Study Abroad

COVID-19 and UW Study Abroad

Updates – April 26, 2022

UW Study Abroad and UW Global Travel Security continue to monitor updates and information on the ongoing pandemic. Summer 2022 study abroad programs have been reviewed and students of approved programs have been notified. Should a program’s status change, students will be notified directly.

Study Abroad Planning During COVID - updated April 26, 2022

As study abroad continues its resumption with Summer quarter 2022, we have pulled together resources for students. If you have questions that are unaddressed by the information below, please email us at studyabroad@uw.edu.

Program cancellation policies

  • If your program is cancelled by UW Study Abroad related to COVID-19 (or for any other reason) prior to the program start date, you will receive a full refund of any fees that UW Study Abroad controls.
  • UW Study Abroad will not be responsible for any personal costs incurred as a result of committing to a study abroad program. This could include travel costs, fees due to partner providers, or health related expenses.
  • For cancellations due to any other reason, our normal withdrawal process and policies will apply.
  • If you are applying to a partner program, check with the program provider to confirm their cancellation policy. Most providers are being very flexible, but cancellation policies vary and all fees may not be refundable.

Vaccination and entry requirements

  • COVID vaccinations are required at the UW starting Autumn quarter 2021.
  • You will need to be vaccinated to participate in any study abroad program or have an approved exemption from UW. Please note, unvaccinated travelers with approved exemptions may be subject to additional requirements and restrictions instituted by the host country.
  • Many countries require arriving travelers to have received a booster shot prior to entry.
  • Many countries are not admitting unvaccinated travelers from the U.S. or are imposing significant restrictions on unvaccinated travelers within the country (e.g. access to museums, restaurants, bars, and events). You must also abide by the vaccination and testing requirements of the host country.
  • Refer to the State Department and the embassy of your destination country to monitor any entry requirements.

International travel and visa considerations

  • Entry restrictions may change with little advance notice. Travelers may be required to show proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID test prior to boarding and/or upon arrival to the destination country. 
  • As of 12:01AM ET June 12, 2022, air passengers are no longer required to show a negative COVID-19 test before return travel to the United States.
  • Programs may be abruptly ended by the provider or host institution if conditions worsen.
  • Current backlogs at U.S. passport offices and/or suspension of visa processing services by foreign governments may prevent students from obtaining a passport and/or visa (or residence permit) in time for travel.
  • Immigration regulations may change with little prior notice.
  • If a visa is required for your study abroad program, please refer to the nearest host country consulate for information on how and when to apply. For students on exchanges and partner programs, please follow the guidelines the partner provides and contact them directly with your questions.
  • Each country manages their own requirements for visiting students, and whether you need to acquire a visa will be determined by many factors including (but not limited to) your duration of stay and your nationality.
  • Some countries are currently accepting visa applications and appointments (if necessary) and some are not, so continue to monitor the situation including any communication from your host university or partner provider if you are participating in an exchange or provider program. 
  • It is ultimately your responsibility to acquire a visa if it is necessary, but we can help you navigate the process.  
  • To determine if you need a visa, consult the consulate or embassy website of your study abroad host country.

Booking flights and buying insurance

For Summer 2022 Departing Students 

  • You can go ahead and book your airfare to your study abroad destination. 
  • Please be sure you understand in full the entry requirements of your destination country, including those related to COVID testing, vaccination status, and quarantine.
  • Because there remains some uncertainty in international travel you may want to purchase airfare with a refund policy or purchase trip cancellation insurance. 
  • Additional insurance (called cancel-for-any-reason and interrupt-for-any-reason or CFAR/IFAR) is available for purchase to hedge against potential costs related to program cancellations (which could easily run into the thousands of dollars). Our insurance provider, CISI, offers this additional coverage, see details here. CFAR/IFAR insurance is also available from other providers if you want to shop around – but it is not cheap (around 8% of your total trip cost).
  • Check your airline’s requirements related to COVID safety protocols, including masking.
  • Check the website of the airport through which you are transiting. Most airports will not impose any restrictions on travelers who are simply changing planes without physically leaving the airport, but you should double check. If you need to leave an airport during a layover, or change airports (e.g. in London) then you may be subject to the immigration rules of that country and you may face additional restrictions.

Scholarships and financial aid

  • If you were awarded a UW Study Abroad scholarship for a program that was cancelled due to the pandemic, you will have the opportunity to use your award during a future term. Visit our scholarships page for more information.
  • We recommend that you wait until the month prior to departure to revise your financial aid for next autumn. If your program is cancelled, you will not have to revoke your revision if it hasn’t already been completed. 

