Lehigh University remains committed to providing students with meaningful global learning opportunities. International travel resumed in August 2021, and Lehigh is offering a modified list of abroad programming for the 2021-2022 academic year.
We have compiled the following guidance for students and families considering studying abroad. To learn about the university's full response to the pandemic, visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Center.
- Travel Abroad Risk Management and Review
- Lehigh Vaccine Information for Students Going Abroad
- Border Restrictions and Re-Entry Requirements
- Guidance for International Students
- Additional Considerations for Abroad Programming During the Pandemic
- Program Options for 2021-2022
- Archive of Communications with Students
Updated December 8, 2021
Lehigh University prioritizes student health and safety in our international educational experiences. All undergraduate international travel is reviewed by the International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC), a group of Lehigh staff and faculty from across the university. ITAC meets regularly to review current and future Lehigh abroad programming. As conditions and recommendations can change rapidly during a pandemic, ITAC review occurs on an ongoing basis.
Lehigh is closely following the developments regarding the newly WHO-designated Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and the associated changes to international travel. We will continue our review of study abroad programming as information on the Omicron variant becomes available.
Decisions about supporting travel are made in collaboration with university leadership. There is no single factor that is a go/no-go indicator; rather our review takes into account a variety of sources. The following is a partial list of resources that ITAC may consult as part of the program review:
- U.S. Department of State travel advisories
- U.S. Department of State country-specific information
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
- International SOS
- Forum on Education Abroad
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators
- The governments of the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia
- Our program providers’ risk management resources
Students participating in Lehigh abroad programming must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to travel. In addition, we strongly encourage all eligible travelers to secure a booster at least two weeks prior to departure. Students should not rely on being able to get booster shots abroad. Some countries are now requiring a booster shot to be eligible for a valid health pass, which is an access pass to local venues, including cafes, museums, and shops. Please refer to the CDC Covid-19 Vaccine booster guidance for additional information.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FOR UNVACCINATED STUDENTS
We are seeing significant changes and quickly evolving requirements and restrictions related to COVID-19 vaccination worldwide, making it difficult to provide consistent advice and support to unvaccinated travelers. As a result, unvaccinated students with exemptions will not be approved for study abroad through spring of 2022. Unvaccinated students may elect to participate in a virtual global experience or to postpone their participation to a future term.
Some examples of international requirements, restrictions or concerns related to COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:
- Proof of vaccination may be required in order to gain entry to a country/region, to be permitted to enroll in courses at an overseas institution,
- Unvaccinated travelers may be required to quarantine upon arrival, during which time Lehigh/your abroad program may not be able to provide assistance;
- Local governments have varying levels of restrictions on personal movement, business operations, and access to events and places of business (i.e., proof of vaccination may be required to enter places of business, move around a city or country); and
- Traveling while unvaccinated increases the risk of contracting or transmitting Covid-19, increasing the risk to our partner faculty, staff, students and communities abroad.
In response to the Omicron variant, the U.S. and other countries have put in place new requirements for entry. Travel restrictions can change very quickly; it is likely that restrictions may change during your time abroad.
As of December 6, 2021, all travelers to the United States will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status) no more than 1 day before you travel to the United States. This is a change from the previous requirement of 72 hours prior to travel. See CDC guidance for complete details. You should also confirm travel/entry and quarantine requirements for your destination country. In light of the new Omicron variant, several countries have restricted entry and others have put new quarantine mandates in place.
Lehigh’s Office of International Students and Scholars works closely with all international students on campus. Please note that OISS continues to advise that international students avoid non-essential international travel in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. International travel remains extremely complicated and risky, with frequent changes. It is possible that if you leave the United States, regulations may change and you may not be able to return as planned. For current COVID-19 travel guidance and FAQs for international students, please visit the OISS website. Information about traveling to the United States specific to international students is available here.
The global coronavirus pandemic is ongoing. No travel is risk-free, and disruption is still possible. While Lehigh carefully reviews the locations and academics of our approved study abroad programs, the university cannot guarantee the safety of our students while they are abroad.
