On April 27, 2021, DOS announced National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland, expanding certain NIE eligibilities to all countries subject to US geographic COVID-19 entry bans.
DOS's Visa News page has been updated to include this announcement, too.
NAFSA's COVID-19 Restrictions on U.S. Visas and Entry page has been updated, as well, and can be a helpful resource. It provides the following breakdown of the updated NIE criteria, with excerpts from the announcement:
It may also be helpful to follow today's DOS expands national interest exceptions ISTA conversation as DSOs make sense of some of the announcement's language
On Friday, July 24, ICE/SEVP provided clarification to the March 2020 guidance for the Fall semester. Although there are still some unanswered questions, we are pleased to share good news with you for a change. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss your individual situations. We are available to assist and support you in making your decisions regarding the coming term.
THE UPDATED GUIDANCE CLARIFIES IMPORTANT ISSUES:
Recommendations for Continuing F-1 Students and New Students Currently in the United States:
Recommendations for F-1 Continuing Students Planning to Remain Outside the United States:
We know you have many questions and we will do our best to address them based on the information available to us at this time. We ask for your continued patience as we try to learn more about these guidelines.