Frequently Asked Questions

Travel and study abroad

Can I travel internationally?

All University-sponsored international travel involving students, faculty and staff is suspended until further notice. This guidance will be revisited monthly and revised as State Department and other public health guidance evolves.

If travel is essential, requests should be screened by and submitted through unit executives to Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones at provost@psu.edu and include a description of why the travel is mission critical. For the Applied Research Laboratory, essential travel will be reviewed by Senior Vice President for Research Lora G. Weiss at OSVPRTravel@psu.edu. For the College of Medicine, essential travel will be reviewed by Interim Dean of the College of Medicine Kevin Black at dean@pennstatehealth.psu.edu. After this review, all travel requests will be sent to the Global Safety Office for review by the International Restricted Travel Committee prior to final approval.

Employees wishing to travel internationally must request approval at least one month prior to the expected date of departure. Requestors must must receive approval prior to purchasing airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc. Once approved, all international travel must be registered with the Travel Safety Network at least three business days prior to departure. All travel arrangements MUST be made through Penn State’s travel provider, Anthony Travel. The Global Safety Office (TSN@psu.edu) will continue to assist approved international travelers and be a resource for any questions about health and safety at your destination(s).

Requests must contain the following elements:

1. Identify why the travel is critical.
2. Provide a proposed travel itinerary with the expected dates of travel and country or countries to be visited.
3. Review health and safety information for the country or countries you plan to visit, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic:

-- Please describe the prevalent risks currently present in the country or countries where you are proposing to travel. Please refer to the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory for the country you are traveling to as well as United Healthcare Global WorldWatch report to research current risks associated with your travel.
-- For the risks you have identified, please explain how you would prepare for and mitigate those risks and respond to possible emergencies.
-- Please indicate any previous travel experience and/or language skills that may be relevant to the country in which you plan to travel.

4. Carefully review the PA Dept of Health Travel guidance.
5. Review the Penn State COVID-19 site.
6. Please research the restrictions imposed in the area(s) to which you are traveling and ensure that you can comply with the restrictions.
7. Provide documentation that the institution/organization you will be visiting has provided you with permission, if applicable.
8. Your unit executive should submit this request on your behalf and indicate their approval and indicate their approval and affirmation that the research being conducted is essential.

Please note the following:

1. All requests to travel must be submitted at least one month prior to the date of departure.
2. All international travel must be registered with the Travel Safety Network at least three business days prior to departure. All travel arrangements MUST be made through Penn State’s travel provider, Anthony Travel.
3. Practice social distancing and hygiene recommendations before and during travel.
4. Obtain masks, hand sanitizer, and any PPE that might be necessary in the course of your work while traveling. Masks should be worn at all times when interacting with others and as advised by the area(s) to which you are traveling.
5. A quarantine of 14 days should still be required upon arrival at their destination and a similar instruction to remain at home and monitor health for 14 days will apply should they return to the United States under current guidelines.
6. Policy TR01, International Travel Requirements, applies to all international travel.

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The U.S. Department of State has issued a worldwide Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory and is advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends avoiding all nonessential international travel. Penn State is extending the same guidance to all students, faculty and staff.

Penn State is urging faculty, staff and students to be vigilant and to continue to exercise good judgment to stay as safe as possible. We have placed restrictions on University-affiliated travel, and though we cannot dictate decision-making pertaining to other professional and personal travel, such travel is strongly discouraged. In addition to the risk to their personal health, travelers should be aware of the elevated risk to other members of the community — including individuals with compromised immune systems and the elderly — should they become infected.

Travelers should consult the CDC’s website for the latest travel health notices, and research the restrictions imposed in the country they plan to visit, as well as any U.S. government restrictions that could impact their return to the United States, as the global travel situation is changing frequently. With widespread, ongoing transmission of novel coronavirus worldwide, if you have traveled internationally in the past 14 days, stay home and monitor your health.

The CDC recommends that individuals stay home as much as possible and avoid close contact, especially if they are at higher risk of severe illness. If you must travel for personal reasons, follow any state and local travel restrictions currently in place.

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Penn State Global Programs has announced the cancellation of all fall 2020 semester-long study abroad programming, a decision based heavily on safety considerations, among other factors.

The current uncertainty about how the global coronavirus pandemic will evolve makes it difficult to predict exactly when study-abroad programming will resume. However, in the long term and at its core, Penn State is a global institution and we are committed to providing study-abroad experiences for our students. We realize the current situation has created an enormous disruption in our study-abroad programs, but we look forward to a time when we will once again have students benefiting from educational experiences across the globe.

The Education Abroad staff, as well as faculty collaborators, continue to assess and plan for study abroad opportunities in the future when these programs can be offered with certainty.

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