You are here: American University Coronavirus Community Resource FAQ - Travel and Study Abroad

FAQ - Travel and Study Abroad

Travel

Study Abroad


Travel

What is AU’s current policy on student/faculty/staff travel?

Approval is required for all university-sponsored international travel. The approval process will enable university leaders and our health and safety team to review international travel requests prior to approval. With this information, informed decisions can be made regarding the risks posed by international travel.

International travel includes university-sponsored travel to all foreign countries and U.S. Territories (i.e. American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico).

Pre-approval is no longer required for domestic travel within the United States, but faculty and staff should work with their schools/colleges/departments to ensure the travel is necessary to advance university priorities.

What is the policy on notifying the university of personal travel?

Personal travel plans not related to or sponsored by AU are excluded from the approval process.

What factors are considered in the decision to approve travel?

The most important consideration for travel is safety. To help safeguard our community, AU has developed the process to review risks to our travelers. Even though risks are everywhere, we have taken steps that have proven to be valuable in reducing risks.

Travelers should be aware of how approval determinations are made. A valuable internal resource for students, faculty, and staff is Risk Management’s Office of Global Safety. Global Safety staff can assess risk based on several factors, including information provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of State and guidance of local and state government agencies. Additionally, country-related health and safety intelligence assessments are reviewed and evaluated for current travel conditions and exposure risks which are compared against the precautions for health and safety that exist at the destination and any processes established to mitigate the risks for that specific program. This assessment process applies to both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related risks.

While not a comprehensive list, the following factors are considered. It should be noted that additional information may be requested from the traveler in this process.

Travel Considerations

  • WorldAware Advisories: American University’s travel assistance provider, AxA, provides detailed destination-specific information on medical and security infrastructure and current travel recommendations.
  • US Department of State Advisories: The State Department issues destination-specific travel advisories on a scale of one to four.
  • CDC Travel Notices: The CDC has implemented a four-level rating system for all countries based on case and incident rate and several other factors. The CDC also maintains a three-tier rating system for non-COVID risks abroad:
    • Conditions at travel destination including “stay home” restrictions or curfews; arrival quarantine requirements; and restrictions on movement; etc.
    • Restrictions on entry to the destination country.
    • Conditions mandated for re-entry to the United States.

Traveler Considerations

Risk awareness and mitigation measures; familiarity with destination; acceptance of responsibility.

I am an individual faculty member or graduate student who needs to travel abroad to conduct research, what should I do?

 Individuals seeking approval for faculty/graduate student research or grant-related international travel should complete the Academic Research International Travel Form Global Safety will assess any health or safety risks and provide a recommendation to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. Once conditional approval is granted, the traveler will be asked to complete administrative-related safety steps. The traveler will receive directions upon approval.

For human subject research, the request should also include the status of AU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Researchers are reminded that all requests to restart human subjects research must be submitted directly to IRB for consideration and approval. For more information, see the IRB website.

I am an individual faculty member, staff member, or student seeking approval to engage in an academic-related or business-related international travel. What is required?

To complete a submission form for academic or business travel:

  1. Complete the travel submission form at least two (2) weeks in advance of desired departure date.
    1. Academic Division Faculty and Staff International Travel Form
    2. Administrative Division Staff International Travel Form
    3. Student International Travel Form
  2. Global Safety will review for health and safety risks and will forward to the appropriate approver.
  3. Traveler is notified upon approval.
  4. For international travel, the traveler will need to register their trip in Risk Management’s Enterprise Travel Registry (ETR) where final logistics such as travel insurance information and registration for AlertTraveler App are provided. A link to the ETR will be provided to the traveler upon approval of the application.

I am a faculty member desiring to lead a group of students (including undergraduate students) on international travel as part of an academic experience or a student group desiring to travel internationally, what should I do?

The accompanying faculty member or group leader should complete a travel request by completing the Faculty-led and Student Group International Submission Form. Please contact the Office of Global Safety for more information.

The faculty member or group leader should complete this form well in advance of the scheduled departure as the review process can take several weeks based on the need to assess health and safety protocols in place for the duration of the trip. These mitigation protocols may include multiple components, so it is requested that the faculty member or group leader contact AU Study Abroad and/or the Office of Global Safety for assistance when planning a trip.

What happens after a student, faculty, or staff traveler completes the application process?

