Emergencies Abroad

News and Announcements

In the event of a world disaster or significant event that affects faculty, staff, or students, updated information will be provided here.

U.S. Executive Order on International Visas and Immigration: 02/01/2017

On Friday, January 27, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a new Executive Order temporarily suspending issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, among other related immigration orders. The University of Minnesota is offering assistance as needed to nationals from those countries and to travelers affected by the policy changes.

The University of Minnesota does not plan to restrict University travel or withdraw travelers from these countries at this time. However, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and post updates via this website.

We encourage travelers to continue their activities as normal, but until more is known, we caution against travel outside the U.S. for those from countries specifically listed in the Executive Order. Those who have concerns about their legal status should consult with the GPS Alliance International Health and Safety team (or the appropriate education abroad office, for study abroad students) before traveling outside the U.S.

The University of Minnesota urges all University travelers to register their international travel as required by University policy, so that we may continue to provide assistance and support for all international travel.

Further, the University of Minnesota recommends that all travelers register with the U.S. embassy in the country they are visiting via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the embassy’s most recent health and safety updates during your time abroad.

Earthquake in New Zealand: 11/14/16

The University of Minnesota has accounted for and is providing any needed assistance to all U of M students who were in New Zealand during the earthquake on November 14. Currently, the University has nine students from across our five campuses in New Zealand for University purposes, and all are safe and continuing their activities as planned.

Zika Virus Update: 8/29/16

The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to provide updates about the Zika virus on their Zika-specific website.

Zika virus information for the University of Minnesota can be found at the Safe U website.

See previous announcements below for more information regarding travel to Zika-impacted areas.

Earthquake in Ecuador: 4/16/16

The University of Minnesota has accounted for and is providing any needed assistance to all U of M students, staff, and faculty who were in Ecuador during the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 16. Currently, the University has 27 students and staff from across our five campuses in Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands for University purposes, and all are safe and continuing their activities as planned.

The University has also reached out to provide support and resources to students and scholars from Ecuador who are in Minnesota during this difficult time in their homeland.

Bombing in Brussels, Belgium: 3/22/16

The University of Minnesota is closely monitoring the security situation in Brussels and possible impacts to the University community. The University has no students, staff, or faculty currently in Brussels for University purposes. International Student and Scholar Services is reaching out to students from Belgium and offering any assistance that may be needed. The University will continue to monitor the situation closely.

The U.S. Department of State issued a Europe Travel Alert on 3/22/16 that alerts U.S. citizens to potential risks of travel to and throughout Europe following several terrorist attacks, including the March 22 attacks in Brussels claimed by ISIL. Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation.

U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events. See the full travel alert for more recommendations.

This Travel Alert expires on June 20, 2016.

Bombing in Istanbul, Turkey: 3/19/16

The University of Minnesota is closely monitoring the security situation in Turkey and possible impacts on our students, faculty, and staff in country. All students, faculty, and staff in Turkey for University purposes are safe and accounted for. The University is in close communication with the travelers and our partners in Turkey. International Student and Scholar Services is reaching out to students from Turkey and offering any assistance that may be needed. The University will continue to monitor the situation closely.

On Saturday, March 19, a suicide bomber denoted an explosive device in the tourist shopping area of Taksim Square in central Istanbul. While tourist locations in Turkey have been targets for recent attacks, there is no indication of the targeting of specific nationalities of tourists. Initial reports indicate that at least four people were killed and another 36 were injured in this attack.

Update on the Zika Virus: 3/10/16

The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated their information for travelers visiting Zika-affected countries. The new precaution states: "Pregnant women should be advised not to travel to areas of ongoing Zika virus outbreaks. Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes, and not by person-to-person contact, though a small number of cases of sexual transmission have been documented."

All other information regarding Zika from the 2/3/16 update below remains the same.

Update on the Zika Virus: 2/3/16

As was previously reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Level 2 - Practice Enhanced Precautions travel alerts regarding Zika for several countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America over the past several weeks. Some Zika cases have been also confirmed in the U.S. by individuals who recently traveled to these countries.

Since our last update, the list of impacted countries has expanded.

On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency over the potential complications of Zika virus. WHO does not recommend any trade or travel restrictions to the affected areas; however, WHO advises that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should take extra care to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Note that Zika virus is primary spread to people through mosquito bites. Zika causes a relatively mild illness, and the most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Therefore, travelers are strongly encouraged to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites following the CDC guidelines. If you develop the symptoms mentioned above, see a healthcare provider.

