Travel Advisory and Destination Policy

NOTICE: As of March 2020, travel to all countries requires approval from the International Risk Assessment Committee. The student or program director will be required to complete the Travel Appeal at least 3 months prior to departure. 

The Padnos International Center takes student safety very seriously, and strongly advises students to fully inform themselves on the safety, crime, health and other risks of their intended destination well before they finalize plans to travel. We emphasize the educational aspect of international study, which includes the research of a destination ahead of time. We also believe that some individuals are better equipped than others to handle particular risks and destinations, which may be tied to language proficiency, travel experience, and other factors. 

Risk management decisions are part of the administrative review and approval of all study abroad or group program applications. Students may not be accepted for study in a particular program or location, because of concerns related to that destination. Health and safety conditions may change after a student has already been accepted which may also prompt a re-evaluation of the program or location. As a rule, applications to countries that are designated as a Level 3 or Level 4 by the US State Department and CDC are considered "high risk" and will be less likely to be accepted. Similarly, particular programs, cities, or regions in Level 2 or even Level 1 nations may not be approved for a range of reasons such as: widespread civil unrest, widespread disease or uncontrolled outbreaks of contagious or infectious disease, significant terrorist activity, major natural disaster, just to give a few examples. The Padnos International Center will inform group leaders, or individual participants of the travel appeal process should conditions exist that trigger a safety and security review by the International Risk Assessment Committee.

US State Dept. Travel Advisories
Travel Advisories for each destination country are posted by the U.S. State Department on its international travel website:

There is useful detailed information on safety and security for each nation, along with an identification of a current safety level for that nation. These levels include:

Level 1 - Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time.    

Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution:  Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Departments of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.  

Level 3 - Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.Conditions in any country may change at any time.  

Level 4 - Do Not Travel:  This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.   

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisories

CDC Assessment Levels for COVID-19

Exceptions and Appeals
In compelling circumstances, individual students  and group leaders may petition for approval to pursue academic study in destinations that have not been approved or are designated as high-risk. To submit a petition, a written proposal should be submitted to the Director of Study Abroad & International Partnerships of Grand Valley State University. Currently, this person is Rebecca Morrissey ([email protected]). 


Student Travel Appeal  or for Group Travel the Faculty leader should complete the Faculty-Led Travel Appeal (to be completed by the faculty leader only)

The travel appeal requires:

  • detailed information about the nature of the proposed activities and location of activities
  • Student's awareness of the current safety/security situation
  • Compelling rationale on why academic or professional goals cannot be met in other locations that are not under heightened U.S. State Department Travel Advisories
  • A plan for relocation should the security situation worsen
  • Willingness to sign additional liability waivers, if exemption is approved

The Director, Study Abroad & International Partnerships will consult GVSU's International Risk Assessment Committee in the review of appeals. This committee will review the specific situation in the destination country, as well as the student petition, and approve or reject the petition as it sees fit. 

To submit, send your appeal to Rebecca Morrissey ([email protected])

Page last modified January 11, 2022