COVID Vaccination Policy for International Students Travelling to the US

By Subhashri Roy Updated On - Jul 21, 2021 02:40 PM

As international students including students from India prepare to travel to the US this Fall, US universities have issued different COVID-19 vaccination and revaccination requirments for them. Let us find out the various COVID-19 vaccination requirements for international students entering the US in 2021.

As vaccinations ramp up and travel restrictions ease for international students in the US, universities have announced various vaccination requirements in order to let students join their campus. Indian students enrolled in Fall 2021 programs at US universities will soon start planning their travel, as the semester begins in August or September.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently eased border restrictions for more than 100 countries, enabling international students to return to campus. However, with new Covid-19 variations cropping up, universities in the US are putting in place cautious measures towards international students enrolled in Fall 2021 courses.

Vaccines Approved by US Universities

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has so far approved a total of eight vaccines, including the following:

  • The three versions of the AstraZeneca vaccine

  • Pfizer/BioNtech

  • Moderna

  • Sinopharm

  • Johnson & Johnson

  • Sinovac

Out of these, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorised only Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for emergency use within the US.

According to the data by The Chronicle of Higher Education, over 500 US colleges and universities have asked students to get fully-vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the Fall term. While some have specified the names of vaccines they’d allow, some have said any FDA- or WHO-approved vaccine will be considered acceptable.

Also Read: Timeline for September 2022 Intake to Study in USA

Quarantine Measures Adopted by US Universities

On arrival in the US, international students may or may not have to undergo quarantine depending on the university or US state. Check out the quarantine measures put in place by US universities:

  • Each US visa request is currently being thoroughly scrutinised in order to check if physical presence of the student is required.

  • Although the US has eased travel restrictions for international travellers, international students with a non-US approved vaccine would be required to quarantine for a specific period of time before joining the campus and classes.

  • Also, apart from quarantine guidelines issued by CDC, the US colleges and universities may also have their specific set of quarantine rules and facilities in place. International students may further need to follow state and local requirements as well.

  • While some are asking students to quarantine, many have asked students who are not fully vaccinated to undergo quarantine with COVID-19 testing in place. Some US schools are also providing separate quarantine facilities for international students, be it on- or off-campus.

  • Some institutions like the Florida Institute of Technology have not created separate quarantine policies specific to the institute. They have asked students to only follow CDC guidelines and any specific requirements based on their home country before they join the campus.

  • The American University has said that it will communicate quarantine guidelines for non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated students in early August. It will also allow students to quarantine in their residence hall room if living on campus.

  • According to an email written by a Department of State, students with a valid F-1 or M-1 visa for August 1, 2021 or later do not have to contact the embassy before travelling to the US. However, they should not arrive in the country more than 30 days before the start date of the course.

Have Further Queries About COVID Vaccine Policy at US Schools?

Modes of Learning for Fall 2021 in the US

With all domestic students in the US already fully-vaccinated, more universities in the US are more likely to go back to normal and shift back to in-person learning. Given below are the latest updates on the modes of learning applicable to international students in the US for Fall 2021:

  • For international students not/unable to get fully vaccinated, US universities may ask them to register for remote learning. They will have options for both in-person and remote learning with safety measures in place as issued by CDC.

  • International students unable to travel to the US because of difficulty in getting a visa appointment or travel/vaccination requirements, personal health issues, etc. may request for remote learning. However, this would depend on the university and the course.

  • Other US institutions may allow in-person classes for unvaccinated students or those in the process of getting fully-vaccinated, only if they comply with the campus COVID-19 policies. The same will be ensured through regular surveillance testing once or twice every week.

  • Universities such as the American University have announced that students who have not been fully-vaccinated with FDA- or WHO-approved vaccines will have to follow health and safety guidelines when on campus. The school will also guide such students through the vaccination process until they obtain an FDA-approved vaccine.

  • New students starting this Fall may take online classes. However, it will depend on a lot of factors including F or M visa status, restricted travel, inability to get a visa or health reasons, etc.

  • According to the March 2020 guidance, new or initial F and M students who were previously not enrolled in a program on March 9, 2020, will not be allowed to enter the US as a non-immigrant student for the 2021-22 school year if their mode of study is 100% online.

Also Read: Application Deadlines 2021-2022 for Popular US Universities

Revaccination Rules for International Students in the US

Many international students travelling to the US this Fall, including from India, may have to get revaccinated. Let us see what the current guidance (as of July 5, 2021) issued by CDC entails:

  • International students who are partially vaccinated or have not been vaccinated with a FDA- or WHO-approved vaccine may have to get revaccinated depending upon the university.

  • Such international students may be revaccinated using one of the FDA-approved vaccines although, according to the CDC, they would be required to wait for at least 28 days before taking the first jab. Such a requirement has been announced by universities such as NYU, The University of Chicago, Brandeis University and Johns Hopkins University.

  • Some universities such as Boston University do not require revaccination as it has stated that all COVID-19 vaccines, whether approved by FDA and WHO or not, fulfil its requirements.

  • Other schools including Florida Tech do not require students to get vaccinated at all. However, it has encouraged students to get vaccinated before joining the campus this Fall.

Still have doubts about vaccination requirements for entry to the US? Write to us at abroad@collegedekho.com and have all your doubts cleared by admissions experts.

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