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Emergency Messages

Update: U.S.-Turkey Resume Full Visa Services


On December 28, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara stated that it will allow the full resumption of visa services in Turkey due to diplomatic assurances and improvements with security in the country.

In response, the Embassy of Turkey in Washington, DC announced that it will lift restrictions on visa services for American citizens.

This ends the two-month diplomatic dispute between the two nations that led to the suspension of consular services.

While OGSS does not provide visa procurement services, we are aware that Northwestern has established relationships with Turkish scholars and institutions that require university travel.

U.S. Recognizes Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel


In preparation of the announcement that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem released a Security Message regarding the likelihood of demonstrations in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank starting on December 6.

Northwestern’s Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) advises that all university travelers follow the recommendations issued by the consulate and refrain from traveling to the Old City and the West Bank until tensions have deescalated.

Northwestern travelers scheduled to visit Israel in the coming weeks are reminded to sign up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the latest alerts from the embassy and consulate.

The above information has been distributed to all Northwestern students currently based in Israel. OGSS will continue to assess the situation and will release additional updates if necessary.   

Update: President Trump's Proposed Travel Ban


On December 4, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to allow the latest version of the Trump administration’s travel ban to go into full effect while litigation continues in the lower courts.

Since the Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and Richmond are working on the issue on an expedited basis, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely rule on the issue by June 2018.    

The ban applies to travel to the U.S. for citizens of Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. International students and faculty who have the proper visas to work or study in the U.S. are not expected to be affected by the EO in the near-term.

For additional information on the issue, please visit our Non-U.S. Citizens Traveling Abroad webpage and the website for the International Office. 

Treasury, Commerce and State Implement Changes to the Cuba Sanctions Rule


Note: In light of the Travel Warning issued by the U.S. Department of State in September 2017, travel to Cuba must be authorized by Northwestern. Please contact our office for additional details.

Policy Changes

Key policy changes to the Cuba sanctions program are the prohibition of direct financial transactions that disproportionately benefit the Cuban military, intelligence and security services at the expense of the Cuban people, and the adherence to the statutory ban on tourism. According to the U.S. government, the National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) advances U.S. national security and foreign policy interests and those of the Cuban people. Lastly, it clarifies that improvements in the bilateral relationship with the U.S.  depend on Cuba’s willingness to improve the lives of the Cuban people.  Diplomatic relations and the engagement in the interests of the U.S. and Cuban people will remain the same.

 Cuba Restricted List

The Cuba Restricted List – which is overseen by the U.S. Department of State – was established by the NSPM to identify entities and sub-entities under the control of or acting for or on behalf of the Cuban military intelligence or security services or personnel. The Department of State has published a list of 180 entities and sub-entities in which direct financial transactions would benefit the military, intelligence and security services instead of the Cuban people. The 180 entities on the Cuban Restricted List include 83 hotels, 39 military-industrial complexes, and several tourism companies, rum producers, marinas and luxury retailers. There are no new restrictions on air travel to Cuba.  

 Educational Travel

U.S. institutions with educational programs in Cuba are not expected to be impacted by the NSPM, as most travel regulations to Cuba for educational purposes remain the same. Moreover, engagement with the Cuban people continues to be in line with current U.S. policy towards the country. Examples of authorized people-to-people activities include eating at a private restaurant and staying at a private residence. It is recommended that students be accompanied at all times during people-to-people engagements.

 Short-term travelers to Cuba should be aware that 83 hotels have been placed on the State Department’s Restricted List. U.S. travelers are not allowed to engage with entities on the Restricted List.

 U.S. universities are required to have a letter of support that states the purpose of the educational trip to Cuba. A letter of support is also necessary from a university if a student is traveling to Cuba for an internship. Faculty and staff on a consortium-run program have to be from an institution that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

Additional information on the changes to the Cuba sanctions rule can be found on the Treasury Department's website.

Europe Travel Alert


On November 16, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued a Travel Alert for Europe. This alert does not recommend canceling or deferring travel to Europe, but warns travelers to exercise caution when visiting soft-target locations (tourist attractions, transportation hubs, shopping malls, places of worship, government facilities, etc.) due to recent terrorist incidents in France, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain and Finland. This alert expires on January 31, 2018.  

 The U.S. DOS releases Travel Alerts for short-term events that they believe the public should know about when planning travel to a country or region.

 The Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) has additional guidance for travelers related to terror threats.

 If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our office.

Political Tensions in Catalonia


In light of the ongoing political tensions in the Catalonia region of Spain, Northwestern’s Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) would like to reassure our Northwestern colleagues that our office is closely monitoring the latest developments in Barcelona.

 Despite a fluid situation and concerns about possible acts of civil disobedience, local on-the-ground contacts and media reports indicate that day-to-day activities, public services and transport operations continue to function as normal. Although the issue has caused mass rallies to occur in Barcelona, none of the recent activities have resulted in large-scale acts of violence or vandalism.

Due to these factors, we currently do not think the political tensions in Catalonia are a threat to Northwestern students in Barcelona. Moreover, our external security resources – including the U.S. Department of State and our evacuation provider Drum Cussac – do not advise leaving the city at this time. We are also not aware of any U.S. university requesting their students to return to campus because of the uncertain political situation. 

Nevertheless, because additional demonstrations are likely to take place in Barcelona in the near-term, OGSS continues to encourage students to avoid all protest activity as a precaution and to be aware of one’s surroundings when traversing through densely populated areas of the city.

 For the latest updates on the political developments in Catalonia, Northwestern personnel are advised to check the Safety & Security Messages page from the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona.

Tensions in the Korean Peninsula


The Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) has been monitoring the tensions in the Korean Peninsula since the spring 2017 quarter and we are confident that the safety risk is LOW for current and future Northwestern travel to South Korea and Japan.

 We assess the risk as low based on our regular benchmarking with our health and safety peers at other academic institutions, as well as our contacts at the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Advisory Council, and our counterparts at international organizations in the Midwest Security Analysts’ Roundtable. No university that has been surveyed has canceled travel or suspended programs in the region. Moreover, reports from universities in South Korea indicate that there has not been a drop in foreign student enrollment in recent months.  As of this message, we have not received any communication from concerned students or parents.

 Responses from numerous corporations, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul and various security assistance providers are that business operations remain normal in South Korea and Japan.

 To stay on top of the latest messaging from the U.S. Department of State, Northwestern travelers are encouraged to sign up for the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) and to check the U.S. Embassy in Seoul’s Safety and Security Messages page.

 In the event the security climate in the region deteriorates significantly, Northwestern travelers have evacuation coverage if certain tripwires are met. OGSS has worked closely with our intelligence and evacuation vendor – Drum Cussac – to create an evacuation risk matrix. Students who study at Seoul’s Yonsei University should be aware that the school has a robust emergency management plan which includes specific buildings that are dedicated as evacuation shelters. Contacts at the university have assured their international partners that the climate in South Korea remains calm and routine. Nevertheless, OGSS will continue to reassess the security environment in the region going forward and act accordingly.  

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