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COVID-19 International Travel & Study Abroad FAQ

Last modified September 15, 2021

Given the dyanmic nature of the COVID-19 response, information on this webpage may update frequently. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available. If you have questions, please contact the Global Education Office at vtabroad@vt.edu.

 

As a global land grant university, Virginia Tech is committed to improving the human condition worldwide and educating students who will understand their connection to fellow humans everywhere and excel at working collaboratively on solutions to global problems. For this reason, we believe deeply in the value of international education experiences for our students, opportunities for them to connect with and learn from cultures beyond our own boundaries.

The health, safety, and wellness of our students, faculty, and staff is of utmost importance. As such policies and procedures are set in place to promote the health, safety and security of members of the university community (employees and students) traveling outside of the United States for university-supported purposes.

Virginia Tech Policy 1070: Global Travel Policy,  does not authorize any university-supported international travel to locations where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Travel Health Notice Level 3 or higher. Also, Policy 1070 does not authorize student university-supported international travel to locations where the U.S. Department of State has issued a Travel Advisory Level 3 or higher.

Under extraordinary circumstances, individuals or group leaders can petition the GTOC for an exception to Policy 1070 international travel restrictions based on U.S. Department of State and CDC travel advisories. The petitioner is responsible for proving necessity of travel and sufficient risk mitigation to merit travel. Waivers are not guaranteed and can be revoked at any time by the GTOC or the university president, as the situation progresses.  Non-compliance may result in revocation of university-support and loss of eligibility for credit transfer.

See the Procedure to Request an Exception to Policy – International Travel for procedures on how to request an exception to university policy for high risk travel in which the risk is not related to COVID-19. 

If there are any university-supported travelers already in the affected area at the time the CDC issues a Warning Level 3 Travel Notice or higher or the university identifies a region as medically high risk for travelers, travelers will be advised to leave the affected area. Individuals may petition the GTOC for a waiver to continue their activities on site. Non-compliance may result in revocation of university-support and loss of eligibility for credit transfer.

Details on petitioning for an exception to Policy 1070 to remain in a high risk location can be found in the Procedure to Request an Exception to Policy – International Travel.

All university-supported travelers entering the U.S. from a location with a CDC Travel Health Notice Level 3 or higher, or region otherwise identified by Virginia Tech, may not return to any Virginia Tech campuses and activities until they have met CDC and Virginia Tech health and emergency services guidance.

The Procedure to Request an Exception to Policy – International Travel addresses how to petition for an exception to Policy 1070 for university-supported guests and non-degree seeking students coming to Virginia Tech facilities from locations with a CDC Travel Health Notice Level 3 or higher.

In-bound Exchange Students

A blanket waiver to Virginia Tech Policy 1070: Global Travel Policy restrictions for travel to Virginia Tech from locations with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Travel Health Notice Level 3 or higher, is in-place for exchange students studying at Virginia Tech, traveling from locations with an elevated Travel Health Notice due to COVID-19, should exchange participants be able to enter the U.S. The Assistant Director for Partnerships and Affiliations can assist with any questions specific to in-bound exchange students.

Please refer to the Hokie Ready website for more information related to COVID-19. Reach out to vtglobalsafety@vt.edu international travel safety questions or vtabroad@vt.edu with study abroad questions.

 

Travel Restrictions - Faculty, Staff, and Students

Virginia Tech Policy 1070: Global Travel Policy does not allow for university-supported student international travel to locations with the following advisories:

  • U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory Level 3: Reconsider Travel, 
  • U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory Level 4: Do Not Travel, or 
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning Level 3 travel notice

Policy 1070 does not support faculty and staff travel to locations with a CDC Warning level 3 travel notice. The U.S. Department of State and the CDC have lifted their global travel advisories, but both entities have assessed most international travel as posing significant risk related to COVID-19.

In extenuating circumstances, travelers or groups can petition the Global Travel Oversight Committee (GTOC) for a waiver to allow for critical travel. Waivers are not guaranteed and can be revoked at any time, as the situation progresses. Waiver requests require the following information be sent to vtglobalsafety@vt.edu, following the guidance in the Procedure to Request and Exception to Policy - International Travel.

Students seeking an exception to Policy 1070 to study abroad for summer 2021 or fall 2021 should follow the guidance available on the High Risk Travel - COVID-19 website.

Virginia Tech Policy 1070: Global Travel Policy is applicable to all university-supported travelers. This includes, but is not limited to, faculty, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, international students, post doctorates, visiting scholars and researchers, business partners, training and workshop participants, conference attendees, and job candidates.

