Please check which travel restrictions are still in effect. The official U.S. Visas News and the NAFSA's Visas and Entry are good source.
On April 26, 2021, DOS updated its National Interest Exception (NIE) page to expand certain NIE eligibilities to China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland. On April 30, 2021 the Department of State included India in its National Interest Exception (NIE) policies.
- "Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies."
- "Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel."
For new students with Initial I-20s, the program start date is August 30, 2021. According to the current DOS statements, you can enter the U.S. after July 31, 2021 with the NIE even if you are subject to the travel restrictions.
J1 students should consult with the nearest US embassy/consulate for the exemption before departure.
F1 and J1 Students crossing the border from Canada and Mexico to attend school (CalArts) have an essential reason to enter the U.S. No special letter is needed.
COVID Test Requirement for U.S. Entry
In order to enter the United States, you will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three (3) calendar days of departure, or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days.