Updated guidelines regarding travel and international operations

Thursday, Aug 6, 2020

On August 6, Aly Kassam-Remtulla, associate provost for international affairs and operations, issued an email message to the University community regarding guidelines for University-sponsored and personal travel, ongoing support for Princeton’s international students and scholars, and Princeton’s broader international operations. Read the full announcement below:

As President Eisgruber noted in his July 6 message regarding Princeton’s plans for the upcoming academic year, the University continues to prepare for key aspects of our operations. I write today with information on three of those areas: guidelines for University-sponsored and personal travel; our ongoing support for Princeton’s international students and scholars; and, Princeton’s broader international operations.

In addition to the details below, updated information regarding these topics can always be found on the International PrincetonDavis International Center and Fall 2020 websites.

Permissible Travel Guidelines

As is clear from information already shared with you, life on campus for the coming academic year will, unfortunately, be quite different from that to which we are accustomed. This extends to the restrictions we must place on travel to and from the University. In developing guidelines on permissible travel, we have been guided by the imperative of balancing our community’s need to remain connected to the broader world of research and learning opportunities, with the great risks and uncertainties of any journey during a pandemic, both for individuals and for communities as a whole. This latter set of risks – those of bringing infection back to our campus or into the communities we visit – weighed heavily in our deliberations. In addition, we have been forced to concede that widely varying governmental responses to the pandemic across the world not only severely restrict the logistical ability to travel, but also create sometimes insurmountable obstacles to our ability to support travelers in an emergency.

In light of these many challenges, we are extending our suspension of University-sponsored international and domestic travel, except under a slightly expanded set of limited circumstances. Group travel, for any University-affiliated purpose, including by student groups, is prohibited. Personal travel for any reason and to any location outside the immediate Princeton area is emphatically discouraged for anyone, especially those living, studying, or working on campus during the year. The full guidelines, which will come into effect for travel on or after August 10, 2020, will remain in place through the entire fall semester. They are available here, and the guidance will be updated at the beginning of each academic semester. I strongly encourage each of you to review these guidelines, even if you have no immediate plans to travel.

Let me note that we developed our guidelines with consideration for the multitude of diverse needs across our campus community and in collaboration with representatives of the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, Office of the Dean of the College, Office of the Dean of the Graduate School, Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Human Resources, the Office of International Programs, the Davis International Center, University Health Services, Environmental Health and Safety, and Finance & Treasury. We also sought advice from individual faculty members and staff regularly engaged in travel.  Over the course of the coming year, we will periodically reconvene these stakeholders to review our guidelines and consider where changes might be possible to allow for more travel opportunities.

You may direct questions or concerns regarding the permissible travel guidelines to the Global Safety & Security unit at globalsafety@princeton.edu.

Support for International Students and Scholars

We recognize the challenges of travel fall heavily on our international students and scholars. The ongoing closure of many U.S. consular posts abroad compounded by immigration, travel, and public health restrictions on entry into the United States from certain countries and regions, will profoundly affect the ability of many members of this valued segment of our community to reach campus for the academic year. As previously announced, undergraduates, including international students who cannot arrive to Princeton by Sunday, August 30, 2020, will unfortunately not be able to participate in fall on-campus programs.

Through the Davis International Center (Davis IC), my office is committed to working with our international students and scholars, as well as partners across the University, to ensure equity and the best possible educational experience.  In the words of President Eisgruber, “We look forward to engaging all of our students, both here on campus and around the world, in a unique and meaningful learning environment.”

The Davis IC continues to monitor developments related to visa processing and entry restrictions. You may find up-to-date information and guidance from them here. International students and scholars should contact their assigned Davis IC advisor to address individual questions or concerns.

International Operations

Although University-sponsored international travel remains largely suspended and the Office of International Programs has taken the difficult decision to suspend its undergraduate study abroad programs for the fall semester, Princeton’s international research enterprise continues to provide remote research and learning opportunities to our community. The Princeton Athens Center has reopened to a limited number of researchers and is providing a number of online resources for those not located in Greece. The Mpala Research Centre in Kenya remains closed to international researchers but is supporting remote research projects and delivering other online content. The Princeton China Center continues to operate virtually. I encourage those who feel their learning or research could benefit from remote collaborations with these centers to reach out to their leadership directly or to my office.

I and my entire team wish all of you good health for the remainder of the summer and an enjoyable, if admittedly challenging, fall semester. We are here to support all of you in any way we can, and I hope you will continue to reach out to us with your questions and concerns in the weeks ahead.