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 May 25, 2021 the U.S. Department of State states that regular processing times are 10-12 weeks and expedited processing of 4-6 weeks is available.
  • All U.S. Passport agencies and centers are now processing applications but the type of service and appointment availability varies by location. Check here for location information.
  • Typically if a new passport is not needed, only a renewal passport, 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.
  • In person appointments at passport agencies are limited to those traveling in the next 72 hours (3 business days) due to a life or death emergency.

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 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.

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 January 12 the CDC announced a new order (effective January 26, 2021) that all inbound passengers to the U.S. must have a viral COVID test within 72 hours prior to departure. This includes U.S. citizens. 

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