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. The purpose of ITAC is to review university-sponsored international travel for essential* purposes to the U.S. Department of State Level 3 countries for faculty, staff, and students. A final decision regarding the exception for travel will be made by the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs or the senior vice president for health sciences and CEO of VCU Health System and communicated by GEO.
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 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.
*Essential travel is defined as supporting activities that are necessary for academic degree completion or work and must be done in person. Essential travel may include research, teaching, study, and other activities of immediate importance to the university’s mission.
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 Student Affairs, and a faculty representative, in addition to an ex-officio member from the Global Education Office to serve in an administrative role and two alternates 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.
Two alternates 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.
Tom Briggs, assistant vice president, Safety and Risk Management (co-chair)
Jill Blondin, Ph.D., executive director, Global Education Office (co-chair)
Stephanie Tignor, director of Education Abroad, Global Education Office
Sarah Carrier, academic advising coordinator, Global Education Office
Nicole Porter, export compliance officer, Research and Innovation
Yiyun Jie, director of Assessment, Student Affairs
John Freyer, associate professor, Photography and Film
Romana Bucur, director, ICP and dean’s special projects, School of Business
Steve Kessinger, interim director, Risk Management and Insurance
Ex Officio Members
Elizabeth Lim, associate university counsel
Jessica Abernathy, executive assistant/HR coordinator, Global Education Office
As of June 2021 for faculty and staff, and effective Aug. 15, 2021 for students, university-sponsored international travel for essential purposes to U.S. Department of State Level 1 or 2 countries is permitted. Employees are reminded to coordinate travel through their department and VCU Procurement, and students must coordinate international travel plans through the Global Education Office (GEO).
Students planning travel to locations designated as Travel Advisory Level 3 are required to submit petitions for review by the International Travel Advisory Committee. Students are not permitted to travel or petition for travel to countries listed as Travel Advisory Level 4.
Employees planning travel to locations designated as Travel Advisory Level 3 are required to submit petitions for review by the International Travel Advisory Committee. Employees are not permitted to travel or petition for travel to countries listed as Travel Advisory Level 4.
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 an acceptance to a study abroad program and 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 approximately three weeks from the submission date of the petition. Individuals whose petitions are missing essential information will 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 3 to a 4, petitions in progress can no longer be considered and previously authorized petitions will be placed on hold until the travel advisory decreases to a level 3 or below. VCU’s university-sponsored travel guidelines do not permit travel to Level 4 countries. For more information, view the current university travel guidelines.
If the travel advisory level increases to a level 4 while the traveler is already at their destination, the traveler may be required to return home early.
Who should I list as the contact for the Verification of Essential Travel?
For students, we ask that you list your primary academic advisor in your department. 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 Travel Advisory?
All student and employee travel anywhere within countries designated as Level 3 Travel Advisory requires ITAC approval.
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-sponsored travel activities such as enrolling in academic coursework, you will need to submit a petition.
As a student, what if I decide to participate in a program abroad without VCU approval?
If your petition is denied or if you choose to participate in a program in a Level 4 country without VCU’s support, you will not be eligible to utilize any financial aid or scholarships, you will not maintain enrollment at VCU, and courses taken abroad may not be approved for transfer. VCU has taken the stance of restricting travel in the interest of the health and safety of both VCU travelers and local host communities. If you choose to travel to a Level 4 country, fewer resources may be available to you as a U.S. citizen should an emergency situation arise.
For more information on traveling abroad during the global pandemic, please visit the following:
Students: Navigating COVID Abroad
Employees: International Travel at VCU