Coronavirus (COVID 19) Updates

Impact on U of A Student Travel

Updated 6/9/2021

The Office of Study Abroad & International Exchange is fully reopened and operating in-person. 

To reach a study abroad staff member, you can call 479-575-7582 or online chat with us during normal business hours, or email studyabr@uark.edu.

As we look forward to future international travel, we do with great hope, but also realistic expectations. All travelers must understand that international travel and study abroad is very different now and will continue to evolve as more countries have widespread access to COVID-19 vaccinations. We recognize that there are limitation to answering specific questions here, but we encourage you to contact the study abroad office directly to arrange an advising appointment.

The latest news and information related to the pandemic’s impact on campus is available in the "Updates" section and various FAQs included on the university's Coronavirus Update page.

Summer and Fall 2021 Study Abroad

Program Status

The University has conducted a holistic review of COVID-19 protocols and safety plans and will allow students to participate in approved programs at the Rome Center and with select external programs. Rome Center information is available on the Rome Program COVID-19 Operations Plan, which includes answers to frequently asked questions. The approval process for individual and faculty-led programs will take time as the evaluations are nuanced and program specific. The Office of Study Abroad will inform applicants with final updates as soon as possible.

Programs with departure dates after January 1, 2022 will be re-evaluated at a later date. As always, the university's priority remains to continue to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

Border Entry Requirements: Testing & Quarantine Before Travel

Many international airlines or ports of entry (including the US border) require travelers to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within the 24-72 hour window prior to travel, or are expected to require proof of vaccinations, so planning ahead is critical. Be advised that even approved travelers may face required self-quarantine upon entry (up to 14 days) to many locations internationally. In addition to the US Department of State's Travel Country Information Pages, travelers may find the International Air Transport Association's COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map a helpful planning tool, because it features regular updates on entry/transit restrictions, health requirements, closed/open airports and borders, and flight suspensions. More information is available from the CDC's Guide to International Travel during COVID-19.

All individuals who plan to travel internationally are encouraged to remain extra vigilant in protecting themselves from the virus 14 days prior to travel. This includes frequent and early testing, which is available through Pat Walker Health Center. Early testing can reveal asymptomatic COVID-19 that could prevent travelers from getting on a plane if they are not aware of infection before testing to travel. 

COVID-19 Vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccination is strongly recommended for all international travelers; however, the University does not require study abroad students, faculty leaders, or accompanying staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why? International travelers who are vaccinated may have distinct advantages over non-vaccinated travelers, including reduced quarantine time upon arrival, easier weekend travel across neighboring country borders, reduced or eliminated quarantine or isolation due to exposure, protecting other vulnerable immunocompromised students or faculty who cannot get the vaccine, reduced likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19, and more. 

Entry requirements for countries across the globe will continue to evolve as access to the vaccine increases. Additionally, some program providers may require vaccination of their participants. Further, study abroad students and faculty leaders should continue to expect changing border entry requirements, which may include COVID-19 vaccinations prior to entry. 

Vaccination appointments are available at the Pat Walker Health Center and multiple participating pharmacies and providers across the region. See more Vaccination information for the U of A Community through the Pat Walker Health Center. 

Petition for Exception to the International Travel Policy

Students interested in participating in independent travel or non-select external program providers will need to submit a Petition for Exception. A student's petition should include a written justification articulating the academic necessity of travel, the status of lawful entry for travelers to the chosen destination, personal and environmental risk factors as well as steps taken to mitigate personal risk, mitigation plan by the receiving university or academic partner abroad, and any other relevant travel information for the students' destination from CDC, US Department of State, OSAC, or other reputable source. The appeals process follows the Academic Policy Series 1835.00. Students should contact their Study Abroad Advisor for more information.

University of Arkansas continues to review and update its COVID-19 response, including international travel restrictions for students, faculty, and staff.

Preparing for Travel

Apply for Your US Passport

Apply for your US Passport today. US Passport Services are beginning to operate at normal capacity for travelers. At this time (June 2021), regular passport processing may take as long as 10-12 weeks; expedited processing costs extra but takes only 4-6 weeks. Students must plan ahead if they don't already have a valid passport. Don't delay- apply immediately if your plans even tentatively include international travel.

Assess Your Health

Assess your health needs with guidance from a physician now. Travelers must assess their health needs and make the decision to travel accordingly. Understand that some people may be at a higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. Before financially committing to international travel, travelers must realistically assess their health needs, with the guidance of their physician, and make the decision to travel accordingly.

Purchase Trip Cancellation Insurance

Purchase trip cancellation insurance with 'cancel for any reason' (CFAR) benefit and refundable airfare. Studying abroad in a COVID-19 era demands flexibility, and the Study Abroad Office strongly encourages students to purchase trip cancellation insurance with CFAR and/or IFAR ("interruption for any reason') to safeguard against losses or penalties associated with withdrawal or program cancellations. The U of A assumes no responsibility for such losses or penalties. A student can purchase CFAR/IFAR policy on the market, or work through these recommended resources: Daun Flynn at the Travel Depot & CISI.

Get Tested and Stay Home

Get tested and stay home after higher risk travel. Testing before and after travel can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when paired with a period of staying at home and precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at travelers' destinations. Following the CDC's guidance, if you participated in higher-risk activities like international travel, health advice includes:

  • Get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home for 7 days after travel.

  • Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days.

  • If your test is positive or if you have symptoms, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.

  • If you don't get tested, stay home for 10 days after travel.

  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.

Good resources on COVID-19 and travel are available through our insurer, CISI, for all your COVID Questions and Answers.

Future Student Travel

The Study Abroad office continues to make every effort to reduce the impact on students as they plan for future programs. Programs scheduled to depart after January 2022 are moving forward as planned, but may be subject to postponement or cancellation as the global COVID-19 situation evolves.

The Study Abroad staff invites students to discuss future opportunities today as they plan for the long term. For example, we continue to advise on 2022 programs, anticipating continued improvements to global travel circumstances. Some students are working even farther into the future as they map out their 4 or 5 year degree plan. Let's talk!

We can help you at any stage of the process, whether you are a prospective U of A student exploring your college choices, or a student with previous study abroad experience ready to plan your next adventure.

Check out our Explore Page to learn more about advising opportunities, including info sessions, general advising, and major-specific advising.

Resilient International Learning

Virtual Faculty-Led Programs

Virtual cross-cultural programs offer international experience with no passport required! These programs offer the additional bonus of being very affordable and available immediately to globalize your education.

Summer opportunities continue to evolve as conditions for international travel change. Review all virtual faculty-led programs, and contact faculty & program leaders to learn more.

The Study Abroad Office is also available to advise students on a growing list of virtual international academic opportunities through external or third-party affiliate programs.

Virtual International Internships

Work with an international organization to differentiate your resume, build essential skills that employers value, and grow your professional network. Participants build their digital literacy and intercultural communication skills through project-based learning, preparing themselves to adapt to a 21st century workforce.

While completing a professional project with an international business, NGO, health, or education organization, you have the option to earn U of A credit and access financial aid and scholarships. Virtual internships are open to students from all majors and can be conducted during the summer or semester in addition to your U of A course load. For example, a student may register for 12 semester hours, plus 3 virtual internship hours, for a total of 15 credit hours that are eligible for U of A scholarships and financial aid.