Omicron, Travel Signatures, and Winter Break Plans – Update from International Programs

December 3, 2021

Some important updates regarding I-20 travel signatures and winter plans as we come to the end of the semester:

First off, please let me know what you are planning to do for Winter Break (stay in the states, return home, travel abroad).  It’s OK if you are still trying to decide in light of recent developments; we want to get a sense of who may be where.

As you are probably all aware of by now, there is a new COVID variant circulating globally. Omicron has led to some adjustments in policies and guidance both here in the US and in your home countries.  Information is still being gathered about the impact and effect of the Omicron variant and we are monitoring developments. 

  • If you are traveling home for break, please make sure to check on any updated quarantine requirements for your destination, and keep an eye out for updates to US policies. 

At the moment, the newest change has been to require all travelers, vaccinated or not, to have a negative COVID test 24 hours before departure to enter the US. No changes to guidance after arriving to the US from an international location have been previewed as of now…vaccinated international travelers should get a COVID test 3-5 days AFTER arrival to the US and limit their activities until getting a negative result.

  • Travel Restrictions – currently in place for 8 countries in Southern Africa. At this time, I am not aware of any students planning to be in any of these countries during break, but please let me know if you will be. A concern is if more countries are added to the list by the time break ends, which could complicate returning to the US. The current travel restrictions do not have any exemptions/waivers for international students, unfortunately.
  • If you are planning on traveling abroad this break, make sure have an updated travel signature on the back page of your I-20 and please keep me posted. I’m happy to meet if you want to talk things through, although please note it is an evolving situation and much is still undetermined yet. You can arrange to come and get your I-20 signed, or I can send you an updated travel I-20 with signatures over email that you will need to print out.
  • If you are staying in student housing over the break, please make sure to contact Residence Life and fill out the late stay/early arrival application through the Residence website. Thanks to those who have already done so. Additional information and more details from Housing will be coming soon to you. 
  • If you are traveling abroad and need to come back early to do testing, please make sure to fill out the late stay/early arrival housing form as well.
  • If you are eligible, I encourage you to get a booster shot too. For those who got vaccinated upon arrival this August with the J&J vaccine, you should be eligible for a booster now. For those who received Pfizer or Moderna, you may need to wait a little longer depending on when you received it. For those with other WHO Emergency use vaccines (AstraZeneca, SinoVac, etc.), please check with Student Health Services about your eligibility.

Health guidance for travel and testing continues to be an evolving situation, so please check your emails regularly at the end of the semester and over the break as you are able.  I’ll continue to post updates when there are changes, as well as remind you of form deadlines, information to update, and notes for traveling in.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or need more information.

Take care,
Todd Sasaki
Director of International Programs