// In The News

Meet a Roadrunner

By Kris Rodriguez

(July 23, 2014) -- Meet Sumeyra Tek. For the last four years, the 31-year-old native of Turkey and her husband have been helping families fleeing persecution from their native homelands adjust to their new lives in San Antonio.

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Policy on Travel to Restricted Regions

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) supports and encourages international travel and collaborations. UTSA believes that a global perspective is essential to its academic mission and that a university-wide globalization profile must be present for UTSA to reach its strategic goal of becoming a premier research university. Because of this, UTSA actively promotes research, study abroad, and international collaborations with other universities throughout the world.

UTSA joins with the University of Texas (UT) System commitment to do everything possible to ensure the personal safety and well being of our faculty, staff and students when they participate in international activities. In particular, countries with U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings and Alerts are identified as regions that require our special attention and actions to mitigate risk and—when necessary—the avoidance of international travel to the region altogether.

The UT System has suspended all faculty, staff, and student travel to countries with US Department of State (DoS) Travel Warnings. Additionally, the UT System has charged the UTSA International Oversight Committee (IOC) with evaluating any proposed university activity or travel to areas in which a DoS Travel Warning has been issued, or where significant health and/or safety concerns are present. Thus, the UTSA IOC is charged to closely review and recommend to the Executive Vice Provost, the approval or disapproval of all requests for exception to travel restrictions to areas listed on the UTSA Restricted Regions List.

Disapproved requests to the IOC and Executive Vice Provost (for exception to UTSA travel restrictions) may be formally appealed by submitting a written document to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs. The document must outline the reasons for the travel and why an exemption should be granted. Any appeals must be received by the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs within 5 calendar days of the Executive Vice Provost’s decision. The Provost’s decision on the appeal is final.

The purpose of this policy is to designate those countries/regions in which UT System and UTSA has determined travel activities are to be restricted and to outline the procedure for requesting an exception to the travel restriction associated with those locations. These procedures are in addition to all other requirements for travel set forth by the traveler’s department, unit, or University.

THIS POLICY APPLIES TO:

  • UTSA faculty and staff traveling internationally to conduct University business as faculty or staff members. This includes (but is not limited to) participation in research, conferences, teaching endeavors, and travel with or without University funding. No UTSA faculty or staff can be required to travel to a location on the UTSA Restricted Regions List.
  • UTSA graduate and undergraduate students, traveling as individuals, in groups, and/or with faculty/staff for any University sponsored, administered, and/or related activity or program. This includes (but is not limited to) activities such as official study abroad programs, student organization trips abroad, research, attending conferences, and travel with or without university funding. No UTSA student can be required to travel to a location on the UTSA Restricted Regions List.

IDENTIFYING THE UTSA RESTRICTED TRAVEL REGIONS

The UTSA International Oversight Committee (IOC) maintains a UTSA Restricted Regions List of locations throughout the world where UTSA faculty, staff, and student travel is not allowed. The risk management related information on the Restricted Regions List is monitored and updated weekly by the UTSA Office of International Programs (with review and approval by the Executive Vice Provost) whenever specific changes are warranted. The IOC membership is informed of any changes and updates to the Restricted Regions List on a weekly basis.

The UTSA Restricted Regions List includes (but is not limited to) all countries with a current U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings and/or Alerts. The Department of State-issued Travel Warnings and Alerts describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. Travel Warnings and Alerts are sometimes issued when the U.S. Government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate, or because of a drawdown of its staff. The UTSA Restricted Regions List may also include any other identified international locations, regions, or countries with specific health, and/or safety concerns which the IOC and Executive Vice Provost deems sufficient to warrant inclusion on the list.

LEVELS OF RISK CATEGORIES FOR RESTRICTED REGIONS

The regions within the countries listed on the UTSA Restricted Regions List are evaluated and assigned specific risk categories, as described below.

Category 1: Designates regions of extreme risk. Approved travel to these areas is extremely limited due to acute levels of risk associated with health, safety, and security. Exceptions to Category 1 travel restrictions are rarely recommended for approval by the IOC. Only faculty and staff may request an exception to travel to a restricted region identified within this extreme risk category.

