Coronavirus & UAB Education Abroad: FAQS
updated October 15, 2021

Since March 2020, the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused concern worldwide. Our students’ health and safety while abroad is a top priority to University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The following information includes answers to some FAQs about UAB’s response as it relates to student international travel activity. Please visit the Financial Affairs International Travel website for additional details. The information here can be shared with UAB students, faculty, staff, and family members.

General Information

  • Can I study abroad as a UAB student?

    Effective January 1, 2022 UAB will begin relaxing its international travel restrictions to select locations based on Department of State ratings:

    • Resume international education activities to locations residing at a DOS level 1 or 2 for COVID-19, presuming the location resides at a DOS level 1 or 2 for safety reasons as well.
    • Countries with a DOS Level 3 or 4 for COVID-19 only or DOS Level 3 for any other reason must complete an appeals process with the UAB International Travel Risk Management Committee.
    • Countries with a DOS Level 4 for reasons other than COVID-19 are restricted.

    DOS levels may change before departure and UAB will continue to monitor the DOS ratings from pre-departure and throughout your program. In the event your location’s rating rises due to COVID-19 or other safety factors, UAB may restrict travel.

  • Has UAB cancelled any study abroad programs due to COVID-19?

    Yes, all programs are canceled through the Fall 2021 term, including all faculty-led programs. Programs for future terms, beginning January 2022, will be assessed on a location basis based on the criteria listed above.

  • How does this impact non-study abroad student international travel (i.e. conferences, research, student organizations)?

    Any student international travel organized and/or supported by UAB is subject to the same guidelines outlined in question 1. This includes, but is not limited to, student organization travel, research abroad, and conferences.

  • How is UAB monitoring the COVID-19 situation worldwide?

    UAB is continually monitoring the situation, including consulting sources such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of State, the World Health Organization (WHO), and International SOS, our international travel assistance provider. We are also in touch with our affiliate and exchange study abroad partners both domestically and abroad.

  • How does UAB make decisions about its study abroad programs?

    The UA System Health & Safety Task Force takes guidance from the CDC, the U.S. Department of State, the WHO, and International SOS (UAB’s international travel assistance partner).

  • Who will UAB contact with updates?

    UAB will contact students with updates that might specifically impact their international travel engagements. All members of the UAB community can find updates on this current web page.

  • Whom can I contact about study abroad and the coronavirus situation?

    Please contact Ashley Neyer, Director of Education Abroad at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Future Study Abroad Considerations (Spring 2022 and after)

  • Should UAB students purchase trip cancellation insurance and/or refundable airfare? Should I purchase travel insurance and/or “Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)” or “Interrupt for Any Reason (IFAR)” insurance?

    The Education Abroad office strongly recommends that students purchase fully refundable airline tickets and/or trip cancellation (e.g. “Cancel For Any Reason” or CFAR) and/or trip interruption insurance (e.g. “Interruption For Any Reason” or IFAR) to safeguard against losses or penalties associated with withdrawal or program cancellation. UAB assumes no responsibility for such losses or penalties. A student can purchase any CFAR/IFAR policy available on the market, or chose this Crum & Foster CFAR/IFAR policy that is being offered to UAB students.

    We recommend any student participating in an affiliate provider program should consult the affiliate’s refund policies and explore their offered options for CFAR/IFAR coverage as well to make the best informed decision.

  • What issues and questions should I be considering if hoping to study abroad in the near future?

    Please see the following lists of questions and issues to consider if planning to study abroad.

    Provider (Affiliate, Non-Affiliate, Exchange, Direct Enroll Questions)

    • What is their refund policy and deadlines to withdrawal?
    • When is the deadline the provider will make a decision my programs?
    • Confirm your provider’s program is going – follow their protocols and instructions about steps to take in order to participate.
    • What are the COVID-19 related policies for your program and institution where you’ll be studying?
    • What are the academic and financial policies if the program has to go to online/remote learning?

    Location Questions

    • Is the country(s) where you’re going allowing U.S. citizens to enter?
    • What are the quarantine or other COVID-19 related measures (PCR test etc.) you’ll need to take prior to or upon entry to the country?
    • What are the steps to obtaining a visa? How is that affected by COVID-19?
    • What steps will you need to take upon returning to the U.S. after your program?

