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Northwestern University

Non-U.S. Citizens Traveling Abroad

Northwestern strongly encourages all members of its community to participate in international travel opportunities sponsored by the University.

International students and scholars

On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) stated that it will review President Donald Trump’s Executive Order (EO) that restricts the entry of some people into the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries (Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia). Although the SCOTUS ruling is expected to take place in October, the court has allowed for limited measures of the EO to take effect on June 29. However, 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. According to the SCOTUS opinion, travelers who have “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” will be allowed to enter the country.   

While the reinstatement of some of the travel restrictions are not expected to cause widespread disruptions at airports, students, staff and faculty scheduled to fly into or out of a major airport over the next couple of months may encounter protests from activists who oppose the President’s proposed travel ban.

Northwestern students, staff and faculty who have questions about the EO and its impact on travel regulations are encouraged to contact the International Office. Travel emergencies that occur outside of normal business operations can be directed to the International Office’s after-hours contact number (at the bottom of the IO link). Moreover, the Council on American-Islamic-Relations Chicago (CAIR-Chicago) has a special Travelers Assistance Project (TAP) to provide free legal services to individuals at risk of detention or removal due to the EO. Concerned travelers are advised to register their itinerary in the CAIR-Chicago Traveler Alert system.

 Additional information of the potential impact of the EO can be found from NAFSA, the association of international educators. Along with reputable media outlets, other helpful resources analyzing the case can be found on SCOTUSblog, The Lawfare Institute and The Brookings Institution.

Informational updates during travel

Northwestern travelers who are not U.S. citizens may also enroll in the U.S. Department of State’s (U.S. DOS) Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive local security updates related to road closures, transportation strikes, civil unrest, and more. Follow directions on the STEP website to “create an account” and then “add a trip” to your profile. Note that many fields in the enrollment forms are optional. If you do not have a U.S. passport, leave the passport field blank. For more information, visit Security Information Resources.

Detention by customs and border protection

Non-U.S. citizens associated with Northwestern (students, faculty and staff) who travel abroad must comply with all overseas travel requirements outlined by the International Office or risk facing detention by the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) upon re-entry to the United States. Northwestern University and/or the Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) have no authority over the CBP and cannot intervene on a traveler’s behalf.

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