- Updated China Travel Advisory - 1/11/19
- Update: President Trump's Travel Ban - 6/26/18
- Health Alert - 6/13/18
- Health Infrastructure Breakdown in Venezuela - 5/15/18
- Security Situation in Israel - 5/10/18
- Treasury, Commerce and State Implement Changes to the Cuba Sanctions Rule - 11/30/17
Updated China Travel Advisory
On January 3, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued an annual update to its Travel Advisory for China. The country’s rating remains a Level 2 Advisory (Exercise Increased Caution), and is the same in 2019 as it was in 2018. A Level 2 advisory means travelers should be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Bahamas, the United Kingdom, France, and Tanzania are examples of other countries with Level 2 advisories.
One addition to the 2019 version is an explicit mention of security checks, increased police presence, and curfews in Tibet and Xinjiang. Those concerns, however, are not new, and have long been identified in other open-source resources. Travelers to China should keep in mind that there is no expectation of privacy in the country. All hotel rooms, residences, and offices are subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring, and may be accessed at any time without the occupant’s knowledge or consent.
Northwestern University has no concerns for current or future, typical academic travelers in China, including students. Despite acts of “retaliatory detentions” in an alleged response to the arrest in Canada of Huawei’s CFO in December, so far only Canadians have been detained (and 8 of the original 13 have since been released). The recent case of a Georgetown University student (a U.S. citizen), who has also been detained in China following a visit to his grandfather, is an unfortunate tactic being used by the Chinese government to coerce his estranged father to return to the country and face criminal charges associated with bank fraud. Such circumstances are unique and unlikely to apply to the vast majority of Northwestern travelers. Nonetheless, this situation highlights the fact that Chinese authorities consider natural-born Chinese citizens of China even after such individuals become legal citizens of another country.
We have confirmed that none of our peer institutions are advising travelers to postpone or cancel travel to China. However, the Office of Export Controls Compliance (OECC) is anticipating new regulations related to U.S. universities, foreign collaborations and intellectual property. As a result, the OECC is developing guidance for likely affected travelers (generally involved with highly technical and/or biomedical fields). Contact Lane Campbell for more information.
Regardless of destination, all travelers are advised to review travel health and safety advice found elsewhere in this site.
Update: President Trump's Travel Ban
On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Trump administration’s ban on travel to the U.S. for citizens from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, 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 Executive Order.
Health Infrastructure Breakdown in Venezuela
On May 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added Venezuela to its Level 3 – Warning list, which means travelers should avoid all nonessential travel to the country. The Level 3 – Warning was issued due to the “outbreak of infectious diseases,” and the lack of “adequate health care” from the country’s public health system. Thousands of cases of measles, diphtheria and malaria have been reported in Venezuela over the past two years.
Along with the breakdown of the medical infrastructure – which includes medicine and medical supplies – Venezuela is also experiencing severe shortages of food, water and electricity. Since essential services are extremely limited in the country, which can lead to unrest, the U.S. Department of State has assigned a Level 3 Travel Advisory (Reconsider Travel) for the country.
As a reminder, Northwestern policy precludes travel to a country with a CDC Level 3 – Warning; however, undergraduate students interested in traveling to such a location may submit a petition for an exception to this policy. Graduate students who wish to travel to a CDC Level 3 – Warning country need to complete the Graduate Student Travel Release form.
Security Situation in Israel
Northwestern’s Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) is monitoring the security situation in Israel and, at this time, the tensions with Iran, the protests in Gaza, and the upcoming move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem have not affected daily life in Israel’s major cities. As such, we are confident that upcoming trips to the country can proceed as planned. However, because the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has engaged in military actions against Iranian forces in Syria, we advise that travelers refrain from visiting the Golan Heights area in northern Israel.
Note that the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisory remains at Level 2 and, as of this message, the U.S. Embassy maintains normal operations. Moreover, most U.S.-based academic institutions are continuing with their scheduled activities in the country.
Please be aware that Friday afternoons can result in demonstrations and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces, especially in the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif area of Jerusalem’s Old City. To keep up-to-date with the latest security information in the country, we recommend that travelers read the Alerts and Messages page from the U.S. Embassy and the website for Israel’s Home Front Command.
In the event the situation in Israel deteriorates significantly, Northwestern’s international insurance provider has evacuation coverage; however, please note that only GeoBlue can determine whether or not an evacuation will be “covered” under the policy. Click here to read more about evacuations.
Northwestern students, staff and faculty travel to Israel on a routine basis, especially during the summer. We will continue to monitor the situation without being overly reactive to the political environment and we will maintain frequent communication with Northwestern travelers, if necessary. Click here to read more about the university’s travel modification or suspension protocols.
Treasury, Commerce and State Implement Changes to the Cuba Sanctions Rule
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.
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.