Once your request is submitted, the Office of Global Safety will review information submitted by the traveler and provide a health and safety assessment to the sponsoring unit’s final approver. The final approver will then approve or deny the request. The traveler will be notified by email of the outcome of the request.

Following approval, travelers will be required to complete additional safety steps which assist in contacting the traveler in case of an emergency or if assistance is needed from AU’s insurance carriers while traveling abroad. These include:

  • Register their itinerary in the Enterprise Travel Registry.
  • Sign up for and activate AlertTraveler.
  • Enroll in the US Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Complete an online or in-person pre-departure orientation session.
  • Complete the emergency contact information.
  • Upload a copy of official passport.

The Office of Global Safety will provide travelers with instructions for these steps when travel is approved.

Are there COVID-19 related reentry restrictions to the US?

 For the latest information on requirements for returning to the United States from international locations, please see the CDC's Requirements for Air Passengers Arriving in the United States.

Will the university cover the additional expenses associated with extending the stay of a faculty or staff member who tests positive for COVID while on official travel and requires isolation, but not hospitalization?

The university will cover the additional travel expense for isolating while on official travel outside the National Capital Region due to a positive COVID-19 test from the budget of the approving unit. This applies only to COVID-related isolation due to the travel restrictions imposed for public health purposes and is only available for approved university travel. 

Limited expenses associated with isolation due to a positive COVID test while on approved international travel may be covered by the university’s international travel insurance. Please contact the Office of Global Safety if you require isolation due to a positive COVID test while on approved international travel. 

Study Abroad

What is the university doing about study abroad programs?

AU Abroad is moving forward with programs in select countries for Spring 2022 and is processing applications for students to study abroad for Summer and Fall 2022.  

Students planning to participate in a study abroad program managed by a different academic unit or office at AU should contact that unit directly for guidance.  

Together with a cross-functional response team, AU Abroad continuously monitors the worldwide situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Should any decisions be made concerning an AU Abroad program’s continuation or cancellation, students will be notified by AU Abroad by e-mail. These decisions will be made in accordance with global, national, and local health and government officials. 

What is the AU Abroad Summer and Fall study abroad timeline?

AU Abroad students’ completed applications will be processed starting in early March. Deposits will be due two weeks after students have been accepted into their programs, and pre-departure orientations will occur remotely over the summer.

What are American University’s study abroad refund policies?

The University reserves the right to make cancellations, changes, or substitutions to study abroad programs based on the best interests of participants, including in cases of emergency or threats to health, safety, or security. Should the University suspend, change, or make a substitution to a study abroad program, refunds of costs or fees will be made in accordance with published University policies and only if the funds are uncommitted and/or recoverable. Payments made directly to a partner institution, airline, travel agency or any third party are not recoverable by the University and cannot be refunded or reimbursed.  

If I plan to study abroad in Summer or Fall 2022, should I arrange flights now or wait?

We recommend that all students wait until they receive additional instructions during the pre-departure sessions before making travel arrangements. Payments made directly to a partner institution, airline, travel agency or any third party are not recoverable by the University and cannot be refunded or reimbursed.  

Should I have a Fall backup plan?

Out of an abundance of caution, all students should register for Fall courses on campus. Students will be registered for Fall AU Abroad programs in July/ August after confirming program participation. Students planning to participate in Fall study abroad programs managed by a different academic unit or office at AU should contact that unit directly for guidance.  

As a Fall study abroad student, is there anything else I should be doing right now?

Check that you have a passport that will be valid for 6 months beyond the end of your planned study abroad program. If you do not have a valid passport, apply for one or renew your current passport immediately. Check your email regularly for any program updates. Admitted students receive more information in the post-decision phase.  

What is the AU Abroad COVID 19 vaccination policy?

All students participating in an AU Abroad program are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and obtain a booster shot.   

What criteria does AU use to determine when it is safe to resume international travel associated with its programming?

Together with a cross-functional response team, AU Abroad continuously monitors the worldwide situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Should any decisions be made concerning an AU Abroad program’s continuation or cancellation, students will be notified by AU Abroad by e-mail. These decisions will be made in accordance with global, national, and local health and government officials.  

Can I take a leave of absence to participate in a program independently from AU?

No. AU Academic regulations don’t allow you to enroll in another institution during an official leave of absence.