PNW Policies and Guidelines for International Travel Programs

This document provides guidance to Purdue University Northwest (PNW) units that sponsor and are planning international travel.

These best practices and procedures are not intended to be all-encompassing or the complete authority on international travel, but to provide a framework for prudent planning of international travel.

Types of International Travel

  • Education Abroad (PNW-sponsored): Education Abroad includes programs and experiences in which PNW students complete part of their degree program outside the U.S., including classroom study, research, intern or externships, company visits, and service learning.  These opportunities either award PNW credit or are a part of a student’s degree program. Education Abroad programs must be formally organized through the Office of Global Engagement (OGE) and approved by leadership of the sponsoring academic unit, OGE, and the Office of Academic Affairs. A health and safety review conducted by the International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC) will be conducted for proposals to high-risk destinations as described below.
  • Non-Education Abroad Activity (PNW-sponsored):  Non-Education Abroad PNW-sponsored activities include student travel outside of the U.S. sponsored by a PNW unit and/or financed through a PNW account, but which do not award students academic credit or are part of their degree program.  These activities are required to undergo a risk management review facilitated by the Office of Global Engagement. Additionally, approvals from the leadership of any sponsoring academic units and approval from Academic Affairs are necessary.  Participants are required to pay an international services administrative fee of $75 and the cost of Purdue’s required international health insurance coverage (estimated at $35 per month abroad).  This covers registration in a traveler database, health and safety resources, and emergency support.
  • Independent International Activities: Independent international activities include activities in which PNW students and other attendees participate outside the U.S., but that are not sponsored by any PNW unit.  Independent international activities include trips led by students and group trips during academic breaks. They may also include independent study activities organized entirely by students. Independent international activities are not PNW sanctioned or sponsored activities.

High-Risk Destinations

U.S. Government Advice

  1. Country Specific Informationis provided by the U.S. Department of State for every country of the world. This includes such information as the location of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the host country, unusual immigration practices, health advisories, political and social unrest, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime and security information, and drug penalties. Country information documentsgenerally do not include specific advice but present information in a factual manner so that the traveler can make his or her own decision concerning travel to a particular country.
  2. Travel Advisories are issued by the State Department using seven (7) differentiations of four levels. See seven (7) differentiationson world map.

[i] Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time.

[ii] Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions – Contains Areas with Higher Security Risk.

[iii] Level 2 -Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time. Also, note that individual Level 3 locations/regions sometimes exist within Level 2 countries which are referenced as containing areas with higher security risk.

NOTE: PNW students are permitted to travel to “level 1 and 2 locations without additional approval processes, providing that students sign the Statement of Responsibility (form RM-55) which references related expectations to follow advice of all Travel Advisories.

[iv] Level 2+ – Exercise Increased Caution – Contains Areas with Higher Security Risk: This level of Travel Advisory is not considered by PNW as “2” but “2+” for purposes of reference.

[v] Level 3 – Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.  Conditions in any country may change at any time.

[vi] Level 3 – Reconsider Travel – Contains Areas with Higher Security Risk.

[vii] Level 4 – Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to the greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. Government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.

Review of High-Risk Destinations

PNW will not send students to any location for which a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory of “Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution – Contains Areas with Higher Security Risk” or higher has been issued, unless approved in conjunction with the PNW International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC). ITAC reviews all planned student travel to High Risk Destinations and advises the Office of Global Education and the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs/Provost whether the proposed travel should be approved.

A country and/or area is designated as a “High Risk Destination” if any of the following conditions apply:

  • A current Travel Advisory (Level 2+ or higher) has been issued by the U.S. Department of State;
  • A current Travel Health Warning (Level 3) has been issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; or
  • PNW travel to a country/area has been designated as restricted by the Office of Academic Affairs, based on recommendations from the ITAC.

The following conditions and restrictions apply to High Risk Destinations:

  • In addition to all other required travel documents, students registering travel to a High Risk Destination must review supplemental information provided by the Office of Global Education and acknowledge the risks related to such travel by digitally signing an Acknowledgment of Safety and Security Risk(s)within the online travel registration system.
  • The VCAA/Provost, the ITAC, or the Office of Global Engagement may authorize or restrict PNW travel to specific regions within a High Risk Destination.
  • No PNW student, faculty or staff will be required to travel to a High Risk Destination.

The Office of Global Engagement also reserves the right to cancel any program when it believes that the security of our students may be threatened, even if the U.S. Department of State has not issued a relevant Advisory. PNW will not assume any financial responsibility for such involuntary withdrawal.

General Provisions

The following information is provided to participants regarding the range of participants’ overseas experiences that are beyond PNW’s control. Specifically, Purdue University Northwest:

  • Cannot guarantee or assure the safety of participants or eliminate all risks from the study abroad environments.
  • Cannot monitor or control all of the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of individual participants.
  • Cannot prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous or unwise activities.
  • Cannot assure that U.S. standards of due process apply in overseas legal proceedings or provide or pay for legal representation for participants.
  • Cannot assume responsibility for the actions of persons not employed or otherwise engaged by Purdue for events that are not part of the program; or that are beyond the control of Purdue and its subcontractors; or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information.
  • Cannot assure that home-country cultural values and norms will apply in the host country.

