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Emergency Messages

Travel Security Updates


Electronic Device Restrictions

New security measures about carrying on electronic devices are now in place at these 10 airports: Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).

Specifically, all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone (i.e. laptops, iPads, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players) can no longer be taken aboard as carry-on items. They must be placed in checked luggage.

For more information, read the Department of Homeland Security fact sheet and this helpful CNN article, which also references similar restrictions announced by UK authorities.

Return to the U.S. from Travel Abroad: Rights and Regulations

Upon your re-entry to the States, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel, regardless of your status as an American citizen, a green card holder or a visa holder, can stop you or take you to secondary inspection.

The Fourth Amendment, which protects people from searches and seizures without probable cause of a crime being committed, doesn't apply at border crossings. CBP does not need “probable cause and reasonable suspicion” to search your luggage or your person.

According to CBP, your electronic devices are also searchable. Sometimes this is triggered because a traveler has incomplete travel documents or because their name matches a person of interest. It also could be a random search.

Although the courts are undecided as the extent of data searches, border agents are allowed to swipe through your phone or look through the documents on your laptop. If you are asked to divulge PINs or passwords, your rights differ based on your entry status. See this February 2017 CNN article, “Can they search my phone: a guide to your rights at the border,” for more information.

International Students and Scholars

While the most recently issued (March 6, 2017) Executive Order banning citizens and nationals of six countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from traveling to the U.S. for at least 90 day, was subject to an injunction hours before it was to go into effect, it is unknown how long the injunction will remain in place, so travelers are encouraged to stay abreast of U.S. news and updates from Northwestern's International Office.

In the meantime, the Council on American-Islamic-Relations Chicago (CAIR-Chicago) recently launched a special Travelers Assistance Project (TAP) to provide free legal services to individuals at risk of detention or removal based on recently issued Executive Orders. Concerned travelers are advised to register their itinerary in the CAIR-Chicago Traveler Alert system.

Executive Order on Immigration to Northwestern- Postponed


 UPDATE:  A federal judge in Hawaii blocked President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on Wednesday, March 15. The ruling means that the executive order cannot go into effect nationwide on Thursday, March 16th as planned. However, it is unknown how long the injunction will remain in place, so travelers are encouraged to stay abreast of US news and updates from Northwestern's International Office.

On March 6, 2017, a revised Executive Order was issued banning citizens and nationals of six countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from traveling to the U.S. for at least 90 days. This new Order, currently postponed, was to go into effect on Wednesday, March 16, 2017, and is different from the Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017, in that those from impacted countries holding lawful permanent residence status in the U.S. or dual citizenship, including citizenship in at least one country which is not one of the listed countries will not be barred from entering the U.S. For more information and advice for international students, refer to the International Office webpage Response to the Executive Order on Immigration.

The International Office at Northwestern provides support to students and scholars from around the world and stands ready to advise affected individuals.  Their staff can be reached at or 847.491.5613.

Zika Virus Alert


The Zika Virus is an illness with generally mild symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes), which can last several days to a week. Currently there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika, but symptoms are rarely severe and hospitalization is uncommon.

However, Zika is linked to a specific birth defect called microcephaly. Because of this link, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed specific guidance for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant, warning them to avoid visiting places where the virus is currently circulating. The CDC has also issued information about the risk of transmitting Zika through sexual contact. Note that some locations may offer a reduced chance of exposure to Zika due to high elevation.

On September 30, 2016, the CDC expanded its recommendation that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant consider postponing travel to Southeast Asia due to an increased risk of Zika exposure in this region.  Prior to this announcement, concern was centered around countries in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. Specific guidance has also been issued for travelers to South Florida. The CDC’s Zika Destinations page is the most up-to-date resources for travelers.

Zika is spread by mosquitos and therefore most prevalent in tropical environments. Travelers can limit their exposure to Zika (and other mosquito-borne illnesses like Malaria, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya) by taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

If you are concerned about a risk of exposure to Zika related to upcoming travel, contact a specialist in travel medicine, such as Northwestern Medicine’s Travel Medicine Clinic or Glenbrook Hospital’s Travel Clinic. Pregnant women, or women planning to become pregnant, should consult with their OB/GYN.

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