Skip to main content

Travel Health and Safety Petitions to Elevated Risk Destinations

While there is an inherent risk associated with all travel, certain destinations call for heightened caution and additional preparation to address the health, safety, and security concerns of our travelers.

Cornell maintains a list of elevated risk destinations, which takes into account risks identified by International SOS (ISOS) and the U.S. Department of State. During the height of the pandemic, we also relied on CDC ratings, but they do not currently influence our elevated risk destination list.

Additionally, Cornell may issue guidance, requirements, and restrictions regarding travel to specific destinations, including countries subject to comprehensive U.S. Sanctions. 

International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART) petitions are triggered by rules built into the Cornell International Travel Registry. If your travel requires a petition, the travel registry will prompt you for additional information about, and a rationale for, your elevated-risk travel plans. Travel restrictions are designed by traveler type and destination. 

Register Your International Travel

In addition to petitioning when needed, all students, staff, and faculty are required to add their Cornell-related international travel plans to Cornell’s international travel registry. By adding your itinerary, emergency contact information, and the purpose of your travel, among other things, we can provide you with valuable resources and timely assistance during an incident, crisis, or emergency abroad. Register as soon as you have your travel plans in place. 

Petition Process

Must I petition?

Cornell students and staff plus faculty traveling with students must petition ITART if their travel itinerary involves an elevated risk destination.

What information do I need to petition?

Petition questions may vary depending on the traveler type. Generally, you should be prepared to provide evidence that you have researched and understand the risks to your destination, as well as provide information about your travel purpose, what support network you have on the ground, and other relevant travel information.

When should I petition?

Petitions should be filed between four to six weeks prior to departure. Conditions around the world change rapidly and understanding the current situation is important in your planning. We understand that you may need to plan for travel much further in advance; ITART may grant conditional approvals ahead of the typical four weeks before departure review, based on conditions at that time. These conditional approvals are subject to reassessment. If conditions remain safe, approvals will stand. You will only be notified if there is a change in the decision.

How do I petition?

Petitions are triggered by rules built into the travel registry. If your travel requires a petition, the registry will prompt you for additional information about, and a rationale for, your elevated-risk travel plans.

Once Your Travel is Approved

If your travel plans receive ITART approval, you may book travel in accordance with any contingencies outlined in the approval letter.

  • ITART may rescind approval due to changes in the health and security environment at any time and with no responsibility for financial loss. Any travel right now risks last-minute cancellation. Both you and your sponsoring unit should take this risk into consideration.
  • Seek out and follow all health and safety guidelines while traveling, including relevant social-distancing policies. You must follow any restrictions or safeguards required by the local jurisdiction to which you are traveling. It is your responsibility to be aware of these requirements.

ITART Considerations

ITART assesses a variety of factors associated with the proposed travel, including your vaccination status. The following presents key factors to consider before submitting a petition. This list should not be considered comprehensive, as every proposed travel is unique and more information may be requested.

Elements considered for ITART approval

Travel Considerations

Notes on ITART Evaluation

International SOS advisories
Cornell's travel assistance provider, ISOS, provides detailed destination-specific information on medical and security infrastructures and current travel recommendations.

Outside of the pandemic, ITART risk ratings are Cornell's primary marker for elevated-risk travel.
ITART will utilize International SOS ratings to evaluate the proposed travel
Department of State Advisories
U.S. Department of State issues destination-specific travel advisories on a scale of 1–4.
ITART will consult this information and consider any relevant information in light of the itinerary provided.
Cornell-Imposed Restrictions/Regulations
Cornell reserves the right to impose its own regulations and restrictions on travel.

If Cornell sees a need to impose additional restrictions or regulations to fulfill its duty of care, these will be considered in ITART's recommendations or decision.

Pre-Departure Orientation  Online pre-departure orientation to the fundamentals of international travel and resources available to travelers has been developed by IHSS. Completion of the course is required of all students who receive ITART approval. Completion is not required of faculty, but they may find the material useful.

Travel is Registered

All students, faculty, and staff engaging in international travel on Cornell business must register in the Cornell International Travel Registry. The ITART petition is incorporated into the registry and approved travel can be considered registered. Travel that is not approved will be removed from the travel registry.
Planned Itinerary
Where one is planning to find accommodation, how one is planning to commute (including public transportation or plans to self-drive), with whom one has established relationships, and the activities planned during one's travel all contribute to the risk analysis of the proposed itinerary.
ITART will consider these factors such as transportation, accommodation, and detailed itinerary in its recommendations or decision.

COVID-19 Considerations 

Entrance Restrictions 
Restrictions on reentry into the U.S. and on entry to the host country vary and change based on citizenship and travel itinerary.
ITART will evaluate how such restrictions may impact the proposed travel and what precautions should be considered.
A host country's capacity to, or requirement for, testing may have an impact on the proposed travel.
ITART will analyze the situation in the host country to determine any impact on the traveler.

Traveler is COVID-19 Negative

We bear a responsibility to do all that we can to protect the host country and not introduce more virus or tax their healthcare system. Travelers are expected to self-monitor for symptoms 14-days before departure, take precautions against infection, and cancel travel should they become symptomatic or test positive for the virus. 
Traveler's Vaccination Status Travelers should be aware that institutions, airlines, and the U.S. or foreign governments may establish their own safety protocols, may require evidence of vaccination upon entry into the country, and may not consider medical or religious exemptions. Additionally, we know that vaccination is key to a more healthy experience abroad. ITART will consider the traveler's vaccination status in relation to their destination and overall travel plan.
Acceptance of Responsibility Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. Cornell’s ability to assist travelers abroad during a second wave or due to border closures, local shut down of businesses or hotels, or entry/exit bans is limited. Travelers must be prepared to remain abroad indefinitely and understand that doing so could impact their employment or academic momentum. Individuals who choose to petition for travel authorization must understand that travel at this time is particularly risky and be willing to assume responsibility for such risks.

Traveler Considerations

Risk Awareness and Mitigation Measures

Using the information provided in the petition, ITART will evaluate if the traveler is aware of all risks (pandemic related and otherwise) associated with the specific travel as proposed. ITART will then evaluate the traveler's plan to mitigate those risks. If there is a perceived gap in either of these factors, ITART may require additional research to be done or provide additional resources as appropriate.

Familiarity with Destination

A traveler's familiarity with a destination, its cultures, resources, language, etc. are important factors in their ability to self-manage a crisis or incident abroad.
ITART will consider the frequency of visits to the proposed destination and language preparedness in its recommendations or decision.

Short-Term Study Abroad and Field Study with Students

Petitions are required for new or current short-term faculty-led programming traveling to elevated risk destinations, and ITART will need to review and approve petitions. Due to COVID, short-term programming presents unique challenges necessitating significant planning and investment. Please reach out to International Health, Safety and Security to obtain set up a time to talk through the logistics.