Temple junior Vincent Shen visits his home country of China every year, dating back to 2015. But, all of that changed in 2020.
“I was just expecting to spend Christmas time with my family and come back to the United States for the spring semester,” said Shen. “Unfortunately because of travel restrictions, I couldn’t come back.”
Instead of learning with his peers in America, Shen had to take online classes – with a 12 hour time difference.
“I had to cook myself lunch at 2 a.m. to eat something before my class,” he recalled.
Shen says he felt isolated during this time, separated from his classmates on the other side of the globe.
“Taking classes with a time difference was really painful for me, and it really affected my grades.”
Fortunately for Shen and millions of others, the U.S. fully reopened their borders to travelers after over 18 months of being closed.
The list of 33 countries with access to American borders includes Mexico, Canada, and most of Europe.
If you are planning to enter the U.S. you must be fully vaccinated. There are some restrictions for those under 18, and those who are medically unable to.
You must also have a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travel.
Now that borders are open, things are looking bright for international students. However, according to Temple’s Director of Immigration Services Joan McGinley, things are not so black and white.
“The problem still is appointments and visas, appointments and embassies for visas,” said McGinley.
Those who are unvaccinated and don’t have a visa may be in trouble, according to McGinley.
“If you have an expired visa, you could still have a problem getting an appointment at an embassy,” she said.
McGinley says there are currently backlogs at embassies which delay the process of receiving a visa for travel.
But, for those who do have their visa and are vaccinated, you are good to go. Many have already hit the airport, ready for international travel.
And for Shen, he’s got plans.
“I’m thinking about going back (to China) in the summer, but it depends because I might go to Germany for study abroad in the summer,” he said.
With borders open, millions of people can reunite with family and friends, just in time for the holidays.