Preparing for Travel to the US for Studies Post-Pandemic
For over thirty months, international travel has become a complex maze of complications due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Every country on the planet has been impacted by this virus in ways we never thought imaginable just three years ago. As a result, things in everyday life for students seeking higher education outside their home country have changed substantially. For those of you planning to study in the United States in 2022, if you have already been admitted for study, gotten your visa, and are now ready to go, what do you need to know?
Get your documents in order
Now more than ever, be aware of recent changes in guidance for travelers to the United States due to the pandemic, and have your documents in order before you travel. From your I-20, to your passport and F-1 student visa, to your admissions letter, academic and financial documents, everything must reflect who you are and your intended purpose in the United States. One document you will need that has not been required previously is proof of Covid-19 vaccination. This Centers for Disease Control site in the United States provides all the details you need to know about the documentation required for entry.
Communicate with your university regularly
Our friends at EducationUSA, the U.S. Department of State’s network of educational advising centers in 170 countries, traditionally hold pre-departure orientations for international students before they head to the United States for study. While most of these sessions have still been virtual due to the pandemic, they are still happening and can be great resources for students like yourself trying to make sense of a very confusing time in our world. As you get ready to begin your U.S. study journey, the most important people you need to maintain regular communication with are the international student office staff at your college or university. For many U.S. higher education institutions, the past two-plus years have
been ones that have been dramatically disrupted, like much of the world, by this global pandemic. As a result, it is essential for you to be aware of what those plans are and know what you should do.
Know the immigration and airline rules
Entering the United States as an international student is a fairly straightforward process in normal times if you’ve taken all the required steps and are well-prepared for this last step of your journey to U.S. study. However, these are not normal times. You must know what the current procedures both for the airlines you may be flying into the United States and the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) division that handles immigration control at the borders. Earlier this summer, the U.S. government removed the requirement for all passengers to have had a negative Covid-19 test documented within three days before flying to the United States. One less thing to worry about!
Moreover, when entering the United States, the officials at CBP who interview each person seeking entry have to ask questions about your intended studies when you present your documents at the immigration checkpoint at the airport. The Department of Homeland Security which oversees CBP has put together important resources in its Study in the States site that discusses the current regulations. Be sure to review this guidance before you leave.
Best of luck with your journey!