West Virginia University
Office of the Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services
Travel Warning Procedure
West Virginia University (“WVU”) encourages students, faculty, and staff to participate in international activities and promotes the development of opportunities for international study and research. To this end, WVU attempts to balance the value of participation in international activities against their potential risks. WVU has developed this Procedure for international activities in countries for which the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) has issued Travel Warnings, countries for which the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has issued Travel Notices, as well as countries for which there is a reasonable concern for the health and security of travelers even if they are not specifically identified on either list. Students, faculty, and staff will need to consult this Procedure for specific details before making arrangements for travel to countries where there are DOS Travel Notices and Warnings, severe health risks, recognized dangers, or generalized instability.
The Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services is responsible for this Procedure, including review of requests for exceptions to this Procedure and recommendations. However, final authority and approval for activities covered by this Procedure rests with either the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or, for those students, staff, and faculty in HSC-based programs, the Health Sciences Center (“HSC”) Vice President.
This Procedure serves as an addition to all other relevant WVU policies and procedures related to travel and can be revised as operational necessity requires. Additional information and forms can be found on the WVU Office of International Programs Travel Site.
II. What activities are covered by this Procedure?
This Procedure applies to all travel sponsored, organized, supported, or recognized by WVU. Travel is sponsored, organized, supported, or recognized by WVU when any of the following occurs:
It is funded by WVU, whether through public or private funds;
It is part of a WVU international program a program organized and administered by WVU;
It is part of a program or trip administered by another institution or organization under an agreement with WVU;
Students receive WVU academic credit for courses taken during the travel;
It is organized by WVU, such as trips organized and led by members of the faculty, acting in their official capacity; or
Any programs organized by groups formally affiliated with WVU such as parents’ club, alumni organization, etc.
Personal travel is not included in the scope of this Procedure. This includes travel that is outside of WVU institutional auspices, such as vacation-related travel, including when such travel is undertaken prior to, during, or after an activity under WVU auspices.
III. Travel Warnings and Notices
A. Travel Warnings are issued when long-term, protracted conditions make a country dangerous or unstable and lead the DOS to recommend that Americans consider the risk or avoid travel to that country. This list is updated regularly and is available at:
B. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) Travel Notices are issued for locations in which extreme health hazards may be present. Travelers should be aware of the CDC’s three categories of Travel Notices. These are:
1. Outbreak Notice: Issued when there is an outbreak of a contagious disease in a limited geographic area.
2. Travel Health Precaution: Issued when a disease outbreak of a greater scope is occurring in a more widespread geographic area.
3. Travel Health Warning: Issued when there is a widespread, serious outbreak of a disease of public health concern. At this warning level, the CDC recommends against non-essential travel to the area.
A current listing can be found at:
C. WVU shall not require any student, faculty, or staff member to participate in an international activity that is sponsored, organized, supported, or recognized by WVU in a country for which the DOS has issued a Travel Warning or Notice that restricts or otherwise urges U.S. citizens to defer travel.
If a Travel Warning or Notice is issued while a student, faculty, or staff is already in the subject country, the Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services will review and assess the situation and make appropriate recommendations and decisions based on concerns for the safety and security of the participants. The Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services may recommend immediate departure and/or suspension of the program if appropriate.
The Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services reserves the right to recommend to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or HSC Vice President cancellation or suspension of any program at any time in his/her sole discretion if it is determined that there is unnecessary or significant risk to participants.
IV. Student Travel
WVU generally does not authorize student travel to areas under a DOS or CDC Travel Warning or Notice. However, a student may request an exception through the following steps:
1. The student wishing to travel to a destination for which there is a Travel Warning or Notice must review the Travel Warning and Consular information sheet or Travel Notice in consultation with a study abroad or faculty advisor.
2. The student must carefully consider the risks described in the Travel Warning and the Consular Information Sheets or Travel Notice. The student must weigh those risks against the value of the educational opportunity and make his/her own determination about whether to continue with the planned research or activity. The student should also take into consideration that if he/she should encounter difficulty abroad, WVU and even the U.S. Department of State may be unable to assist.
3. A written request for an exception must be submitted by the student explaining why travel to the country is essential to his/her research or graduation plan.
4. A written letter of support must be submitted by the student’s faculty advisor, stating how the advisor believes any risk involved in travel to this location would be mitigated and confirming that the travel is essential to the student’s academic program. This letter must also be endorsed by the Department Chair.
5. The written request and letter of support must be submitted to the Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services who, together with the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or, for students in HSC programs, the HSC Vice President, will review all requests from students wishing to travel to regions under a Travel Warning or Notice on a case by case basis.
6. Upon approval by the Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services, the student may use approved WVU funding in accordance with Financial Aid guidelines, including any external funding administered through and disbursed by WVU, for approved study, training, or presentation.
7. If approved, the student must sign a notification of risks and release form, acknowledging the existence of the Travel Warning or Notice and his/her decision to continue with the planned activity despite that Warning or Notice, releasing WVU from all liability, including but not limited to, death, injuries, or losses suffered while participating in the activity. If a student is under age 18, his/her parent or guardian must also sign this release.
8. All students who are United States citizens travelling to countries under a Travel Warning or Notice are required to sign up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at
V. Faculty and Staff Travel
WVU recognizes that when conducting research, teaching, or public service on a global level, opportunities will arise for faculty and staff to travel to countries that are under a Travel Warning, or to countries where other hazardous conditions such as a disease outbreak exist. WVU does not prohibit such travel, but does endeavor to balance the risks of travel against the value and necessity of the travel. To this end, the following rules and conditions apply to such travel:
1. Faculty or Staff who wish to travel to such a country are urged to review the Consular Information Sheet, Travel Warning, Travel Notice, and other available material about the conditions in the country in question and to continually evaluate the value and necessity of the travel against the risks presented by the travel.
2. The employee shall take precautions with respect to personal safety. The employee must recognize that WVU and even the U.S. Department of State may be unable to help in the event difficulties are encountered abroad.
3. Faculty or Staff who intend travel to countries under a Travel Warning or Notice shall provide advanced notice of their travel plans to the Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services prior to making travel arrangements. This includes travel pursuant to a request for funding, grant proposal, or WVU contract. The traveler shall prepare a written request that describes the necessity and value of the proposed travel and the steps that will be taken to manage risk during the trip. The information will be submitted to the Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services who, in consultation with either the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or, if applicable, the HSC Vice President, may authorize or prohibit travel, or require modification of the schedule or itinerary as needed to manage risk.
4. If an employee elects to travel despite the the Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services’ prohibition of such travel, the employee’s travel and all associated activity will be deemed to be outside the course and scope of his/her WVU employment. In such situations, WVU funds may not be used for the travel or any associated expenses.
5. If an employee is already in the country when a Travel Warning or Notice is issued, he/she will be contacted by the Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services. The employee, Department Chair, and Dean must then consult with the Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services regarding whether relocation to a safer area or return to the U.S will be required.
6. If the Employee wishes to remain in a country after a U.S. State Department Travel Warning or Notice is issued, the review and approval process described herein becomes applicable. In the event the faculty or staff member is hired specifically to perform a job located in a country for which a Travel Warning or Notice is issued, the Department Chair, in consultation with the Dean, and the Associate Vice President for International Student Life and Global Services, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or HSC Vice President must determine whether to continue the program under Travel Warning conditions, or suspend, relocate, or terminate the program.
7. Faculty and staff who are United States citizens travelling to destinations under a Travel Warning or Notice are strongly encouraged to sign up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at https://step.state.gov/step/.