Make a back up plan

For Summer Quarter 2022 departures 

You do not need to sign up for back up classes if you have received a message from UW Study Abroad approving your study abroad destination. Students participating in a partner program should check with their partner provider on the status of their program. Please visit our Registration page for more information about study abroad registration and enrollment. 

For Early Fall Quarter 2022 departures and beyond

You may want to make parallel plans for academics and housing – one plan assuming you will be able to study abroad and a backup plan in case your study abroad program is canceled due to changes in the health situation in your host country.

  • Work with your academic adviser to select and consider temporarily registering for on-campus classes in case you’re unable to go abroad.
  • If your study abroad program runs as planned, it will be your responsibility to drop on-campus classes before the quarter starts. UW Study Abroad will remove the study abroad placeholder credits from your record if your program is cancelled.
  • Consider making a back up plan for housing as well in case you cannot study abroad as planned.

UW travel restrictions

  • UPDATE – November 1, 2021: Please review the updated UW International Travel Rules and Restrictions policy.
  • UPDATE – September 10, 2021: Please review the updated UW International Travel Rules and Restrictions policy.
  • UPDATE – June 15, 2021: Please review the updated UW International Travel Rules and Restrictions policy.
  • UPDATE – April 2021: The U.S. Department of State (DOS) updated its methodology for determining COVID-19 related travel risks, causing a significant number of countries to be raised to a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” travel advisory level. While travel advisories are only one of the many factors UW Study Abroad is considering as part of the decision to run programs, the timeline of when these travel advisories are lowered may impact UW Study Abroad’s decision-making and planning timelines for future quarters.
  • For the 2022-23 academic year, UW faculty-led study abroad programs will likely include the following limitations:
    • Programs with international border crossings must be approved by UW Study Abroad.
    • During the program dates, personal overnight travel outside the program location is allowed but must be approved by the Program Director.
      Restrictions on travel may be reinstituted by UW Study Abroad at any time. This decision will depend on factors such as differing levels of pandemic control between countries, possible border crossing restrictions and/or quarantine policies, regional lockdowns within the host country, etc.
  • For students who have been accepted to a partner or exchange program:
    • If you are participating in a partner or exchange program, there may be similar limitations (to those above) imposed on travel by your program provider, the host university, or the host country/region.

UW COVID-19 resources

Information & key updates for students

Update – June 10, 2022: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has removed the requirement for air travelers to show proof of a negative COVID test prior to travel to the United States.

Update – April 26, 2021: The U.S. Department of State (DOS) updated its methodology for determining COVID-19 related travel risks, causing a significant number of countries to have their travel advisory level lowered. UW International Travel Rules and Restrictions continue to allow undergraduate study abroad to Level 3 & 4 countries upon review and approval by UW Study Abroad and by the UW Global Travel Security process. 

Update – December 6, 2021: UW Study Abroad and UW Global Travel Security are monitoring updates and information on the new Omicron variant, labeled a variant of concern by the WHO. We recognize that the Omicron variant may have impacts on individual country travel restrictions. As there are many unknowns, we will provide updates and guidance to individual travelers as the situation evolves. In light of the Omicron variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on November 29, 2021 urged that all American adults should get booster doses of the available coronavirus vaccines.

Next steps for Summer quarter departures

  • Summer 2022 study abroad programs have been reviewed and students of approved programs have been notified. Students in approved programs should proceed with planning for their departure.

Click here for previous updates

  • Update – November 1, 2021: Our ability to send & and support students on study abroad continues to be strongly linked to the State Department’s travel advisories. It’s a 4 level system with Level 4 being the highest warning level (“Do Not Travel”) and Level 1 being the lowest warning level (“Exercise Normal Precautions”).The UW Travel Restrictions were recently updated and relaxed:
    • Level 4 (Do Not Travel):  effective January 1, 2022 – the UW has approved travel to certain countries that are at a Level 4 travel advisory (“Do Not Travel”). This approval is valid ONLY for Level 4 countries in which the COVID-19 pandemic is THE MAIN REASON, or THE ONLY REASON, for the country’s elevated travel advisory (compared to concerns about security & political unrest). All undergraduate study abroad to Level 4 countries is subject to review and approval by UW Study Abroad and by the UW Global Travel Security process. 
    • Level 3 (Reconsider Travel): effective January 1, 2022 – the UW recently approved travel to countries at a Level 3 travel advisory (“Reconsider Travel”) subject to review and approval by UW Study Abroad and by the UW Global Travel Security process. All undergraduate study abroad to Level 3 countries is subject to review and approval by UW Study Abroad and by the UW Global Travel Security process. 
    • Level 2 (Exercise Increased Caution) and Level 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions): Undergraduate students are already permitted to travel to Level 1 and Level 2 countries subject to approval by UW Study Abroad.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel continues to be a complicated space. UW Study Abroad and Global Travel Security assess risk in countries impacted by COVID-19 by closely monitoring several key factors including, but not limited to, vaccination rate, community spread, entry restrictions, and guidance issued by the State Department and Center for Disease Control. 

