International education is regaining hope as aspirants look forward to better tidings. The UK has moved India to its Amber list. Canada will soon be allowing foreign nationals to enter the country. The US Embassy continues to add additional visa appointments. New Zealand is planning to open its borders next year. But every positive change has come with its own set of restrictions.
Canada focuses on opening its borders to foreign nationals
Earlier in August, the Government of Canada suspended direct flights from India until 21st September 2021. As a result, students looking to join the Fall ‘21 intake were forced to travel to the country via indirect routes while carrying a negative COVID-19 molecular test from a third country.
In a recent optimistic move, the Canadian Government announced that all foreign nationals who qualify for the ‘fully vaccinated traveler exemption’ will be allowed starting from the 7th of September (tentatively) this year, provided that they satisfy certain conditions, including being eligible to enter Canada, having no signs of COVID-19, receiving the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccination, and meeting the testing requirements upon arrival in Canada.
As long as students satisfy these conditions, they are likely to be allowed to enter Canada.
Student visas remain a top priority for the US
The US is making every effort to help international students arrive in time for the Fall 2022 semester. Additional visa appointments are being scheduled at US embassies across India.
The US Government is allowing freshers and returning students to travel to the country. Aspirants beginning a new program with a start date on or after August 1 may travel to the United States up to 30 days prior to the course start date. The same goes for returning students.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy has instructed students to keep the COVID-19 related entry requirements in mind. They have to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. While the country does not require students to present proof of vaccination, they are advised to get in touch with their university and comply with their individual vaccination requirements.
The UK moved India to the Amber list
UK’s Red, Amber, and Green lists spell out which country’s residents can travel to the UK and what criteria they need to follow to be able to enter the country. India had long stayed on UK’s Red list until, on the 8th of August, it was moved to the Amber list, changing the rules Indian students are required to abide by as they cross the borders to the UK.
These rules are a lot less stringent on students’ minds and pockets, and only ask aspirants to take a COVID-19 test 3 days before the date of travel, book & pay for COVID-19 tests to be taken after landing, and fill a passenger locator form before entering the country.
This has made it much easier for international students to travel to the UK in time for their course to start.
Highly acclaimed for its success in handling COVID with elegance, New Zealand has kept its borders shut to international students for 18 months now. However, as the Government of New Zealand aims at fully vaccinating all locals aged over 15 by the end of 2021, the talks of reopening have ensued.
While the country is currently allowing a limited number of bachelor, postgraduate, and Ph.D. students to re-enter, it plans to resume its fresher intake during the first quarter of 2022.
Students will be allowed into New Zealand provided that they satisfy the conditions set by the government based on their vaccination status and infection levels in the country of departure. When and how this happens, though, is yet to be seen.
The French authorities recently announced that students and talented passport holders have compelling reasons for traveling to France. That, combined with the fact that France recently moved India to its Yellow (medium risk) list, has led to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated Indian students being permitted to enter the country. This, again, is subject to aspirants fulfilling certain requirements laid down by the French Government.
It’s been over 18 months since COVID-19 struck, and if there’s one thing we have to accept, it’s that this disease is here to stay and we have to learn to live with it. Several countries, while anxious about second and third waves striking, are choosing to cautiously relax restrictions and reopen borders. What this entails, however, only time will tell.
The writer is Founder and CEO – iSchoolConnect
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