blog posts Department of State Advice to Return As Soon As Possible (March 19) Mar 19, 2020 7:45 pmPlease reply and update us with your current plan, even if you have recently provided an update or signed an Assumption of Risk and Release of Liability. Additionally, we encourage you to discuss the evolving situation and your plans with your emergency contacts. We will send a copy of this email to the emergency contacts provided in your study abroad application. You have received multiple emails over the last few days as the COVID-19 situation evolves by country or region and University staff attempt to clarify your intentions regarding study abroad and travel plans. However, this is an important update; please take the time to read it carefully. The U.S. Department of State (DoS) elevated the global travel advisory to Level 4, Do Not Travel. The DoS advises that travelers who do not return soon should make a plan to remain in place for an indefinite period. Please be advised that if you choose to remain, U.S. government assistance may not be readily available. To quote the advisory: “The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. ... Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips.” The University joins the U.S. government in advising you to return to your home as soon as possible. Note that our concern is more than contracting the virus. Travelers abroad may be unable to return home later in the event of a family or other emergency. Likewise, your family may be unable to join you in the event of a personal emergency. By returning home, you will be in a familiar support network, health system, and in a place where you are less susceptible to immigration and transportation disruptions. We also note that host governments may impose additional restrictions on borders and movements within a country with little or no notice. We encourage you to work with your travel agent or airline to plan your departure. Note: The University cannot give you a specific date to complete your travel. We can only advise that you schedule it as soon as possible. You should consider flying to any U.S. airport that is allowing international travelers. Do not delay simply for a direct flight to your nearest U.S. airport. If you do not have a ticket, you can work with Corporate Travel Planners or Direct Travel to make arrangements. Instructions for making arrangements are below. It is unknown how much longer international flights will continue as they depend on host nation restrictions and airline demand. If you fail to depart before international flights cease, you should be prepared to stay in place until they resume. The timeframe is unknown, but may last for a month or longer. The University will be unable to provide travel or accommodation assistance to you. This DoS website provides additional information on what it can and cannot do in a crisis. Below, you can find advice on Making Travel Arrangements and Tips if Remaining in Place. For assistance booking a flight: First, we encourage students to contact the airline carrier or travel agent who booked your ticket and request a change. Most major airlines are waiving change fees but be sure to ask. If you cannot rebook your ticket from your original ticketing party or if you do not have a return ticket, you can contact Corporate Travel Planners (CTP) at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 210-524-3317 during business hours from Monday to Friday. After 7pm CST, contact 1-303-801-2331 and select the business option. Reference “University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Study Abroad Evacuation” when calling. Outside of office hours, email is the best method to contact CTP. Another option is Direct Travel, a local travel agency also working with the University. Email is best for making contact: email@example.com. You will need to supply the following info to start the process: Full Name Passport # Where you are right now Nearest Airport Gender Birthdate Where do you need to fly into Once you supply that information, they will find a flight and send the ticket/itinerary info. If you cannot email, the phone contact for them is: 1-888-677-8728. Their hours are Monday through Friday, 8am to 6pm central. If unable to book a flight through CTP, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional assistance. Tickets and rebooking completed through university assistance will be billed directly to the University. If you pay yourself you may submit a request for reimbursement within 30 days from your departure from your host country. Any request must include receipts and supporting documentation. The reimbursement form can be found here: https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/6651617.