Study abroad opportunities will remain possible with increased preparation and departure requirements, to include health and safety gates that must be met to allow for departure. Individual student travelers intending to participate in faculty-led, exchange, direct enrollment, third-party, student research, and internship programs will not be authorized to depart until both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of State travel advisory levels are de-escalated to a Level 1 or Level 2. 

Virginia Tech faculty-led programs will be supported in planning and preparations, with additional efforts toward delaying financial obligations for as long as possible. If a program is canceled, participants will be reimbursed remaining unencumbered funds. Programs will provide participants with timelines of incremental financial obligation to ensure participants can make informed financial decisions concerning continued commitment to the program.

Departure for all travelers is predicated by border access being granted, traveler visa access, and other immigration requirements. These are dynamic entry requirements set by each country. As consulates and embassies re-open from COVID-19 closures, travelers should expect delays in passport and visa processes.

Virginia Tech is monitoring this situation closely. Too much is unknown at this time to estimate when the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will assess decreased risk related to COVID-19 to each country.

Individuals and departments that wish to plan future travel to or through high-risk locations do so at risk of having to cancel travel because of continued advisories. 

Virginia Tech does not regulate or track personal travel, though we strongly recommend following Virginia Department of Health guidance, and we strongly recommend following CDC and Department of State guidance in not traveling to medically high risk locations until after the situation improves. All members of the Virginia Tech community are being strongly discouraged from any non-critical domestic or international travel, whether personal or professional.

Virginia Tech encourages travelers to follows CDC international travel guidelines.

 

Non-vaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 1-3 days before traveling out of the U.S.
  • Make sure you understand and follow all airline and destination requirements reltaed to travel, testing, or quarantine.
  • While traveling, wear a mask, avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Get tested before flying to the U.S. (required for entry).
  • Get tested 3-5 days after your trip AND self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
  • Do not return to campus for 7 days after your return, even if you test negative for COVID-19. Self-quarantine during this time.
  • If you are not able to get tested after international travel, stay home for 10 days after travel before returning to campus.
  • Self-monitor for symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.

Fully-vaccinated individuals should:

  • Make sure you understand and follow all airline and destination requirements reltaed to travel, testing, or quarantine.
  • While traveling, wear a mask, and follow all recommendations and requirements at your destination.
  • Get tested before flying to the U.S. (required for entry).
  • Get tested 3-5 days after your trip and reduce non-essential activities.
  • Self-monitor for symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.

 

Domestic travel: VDH advises Virginians to avoid all non-essential travel. There are currently no requirements in place for quarantining after domestic travel. Continue to wear a face covering, maintain physical distancing, practice good hygiene, and monitor for symptoms. Refer to the VDH travel site for the latest information.

Previous Notices

Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke has approved a recommendation by the Global Travel Oversight Committee to allow for the possibility of spring 2021 study abroad activities to proceed contingent upon program-specific reviews, public health and safety guidelines, and alignment with the university’s academic planning strategies for the spring semester.

The committee, chaired by Don Hempson, associate vice president for international affairs, will evaluate each program on its own merits, the risks inherent to the destination, and any mitigation policies and protocols in place.

Read the full campus notice.

As a global land grant university, Virginia Tech is committed to improving the human condition worldwide and educating students who will understand their connection to fellow humans everywhere and excel at working collaboratively on solutions to global problems. For this reason, we believe deeply in the value of international education experiences for our students, opportunities for them to connect with and learn from cultures beyond our own boundaries.

The pandemic has brought home to us the vital importance of this work. In these difficult, uncertain times, one question facing us has been the feasibility of study abroad programming in the immediate future.

After careful deliberation, the Global Travel Oversight Committee made its recommendations to university leadership and the following decisions were rendered by the provost:

  1. All 2020-21 Winter Session study abroad opportunities are canceled.
  2. Students, faculty, and departments should proceed with planning for all Spring 2021 study abroad opportunities.

While current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of State, and host country restrictions make almost all study abroad impossible, we are hopeful that these restrictions will ease in the coming months. The university’s decision to encourage continued planning for spring programs is a clear statement of our commitment to returning to full study abroad engagement as soon as the world’s public health circumstances allow.

In our current circumstances, we urge you to consider carefully the financial implications of committing funds to a study abroad program. Further communication related to your specific program will be sent in the days to come.

We know that you will certainly have many questions about spring study abroad opportunities. Please refer to the Global Education Office FAQ page for more information, and reach out to vtabroad@vt.edu with questions.