Zika can be also transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth, potentially causing birth defects. Due to the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy, the CDC advises that pregnant women, or those planning to become pregnant, consider postponing travel to areas affected by Zika.

The University of Minnesota does not plan to cancel programs or withdraw travelers from these countries at this time. However, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and post updates via this website.

Further, the University of Minnesota recommends that all travelers register with the U.S. embassy in the country they are visiting via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the embassy’s most recent health and safety updates during your time abroad.

For more information and updates on Zika virus, please refer to the following resources:

Zika Virus in the Americas: 1/22/16

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Level 2 - Practice Enhanced Precautions travel alerts regarding Zika for several countries in the Caribbean, and Central and South America over the last week. Some Zika cases have been also confirmed in the U.S. by individuals who recently traveled to these countries.

Zika causes a relatively mild illness, and the symptoms of Zika can be treated with common pain and fever medicines. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. As Zika is spread to humans through mosquito bites, travelers are encouraged to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites following the CDC guidelines.

However, it can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth, potentially causing birth defects. The CDC advises that pregnant women, or those planning to become pregnant, consider postponing travel to areas affected by Zika.

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend any trade or travel restrictions to the affected areas, besides those regarding pregnant women. The University of Minnesota does not plan to cancel programs or withdraw students from these countries at this time; however, we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Further, the University of Minnesota recommends that all travelers register with the U.S. embassy in the country they are visiting via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the embassy’s most recent health and safety updates during your time abroad.

For more information and updates on Zika virus, please refer to the following resources:

Updated Worldwide Travel Alert: 11/23/15

The U.S. Department of State has updated its current Worldwide Travel Alert to warn U.S. citizens of possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats:

“Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.”

This replaces the Worldwide Travel Alert from December 2014 that has remained in place throughout 2015.

Drawing upon data from University security information services, insurance providers, the U.S. Department of State, on-site staff and partners, and peer institutions that support study abroad programming throughout the world, the University currently plans to continue its programs and does not plan to withdraw any travelers at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Highest Threat Level in Brussels: 11/21/15

The University of Minnesota is closely monitoring the security situation in Belgium and possible impacts on our students, faculty, and staff in the region. The University currently has NO known University travelers in Belgium for University purposes. The University is in close communication with our partners and peer institutions in Belgium.

The U.S. Embassy in Brussels sent a security message indicating that Brussels was on the highest threat level, Level 4 (serious threat of imminent attack), and Level 3 (high) for the rest of Belgium. Schools and public transport have been operating on a limited basis. While the country remains on this threat level, no attacks have occurred or been attempted.

Drawing upon data from University security information services, insurance providers, the U.S. Department of State, on-site staff and partners, and peer institutions that support study abroad programming in the region, the University currently plans to continue its programs in Europe and does not plan to withdraw travelers from the region at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Terrorist Attacks in Paris: 11/13/15

The University of Minnesota is closely monitoring the security situation in France and possible impacts on our students, faculty, and staff in country. All students, faculty, and staff in France for University purposes are safe and accounted for. The University is in close communication with the travelers and our partners in France. All travelers currently plan to continue their academic endeavors.

On the evening of Friday, November 13, multiple coordinated attacks resulting in at least 120 fatalities took place around Paris including at the Bataclan concert hall, outside of the Stade de France stadium, and at several restaurants in central Paris. A hostage situation occurred at the concert hall. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks; however, security sources have yet to verify this. Authorities believe the situation is over, though they urge individuals in France to remain vigilant.

France has instituted a national state of emergency—closing borders and asking all Parisians to shelter in place until further notice. French airspace remains open; however, travelers are advised to contract their airlines before departing for the airport. The U.S. Embassy issued a security message regarding the attacks.

Drawing upon data from University security information services, insurance providers, the U.S. Department of State, on-site staff and partners, and peer institutions that support study abroad programming in France, the University currently plans to continue its programs in France and does not plan to withdraw travelers from the region at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Earthquake in Nepal: 4/27/15

The University of Minnesota is closely monitoring the aftermath of the earthquake that struck the region between Kathmandu and Pokhara in Nepal on Saturday, April 25, around noon local time. All University travelers (students, staff, and faculty) are safe and accounted for. The University is in close communication with the travelers and our partners in Nepal.

On Saturday, April 25, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, sent an Emergency Message regarding the earthquake, followed by a subsequent message regarding the aftershocks on Sunday, April 26. As all University students are registered with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which facilitates the delivery of the security messages to each traveler, they received the emergency messages directly.

