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Omicron variant changes international travel and US entry

Updated: December 23, 2021

The omicron COVID-19 variant is prompting many international governments—including the U.S. government—to modify their travel entry requirements and implement new border restrictions. Global Engagement has been closely monitoring these changes in order to offer up-to-date guidance to students, faculty and staff who may be considering international travel in the coming weeks and months, or planning to travel back and forth from a home country for the University’s winter break period.

Below are recommendations and guidance for affected students and employees based on the current restrictions and outlook. It is important to remember that the situation is evolving and restrictions may continue to change quickly and without advanced notice.

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International students and students returning from international locations

Given the uncertainties surrounding the omicron variant, new travel restrictions, and closures of US embassies and consular posts in certain countries, the University’s International Services Office (ISO) strongly advises against international students leaving the US right now. This suggestion is based on the expectation that the US may continue to close its borders to more non-US citizens in the coming weeks, which presents a lot of uncertainty as to whether students could re-enter the US following winter break.

If staying in Rochester, undergraduate students may sign up for Winter Stay on-campus housing, available from Dec. 18 through Jan. 7. Students may also choose to stay with friends or family in the area or elsewhere in the US.

New students or students returning to the US from international locations for the start of the spring semester should be aware of CDC’s US entry and testing requirements and should carefully read messages from ISO, Center for Education Abroad (CEA) and Global Engagement.

Students who are unable to return to campus for the spring semester should check with their schools about school-specific requirements for leaves of absence or online accessibility as the situation varies by school.

Students abroad for fall, or planning to go abroad for spring

Those currently studying abroad in the fall 2021 semester need to be mindful of travel re-entry requirements for their return destination. In the cases of the return destination being the US, students should follow the CDC’s US entry and testing requirements. CEA has also sent a message to students currently abroad. 

All University students who will be studying abroad in the spring 2022 semester are required to get the COVID-19 booster shot prior to departure, if eligible. Starting summer 2022, there will be no COVID-19 vaccine exemptions for University students studying abroad. ​Given the rapidly changing landscape for entry and continued residence in various countries​, all students studying abroad for spring 2022 are strongly recommended to get the COVID vaccine prior to departure. 

If you are a student planning to study abroad in the upcoming semester and have questions about the vaccination or booster requirement, please contact 

Students in The College who have applied to go on a pre-approved semester program in the spring 2022 semester should continue their plans, but should remain abreast of messaging from CEA, as well as from the program provider. The Travel Review Committee will meet soon to review all other student programs for the spring (including faculty-led, student activities, and independent studies abroad for graduate students), and additional messaging will be forthcoming from CEA and Global Engagement. 

Faculty and staff planning travel abroad

In the near-term, University faculty and staff should register University-related international travel in the University’s Travel Registry to ensure they receive appropriate travel assistance coverage while abroad and so that the University can assist in the event of an emergency. While not required, travelers are also encouraged to reach out to Global Engagement ( for a risk consultation. Travelers and their departments/schools should be aware that varied and changing travel restrictions could necessitate testing and/or lengthy isolations and quarantines abroad, and they should be prepared for these as they contemplate travel.

Additional resources

his may be a very challenging time for many students who are dealing with the pressures of academic life and final exams and who may not be able to travel internationally as planned.  The University has many resources available to help students through this difficult time. Among these services is the Basic Needs Hub. The Hub provides temporary financial assistance for unanticipated critical needs, such as housing, food, clothing, medical expenses, computers, or textbooks.

For a full list of support services available to students, faculty and staff, reference our Resources and Support page.

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