U.S. citizens are advised to arrange for immediate return home or prepare to stay abroad for an indefinite period of time. This new travel advisory reflects a significant change in the global health and security environment. The unprecedented Global Level 4 Health Alert is going to result in US embassies and consulates suspending or significantly curtailing essentials services to U.S. citizens living abroad. In addition, airlines are limiting and increasingly suspending flights around the world. Furthermore, national borders are closing rapidly across all continents. These actions are going to limit your ability to return home in the coming days and weeks.  If you choose to shelter in place, there is a possibility that the prospect of your return home might be delayed by weeks/months beyond your program end date. At this time 230 of your peers out of a total of 260 studying abroad this semester are already home or on route home. Therefore, Virginia Tech encourages you to arrange for immediate return home.

Virginia Tech will assist students with academic progression for the spring 2020 semester with appropriate supervision from the academic department(s) without additional costs beyond what was paid for educational expenses for spring 2020. Also, students returning home by the time announced for their host country will be made financially whole (upon furnishing payment receipts) for ticket change fees, or a new economy-class return air ticket to their home. 

If have have changed your travel plans, please notify Virginia Tech Global Safety of your new plans at VTGlobalSafety@vt.edu.

Steps for return

  1. Contact your travel agent or airline to request an itinerary change to the soonest possible flight.
  2. Notify your host program/institution of your departure plans. It is important to notify your host institution and program of your departure plans. Each will approach the coming events differently and will have different support available to you. We will work with you and your host program to find any possible options for you to complete your academic semester. This may be on-line coursework, alternate academic projects, or other learning opportunities.
  3. Contact Global Safety and Risk Management (VTGlobalSafety@vt.edu or 540-750-5747) immediately with your:
    • Current location
    • Wellness status
    • International cell phone number 
    • New flight itenerary
    • Where you plan to stay upon return.
  4. Until you depart, please follow guidance from your host institution and host nation. Avoid non-essential travel and take appropriate precautions, including:
    • Check the local news regularly
    • Have multiple means of communication available (cell phone, E-mail, etc.)
    • Wash hands frequently
    • Avoid touching your face
    • Be aware of what you touch, particularly in public spaces
    • Refrain from shaking hands
    • Minimize time in densely crowded spaces
    • Drink plenty of water, eat regular meals, and get a full night’s rest

Guidelines for self-quarantine

The Department of Homeland Security issued a Notice of Arrival Restrictions requiring American citizens, legal permanent residents, and their immediate families who are returning home to the U.S. to travel through one of 13 airports upon arrival to the U.S., submit to an enhanced entry screening and self-quarantine for 14 days once they reach their final destination.

All university community members who have traveled within the last 14 days domestically, internationally or from Northern Virginia, Eastern Virginia, or other identified COVID-19 hotspot areas in the Commonwealth of Virginia need to complete a health screening. A hotspot is defined as any geographic area or location that has had either a concentrated outbreak or a high risk of transmission.


Students should contact the Schiffert Health Center at 540-231-6444.

  • Employees and other Virginia Tech community members should contact the New River Health District COVID-19 website.


Upon completion of the travel-related health screening, please complete the Virginia Tech Post-Travel Registration Form. Again, the health screening and travel form are for those who have traveled within the last 14 days domestically, internationally, or from Northern Virginia, Eastern Virginia, or other identified COVID-19 hotspot areas in the Commonwealth of Virginia. While currently screening and reporting requirements do not include commuting from out-of-state daily for work, employees are encouraged to check the university COVID-19 page regularly for updates regarding travel and other health related information.

Any community members who have questions about COVID-19 and their health are encouraged to access the following resources.

Guidelines for self-quarantine from the CDC include:

  • Restriction of activities outside of your home except for visits to a medical professional for evaluation.
  • Limited contact with other members of the residence, including pets.
  • Frequent hand washing.
  • Consistent cleaning of all high-touch surfaces such as tables, countertops, doorknobs, keyboards, tablets, bathroom fixtures, television remotes, phones, and other areas.
  • Restricted sharing of such household items as drinking glasses, plates, utensils, bedding, towels, and clothing.
  • Regularly washing dishes, clothing, and bedding.

Virginia Tech is suspending all international programs, both credit bearing and co-curricular, that depart May through the start of Fall 2020. For students of faculty-led programs, please contact your program leader for details concerning your program.

If a student should continue to pursue studies at an institution or on a program outside of the U.S. during Summer 2020, it is no longer considered university-supported travel and risks the loss of opportunity for academic credit transfer.