mobile menu toggle

Study Abroad FAQs  

Below are frequently asked questions related to outbound study abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic. This page will be updated regularly and was last edited on December 8, 2021.

All travel has risks. COVID-19 risk ranges from manageable (masks, testing, social distancing) to serious challenges (quarantines, lockdowns, travel disruptions, increased anxiety) to asymptomatic and severe symptomatic infection. The university is reviewing partner programs and locations to identify the best opportunities for Illinois students and tries to provide relevant information to students. However, despite university and partner efforts, COVID-19 risks will remain as the pandemic’s trajectory evolves.

Consequently, each student must carefully review and evaluate program and location information (testing, quarantine, accomodations, mitigation measures, infection response, and program support) to determine their preparedness and comfort with the associated risk and uncertainty of COVID-19. Students must make a personal decision that balances their comfort levels, well-being, and academic plans

The emergence of variants is an enduring risk. The university relies on national and international health authorities to understand impact and best practices for mitigating the evolving concerns. Students should routinely employ precautions to protect their well-being, including:

  • Honestly assessing individual comfort and preparedness to respond to the risks and ambiguity associated with COVID-19.
  • Being vaccinated, to include receiving a booster if appropriate, prior to departure.
  • Staying informed of developments and best practices before departure and after arrival. Students should routinely check the DoS COVID-19 Country Specific Information page.
  • Complying with recognized best practices (masks, social distancing, vaccination) and local mitigation measures from the host nation and the program partner.
  • Understanding the international insurance and its benefits.

The university is prudently pursuing the resumption of study abroad in Spring 2022. The evaluation of programs and locations is continuous. There is no set deadline for a decision as the university will monitor developments related to COVID-19 variants, surges, and country mitigation measures through each program’s start date. The university reserves the right to cancel programs in the interest of student and host community well-being. The college sponsoring each program will communicate with student applicants regarding individual program decisions.

If the university cancels a program, staff will work with program partners to recoup as much of the program costs as possible. Costs that cannot be recouped are the responsibility of the student. Students can review program details related to cancellation costs and associated dates in the program surveys. Additionally, students must carefully evaluate their options for airfare. Students should consider refundable fares or the purchase of insurance to reimburse canceled tickets.

The university requires that all students, faculty and staff who are able to do so be fully vaccinated (defined as 14 days after the final dose) with a university-accepted COVID-19 vaccine. The university acknowledges that some individuals have health conditions or other reasons why they cannot be vaccinated.

The university’s vaccination requirement also applies to study abroad. Beyond the university’s requirement, some countries and/or partners require vaccination as a condition of participation without exception. These programs will be identified during student advising. Without disclosing vaccination status, students unable to vaccinate for medical or religious reasons should coordinate with study abroad advisers to identify other potential programs.

Students studying abroad in Spring 2022 are strongly encouraged to receive a booster prior to departing the United States. Many countries are limiting the validity of vaccinations to six (6) to nine (9) months from the second dose. In such countries, after that time, individuals are not considered vaccinated and may encounter significant limitations on daily activities and travel. At this time, it is unknown if study abroad participants will be eligible to receive boosters in other countries, so they should receive the booster before departing.

The university values DoS and CDC expertise. University staff consistently review and consider posted advisories and warnings as a source of critical information and will continue to do so. At the same time, DoS and CDC warnings are intended for all potential travelers at the most basic level—i.e. travelers going somewhere for the first time with no other information, no local support or contacts, and potentially no international insurance. While study abroad may be a student's first trip outside the United States, the university and partners try to mitigate many of those concerns. Study abroad programs offer some level of logistical support in-country. The university and our partners provide students with additional information and resources, including local support, and all students are enrolled in the university's international insurance.

The university conducts a detailed program evaluation before resuming each program. Major factors under consideration include:

  • Travel advisories (Department of State, CDC, and other sources) project a stable or improving environment. (See FAQ above on advisories.)
  • Program staffing and infrastructure are operational and at capacity to provide expected student services.
  • Programs have plans and the ability to implement appropriate social distancing, classroom and common areas area cleaning, and any new emerging precautions.
  • Adequate plans are in place to satisfy self-quarantine/self-isolation requirements, access to personal protective equipment (PPE), essentials, and other needs.
  • Programs have clear policies regarding cancellation, including academic continuity and refunds. Programs can swiftly transition to quality, remote course offerings if required.

The university also considers the impact of sending students to each study abroad location. This is more than evaluating a person’s ability to enter that country. We consider the well-being of local communities abroad and strive to reduce risk to them.

For Spring 2022, the university added an important step to the study abroad application process: the “COVID-19 Study Abroad Student Assessment and Action Plan.” The assessment is available in student applications in My Study Abroad and is due on or before the study abroad application deadline. The assessment will be applied to upcoming programs. The major application deadline for Summer, Fall, and Academic Year is typically February 15 or March 1. Deadlines may vary, and students should check the program brochure page for the application deadline.

