OU International Student Services announced updates regarding National Interest Exceptions for students with F-1 visas in a Friday email.
According to the email, the U.S Department of State said travelers with National Interest Exceptions — students with a valid F-1 or M-1 visa — will be allowed to return to the U.S. up to 30 days before the beginning of their academic studies.
Students from a list of selected restricted countries including China, Iran, India, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland will be able to return after Aug. 1.
This news follows a difficult year for international students. When classes transitioned online, they were faced with the decision to live on a closed campus or return to their native country. When many chose the latter, they soon found themselves unable to return after the U.S. imposed travel restrictions on a number of high COVID-19 risk countries.
ISS said it encouraged those who are unable to arrange their travel after Aug. 1 to seek a National Interest Exception directly from an embassy or consulate or to spend 14 days in a country that does not have travel restrictions imposed by the U.S.
OU international students traveling during COVID-19 can access a travel information link or, if they need further assistance when navigating the State Department’s travel guidelines, they can email ISS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: This article was updated at 11:11 a.m. to add the countries included in the Schengen Area.