COVID-19 International Travel & Study Abroad FAQ

Covid-19 Update

Given the dyanmic nature of the COVID-19 response, information on this webpage may update frequently. For the latest information, please check the University COVID-19 page.

U.S. citizens are advised to not travel abroad, or if they are already abroad, they should prepare to stay abroad for an indefinite period of time. This travel advisory reflects the current state of the global health and security environment. The unprecedented Global Level 4 Health Alert has resulted in US embassies and consulates suspending or significantly curtailing essentials services to U.S. citizens living abroad. In addition, airlines have limited and have increasingly suspended flights around the world. Furthermore, national borders have closed across all continents. These actions limit one’s ability to return home. If you have sheltered in place, it is likely your return home will be delayed by weeks/ or months.

Program Information

We are monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak closely. 

U.S. citizens are advised to not travel abroad, or if they are already abroad, they should prepare to stay abroad for an indefinite period of time. This travel advisory reflects the current state of the global health and security environment. The unprecedented Global Level 4 Health Alert has resulted in US embassies and consulates suspending or significantly curtailing essentials services to U.S. citizens living abroad. In addition, airlines have limited and have increasingly suspended flights around the world. Furthermore, national borders have closed across all continents. These actions limit one’s ability to return home. If you have sheltered in place, it is likely your return home will be delayed by weeks/ or months.

All summer 2020 group programs (credit-bearing and co-curricular) are suspended. 

Virginia Tech Policy 1070: Global Travel Policy does not allow for university-supported student travel to locations with a Department of State advisory of Travel Advisory Level 3: Reconsider Travel, or locations with a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning Level 3 travel notice. As the Department of State has now issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory, international student travel is no longer authorized.

Previous notices:

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. 

Virginia Tech is committed to providing global learning opportunities to our students. At this time, Fall 2020 programs are continuing as scheduled. We continue to evaluate safety and security concerns and will provide updates as they are available.

For current Spring 2020 participants: You will be eligible for reimbursement of reasonable incremental increases in travel costs for your return travel. 

The following addresses the process for requesting reimbursement. To be eligible for reimbursement, you must return to the U.S. promptly. Send the following to COVIDtravel@vt.edu:

  • Full name (First Middle Initial Last)
  • VT e-mail address (PID@vt.edu)
  • International program name
  • Final destination where you plan to self-quarantine (city, state)
  • Plan to complete coursework (on-line from host university, on-line from host program, unknown at this time, etc.)
  • Original return travel itinerary (if you purchased a one-way ticket to your program, send that itinerary)
  • Replacement itinerary with payment details
  • Additional costs associated with your travel will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Please request review of those costs by also submitting:
  • Explanation of any other travel costs that would not have been a part of your normal return travel (train to new departure airport, etc.)
  • Documents related to those other travel costs (receipts, ticket stubs, etc.) 
  • Make sure direct deposit is set-up in your Hokie Wallet!

For the reimbursement to process, please set-up direct deposit with Virginia Tech. Sign up for direct deposit of “all other payments,” which includes travel and refunds to assist us in the reimbursement process. In order to set up direct deposit, you will need your bank name, routing number and account number. To set-up your direct deposit:
1.      Login to HokieSpa,
2.      Select “Hokie Wallet”,
3.      Select “Enroll in Direct Deposit”,
4.      Select “All other Payments”
5.      Complete the screens with your banking information,
6.      Be sure and submit the information upon completion.
Please note: It takes a minimum of 24 hours for direct deposit information to sync in our systems.

For cancelled Summer 2020 programs: If you are not able to defer your travel to a future program opportunity, you will be reimbursed for all unencumbered costs associated with your program. How much of your program costs will be reimbursed will vary by program. More information will become available in the coming weeks.

 

Alternative academic plans will be different for each student. Please contact your program leader for questions pertaining to faculty-led programs. Please contact your academic advisor for support in adjusting your long-term academic plans.

Virginia Tech has canceled opportunities for study abroad and credits taken at institutions abroad this summer due to the COVID-19 crisis unfolding globally. This is in accordance with Virginia Tech Policy 1070: Global Travel Policy which does not allow for university-supported student travel to countries with elevated CDC and State Department travel advisories.

The Global Travel Oversight Committee (GTOC) has made an exception to this policy for non-US students taking classes in their home countries over the summer, with the intent to transfer the credit to their Virginia Tech degrees. You will be able to receive credit for courses taken in your home country this summer if the credits are for progress towards your Virginia Tech degree AND if the credits are approved through the Global Education Office and your academic department.

A few notes about this change:

  • This only applies to you if returning to your home country (not seeking credit in another country this summer).
  • You will still need to register your participation with our office (registry link here)  and complete mandatory paperwork to pre-approve the classes for credit transfer (described here). Transcripts received by our office without pre-approval will not be processed.
  • You will need to verify what institution will be issuing your transcript, including written confirmation from a U.S. institution if they are listed as the transcript issuer. The transcript cannot come from third-party company; it must come from an accredited institution of higher education.
  • Your department at Virginia Tech will also need to approve the credits to transfer for the courses you need for your degree.  This will likely require you providing copies of the syllabi for the courses you’d plan to take to your advisor for the courses to be approved.

Importantly, you should carefully review the guidance provided by the Cranwell International Center during this time. They have provided detailed information about the many factors you should seriously consider before making the decision to return home this summer, as it could impact your immigration status or ability to return to the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester. If you have any questions on the immigration implications traveling over the summer may have on your visa status, please reach out to the Cranwell International Center.

Visit the Virginia Tech COVID-19 webpage for the latest developments on the university’s response to COVID-19. Please visit the CDC or WHO for more information on the global response to COVID-19.

Travel Restrictions - Faculty, Staff, and Students

President Sands announced on Mar. 11. 2020 several response efforts to support public health efforts at Virginia Tech, to includea moratorium on all domestic and international university-supported travel, unitl further notice. Those currently traveling at the time of the announcement are encouraged to return home promptly.

Virginia Tech Policy 1070: Global Travel Policy does not allow for university-supported student travel to locations with a Department of State advisory of Travel Advisory Level 3: Reconsider Travel, or locations with a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning Level 3 travel notice. As the Department of State has now issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory, international student travel is no longer authorized.

In extreme circumstances, departments 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 progress. Waiver requests require the following information be sent to VTGlobalSafety@vt.edu, 30 days prior to planned travel:

  • Traveler’s relation to Virginia Tech
  • Traveler's full trip itinerary from point of origin
  • Reason exception is warranted
  • Mitigations by the traveler and the sponsoring department
  • Enforcement mechanisms for planned mitigations
  • Other considerations relevant to the individual case

This moratorium on travel applies to all faculty, staff, students, and guests. 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.

Virginia Tech is monitoring this situation closely. Too much is unknown at this time to estimate when Virginia Tech’s travel restriction will be lifted.

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 Gov. Northan's stay at home order 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.

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.