The intent is to inform student understanding of potential risk and travel requirements, program planning and help develop student response plans for potential disruptions or issues resulting from COVID-19. Responses will be used with the other application materials to gauge eligibility and preparedness to study abroad.

If possible, students should review the assessment prior to their required study abroad advising session to address questions or concerns. If they have already met with their study abroad advisor, they should reach back out with any questions regarding the assessment.

The university opened applications for summer, fall, and/or academic year programs while it evaluates resuming specific study abroad programs for the remainder of 2022. Similar to Spring 2022, the university will evaluate program plans and preparations, as well as local conditions. This evaluation will be ongoing through the spring and the university reserves the ability to suspend study abroad programs at any time.

The university is not allowing waivers or petitions to study on non-approved Spring 2022 programs. For Summer and Fall 2022, the university is still considering whether petition programs will be allowed. More details will be forthcoming. In the interim, students should identify potential university programs as a second option in the event petitions are not allowed.

Applications are open in My Study Abroad. The major application deadline for Summer, Fall, and Academic Year is typically February 15 or March 1. However, deadlines vary and students should check the program brochure page for the application deadline.

Similar to Spring 2022, the university will continue to evaluate study abroad programs and locations for Summer, Fall, and the Academic Year until program start dates. The university retains the ability to suspend programs at any time. Students will be informed of decisions and next steps as appropriate. Staff will keep students informed of key dates, commitments, and requirements.

Students should not make plans that incur financial obligations before they are accepted into the program and sign the Confirmation of Participation in My Study Abroad. This is usually five (5) to ten (10) days after the application window closes. Even after committing to the program, students should consider tickets or lodging reservations that are refundable or have minor cancellation fees. Students may also consider personal trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. More information is found here.

The university’s international insurance policy covers the cost of medical care to treat COVID-19. The university is adding a quarantine benefit to the policy. This is new and important details are still being resolved. However, some details are available.

Quarantine Benefits

  • The benefit value is a maximum of $2,000 for all covered expenses. It covers quarantine up to 14 days (consecutive or nonconsecutive).
  • This benefit only pays through reimbursement. Travelers must pay first and then request reimbursement with documentation.
  • The quarantine must be required by a recognized government authority, their authorized deputies, or medical examiners.

Covered Expenses For Quarantine

  • The reasonable expenses incurred for lodging and meals
  • The cost of a one-way economy airfare ticket to either the student’s Insured Person’s Home Country or to rejoin the group
  • Non-refundable travel arrangements.

Excluded Expenses For Quarantine

  • Mandatory arrival quarantine. The quarantine benefit will NOT apply to mandatory quarantine upon arrival as a precaution required by the host government. This is a known cost and should be planned for accordingly.
  • Limits. The quarantine will be limited once travelers exceed 14 days or $2000, whichever happens first.

Requirements to Activate Benefits

  • Quarantine upon suspected exposure and/or symptoms. The benefit will apply to a required precautionary quarantine because of suspected exposure or if the traveler is displaying symptoms. Any reasonable charge for meals is also covered.
  • Quarantine upon confirmation of a COVID-19 infection. The quarantine benefit will apply to quarantine if testing positive for COVID-19. This applies to quarantine in a hospital, other government facilities, designated hotels, or special program accommodations set aside for quarantine. Any reasonable charge for meals is also covered.
  • Symptoms of the infection must first present themselves after starting the trip. Travelers sick before departure will not be covered for quarantine and should not travel.
  • For any claim, travelers must submit documentation of the requirement to quarantine and receipts or proof for all requested costs. Quarantine must be required by a recognized government authority, their authorized deputies, or medical examiners.
  • Claims must be filed within 90 days of payment. Reimbursement will be paid via check mailed to the traveler’s designated location in the U.S.

As of late October 2021, the U.S. Department of State estimates that issuing passports will take as long as 11 weeks for processing, not including transit time (possibly 17 weeks total). Review the Department of State Passport webpage for more information.

Many countries require that you obtain a student visa to study abroad, and you will need your passport before you can apply for your visa. It is your responsibility to determine if a visa is required for your program. To determine if a visa is required, you should consult the consulate or embassy of the host country. U.S. citizens can find detailed information about their host country’s entry, exit, and visa requirements on the U.S. Department of State website.

It is very important to know your program start date and to understand your program’s cancellation policies. If you are unable to obtain a passport and/or a visa (if required) in time to participate in your program, you will be responsible for all non-refundable costs associated with a late withdrawal.

Students can watch a recording of International Safety and Security's Town Hall for Spring 2022 Study Abroad via Media Space. Please be advised that this event was recorded on Oct. 6, 2021 and some information may have changed. Students can also review the slide deck via Box (log in required).