    For a detailed description of the State Department Travel Advisory terms, please see this resource created by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).

  • Update – September 17, 2021: Our ability to send & and support students on study abroad is strongly linked to the State Department’s travel advisories. It’s a 4 level system with Level 4 being the highest warning level (“Do Not Travel”) and Level 1 being the lowest warning level (“Exercise Normal Precautions”).
    • Level 4 (Do Not Travel): We cannot send any undergraduate students on study abroad to any country at Level 4 due to UW policy.
    • Level 3 (Reconsider Travel): effective January 1, 2022 – the UW recently approved travel to countries at a Level 3 travel advisory (“Reconsider Travel”) subject to review and approval by UW Study Abroad and by the UW Global Travel Security process. A number of our most important study abroad destinations are currently at Level 3.
    • Level 2 (Exercise Increased Caution) and Level 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions): Undergraduate students are already permitted to travel to Level 1 and Level 2 countries subject to approval by UW Study Abroad.
  • UPDATE – September 1, 2021: In the Autumn of 2020, UW Study Abroad announced a new enrollment option, Direct Enrollment in Country of Citizenship Abroad (DECCA), which allowed UW students to study at a local college in their country of citizenship. This option was open for the Winter, Spring and Summer quarters of 2021 since the University of Washington was committed to virtual learning. The UW has decided to hold UW courses in-person during Autumn Quarter 2021 and has decided to not offer the DECCA enrollment option to UW students in the near future.
  • UPDATE – August 5, 2021: Please review the updated UW International Travel Rules and Restrictions policy. UW Study Abroad has cancelled most autumn faculty-led programs due to constraints on timing and logistics. If you are committed to a faculty-led program, you will have received an email informing you about the status of your program and next steps. UW Study Abroad has cancelled most partner programs. If you are committed to a partner program, you will have received an email informing you about the status of your program and next steps. We have yet to determine the viability of winter 2022 programs.
  • UPDATE – June 15, 2021: UW Study Abroad has cancelled some faculty-led programs due to constraints on timing and logistics. If you are committed to a faculty-led program, you will have received an email informing you about the status of your program and next steps.
  • UPDATE – June 4, 2021: UW Study Abroad has cancelled semester-long partner programs departing in autumn quarter 2021. If you are participating in this program type, you will have received an email directly from UW Study Abroad with more information. We have not yet made decisions about faculty-led program or quarter-long partner programs departing in autumn 2021.
  • UPDATE – May 13, 2021: UW Study Abroad has cancelled university and departmental exchanges departing in autumn quarter 2021. If you are participating in this program type, you will have received an email directly from UW Study Abroad with more information.
  • UW Study Abroad has cancelled all study abroad programs for Summer Quarter (Summer Full-term, Summer A, and Summer B terms) and Early Fall 2021 due to COVID-19. If you have applied to one of these programs, you have been emailed directly.

 

Our commitment

  • UW Study Abroad is trying to be nuanced in our decision-making because of the ever-changing landscape.
  • We want to accurately manage your expectations, while remaining cautiously optimistic.
  • Programs proceeding with the planning process are not guaranteed to run. But we are committed to keeping in regular contact with you if you have opened a study abroad application.

How is UW making decisions about study abroad?

  • The UW Study Abroad and Global Travel Security Teams continue to meet every other week to assess the feasibility of study abroad.
  • Factors in our decision-making process include: program location, duration of program, program type and support available, access to visas and consular networks, and vaccination distribution progress – both domestically and internationally.
  • We are assessing programs that are still open for applications regularly and, unfortunately, we may have to cancel them at any time, regardless of whether or not students have been accepted to the program.
  • If you have questions, email studyabroad@uw.edu.