Travel Warnings and Updates

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Travel Restrictions

We understand that the current environment can make travel challenging and unpredictable. As a result, we recommend that you continue to closely monitor travel guidelines for departing your country of residence and travel warnings and restrictions for entering the US. It will be important to keep ISSS updated about any changes to your plans resulting from travel difficulties.

Travel Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I cannot get a flight or cannot enter the U.S. due to travel restrictions or an expired visa?

Be aware that you are expected to arrive on campus and begin attending courses by the first week of the fall semester. If you are not able to arrive by the first week of classes you should notify the ISSS office and work with all of your professors to see if they will accommodate your arrival later (but before the fourth week of classes). In the event that you cannot secure a flight to arrive within that time frame you will need to consider taking online courses from outside the U.S. You should keep ISSS informed about your situation.

Can ISSS help me get a visa or visa appointment?

You must work directly with the U.S. consulate or embassy to secure a visa appointment and work through the adjudication process. Because visa issuance is at the discretion of the Department of State, ISSS is not able to influence U.S. embassies or consulates to expedite visa processing times.

If I spend 14 days in a country that does not have a travel restriction, will I be able to enter the US?

It is unclear whether spending 14 days in a country without travel restrictions will allow you to enter the U.S. if you are coming from a country with restrictions. While spending time in another country may legally allow you to meet U.S. entry requirements, there may be risks in doing so because global travel guidelines are frequently changing in response COVID-19.

Current Travel Restrictions

Proclamations and Announcements

Due to concerns regarding coronavirus transmission, a presidential proclamation has been issued suspending entry to the U.S. for all nonimmigrants, including F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors, who were physically present in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) within the 14 days preceding their attempted entry. This policy went into effect February 2nd, 2020.

Another presidential proclamation was issued suspending entry to the U.S. for all nonimmigrants physically present in Iran within the 14 days preceding their attempted entry. This policy went into effect March 2, 2020.

A third presidential proclamation was issued suspending entry to the U.S. for all nonimmigrants physically present in Europe (in countries that participate in the Schengen agreement) within the 14 days preceding their attempted entry. The European Schengen area includes: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. This policy went into effect March 13, 2020.

UPDATE: Per reports, U.S. embassies located in Schengen area countries are stating that, effective July 15, 2020, students and exchange visitors in the following categories (Professor, Research Scholar, Short Term Scholar, Specialist) from Schengen area countries may apply for a National Interest Exception (NIE)* waiver, which, if approved by a Consular Officer, would allow travel from the Schengen Area to the United States.

Please contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate to inquire about this option. You are required to verify that you qualify for a National Interest Exception. To do so, you must send the following information along with supporting documentation to your U.S. embassy or consulate. You will be notified by e-mail if you meet the NIE requirements. Print out that e-mail as confirmation of your excepted status to include with your other traveling documents.

  • Name As It Appears On Passport
  • Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY):
  • Passport #:
  • Passport Date of Issuance:
  • Reason For Travel:
  • Proposed Itinerary:
  • E-mail:
  • Phone #:

While no specific documentation is listed, ISSS suggests you include your passport, visa, I-20, and proof of enrollment in the documentation that you send.

Remember that your admission remains subject to determination by Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry and that you may be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in the U.S. Travelers using a NIE waiver are required to fly into one of 15 specifically designated U.S. airports.

*See Section 2, part (a) (xi) of the March 11, 2020 Presidential Proclamation

Effective March 16, 2020, nonimmigrants physically present in the United Kingdom and Ireland within the previous 14 days period before attempted entry are also restricted from entering the U.S. Review the presidential proclamation.

On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced that all routine visa services, including nonimmigrant visa appointments, have been suspended worldwide. At this time, it is unclear when services will resume. Review the announcement and check country specific information.

On March 20, 2020, all non-essential travel was restricted along the United States and Canadian border (land ports of entry). However, essential travel is defined to include traveling to attend educational institutions. For more information, please see the Federal Register. Restrictions were expanded to include the United States and Mexican border as well.

On May 24, 2020, another presidential proclamation was issued suspending entry to the U.S. for all nonimmigrants physically present in Brazil within the 14 days preceding their attempted entry. This policy went into effect May 26, 2020.

The U.S. has issued travel warnings cautioning against travel to countries experiencing high levels of confirmed cases of the virus. Many U.S. airlines have cancelled flights in response to the crisis. The COVID-19 situation is developing and all international travel includes some degree of risk.

Other Travel Restrictions

As a result of presidential proclamation and court order, travel restrictions to the U.S. exist for nationals of certain countries. Effected countries include:

  • Iran–F and J visas may likely be subject to additional scrutiny, enhanced screening, and vetting requirements
  • Libya–No impact on F and J visas
  • North Korea–Entry as a nonimmigrant is suspended
  • Syria–Entry as a nonimmigrant is suspended
  • Venezuela–F and J visas may likely be subject to additional scrutiny, enhanced screening, and vetting requirements
  • Yemen–No impact on F-1 and J-1 visas
  • Somalia–F and J visas are subject to additional scrutiny, enhanced screening, and vetting requirements

The U.S. Department of State issued guidance on how restrictions impact visa issuance; students or scholars from these countries are advised to consult with ISSS before making travel plans outside the U.S.

Effective February 21, 2020, travel restrictions expanded to include the following countries:

  • Eritrea
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Nigeria
  • Myanmar
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania

As of now, restrictions only apply towards immigrant, not nonimmigrant, entry. As a result, it is possible for a national of these countries to apply for a visa and enter the U.S. as an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor. Review the most recent presidential proclamation.

Extreme Vetting

Additionally, the executive branch has mandated “extreme vetting”; therefore it is possible that some individuals may be subject to additional scrutiny or security checks. Due to possible additional processing, ISSS encourages students and scholars to allow sufficient time when applying for a student or scholar nonimmigrant visa.

  • On May 29, 2020, a proclamation suspending entry of certain students and researchers from China was announced. However, the new proclamation does not restrict entry of undergraduate students. Likewise, graduate students and researchers are generally exempt unless they have current or past links to "an entity in the PRC that implements or supports the PRC’s 'military-civil fusion strategy'." The entity list is not available but general guidance indicates that impact should be limited.