U.S. Passport Considerations

  • Passport agencies across the U.S. closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic creating a significant backlog of applications.
  • If a student submitted their application before passport agencies closed, passports are being processed on a first-in, first-out basis. As the backlog is cleared, these students may receive their passports in time for fall travel but may not receive them in time for a visa to be processed by the host country.
  • U.S. passport agencies began opening on June 11 and are still opening on a phased basis that follows local and state guidance. View the U.S. Department of State’s phased reopening plan and links to all U.S. passport acceptance facilities.
  • As the passport agencies move into further phases of reopening, those offices are expected to clear the backlog of applications.
  • Applications are being prioritized for those travelers with a "life or death emergency". Read the U.S. Department of State FAQ’s including a definition of what constitutes a life or death emergency.
  • As of August 17 six passport agencies and centers are in phase two of reopening and 13 passport agencies and centers are in phase one of reopening.

Visa Considerations for Foreign Travel

  • Foreign consulates operating in the United States set their own re-opening schedules and may or may not be following the phased guidance of local authorities. Check your specific consulate’s webpage for updates.
  • Once 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.
  • In some cases, foreign consulates in the U.S. have reopened but the third-party visa agency that is used by a country may not have reopened, further delaying the possibility of obtaining the visa in time for travel.

Logistical Considerations

  • The timeline for obtaining a passport and visa should be elongated based on the information above.
  • The U.S. Department of State and CDC changed their worldwide health advisory levels on August 6 and subsequently updated advisories on a country by country basis. See more information on the Centers for Disease Control and Department of State websites.
  • Flights might not be available.
  • A host country may or may not require quarantine upon arrival. This would impact the study abroad program schedule.

Considerations for Travel to the European Union

  • As of July 1, the European Union will lift travel restrictions for citizens from some third countries.
  • The United States is not on the list of approved countries for which travel restrictions are lifted.
  • Note that “Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of study”, including those from the United States, are allowed under a list of exceptions as those with an “essential function or need.” However:
    • The EU document narrowly defines "Third-country students" as follows: "This new exception covers third-country students starting or continuing their studies in the EU in the academic year 2020/21. A student is defined in Article 3(3) of the EUs Students and Researchers Directive 2016/801 as “a third-country national who has been accepted by a higher education institution and is admitted to the territory of a Member State to pursue as a main activity a full-time course of study leading to a higher education qualification recognised by that Member State, including diplomas, certificates or doctoral degrees in a higher education institution, which may cover a preparatory course prior to such education, in accordance with national law, or compulsory training.”
    • EU documents can be interpreted differently by each country, and even by the individual agent at the border so the scope of what constitutes study for purposes of this entry ban remains unclear, even for participation in a program of study that qualifies for a student visa.

Additional Resources