What do I need to know about Columbia-sponsored undergraduate travel during COVID-19?
As you secure your international opportunities and prepare to travel in the coming weeks and months, please review the latest information & requirements regarding COVID-19 and Columbia-sponsored undergraduate international travel. Please also review the University's travel restrictions.
With COVID-19 continuing to impact travel and programming, it is important to find what resources are available to respond to issues which may arise during your travels and have contingency plans in place before departure. Columbia University has adopted International SOS (ISOS) as the 24/7 emergency assistance provider for individuals on Columbia Travel. Their worldwide helpdesks can assist with urgent medical issues, security and logistical questions, medical advice, or other concerns and situations that may arise. You can see details about ISOS resources and services here. Services provided include primary coverage for all urgent and emergent medical expenses, enhanced emotional support, post-departure trip interruption reimbursement, and trip delay/quarantine benefit. You can read about those benefits here.
However, ISOS is not a travel agency and will not be able to provide assistance with changing flights, booking accommodation, or any other logistical support should travel be interrupted due to a COVID-19 related illness.
Please note: the University is limited in the support it can provide outside of ISOS related coverage. Students, and the University office or program supporting their travel, will need to understand the individual risks associated with undertaking travel that could expose them to illnesses such as COVID-19 and be prepared to financially and logistically accommodate changes to travel. This should be considered during the planning process for all trips.
Guidelines for undergraduate international travel:
- International Columbia travel is not permitted for unvaccinated students with approved exemptions.
- All travel proposals must be submitted no later than 4 weeks prior to the proposed start of travel.
Please note, travel approvals are given at a particular moment in time. As world events continue to impact global travel, the undergraduate schools reserve the right to revoke those approvals should a determination be made that travel would be imprudent.
Undergraduate Travel Requirements
Travel During Spring '22
- Organized group travel (students are working with a University office, academic department or faculty member to organize the opportunity) will be allowed
- Individual student travel (individual student is organizing the opportunity) will not be permitted unless there is a demonstrated high academic or co-curricular need with a strong support system in place, such as returning to one's home country/city.
- Independent travel will not be permitted outside the approved program countries during the period of the program.
In order to have your travel proposal reviewed, you must complete the following steps:
- The faculty/staff member organizing or advising travel must submit a program application via the Undergraduate Travel Web App no later than 4 weeks prior to the start of the proposed travel, but ideally 6 weeks prior.
- Each student participant must submit a School Sponsorship application.
- Organized group travel will be permitted only with the confirmation of the unit/group trip organizer that they have discussed:
- The COVID-19 related risks inherent in the proposed travel with the students.
- Confirm they are comfortable that the group has completed sufficient planning.
- Confirm they will be the responsible party for all of the group’s support needs, that may include coordinating logistics in the event of positive cases or exposure, quarantine/isolation needs, addressing financial implications, etc.
- Students confirm they understand the entry/exit requirements for all program locations.
After review, if the travel proposal is approved, all School Sponsorship applications will be approved and students will need to complete all remaining policy requirements. See #3-6 here.
Travel During Summer '22
Below are the requirements for undergraduates undertaking Columbia travel to an international location. The University's spring travel guidelines are expected to continue through the summer, subject to public health conditions.
- Undergraduate students traveling outside the 50 U.S. states on a Columbia-Led, Columbia-Facilitated and/or Recognized Travel program will need to submit a School Sponsorship application at least 4 weeks in advance of travel. This includes both organized group travel and individual travel that is funded in whole or part by Columbia, earns academic credit at Columbia, or is organized and/or accompanied by Columbia University faculty or staff members. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Columbia-funded travel such as travel supported by scholarships, travel grants, or by a Columbia-recognized student organization
- Civic engagement or service trips such as those coordinated with recognized Columbia chapters of larger groups
- Pre-professional and competition groups representing or competing on behalf of Columbia
- International study through another university or outside organization, such as CIEE or SIT
- Once your School Sponsorship application has been submitted, it will go through a tiered review process based on your travel location’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Notices Level and International SOS’s Travel Risk Rating.
- If your travel location is an ISOS Travel Risk Rating of Medium or above, then your itinerary will be reviewed by ISOS.
- If your travel location is a CDC Travel Notice Level 3 or 4 and/or ISOS Travel Risk Rating High or Extreme, then your travel proposal will require dean level approval.
- Please note: ISOS itinerary reviews and Dean level approvals are built into the Undergraduate Travel Review Process and not something that students need to do separately on an individual basis.
- Once confirmation of School Sponsorship has been received, which will be via an email from firstname.lastname@example.org, students will need to complete all remaining policy requirements. See #3-6 here.
University Travel Requirements
In addition to the undergraduate travel requirements, please note the University’s guidance for all travelers.
- Adhere to all Compact elements during travel.
- Exercise caution and judgment, as national and global public health context and local conditions may quickly change.
- Become acquainted with local public health conditions and all rules and regulations of your destination state or country.
- Follow New York State guidance upon return or arrival to campus.
- Follow all Columbia return-to-campus requirements.
- Continue to check the Spring 2022 travel restrictions site & Summer 2022 travel restrictions site leading up to any travel. The University reserves the right to revise requirements as conditions change.
- Review U.S. Department of State website for COVID-19-related risks and restrictions.
- Review U.S. Department of State website for country-level travel advisories.
- Review CDC guidance for international travel during COVID-19.
- Review CDC COVID-19 travel recommendations for your international destination.
- Follow the current on campus health and safety protocols.
- Keep in mind that the principles articulated in the Columbia Compact apply on and off campus.
- Get tested 3-5 days after travel.
Countries Subject to CU Travel Advisories
Please note that some countries may be subject to travel restrictions. You can check the list here. If you are planning Columbia-related travel to any of the countries listed, please contact email@example.com.