Malo Alvarenga, a first-year international student from Sao Paulo, Brazil, contracted COVID-19 at the start of the semester. With her parents on a different continent, and the travel ban still in place, the looming thought that they wouldn’t be able to visit if she needed to haunt her.
“I wanted my parents to be around in case I got worse,” Alvarenga said. “It went well, but I know that my parents were worried and that they would have come if it weren’t for the travel ban.”
The Declaration to Promote the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic, released by the White House on October 25, states that effective November 8, the travel ban will be lifted for vaccinated tourists entering the United States.
With more than 5,000 international students in USF, lifting the travel ban will open the way for their family members to come and visit, especially for students who cannot easily return to their home countries.
The travel ban was enacted in early 2020 under the Trump administration. China, Iran, the European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India have been included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel ban list. The CDC list has been updated several times over the past two years with countries added and removed.
Some international students, like Alvarenga, hope that their families will be able to visit them soon once the travel ban is lifted. However, various factors such as obtaining a visa and CDC requirements still play a role in international travel.
Consulates have been closed for nearly two years, and many people are lining up to get their visas. Alvarenga’s parents are working to renew their tourist visas so they can visit her.
“Even now that the borders have opened, my parents still cannot come because their visas have expired, and with the consulates opening recently, there was no appointment available,” Alvarenga said.
While the ban was enforced, many international students also faced challenges such as moving to a new country independently, as their family members were not allowed to enter the United States.
“I had to move on my own, and I hope my parents are here with me during this life-changing moment,” Alvarenga said. “It was much more difficult than knowing that my parents wouldn’t be able to come to visit me.”
Vittoria Petti, a sophomore from Rome, Italy, couldn’t help her parents relocate either. She said that some of her friend’s families went to South America to quarantine in order to enter the United States, but that this was not a viable option for her family.
“It was a stressful experience as I had to navigate the world on my own,” she said. “I saw other students with their families and I wish I could have attended.”
The CDC states that proof of vaccination is required upon entry to the United States, but even with an approved visa, access to approved travel vaccines is not easy in some countries, such as Russia, where the Sputnik vaccine is widely available. Currently, only AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer, Sinopharm and Sinovac are accepted into the United States.
She said whether or not the Patti family will be able to come is still uncertain. Although they were vaccinated, she said, the vaccine was not one of the approved vaccines to enter the country.
“My parents are still not sure if they can come yet because despite the travel ban being lifted, the vaccine they took has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration yet,” Patty said.
“So far, they still haven’t been able to come.”
The effects of the travel ban were also reflected in USF educational programs such as the Hospitality School International Certificate Program, according to Hospitality College Dean Cihan Kubanoglu.
While the students qualified for the National Interest Exception, which is an exception to the current travel ban, Kobanoğlu said many have decided not to come to the United States due to obstacles to international travel.
“from U.S [School of Hospitality at the St. Pete Campus]“We have an international degree program, which we usually host around hundreds of students, but as of now, in 2020 and 2021, we don’t have any new international students,” said Kubanoglu.
With the travel ban removed, Kobanoğlu believes that the number of international students will slowly return to average international degree program rates.
“In January, we [the international certificate program] They expect two new [international] Two Taliban, one from Turkey and one from Guana,” Kubanoglu said.
Although there are some remaining doubts, Alvarenga said she hopes the travel ban will be lifted, and it will be easier to see her family.
“I just hope it all ends well, this situation is very complicated,” Alvarenga said.
“There’s always this uncertainty when it comes to US borders, they open and close all of a sudden.”