wait to come back and meet everyone,” said the Mechanical Engineering Major.
“I can’t believe it’s been a whole year!”
($ 1 = 6.4860 yuan Chinese renminbi)
To pursue NBC Asian America at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.