Brazilians claim the right to travel to study in France

Brazilians claim the right to travel to study in France

Brazilian students and researchers this week launched a campaign to ask for a reassessment of the blockade that prevents them from traveling to France on account of Covid-19 pandemic. About 300 prospective students from French universities have been unable to travel to the European country since the end of April, when the government of President Emmanuel Macron removed study trips from Brazil from the list of exceptions for entry into its territory.

Paris Sorbonne University Campus, France

Paris Sorbonne University Campus, France

Many of the affected students and researchers are at risk of losing their invitation to join the course abroad or even scholarships. Therefore, the group created the movement ‘Étudier Est Impérieux’ (Studying is imperative, in Portuguese), with pages on various social networks, to attract attention to the issue.

The researcher Caio Cesar Barbosa Bomfim, 31, holds a PhD in Immunology from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICB) of the University of São Paulo (USP) and won a postdoctoral fellowship at the Cochin Institute in Paris to research topics related to the virus HIV. The paulista, however, is unable to issue his visa to assume the post.

“It was a long and very competitive process, as the position I was seeking was for a post-doctorate in an internationally renowned laboratory”, says Caio, who should have started his course on May 1st and now fears losing the funding he received for a European research agency in the face of delays. “My future supervisor in Paris managed to leave my contract open for a few weeks, but I don’t know how much longer he can wait. I’m afraid of missing out on this great opportunity, which required a lot of hard study and preparation.”

Brazil is currently on the list of countries considered at high risk of Covid-19 contagion by France and therefore travelers coming from Brazilian cities do not cross the border. But the French government maintains a list of compelling reasons for travel, which are basically exceptions to the blockade, and as of April 26, students or researchers accepted at local universities met those criteria.

A change in the list, however, removed travel for studies from the list of compelling reasons, and travel has since been banned. The French Embassy and consulates in Brazil also suspended the issuance of study and research visas.

So far, 290 students and researchers have signed a letter that will be sent to the ministers of the Interior, Foreign Affairs and the French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, asking for the standard to be reevaluated. In the group there are undergraduate, masters, doctoral and postdoctoral students. All of them have already gone through the candidacy process and are just waiting for the reopening of visas and the liberation of the borders to start their studies.

Even with an imperious reason, every person who enters French territory must have a negative PCR for the coronavirus, undergo a test at the airport itself and carry out a mandatory 10-day quarantine. The isolation is controlled by the police, who visit the address shown at random times. Students say they are willing to comply with all rules if they can travel to the country again.

“There is no guarantee that universities or projects will be able to accept us after the deadline, or reserve the place for the following year”, says Leandro Otávio de Souza, 27, who got a place to study for a master’s degree in Advanced Methods of Industrial Engineering at Clermont Auvergne University.

Most Brazilian students accepted at French universities must start their courses in the second half of August or in September. With the reopening of most cities in the country and the relaxation of the quarantine, most institutions will resume classes in person, abandoning the hybrid system in force until the first half of this year.

“The application process is quite long and was very exhausting. We invested financially and psychologically in this and we don’t want to miss the opportunity”, says Leandro, who needs to register in person by September 30 in Clermont-Ferrand in order not to lose his place. .

The Brazilian students’ campaign caught the attention of senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, of the French Republican Party. On its Twitter page, the policy supported the movement and called for the inclusion of study trips on the government’s list of exceptions. “There is no reason to prevent students from continuing their university careers, especially if they are vaccinated and take exams!” he wrote.

In addition to Brazil, other countries are also currently on France’s high risk red list, including Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Turkey, Uruguay and South Africa.

When contacted, the French Embassy in Brazil did not respond to the contact request for further clarification on the current blockades until the publication of this article.


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