Please visit the Learning Abroad Center's News and Events webpage for further information on any impacts on the Spring 2015 Ecological Services & Biodiversity in Community Forests in Sauraha, Nepal, sponsored by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

Drawing upon data from University security information services, insurance providers, the U.S. Department of State, on-site staff and partners, and peer institutions that support study abroad programming in Nepal, all non-student University travelers currently plan to continue their academic endeavors in Nepal, and the University does not plan to withdraw travelers from the region at this time.

Providing Support to Nepal

The University of Minnesota provides the following resource as a service to our students, staff, and faculty who have an interest in providing assistance in Nepal following the terrible earthquake on April 25, 2015. There are many options available, and this list is a sample of options. Inclusion in this list does not indicate endorsement, as the organizations have not been officially reviewed nor approved by the University.

The University strongly encourages financial or tangible item donations over travel to the region, which is still in recovery. Please read this article if you are considering travel to Nepal.

Security Situation in Kenya: 4/3/15

The University of Minnesota is closely monitoring the security situation in Kenya. All University travelers are safe and accounted for. The University is in close communication with the travelers and our partners in Kenya. All travelers currently plan to continue their academic endeavors.

On Thursday, April 2, the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi sent an Emergency Message regarding a reported attack by Al-Shabab gunmen at Moi University at the Garissa campus in northeast Kenya. Garissa is in a remote part of Kenya, far from where any University students, faculty or staff are located.  

Additionally, the University has long prohibited student travel to the northeastern province of Kenya, which includes Garissa, and students who violate the policy risk expulsion from the program.  Please visit the Learning Abroad Center News and Events webpage for further information on any impacts on the Learning Abroad Center MSID program in Kenya.

University travelers have been advised to heed the warnings in the Emergency Message, which states “U.S. citizens are urged to avoid any travel in the Garissa area. U.S. citizens throughout Kenya are encouraged to remain vigilant, review their own personal security measures, and stay tuned to local media reports for the latest information on the situation.”

All University students are registered with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which facilitates the delivery of the security messages to each traveler.

Drawing upon data from University security information services, insurance providers, the U.S. Department of State, on-site staff and partners, and peer institutions that support study abroad programming in Kenya, the University currently plans to continue its programs in Kenya and does not plan to withdraw travelers from the region at this time.

Security Situation in France: 1/9/15

The University of Minnesota is closely monitoring the security situation in France and possible impacts on our students, faculty, and staff in country. All University travelers are safe and accounted for. The University is in close communication with the travelers and our partners in France. All travelers currently plan to continue their academic endeavors.

On Wednesday, January 7, the U.S. Embassy in Paris issued a security message to U.S. citizens regarding the elevated the threat level for the Paris region by the Government of France in response to the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French newspaper, in the 11th district of Paris. The French President has characterized the attack as a terrorist incident.

On Friday, January 9, the U.S. Embassy issued a second security message regarding two separate hostage situations that have been reported in Paris the afternoon of Friday, January 9 (local time), both in response to the attack and to the January 8 shooting of a policewoman in Paris. French Authorities cornered the two gunmen who are believed to be responsible for the January 7 attack in an industrial building northeast of Charles de Gaulle Airport (LFPG/CDG), approximately 15 mi/25 km northeast of Paris. More information on the changing situation available at Associated Press, BBC, and Reuters.

University travelers have been advised to monitor local media to stay alert for warnings and heed the warnings of the U.S. embassy and Department of State, which states “We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. U.S. citizens are encouraged to monitor media and the French government’s Ministry of Interior website, which is in French, for the latest information on security conditions.” University policy requires students to register with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which facilitates the delivery of the security messages to each traveler.

Drawing upon data from University security information services, insurance providers, the U.S. Department of State, on-site staff and partners, and peer institutions that support study abroad programming in France, the University currently plans to continue its programs in France and does not plan to withdraw travelers from the region at this time.

The situation is evolving and may change quickly. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and we urge travelers to carefully consider program or travel plans, paperwork, orientations, communications, emergency planning, 24-7 communications, protocols, etc. to assure that we are well prepared and ready to respond if necessary.


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News & Announcements

Tracking Experiences with Customs and Border Protection

The University's Immigration Response Team would like to hear about your experiences with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when entering the United States. This voluntary reporting will help us understand how students and staff might be affected by CBP inspections, including searches of mobile devices. The form is for anyone who wants to report an experience, including immigrants and international students and scholars as well as U.S. citizens.