Category 2: Designates regions of high risk. Approved travel to these areas is very limited, due to high levels of risk associated with health, safety, and security. Exceptions to Category 2 travel restrictions are occasionally recommended for approval by the IOC, although on a very limited basis. Only faculty, staff, and graduate students may request an exception to travel to a region within this category. Undergraduate student travel to Category 2 regions is not allowed. This restriction on undergraduate student travel to Category 2 regions includes (but is not limited to) activities such as official study abroad programs, student organization trips abroad, research, and attending conferences.

Category 3: Designates regions of moderate risk. Approved travel to these areas is limited, due to moderate levels of risk associated with health, safety, and security. Exceptions to Category 3 travel restrictions may be recommended for approval by the IOC, although mostly on a limited basis. Faculty, staff, and students may request this exception.

REQUESTING A (ONE-TIME) EXCEPTION FOR TRAVEL TO A RESTRICTED REGION:

Individual International Travelers – Travel Restriction Exception Request Form. All UTSA individual travelers proposing to travel to a region on the UTSA Restricted Regions List (including all categories of risk level) must complete this form for each trip. This form must be submitted to the UTSA Executive Vice Provost a minimum of 10 working days in advance of the date of the proposed travel. No incomplete requests will be accepted. If approved, each traveler must also complete the UTSA High Risk Trip and Project Waiver/Release Form and submit it to the Office of the Provost prior to departure.

Please note This form does not apply to the organized travel of groups of people, or course-based faculty-led programs (including study abroad, international travel, and related programs). Please see the next two request forms listed below for those travel programs.

International Group Travel – Travel Restriction Exception Request Form. UTSA faculty and/or staff organizing and leading international travel events involving the travel of groups of people to any UTSA-related activity (including but not limited to programs, exchanges, research, conferences, service learning projects, meetings, teaching endeavors, etc.) in a location listed on the UTSA Restricted Regions List must complete this form for each trip. This form must be submitted to the UTSA Executive Vice Provost a minimum of 10 working days in advance of the date of the proposed travel. No incomplete requests will be accepted. If approved, each traveler in the group must also complete the UTSA High Risk Trip and Project Waiver/Release Form and submit it to the Office of the Provost prior to departure.

Important: All students participating in international group travel must process through the Office of International Programs (OIP) well in advance of their planned travel with the group. Once a request for exception is approved, the Office of the Provost will provide the Office of International Programs with the names and contact information of the students, for the purpose of mandatory OIP processing for all students traveling with the group.

Important: Faculty leading UTSA-sponsored and course-based faculty-led programs involving international travel with groups of students should not use or complete this group travel form. Instead, a faculty member proposing to study abroad with a group of students must petition on behalf of the program and all program participants using the following International Faculty-led Programs – Travel Restriction Exception Request Form.

International Faculty-led Programs – Travel Restriction Exception Request Form. This form must be completed by all departments and/or faculty proposing to sponsor faculty-led international travel and programs to a country, region, or area listed (including all categories of risk levels) on the UTSA Restricted Regions List. This form must be completed by the faculty member(s) proposing to lead the international program and then submitted to the UTSA Executive Vice Provost a minimum of 15 working days in advance of the date of the proposed travel. No incomplete requests will be accepted.

If approved, each traveler (in the group) must also complete the UTSA High Risk Trip and Project Waiver/Release Form and submit it to the Office of the Provost, prior to departure.

WHAT IF MY REQUEST FOR EXCEPTION IS APPROVED?

In addition to submitting the UTSA High Risk Trip and Project Waiver/Release Form, all travelers are also required to register with International SOS, UTSA’s emergency assistance provider. Travelers who use one of UTSA’s travel agencies to schedule transportation are automatically registered with International SOS. Because of this, group leaders/organizers are strongly encouraged to use a UTSA-contracted agency to schedule transportation for all of the members of your group.
If a University-contracted travel agency is not used, then each traveler must manually register his/her travel itinerary into the International SOS database, attach written proof of his/her SOS registration to the completed UTSA High Risk Trip and Project Waiver/Release Form, and then submit both forms to the Executive Vice Provost prior to departure.

Instructions on how to register for International SOS may be found on the International SOS product help page. We have also created a PDF with basic instructions.

WHAT IF MY REQUEST FOR EXCEPTION IS DISAPPROVED?

If a travel exception is not granted (for an individual or program), the traveler(s) are not allowed to travel to the restricted region. Travelers who engage in unauthorized travel may be subject to disciplinary action, and any expenses associated with such travel will not be reimbursed.