Trump Admin Exempts European, But Not Chinese, Students From Coronavirus Travel Restrictions

Following in the foosteps of a report from earlier thisweek, that the White House would rescind its decision to deny student visas to students who won't be studying on campus full time this fall, Reuters reports that foreign students coming from Europe will be exempt from a travel ban the United States imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. State Department told congressional offices on Thursday. The State Department also told lawmakers that it would offer exemptions for some au pairs and family members of visa holders in the United States, according to a memo sent to lawmakers and seen by Reuters.

The decision is part of the administration's effort to gradually reopen international travel following months of sweeping restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. In March, President Trump banned travelers from most European countries as COVID-19 cases soared in the region before the disease took hold in the United States.

Meanwhile, even though the European Union began to allow non-essential travel from a limited number of countries last month, travelers from the United States remain banned due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

The U.S. decision to allow European students comes days after the Trump administration agreed to drop a policy that would have forced tens of thousands of international students to leave the United States if their classes went entirely online; the reversal came amid legal challenges by major universities and pressure from business and tech companies.

China, Brazil and Iran face similar travel bans, but students from those nations were not included in the U.S. exemptions.  Students in European countries who already have visas to study in the United States are exempt from the ban, according to the memo.

The State Department also said spouses and children of certain foreign workers coming to the United States could qualify for exemptions, including the spouses of skilled workers with H-1B visas.