U.S. Passport Considerations

  • Passport agencies across the U.S. closed in mid-March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, creating a significant backlog of applications.
  • As of January 2022, the U.S. Department of State states that routine processing times are 8-11 weeks and expedited processing of 5-7 weeks is available for an additional fee.
  • All U.S. Passport agencies and centers are processing applications but the type of service and appointment availability varies by location. Check here for location information.
  • Typically, if only a renewal passport is needed, it can be done via USPS. Check here to determine if your application can be completed via mail. Mail in applications are strongly encouraged by the U.S. Department of State.
  • An online passport application status tracker can be found here.
  • In person appointments at passport agencies remain limited and those traveling in the next 72 hours (3 business days) due to a life or death emergency are given priority. Appointments can only be scheduled via phone.

Learn more on the U.S. Dept. of State website.

Visa Considerations for Foreign Travel

  • Foreign consulates operating in the United States set their own operating schedules and may or may not be following the phased guidance of local authorities. Check your specific consulate’s webpage for updates.
  • As consulates re-open, there will likely be procedural changes to in-person appearances or application procedures—education abroad advisers and students should thoroughly check consulate websites before proceeding with a visa application.
  • Third-party visa agencies may also be operating with limited staffing or occupancy restrictions slowing down overall processing times and further delaying the possibility of obtaining a visa in time for travel.

For more information on student visas for education abroad visit NAFSA's EA Visas page.

Logistical Considerations

  • The timeline for obtaining a passport and visa should be elongated as long as COVID-19 is prevalent.
  • Changes to Centers for Disease Control and Department of State advisories can happen at anytime creating the need to change plans.
  • Flight availability remains limited compared to pre-COVID-19.
  • Whenever possible, travelers should limit transiting through third country airports to avoid requirements for additional health documentation, transit visas, and possible border closures.
  • A host country may or may not require quarantine upon arrival. This would impact the study abroad program schedule.
  • On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic, effective November 8, 2021.
  • As of December 6, all air travelers to the United States regardless of nationality or vaccination status are required to show results of a negative coronavirus viral test performed on a within one day of their flight's departure from a foreign country traveling to the United States.

Considerations for Travel to the European Union

  • In May 2021, the EU agreed to allow vaccinated travelers with inoculations approved by specific drug manufacturers (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson) and from specific countries with no more than 25 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days.
  • Individual countries may still require proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test or a period of quarantine upon arrival as well as specific visa requirements for students. For more information on student visas for education abroad visit NAFSA's EA Visas page.

Additional Resources