International Travel Advisory Committee
The International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC) was established in May 2021 during the COVID-19 global pandemic as an ad hoc committee coordinated by VCU’s Incident Coordination Team International Subcommittee with assistance from GEO.
ITAC was established for the purpose of reviewing petitions for an exception to current restrictions on university-sanctioned travel. ITAC develops and implements the petition and petition review processes and makes recommendations for international travel policies for university employees and students from a risk management and safety standpoint. The purpose of the ITAC review process is to provide a holistic assessment of the risk of travel for the individual petitioner going to the specific destination for the particular purpose indicated.
The International Travel Advisory Committee shall be composed of seven members including the university’s assistant vice president for Safety and Risk Management or designee (senior risk officer), the executive director of the Global Education Office (senior international officer), two representatives from the Global Education Office, a representative from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation Export Compliance Program, a representative from VCUarts Qatar, and a representative from faculty or Student Affairs, in addition to an ex-officio member from the Global Education Office to serve in an administrative role and an alternate to serve when other committee members are unable to do so.
The ITAC shall be co-chaired by the university’s assistant vice president for Safety and Risk Management or designee and the executive director of the Global Education Office.
An alternate will be appointed to serve the committee in the place of members who are unable to serve for a period of time; alternates will be appointed by the committee co-chairs.
Terms of committee membership of the ITAC shall begin upon acceptance of the invitation/nomination to serve. Co-chairs are members by virtue of their administrative office and there are no specific terms of office. Other members will be appointed as follows for terms that shall last at least one academic year and may be renewed for additional one-year terms at the discretion of the co-chairs. There is no limit on the number of consecutive terms.
Jill Blondin, Ph.D., executive director, Global Education Office (co-chair)
Tom Briggs, assistant vice president, Safety and Risk Management (co-chair)
Andrea Cecetka, deputy safety officer, VCUarts Qatar
Sofia Hiort-Wright, senior executive associate athletic director/senior women’s administrator, VCU Athletics
Amy Miller, assistant director of global learning and advising, Global Education Office
Nicole Porter, export compliance officer, Research and Innovation
Stephanie Tignor, director of global learning, Global Education Office
Employees and students who wish to request an exception to the university’s travel prohibition to U.S. Department of State Level 3 or 4 countries should submit a petition to ITAC. ITAC will make the final decision. Petitions to Level 4 destinations will rarely be considered. Employees should not complete the travel pre-approval process in ChromeRiver until ITAC has made a final decision. This petition process does not replace fiscal/administrative levels of approval for travel, and exists for review of an exception to the travel prohibition only.
VCUArts Qatar students, employees and/or community members (whose travel is funded by VCU):
Travel within Qatar is considered domestic travel for the purpose of ITAC petitions. Travel across international borders would be subject to review by ITAC, but not travel within Qatar or to the U.S.
Regarding Travel to VCUArts Qatar: Travel to VCUArts Qatar does not require a petition to ITAC.
When should petitions be submitted?
Ideally, petitions should be submitted about three months prior to when you would depart and no less than three weeks prior to confirmation of travel (i.e. flight booking or program payment deadline). Due to the dynamic nature of travel risks, justification will need to be provided for petitions submitted farther than three months in advance of departure.
Students should have all necessary information needed to complete the petition before submitting it. We recommend you work with your Education Abroad advisor to determine how much time you will need to apply for a student visa, book a flight, etc.
What is the timeline for submission and review of a completed petition?
The committee aims to review and make individuals aware of their petition outcome as soon as possible, and at least three weeks from the submission date of the petition. Individuals whose petitions are missing essential information may have an extended timeline.
What happens if the travel advisory level decreases for my intended destination?
If the U.S. Department of State travel advisory level for your destination decreases to Level 1 or 2 after you have submitted your petition, you will be contacted by email@example.com that your petition has been withdrawn as it is no longer necessary. Students will then be prompted to register their travel with the Global Education Office and employees can reach out to their departments about the next steps for moving forward with travel plans.
What happens if my destination’s travel advisory level increases?
If your destination’s advisory level increases from a 1 or 2 to a 3, you will be required to complete a petition prior to travel or as soon as possible if your travel has already been approved and booked.
If your destination’s advisory level increases from a 3 to a 4, you will be contacted by ITAC and your petition will be re-reviewed.
If the travel advisory level increases while the traveler is already at their destination, the traveler may be required to return home early if ITAC determines that the destination’s risks are too great.
Who should I list as the contact for the Verification of Essential Travel?
For employees, please list your departmental dean, chair, or director who has supervisory authority over your position.
Are there any exceptions to the petition requirement for travel to locations designated as a Level 3 and Level 4 Travel Advisory?
All student and employee travel anywhere within countries designated as Level 3 or Level 4 Travel Advisory requires ITAC approval.
Update: Travel to VCUArts Qatar does not require a petition to ITAC.
I’m an international student and I’m going back to my country of citizenship, which has been designated by the Department of State as a Level 3 or 4 location. Do I need to apply for travel approval?
If you are returning home for purely personal reasons (such as vacation or visiting family), then travel approval is not required. If you plan to return home for university-sanctioned travel activities such as enrolling in academic coursework, you will need to submit a petition.
Update: Travel to VCUArts Qatar does not require a petition to ITAC.
As a student, what if I decide to participate in a program abroad without VCU approval?
If a petition is denied or if the traveler chooses to participate in travel to n a Level 3 or Level 4 destination without VCU’s support, they will not be eligible to utilize any financial aid or scholarships, they will not maintain enrollment at VCU, and courses taken abroad may not be approved for transfer credit. VCU has taken the stance of restricting travel in the interest of the health and safety of VCU travelers and local host communities.
Petitions that receive an exception to travel to U.S. Department of State travel advisory level 3 or level 4 countries should be submitted approximately three months prior to departure and are generally valid for approximately three months beyond the proposed dates of travel provided that risk indicators on the ground are unchanged. (Employees, please note that if you postpone your travel plans, your ChromeRiver approval will need to be resubmitted as your dates will be different).
Should the travel advisory level fall to a 1 or 2, there is no need for an exception at all. The most updated restrictions on university-sanctioned travel are available on the current health advisories page on the Safety and Risk Management website. ITAC will alert travelers whose destinations’ travel advisory levels change.Should you wish to postpone travel more than three months beyond your original travel dates, and your destination country remains at the travel advisory level at which it was approved, please email ITAC@vcu.edu ideally three months before travel with details on any changes to the information that you submitted in your original petition, and we will consult our risk resources to determine if a re-review is necessary at that time. You will not need to resubmit the full petition again unless your travel plans or the risks in the destination have changed significantly.
For more information on traveling abroad during the global pandemic, please visit the following:
Students: Navigating COVID Abroad
Employees: International Travel at VCU