In a statement from China’s government issued on January 29 that was reported by Bloomberg, Chinese students pursuing degrees at colleges and universities in other countries have been instructed to depart China and return to campus abroad as soon as they are able. According to the statement, students are asked to return this semester, if possible, but if not to “please be sure to return to school on time for next semester.” This is according to a government agency responsible for overseeing international studies.
Though many Chinese students studying internationally have been doing so online during the three years of the country’s COVID lockdowns, they will soon no longer have that option. China is ending the temporary policy that allowed degrees earned online to gain accreditation in China, giving students further reason to return to their campuses as soon as possible.
As most US colleges and universities have already started their spring semesters, this mandate could present logistical challenges for international students and exchange visitors in terms of student housing, course schedules, travel, and staying on track to earn their degrees in the United States.
What Next Steps Should International Chinese Students and Exchange Visitors Take?
Those who are enrolled in a US college or university on an F-1 visa who have been taking their classes online in China should contact their school’s international student office as soon as possible. The office should be able to provide guidance regarding the student’s next steps to ensure everything is handled properly relating to visa compliance, student housing, and their academic goals. F-1 students and any accompanying dependents will also need to make sure they are enrolled in proper international student insurance prior to returning to the USA.
Those participating in a J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) should contact their sponsoring organization or their school’s appropriate office overseeing the EVP. Once again, they will need to ensure that they have J-1 visa insurance in place that meets all US Department of State requirements for both themselves and any accompanying dependents prior to returning to the USA.
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