Carnegie Mellon University
December 03, 2021

International Travel Considerations

Update as of 12/03/21

Recent reports of the omicron variant remind us that the pandemic is ongoing and continues to impact international travel. OIE encourages community members considering international travel to assess their situations carefully in the weeks and months ahead as plans are made for the upcoming winter break. In some instances, international travel is not recommended (for example, if you are traveling to a country where you would be subject to a COVID-related travel ban and could not return to the U.S.), as there is a possibility that you may not be able to re-enter the U.S. when planned.

If you are considering travel, regardless of your country of citizenship, you should carefully assess your plans, individual risk factors and do your research on the current government policies for any country you plan to travel to or through. If you decide to travel, you will want to continue to monitor the situation as conditions and entry requirements/restrictions may change.

While we hope any travel plans go as smoothly as possible, people who decide to travel internationally should be prepared for worst-case scenarios and make contingency plans (e.g., being stuck somewhere longer than you expected, being unable to return to the U.S. for the spring semester or losing U.S. immigration status/employment benefits).

Issues to consider:

  • Entry to other countries: Like the U.S., many countries have entry restrictions or pandemic safety requirements, including what types of facial coverings are required and when they must be worn. Countries may bar entry from certain countries and/or may require quarantining, testing, or vaccinations before or after arrival. These rules will continue to change as country conditions and policies change. Be prepared that rules may change while you are in transit or during your trip. If you plan to travel, continue to monitor the situation and guidelines in case they do change. Be prepared for unexpected delays and have funds to cover mandatory quarantine rules or any additional travel expenses (e.g., if you have an issue obtaining a negative COVID test).

    The best source of information regarding a country’s current COVID rules can be found on the official government websites for the countries you plan on traveling to or through. Other resources may also be helpful, including information from the CDC, the U.S. State Department and the International Air Transport Association.

  • Re-entry to the U.S.: The U.S. government requiresall non-immigrant, non-citizen air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States.” All U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) who are not fully vaccinated "will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test one (1) day before their flight’s departure. U.S citizens and LPRs who are fully vaccinated will need to present airlines with proof of vaccination and of a negative COVID-19 test three (3) days before their flight."  If you cannot present the required documentation, you will not be able to enter the U.S., even as a U.S. citizen.  You can find additional information about current entry guidelines and a traveler's assessment on the Center for Disease Control's website.  International students/faculty/staff who cannot return to the U.S. due to a travel ban/restriction may not be able to maintain their U.S. immigration status and may lose the ability to work or study in the U.S.
  • Obtaining a U.S. Visa/Obtaining assistance for U.S. citizen services abroad: U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide continue to have reduced capacity due to the ongoing pandemic. Because of this, you may experience longer visa processing times, and/or visa appointments may be difficult to schedule, especially during holiday periods when consular staffing may be reduced. Students/scholars who need to obtain a new U.S. visa to return to the U.S. should carefully consider travel. It may be difficult or impossible to get a visa within the time period of your planned trip. One option to research is whether you can apply for a visa by mail or drop-off (in cases not requiring an in-person interview). Students/scholars who need a visa to return to the U.S. are encouraged to consult with their OIE Advisor before making travel arrangements
  • U.S. citizen services: While the U.S. State Department does assist during an emergency (e.g., if a passport is lost/stolen while you are abroad), the State Department cannot help travelers who wish to avoid local quarantine or entry restrictions. Similarly, upon re-entry to the U.S., everyone, including U.S. citizens, is required to present a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from the virus. U.S. citizens and nationals are encouraged to enroll in the State Department’s STEP program for information about conditions in your destination country and to facilitate Embassy communications in case of an emergency.

Additional resources:

For updated summaries of U.S. government COVID-19 travel bans, please see the NAFSA website.

International students and scholars can find more information regarding travel tips and travel FAQs on the OIE website.