Travel of any kind during the unpredictable circumstances of COVID-19 carries additional risks. In addition to following Lehigh’s guidance, students and families must determine their own comfort level regarding international travel. The ALAMA COVID-19 Medical Risk Assessment tool can assist travelers in the review of their own vulnerability to Covid-19.
Here are some factors to consider when determining your individual level of risk tolerance for any academic, financial, or other impacts that may result from travel abroad during the pandemic.
Entry and Exit requirements
- Review required documentation for entry into host country and re-entry to US;
- Be aware of any quarantine requirements upon arrival and the costs (time and financial) involved;
- Check for visa requirements and/or restrictions for US citizens entering the host country;
- Check for updates to travel policies and restrictions regularly; and
- Note that if you experience an emergency while abroad, family and friends may not be able to travel to visit or assist you due to travel limitations and restrictions.
Host country/local regulations
- Personal movement and access to businesses/tourism (museums, restaurants, events) may be restricted and further restrictions could be implemented after arrival; and
- Universities may need to limit in-person classes or access to campus facilities, possibly with little to no advance notice.
Financial and travel considerations
- Review all costs and refund policies prior to making any financial commitment;
- Consider trip/travel insurance (an example of travel insurance is InsureMyTrip, this is not Lehigh managed or endorsed)
- Do not purchase flights until both Lehigh AND your program give permission;
- Look for flights with flexible change/refund policies
- Seek direct flights or those with the fewest number of stops/layovers
- Note that students are responsible for all costs related to travel changes if a program is cancelled, or if you need to change arrival or return dates; and
- Consult your airline for information on COVID-Tested Flights which, for some countries, may eliminate an arrival quarantine requirement (these flights typically include an extra fee).
Abroad programs may have made significant program modifications related to Covid-19 mitigation, including but not limited to, altering or limiting housing options, field trips, and at-site activities.
Independent and Personal Travel
- Personal/independent travel to other countries is likely to be discouraged and/or limited, and in some cases not permitted by your host country and/or your study abroad program; and
- These restrictions may change after students commit to their program or arrive on-site.
Spring 2022 semester abroad programming is available. Please search for a program using this list of approved options.
While conditions are improving, the pandemic continues to be a factor that will impact the spring 2022 semester. At this time, per the recommendation of the International Travel Advisory Committee, we will continue to limit our program list to select partners. Lehigh is monitoring worldwide conditions and will keep students and families informed of updates. Programs may be added or removed as we review health, safety and risk considerations.
We anticipate that a larger number of students from across the US will be studying abroad than a typical spring; some programs may reach capacity prior to stated deadlines.
Lehigh student international travel programs remain limited. Most Lehigh international travel programs are not available for winter 2021-2022. The Lehigh in Munich winter course is scheduled for January 2022.
There are limited Lehigh study abroad grants available for winter.
Any Lehigh-funded or Lehigh-organized travel must be reviewed by the Lehigh International Travel Advisory committee, and your study abroad advisor can help review these options with you.
Due to limited Lehigh abroad courses, students may explore external programs; a partial list is available for reference. These programs are not affiliated with Lehigh University for the winter 2021-2022 term. The Study Abroad Office will authorize applications if requested by an external university/program provider. However, since you will not be enrolled as a Lehigh student while you attend the program, Lehigh cannot provide logistical, health and safety, or other support. Your participation will be independent of Lehigh University.
- Update: November 17, 2021
- Update: November 1, 2021
- Update: October 7, 2021
- Covid-19 Travel Addendum to the Study Abroad Student Understanding and Agreement
- Update: December 17, 2021
- Update: December 3, 2021 (GSIF in Sierra Leone)
- Update: December 3, 2021 (Lehigh in Munich)
- Update: December 2, 2021
- Update: July 15, 2021
- Update: June 18, 2021
- Update to Parents/Guardians: April 20, 2021
- Update to Students: April 20, 2021
- Update: February 8, 2021