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Feb. 25, 2020 – Message for International Students & Scholars

Posted by on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 in Community Messages.

Dear International Students and Scholars:

As we approach Spring Break 2020, we would like to restate cautions that we have provided you in previous communications regarding travel restrictions. The COVID-19 outbreak has presented many challenges for international students and scholars, and for the institutions that they attend. We want to make sure you have the very best information and guidance that we can provide in light of the circumstances.

You will remember that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared that a public health emergency exists nationwide due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Entry into the United States is currently suspended for visa holders who were physically present in mainland China during a 14-day period prior to seeking to enter the U.S. Currently, the U.S. Department of State has active heightened travel advisories issued for travel to China (Level 4: Do not travel), Japan and South Korea (Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution).

While we are aware that many students and scholars may have made travel plans for Spring Break, we strongly discourage visa-holding students and scholars from traveling out of the country during this time for the following reasons:

  • You may still encounter delays or other difficulties at the U.S. Port of Entry, even if you travel to countries that are not subject to a “Do Not Travel” warning from the State Department.
  • You may encounter delays or other difficulties at the ports of entry of other countries.
  • Delays in returning to Vanderbilt will have a direct impact on one’s ability to maintain F-1 or J-1 status and an active SEVIS record.

For the above reasons, any proposed/planned travel outside the United States during Spring Break should first be discussed with an advisor in ISSS. Undergraduates who wish to remain on campus during Spring Break should contact OHARE ( to register for housing.

Please remember that this is a rapidly developing situation and entry to other countries and the U.S. is not guaranteed. For anyone planning to travel, we strongly advise that you closely monitor COVID-19 based travel alerts and precautions at any destination countries, and any layover countries through which you must travel.  It is also advisable that you regularly monitor the status of any flights to remain up to date on sudden changes. We encourage any travelers to add the campus phone number for the Vanderbilt Incident Response Team (VIRT) to your phone in case of emergency. Please note that if public health measures emerge that cause difficulties with your return to the U.S., the university may be unable to overcome those protocols to help you return in a timely manner.

Please know that we are grateful to have you as part of the Vanderbilt community, and that we are here to support you. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding your visa status or current travel constraints.


The ISSS Team