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 August 23, 2021.

Despite positive developments, uncertainty remains too high on several fronts, including vaccination progress (here and abroad), travel requirements, and host nation precautions. Although it may feel pre-mature, the timing of this decision supports student, campus, and partner planning that usually begins in April.

No, the university is not allowing waivers or petitions to study on non-approved programs. Students desiring to attend non-approved programs must do so without university association. Such students will not be authorized to use the university’s international insurance and will not receive any university approval on program application forms. Students will need to petition for course articulation upon returning, which cannot be guaranteed in advance. University staff will be unable to approve/sign applications for independent programs.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is evaluating the resumption of study abroad for the Spring 2022 semester. The university recognizes the invaluable role study abroad plays in your academic experience but student well-being is our foremost concern.

The university will conduct a detailed program evaluation before resuming each program. Evaluations will include:

  • Travel advisories (Department of State, CDC, & other sources) project a stable or improving environment.
  • 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 will also consider the impact of sending students to each study abroad location. This is more than evaluating ability to enter that country. We have an obligation to consider the well-being of communities abroad and ensure we do not present greater 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 September 15 (the same day as the study abroad application deadline).

If possible, you should review the assessment prior to your required study abroad advising session to address questions or concerns. If you have already met with your study abroad advisor, you should reach back out if you have questions regarding the questionnaire.

The assessment includes links to partner surveys and other resources in the instructions. These will assist you with the questionnaire. The intent is to inform your understanding of program planning and help you develop response plans for potential disruptions or issues resulting from COVID-19. Your responses will be used with the other requirements you submit to gauge if you are eligible and prepared to study abroad in Spring 2022.

The university is cautiously pursuing the resumption of study abroad in Spring 2022. The evaluation of programs and locations is ongoing with multiple programs tentatively identified for resumption. The college sponsoring each program will communicate with student applicants regarding program decisions. The university will monitor developments through the fall related to COVID-19 variants, surges, and country mitigation measures; the university reserves the right to cancel programs in the interest of student and host community well-being.

The university’s evaluation of programs is ongoing. Students will be informed of decisions and next steps as appropriate. The university will continue to monitor developments and retains the ability to suspend participation at any time. Staff will keep students informed of key dates, commitments, and requirements.

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 must review program details related to cancellation costs and associated dates in the program surveys. (These are answered in Questions 24 and 25 for each program.) Additionally, students must carefully evaluate their options for airfare. Students should consider refundable fares or the purchase of insurance to reimburse cancelled 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 their vaccination status, students unable to vaccinate for medical or religious reasons should coordinate with study abroad advisers to identify other potential programs.

All travel has risk related to COVID-19, from manageable (masks, testing, social distancing) to serious challenges (quarantines, lockdowns, travel disruptions, anxiety) to asymptomatic and symptomatic infection. The university is reviewing partner programs and locations to identify the best opportunities for Illinois students and providing relevant information to students. However, despite Illinois and partner efforts, those risks will remain as COVID-19’s trajectory evolves. Consequently, each student must carefully and personally evaluate program and location information (testing, quarantine, accommodations, mitigation measures, infection response, and program support) to determine their preparedness and comfort level. We encourage students to make a decision that best balances their comfort levels, wellbeing, and academic plans.

The university values DoS and CDC expertise. University staff consistently review and consider their 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. Study abroad programs offer logistical support where independent travel does not. While it may be a student’s first trip outside the U.S., 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’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 Include

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

NOT Covered

  • 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 NOT be covered once you exceed 14 days or $2000, whichever happens first.

Covered

  • 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.

Other Details

  • 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 early September, the U.S. Department of State estimates that issuing passports will take as long as 12 weeks for processing and another 6 weeks for transit (possibly 18 weeks total). Review the Department of State website for more information. If you do not have a passport and have not applied for one by mid-September, you are unlikely to receive it in time if you also need to apply for a visa.

Entry requirements continue to change. It is the student’s responsibility to determine if a visa is required for their study abroad program and to apply for a visa. Students should consult with the nearest consulate/embassy of the host nation if they have specific questions. Program staff in the host nation should also be able to provide specific information. More information on visas can be found on the Study Abroad website.

No. 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. Even after committing to the program, students should consider tickets or lodging reservations that are refundable or have minor cancellation fees.