CIS Abroad Summer 2021 DoS Update

Apr 21, 2021 2:01:06 PM

Dear CIS Abroad Community,

This week we learned that the United States Department of State (US DoS) would be updating their Travel Advisory level for many countries around the world.  Nearly 80% of countries in the world, as of this week, will be given the highest US DoS advisory level, ‘Level 4 - Do Not Travel’.  

In consultation with our risk management team, we have decided to continue with our portfolio of 2021 summer and fall programs as planned. We believe that the increase in DoS level represents a change in designation, which helps to better align DoS and CDC levels, but does not represent an elevation in risk. Please read on to understand how we arrived at this decision. 

Pre-Pandemic a ‘Level 4’ DoS advisory was only given to a small handful of countries that posed risks to travelers such as extremely high crime rates, widespread civil unrest, unstable governments, serious security threats such as kidnapping or hostage taking, recent natural disasters, or frequent acts of terrorism. The US DoS Travel Advisory system has changed significantly during the pandemic.   

Several months ago we were made aware that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) would be updating their warning system to a four level system, to be more in line with the US Department of State’s four level system. Now, with the changes this week, there is correlation between the CDC’s country levels and the US DoS country levels.

Many of the countries where CIS Abroad operates including Costa Rica, England, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Czechia have had their DoS advisory levels raised this week to ‘Level 4 - Do Not Travel.’  

Pre-Pandemic, CIS Abroad maintained a policy that we would not commence programs in any country that had a US DoS ‘Level 4’ designation. This policy was in place to safeguard against the known risks that travel to ‘Level 4’ countries posed to participant’s safety and security. This policy has not changed. CIS Abroad will not operate in countries that the US DoS designates as ‘Level 4’ due to the following risk factors; crime, terrorism, civil unrest, natural disaster, kidnapping or hostage taking. In January, we reduced our summer and fall portfolio of programs to mitigate risk posed by the pandemic and we are continuing to operate in these locations, regardless of their new, pandemic related, DoS level. We acknowledge that many parts of the USA pose an equal or greater health risk than many of the parts of the world that have recently been assigned a US DoS ‘Level 4’ advisory. We also acknowledge the DoS and CDC levels will fluctuate as more and more people have access to and receive vaccines. Our risk management team continues to follow the FORUM on Education Abroad, US Department of State, Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, Global Health Index, and US Overseas Security Advisory Council guidelines to identify and review destination risk.

As with all decision-making regarding studying or interning abroad, it is the prerogative of CIS Abroad’s students, in conjunction with their families and home universities, to make the decision as to whether to participate, given the known risk factors of traveling during this time. 

We sincerely hope that vaccinations and other preventative measures help the world to emerge from this pandemic in the near future.  Meanwhile, we remain committed to our mission and our values.


Joe Debiec
Vice President of International Operations on behalf of The CIS Abroad Executive Team