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Updated December 17, 2021

Dear Tufts International Students, Scholars and Employees:

Since the International Center's Open Forum on Winter Travel held on November 12, the international travel environment has been impacted significantly by the sudden emergence and growing global spread of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Omicron variant was designated by the World Health Organization as a variant of concern on November 26, based on alerts provided to the international community by researchers in South Africa.

While the implications of the Omicron variant for global health has become the focus of intense investigation, the short-term impact on international travel has been immediate and disruptive. Reportedly, over 30 countries - including the United States - have responded to the Omicron variant by imposing various COVID-19 travel restrictions, quarantines and lockdowns. These developments come when many regions were already battling new winter-time surges of existing COVID-19 variants.

Given this uncertainty, we wanted to offer a summary of the information available to us as of this writing (12/6/2021) for persons considering international travel during the Winter break. The decision whether to travel will be, for the most part, a personal choice based on individual factors such as the need or desire to travel, risk conditions, and related considerations. To assist you in making this choice, we are summarizing some important points for you to review and research. If you have any questions, please contact the International Center at or make an appointment with your International Center advisor.

Returning to the US by International Air Travel

  • Vaccination Requirement for Flying to US: As of 11/8/2021, almost all non-US citizen international air travelers to the US are required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, with a WHO-approved emergency use listing (EUL) vaccine, prior to boarding their flight to the US. Read more about the COVID-19 vaccination requirement here.
  • COVID-19 Test Result Requirement for Flying to US: In addition, on 12/2/2021, 1 the US announced that international air travelers to the US, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, must provide to their airline a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within one day before flight departure. This is a change from previous guidance which allowed for vaccinated air travelers to take the test within the three days prior to flight departure. Read more about this COVID-19 testing requirement here.
  • Entry Restriction from Certain Countries: As of 11/29/2021, due to the Omicron variant, the United States has imposed a 14-day COVID-19 entry restriction on most non-citizen travelers coming to the US from seven countries in southern Africa (including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). Read more about this COVID-19 entry restriction here.
  • Possibility of Sudden Changes: As of 12/6/2021, the US has not imposed any other country- or regionally-based COVID-19 restrictions on entry to the US. However, the Omicron variant has been spreading globally and this may be subject to change with little advance notice, depending on how the worldwide COVID-19 situation unfolds. Any updates to this information will be posted on our COVID-19 Information page.

Please remember that in addition to COVID-19 restrictions and requirements, you must be sure to have other documents needed for US entry, including an unexpired passport, valid US entry visa, and your Form I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 exchange visitors) endorsed by an International Center advisor for travel. Read here for general travel information.

Global COVID-19 Entry Restrictions

  • In addition to the US, many other countries in recent days have imposed similar entry and quarantine requirements due to the Omicron variant and/or surges in COVID-19 infection rates. Your winter break travel may be significantly impacted by these developments. Keep in mind that travel may be affected not only by the requirements of your country of destination, but also any country you may transit through on the way to your eventual destination.
  • For information about worldwide international air travel restrictions, especially following the Omicron outbreak, research different resources including the IATA Travel Center COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map, as well as media listings such as those provided by AlJazeera and CNN.
  • Consult with your airline(s) to obtain the latest information about travel along your international destination. Different countries have different requirements and these may change suddenly. Many countries are requiring travelers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination as well as COVID-19 test results prior to boarding your plane. In most cases, additional measures such as masking will be recommended or required throughout your travel route.

Concerns About Winter Break / Spring 2022 Return

  • For Persons with Expired Visas: the International Center does not recommend international travel for any student, scholar, or employee who will need to apply for a US visa to return in January for the Spring 2022 semester. Even for those who are traveling to countries where there are no specific COVID-19 restrictions, visa appointment and visa processing times continue to remain significantly impacted by the COVID-19 related delays. The exception are for those who have an expired visa planning holiday-only vacation travel to Canada, Mexico, or certain Caribbean islands, which is currently still permitted.
  • Winter Break Housing: For students living in on-campus housing and who choose not to travel due to concerns over COVID-19 and winter travel, the deadline to apply for Winter Break housing is 9am on December 10. If you did not apply for winter break housing and have experienced a sudden change in plans due to COVID or other factors, and now need winter housing, contact the Dean of Students office.
  • Problems Returning for Spring 2022 Semester: Any student, scholar, or employee who finds that they are unable to return to the US (regardless of reason) for the Spring 2022 semester should contact the International Center at with information about their specific situation. Options for remote study and work during Spring 2022 will vary depending on your specific program or department. Alert Tufts as soon as possible if it becomes apparent that you will not be able to return to the US for the Spring 2022 semester.

Please keep in mind that due to the Omicron variant, the worldwide COVID-19 situation remains very fluid. Sudden changes in travel conditions remain a constant possibility. Consequently, it is essential for each individual traveler to keep alert by researching ahead the latest travel guidance from different sources, including the International Center, your airline, and other worldwide government and public health information sources.

We hope this information is of assistance. Please keep healthy and safe during this winter holiday season!


Tufts International Center