    Travel Questions

    • Is air travel to/from your program location easily accessible?
    • What is your airline’s flight refund and/or flight change policies?
    • What is your study abroad program’s onsite travel policy? Do they allow weekend travel outside your location?

    Students participating in affiliate programs should be aware of provider deadlines, withdrawal policies, and refund policy. While UAB will make every effort to update students about programming restrictions prior to financial deadlines, UAB is not responsible for any program cancellation penalties if UAB extends the restriction on international travel activities.

  • Can I get a refund for my study abroad program costs?

    Students participating in affiliate programs should be aware of provider deadlines, withdrawal policies, and refund policy. While UAB will make every effort to update students about programming restrictions prior to financial deadlines, UAB is not responsible for any program cancellation penalties if UAB extends the restriction on international travel activities.

  • Can I get a refund for my study abroad program costs if I decide not to go at the last minute?

    If a student is participating on a non-UAB sponsored program (affiliate, non-affiliate, direct enroll etc.), then the possibility of a refund will depend on that program’s refund policy. A student may also consider purchasing a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) and/or Interrupt For Any Reason (IFAR) policy available on the market, or chose this Crum & Foster CFAR/IFAR policy that is being offered to UAB students.

    Regarding UAB faculty-led programs, all faculty-led programs include Cancel For Any Reason Insurance and programming decisions will be made on an on-going basis.

 

While Abroad

  • Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine prior to studying abroad?

    It is strongly recommended that you get one of the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines prior to travel. Doing so could protect your health, as well as those around you, while also possibly mitigating some of the entry requirements and restrictions as you go abroad. Some providers, host institutions, or countries are requiring vaccination to participate in their programs. It is the student’s responsibility to meet these requirements.

    Some countries (including the U.S.) are waiving the quarantine requirement if a traveler has a negative PCR test and proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Beginning July 1, 2021 the European Union will begin implementing the use of the Digital Green Certificate, which might ease travel restrictions for travelers who have received the vaccine (some countries have already implemented a version of the certificate).

    If you do receive a COVID-19 vaccine prior to departure, make sure to take multiple copies of the proof of your vaccination (both hard copies and digital copies) with you while abroad. Check the travel restrictions and entry requirements for your study abroad destination.

  • Will I have to quarantine or get tested for COVID-19 when arriving in my study abroad destination?

    Possibly. Check with your destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Country Information or your study abroad program provider for details about entry requirements and restrictions for arriving travelers.

    • Follow all entry requirements for your destination and provide any required or requested health information. If you do not follow your destination’s requirements, you may be denied entry and required to return to the U.S.
    • If traveling by air, check if your airline requires any health information, testing, or other documents.
    • Pre-travel testing: If you need a negative PCR test prior to travel, make sure to schedule a test that meets your study abroad destination’s entry requirements. If you will be in Tuscaloosa up to the time of your departure, then students needing a PCR COVID Test can obtain one through the Student Health Center. Call 205-348-2778 to make an appointment.
    • Get vaccinated. Some countries are waiving quarantine requirements and other entry restrictions for travelers who can show proof of being fully vaccinated.

    Each country and institution may have its own entry requirements and restrictions. Please consult your program provider or host institution regarding the latest requirements. You may also consult websites such as the following that include information about entry requirements around the world:

  • Do I need to get a negative COVID-19 test before returning to the U.S.?

    Yes, according to the latest CDC requirements (as of 10/15/2021) all air passengers coming to the U.S., including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result (in the previous three days) or documentation of recovery (within the past three months) from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the U.S., regardless if you have received the vaccination.

    • To find COVID testing resources abroad, please check your study abroad country’s Ministry of Health page or the Department of State Country Specific COVID-19 Resource Page. You may also consult your study abroad program provider for testing locations or call UAB’s international travel assistance provider, International SOS (via the app or calling +1 215-942-8478).
  • Do I have to quarantine after returning to the U.S.?

    The CDC maintains a webpage with comprehensive guidance on re-entry to the US after traveling internationally. Students are advised to visit this page frequently to ensure they have accurate information.

Additional Links and Resources

UAB website with general information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)

UA-System Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and resources

Other official sources to consult with helpful information include the CDC, WHO, and the International SOS web pages devoted to the coronavirus (COVID-19):

 

Other COVID-related links

Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map: The latest statistics of COVID-19 cases provided by the Center for System Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Travel information & entry requirements/restrictions: