Interim Policy for International Travel
Interim Policy for International Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Updated August 2022
This interim policy supersedes the university policy on International Travel Approval and any previous interim travel policy directives.
International Travel Generally
This guidance applies to GW-related or GW-supported travel only. For purposes of this policy, international travel is GW-related when:
- the travel is undertaken because an individual is acting in an academic or professional capacity relevant to the person’s areas of responsibility, activities (including co-curricular and extracurricular ones), course of research, teaching, or study at GW, or
- the travel is undertaken with or organized by any GW organization, division, department, or office, even if not for an academic or professional purpose, and/or
- the travel is funded to any degree by the university.
International travel under this policy does not include personal travel or travel by GW community members returning to their home country, even if some university-related activities might be carried out while there.
While we have exited the emergency phase of the pandemic, it is anticipated that international travel will remain unpredictable in the near term. Travelers are cautioned to understand the risks and local conditions, carefully plan for contingencies, and exercise caution while in transit and once they arrive at their destination. Determinations of travel approval under this policy will continue to be made by the relevant dean or vice president and will be recorded through the GW Passport online international travel registration database maintained by the Office of International Programs. When Undergraduate students are proposing to travel or Faculty/Staff are proposing travel with Undergraduate students to high-risk destinations, GW’s International Travel Risk Management Committee will review such proposals following the relevant Office of the Dean or Vice President’s initial approval. Additional details pertaining to this process are available in the “Requests for Approval” and “Required Procedure After Dean’s Approval” sections below. Vice Presidents or deans may also recommend exceptions (i.e., international travel that does not meet the criteria below) by requesting concurrent review by the International Travel Risk Management Committee to determine whether the travel can proceed with the University’s approval (“Exceptions Process”).
All travelers must be up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccination or have an approved GW vaccination exemption to be considered for travel. Individuals with approved GW vaccination exemptions should consult with a physician in advance of planning international travel. Travelers with vaccination exemptions may face additional travel restrictions when out of the country and should investigate rules in place for the countries they visit.
Undergraduate students traveling or Faculty/Staff proposing travel with Undergraduate students to high risk destinations (countries at a DoS level 3 or 4 and/or a CDC Warning level 3) must apply for a high-risk travel exception.
|Undergraduate students, Faculty/Staff Proposing Travel with Undergraduate students|
|Exception required for:||International travel to countries with Department of State risk level 3 or 4 and/or Centers for Disease Control Travel Health Notice Warning level 3|
|Required endorsement||Office of the Dean or Vice President|
|Risk review and decision||International Travel Risk Management Committee|
Graduate students traveling or Faculty/Staff proposing travel with Graduate students to high risk destinations (countries at a DoS level 4 and/or a CDC Warning level 3) must apply for a high-risk travel exception.
|Graduate students, Faculty/Staff Proposing Travel with Graduate students|
|Exception required for:||International travel to countries with Department of State risk level 4 and/or Centers for Disease Control Travel Health Notice Warning level 3|
|Required endorsement, risk review and decision||Office of the Dean or Vice President|
Faculty and Staff members traveling to countries at DoS level 4 must apply for a high-risk travel exception.
|Faculty and Staff|
Exception required for:
|International travel to countries with Department of State risk level 4|
|Required endorsement, risk review
|Office of the Dean or Vice President|
Requests for Approval
To request approval to engage in travel, travelers should follow the process steps established by their Dean’s or Vice President’s Office.
Required Procedure After Dean’s or Vice President’s Approval
If travel to high-risk destinations falls within the criteria outlined in this policy and is approved by the Dean or Vice President, the Dean’s or Vice President’s Office must confirm its approval for travel with the Office of International Programs. The Office of International Programs should be notified well in advance of Undergraduate travel or Faculty/Staff proposing travel with Undergraduate students to high-risk destinations (prior to soliciting student applications for travel) to allow for International Travel Risk Management Committee review. Upon receipt of travel approval, the Office of International Programs will open a registration record for the traveler in GW Passport. This record will include documentation of the dean’s or vice president’s endorsement (and the International Travel Risk Management Committee’s decision in the case of Undergraduate travel to high-risk destinations). Travelers will be required to complete any registration requirements in GW Passport prior to departure. Travelers are required to update any changes to their approved travel plan before and during travel, for further review and approval as outlined in this policy.
If travel does not fall within this policy, but has the support of the Dean or Vice President, the Dean’s or Vice President’s Office may initiate additional review of the proposed travel by the International Travel Risk Management Committee if they so choose.
Before departing, all Undergraduate students, Graduate students and Faculty and Staff members are required to register GW-related or GW-supported international travel through the University’s travel registration system, GW Passport. Travel registration provides the University with the information it needs to locate travelers and provide information or assistance in the event of a crisis or emergency. Available services may include emergency medical support, translation services, embassy information, repatriation and security, natural disaster and medical evacuation.
Entry Into and Return from International Travel
Travelers will be subject to and responsible for complying with national and local laws, ordinances and restrictions in the host country and any transit countries. For those who do travel internationally, it is possible that return may be difficult. Non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents of the United States may not be allowed admission to the United States regardless of immigration status.
Considerations for Risk Mitigation Review by the Office of the Dean or VP
Vice Presidents, deans, and other academic administrators may find information on risk factors through the GW Global website, which contains links to GeoBlue, the State Department Advisories, and the CDC. Risk factors that must be considered in the Vice President or Dean’s review include but are not limited to:
- What are the GeoBlue risk ratings, State Department Advisory Levels, and CDC Travel Health Notices for the destination?
- What are the GeoBlue, State Department, and CDC recommended mitigation strategies for these risks? Is the traveler able to adhere to these risk mitigation strategies while abroad?
- What are the entry and exit requirements?
- Are travelers from the U.S. or the transit country allowed in the host destination?
- Is quarantine or self-isolation required upon arrival?
- Are COVID tests required upon entry? If a check is not passed, what are the consequences for the traveler?
- Does the traveler have any pre-existing health concerns?
- Has the traveler been vaccine compliant prior to travel?
- What is the level of support available in the host country?
- Are hospitals operating below maximum capacity?
- Do hospitals have necessary medical supplies, such as ventilators? At this time, an H (Health) risk indicator or mention of COVID-19 in the first line of the DoS Advisory description will alert you to concerns. Are U.S. or other relevant embassies in full operation and able to help citizens?
- Is the traveler aware of GW’s and GeoBlue’s limitations of support?
- GW cannot reimburse travelers for any additional fees or travel costs if travel is delayed or cancelled.
- Emergency Medical and Political, Military, and Natural Disaster evacuations are at the discretion of GeoBlue/Crisis24s team.
- GeoBlue and GW will not cover quarantine/self-isolation costs, such as hotel or meal costs for self-quarantine upon arrival in the host country or due to a positive COVID test result prior to return to the US.
- What contingency and risk mitigation planning has the traveler developed?
- If they contract COVID-19?
- If the government requires quarantine/self-isolation?
- For group travel:
- What if one member of the group is not allowed entry to the host country due to a positive COVID test result, or must self-isolate upon arrival due to an approved COVID vaccination exemption?
- What if one group member gets sick with COVID and needs to self-isolate?
- What if multiple group members get sick with COVID and need to self-isolate, including the program leader(s)?
For questions concerning proposals for international travel, contact the relevant Dean’s or Vice President’s Office.
Resources for Deans
Center for Disease Control
U.S. Department of State
World Health Organization