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Whenever something exceptionally frustrating happens like you describe above, the tendency is to blame the user settings.
Have you tried renaming (assuming Windows) your C:\Users\<your_userid>AppData\Roaming\SQL Developer\system18.104.22.1686.1900
folder to something else, then restarting SQL Developer and skipping the user settings migration step? If not, do so and see if the Oracle tab reappears in the "New / Select Database Connection" dialog.
If it works, then hopefully you have an export file of your connections from some recent version of SQL Developer to import.
Dang. That was too easy. I tried a handful of other things but not that. Worked like a charm, thanks so very much for this!