International Travel Guidelines and Expectations

For Non-Study Abroad Activity that is PNW-Sponsored and for formal education abroad programs, the following are the Best Practices and Procedures recommended by Purdue West Lafayette’s Office of Risk Management and PNW’s Office of Global Engagement for all departmental areas and program participants (i.e., employees, students and others) on all campuses:

Trip Preparation

  • Orientation should be held to brief participants on general ethical guidelines when traveling abroad, as well as cultural norms, political situations, and security matters of concern.
  • Sponsoring Purdue departments are expected to ensure that leaders and participants have the means to make purchases in-country, particularly those locations where credit cards are not accepted.
  • All travelers not classified as PNW faculty or staff in paid status must sign the appropriate travel expectations and release form RM55.  Departmental areas organizing travel are responsible for maintaining releases for a minimum of two years following the travel.
  • Program leaders should instruct participants to consult their preferred healthcare professional or other reputable sources (e.g. CDC website) regarding immunizations, etc.
  • The Office of Risk Management has made available for review by all international travelers its International Travel Field Guide.
  • Program leaders should remind all participants to check consular information of their home country in regard to visa needs related to travel to the host country.

Safety and Emergency Planning

  • Program leaders should consider safety planning which includes both program design and communication planning.  See section on “Creating an International Travel Security Plan” within the Purdue Risk Management International Travel Field Guide. Click here for a plan outline.   Sponsoring PNW departments are expected to have sufficient emergency contingency funds available for extra flights, hotel stays and related expenses that might be reasonably foreseen in the event of an emergency.
  • Each Purdue Campus should have in place a safety committee that reviews student travel to OFAC countries and US Department of State (DOS) relevant stages of alerts and warnings by country.  A named Senior International Official responsible for the final approval or non-approval of such travel should also be in place. Safety committee will assess the risks of such travel compared to the benefits of such travel, assess best practices/procedures, assure safety protocols have been considered, and compliance is maintained with this and other Purdue travel protocols suitable to international travel.  Committee recommendations should be submitted for final disposition to that campus senior official responsible for approving such non-employee student travel. This best practice should apply to non-education abroad programs as well as education abroad programs.
  • Program leadership should register travelers (who are US citizens) with the U.S. Consulate overseas via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service provided by the U.S. Government (which also provides a link to Learn About Your Destination).
  • Program participants should never be left behind in a foreign country without a PNW representative to assist them until the participant can be flown back to the U.S., evacuated, or until a family member of the participant arrives in the country to assist the participant.
  • The department should assure that all international travelers have been reported to the Office of Risk Management for appropriate international travel insurance.  This insurance provides assistance in the event of injury, natural disaster, evacuation, etc. while abroad. Participation in the travel insurance and evacuation program is mandatory for all who are traveling as part of a PNW-sponsored program.  Exceptions will only be granted by the Office of Risk Management upon proof of identical or better coverage evidenced from an international travel hosting entity. Click here to learn more.
  • The sponsoring department should explain the terms of the international emergency insurance including use of the insurance card and how the emergency travel assistance service functions.
  • Advise travelers to be aware of foreign intelligence threats, as referenced by the FBI.
  • If a program includes a non-parent accompanied minor (under the age of 18), the departmental area should assure the RM28 form is completed by the parent or guardian and kept at the program site in case of medical emergency.


  • Group programs should have a specific identified and documented person responsible for the overall program.  Programs must also have a sufficient number of qualified leaders to safely and effectively manage the program on the ground.  Leaders are responsible parties that provide leadership and guidance to the group and can be a Purdue faculty/staff/student or third party partner. Groups should have at least 1 qualified and documented leader and a back-up.  Larger groups should consider the need for additional on-site leaders. There are specific eligibility criteria for who may lead an education abroad program; please consult the Office of Global Engagement.
  • In cases where two different programs are conducted in parallel each program should have separate leadership.  (Note: When conducting parallel programs which socially mix students and non-students, this can create special challenges not always in the best interest of student program facilitation.  For this reason, departments should consider carefully the need to design such parallel programs; parallel program designs should be considered an exception, with the department being able to appropriately document why the presence of the conjoined non-student program contributes to the mission of the student program).


  • It is the organizing unit’s responsibility to review Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions and make sure all rules and regulations are being followed.  That is, if traveling to an OFAC country, OFAC may limit travel and financial payment into sanctioned countries. The OFAC website will provide a current list of sanctioned countries, and the sanctions imposed.  Any questions related to OFAC sanctions should be relayed to the Purdue University Export Control Office at
  • If volunteers are traveling, the sponsoring department needs to make sure they fall under the official definition of volunteer, as per the University Volunteer Policy and the Administrative Manual on University Volunteers.  The department needs to assure full compliance with University Volunteer Policies and Manuals.
  • For other travelers (who are not official volunteers, students, faculty, or staff), departments need to facilitate background checks for attendees (which essentially follows the process referenced above within the University Volunteer Policy).
  • All PNW international students, faculty or staff must secure appropriate entry authorization to the country/countries that they plan to visit as well as appropriate re-entry authorization to the US.  Entry (visa) requirements of other countries can be reviewed on respective foreign embassy/ consulate websites. International students, faculty or staff should liaise with PNW’s Office of Global Engagement regarding US re-entry requirements.  This procedure refers to any international activities including but not limited to study, research, conferences, or other educational purposes.
  • All PNW university investigators (including students) who are engaged in human subjects’ research while abroad remain accountable to the Purdue Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Purdue’s Human Research Participant Program, Office of Research Administration. It is advised that all forms be completed before departure since email signatures are not legally acceptable.   Contact IRB for more detailed information about conducting international human subject research.
  • Program leaders must be aware of Title IX compliance requirements.
  • Program leaders must be aware of expectations surrounding the Clery Act.
  • Any program involving minors should also be in compliance with the University’s Operating Procedures for Programs Involving Minors.

PNW disclaims any responsibility for any Independent International Activities not sanctioned, sponsored, or controlled by PNW.  Though PNW takes no responsibility for international travel associated with such individuals or groups, this material is available to these groups and may be used by them as a guide.

Any questions regarding this document should be addressed to PNW’s Office of Global Engagement.