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COVID-19 FAQs for International Students & Scholars


What are the latest campus updates regarding COVID-19?

Please review Northwestern’s COVID-19 Dashboard for current testing data and campus updates.

In a university announcement issued March 15, 2022, Northwestern announced that masks will no longer be required in classrooms, lab-based classes and other instructional spaces, effective with the start of Spring Quarter on Tuesday, March 29.  Read the full announcement: Revised classroom masking guidance to begin Spring Quarter

What are NU's COVID-19 student testing requirements?

What is Northwestern’s policy regarding the COVID-19 vaccination?

Northwestern University requires COVID-19 vaccination for all faculty, staff, and students who will work or participate in programs on-campus.

Limited exceptions are available. Students must submit proof of your vaccination or request an exception to register for classes or continue working at Northwestern. Read more on the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement.

Students, faculty, and staff must follow policies, protocols, and guidance designed to protect everyone’s health. 

Do I need to complete Northwestern’s COVID-19 Vaccination Disclosure Form?

Yes, all students must complete the COVID-19 Vaccination Disclosure Form to register for classes. The COVID-19 Vaccination Disclosure Form will allow you either to report your vaccination status or to request an exception to the vaccination requirement due to a personal health condition, religious beliefs, access issues (such as limited or no access to the vaccine in your home country), or other personal reasons.

To access the “Student Vaccination Disclosure Form,” go to the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement page and click on “Student Vaccination Disclosure.” You will need to login with your secure Northwestern NetID and username to access the form.

International scholars will follow the same protocol of all NU faculty and staff and will need to complete the “Faculty/Staff Vaccination Disclosure Form” available on the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement page.

New international students or scholars who cannot access a WHO/FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine before arrival to the United States should complete this form and select “Unable to access WHO/FDA approved vaccine” as the Vaccination Exception Requirement reason. Once fully vaccinated, you will be able to return to update this form with vaccination information.

How can I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Students, faculty and staff should take advantage of the free walk-up appointments offered by pharmacies such as WalgreensCVS and Jewel-Osco.  If you still need assistance making a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, contact the vaccine support team by emailing vaccine@northwestern.edu

In addition, the website www.vaccines.gov will allow you to find a COVID-19 vaccine at a location nearby, and then you will call or visit the website to make an appointment.

All students, faculty and staff are required to report their vaccination (or request an exception) via the appropriate Vaccination Disclosure. See the NU COVID-19 vaccination website for links to the appropriate online forms.

I've already received an NU approved COVID-19 vaccine. Do I also need to get the booster?

Yes, After consultation with public health officials and its own infectious disease experts, Northwestern announced on Dec. 20, 2021 that, subject to limited exceptions, all students, faculty and staff are required to obtain a COVID-19 booster shot by Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022. mRNA boosters (Pfizer and Moderna) are strongly encouraged, and only boosters approved by the FDA are accepted. See Vaccine Booster for full details.

Is there a mask requirement at Northwestern University?

As the health landscape on campus and in surrounding communities continues to improve, Northwestern will lift its masking requirement in classrooms, lab-based classes and other instructional spaces, effective with the start of Spring Quarter on Tuesday, March 29.

While masking will no longer be required in most spaces, the University strongly recommends masking in areas where distancing is not possible.

Read the full March 15, 2022 university announcement: Revised classroom masking guidance to begin Spring Quarter

What is the “Symptom Tracker” and do I need to use it?

Students receiving a temporary or permanent exception to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement are required to test at least twice weekly, continue masking in all shared indoor settings, and complete the Symptom Tracker daily. These students will receive an email from the University with the conditions of their exception and the implications for non-compliance, which will involve sanctions up to and including suspension or expulsion.

The Symptom Tracker prompts you to answer a daily symptom questionnaire, which unvaccinated members of the University community must complete each day before attending on-campus work, programming, or activities, including classes. Vaccinated members of the University Community are expected to complete the questionnaire if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Unless the badge shows green, individuals should not come to campus.

NU closely monitors campus positivity rates and guidance from medical partners and will adjust quickly if it is determined that broader or increased COVID-19 surveillance testing is necessary.

How can I learn more about Northwestern’s positivity rates and the latest campus news related to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Visit NU’s COVID-19 and Campus Updates for the most up-to-date information.

My home country has limited COVID-19 vaccine availability, and I cannot receive the vaccine before my planned travel to the U.S. Am I exempt from the vaccine requirement?

Individuals with a passport issued by a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability and a valid nonimmigrant visa that is NOT a B-1 or B-2 tourist visa may claim an exception. Please consult the CDC website Technical Instructions for Implementing Presidential Proclamation Advancing Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic and CDC’s Order for the current list of countries.

Travelers who fall under an exception are required to provide an Excepted Covered Individual Attestation when seeking entry into the United States.

Excepted travelers will be required to attest that they:

  1. Have arranged for post-arrival COVID-19 testing within 3-5 days of arrival;
  2. Have arranged to self-quarantine (if the post-arrival test is negative) or self-isolate (if the post-arrival test is positive) after arriving; and
  3. Agree and have arranged to become vaccinated within 60 days of arrival and provide proof of having arranged for such vaccination, subject to certain exceptions outlined in the CDC Order.
Additionally upon arrival to NU, all new students will be required to comply with the University’s policy regarding COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements.

What are the requirements for boarding a flight from a foreign country to the United States?

Non-U.S. citizens who are nonimmigrants traveling to the United States by air from any part of the world are required to  establish that they are fully vaccinated, with some limited exceptions.

Fully vaccinated air travelers (regardless of citizenship) also are now required to show results of a negative coronavirus test performed on a specimen taken no more than 1 day before the flight’s departure from a foreign country traveling to the United States. This test requirement is in addition to proof of vaccination.

Not fully vaccinated air travelers who have secured an approved exception to the vaccination requirement must show results of a negative viral test performed on a specimen no more than 1 day  before the flight departs from a foreign country.

CDC’s Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test provides additional information on testing requirements and frequently asked questions related to the testing requirements.

We recommend international students & scholars consult the following resource for additional information, including accepted COVID-19 vaccines, acceptable proof of vaccination, testing requirements, and exceptions to the vaccination requirement for foreign nationals:

CDC Instructions on Implementation of Presidential Proclamation Advancing Safe Resumption of Global travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic and CDC’s Order