Winter Break Travel Updates for International Undergraduate Students and Follow Up

Thursday, Dec 9, 2021
by Albert Rivera, Director

To our International Undergraduate Students,

The omicron variant has introduced significant uncertainty back into global travel. While it is impossible to make a prediction about any individual country or region, international students should be advised that there is an increased possibility that they will not be allowed to return to the U.S. in January. If that takes place, and there is no national interest exception for degree-seeking student visa holders, students who cannot return to campus in time to start the spring semester will have to take a leave of absence, as there are no plans for hybrid instruction.

To stay in sequence with degree progress, most leave-taking students will not be able to return to their studies until Spring 2023. In addition, international students in need of a visa should be prepared for limited consular appointments, possible delays in visa issuance, and potential appointment cancellations due to changing COVID-19 local conditions.

International students for whom this risk is not acceptable are advised to stay with friends or family in the U.S. if possible, or they can apply for continuous housing by December 17th

With warmest regards,

The following is a follow-up to the previous message:

Dear International Undergraduate Students,

In our haste to inform you as soon as possible about the uncertainties impacting global travel with the advent of the Omicron variant, we know our Friday memo caused some confusion and concern. Our priority was to give you the maximum amount of time to consider your options and follow up with the appropriate offices. We apologize that the message left many of you with more questions than it offered answers.

We understand that for many of you, these past several months have been your first time away from family and friends. We know that you have been looking forward to being back home to take care of yourself, reconnect, and regroup. Some of you have been at Princeton for an extended amount of time, and this break was supposed to be your chance to finally make it back home.

While this latest impact on global travel is unwelcome and jarring, the Davis International Center is here to support you as you make your final plans for Winter Break. To build upon the information shared in the email on Friday, please be aware of the following:

  • If you need housing over Winter Break (December 22 through January 7), continuous housing is available for all international undergraduate students at no cost, with an option also available for limited dining at no cost for students receiving financial aid. Please register for continuous housing by December 17. For those who choose this option, various offices hope to provide resources and some programming to keep you connected during winter break.
  • In addition, limited funds are available through the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life to address financial hardships. Details on how to apply are available here.
  • As the University has done in the past, we will advocate for National Interest Exceptions for students and scholars, but it is not possible to know if and how the travel restrictions will evolve. As a result, students who are unable to return to campus in time for the start of Spring 2022 semester classes will need to take a leave of absence. As you contemplate your options, please reach out to your Residential College Dean or Director of Studies, who can best advise you about leave-taking.

Many of you have asked why the University doesn’t plan to offer hybrid instruction for students who cannot return to campus. Residential teaching, research, and scholarship are at the heart of Princeton’s educational mission. A hybrid teaching format would limit course choices, potentially those needed for progress-to-degree. In addition, some faculty might be compelled to offer hybrid options in ways that would comprise their pedagogy and disadvantage your education. The University has made a commitment to continue in-person, residential education at this point in the pandemic.

Please know that the Davis International Center is here to help. We continue to relay your concerns to University leadership, and are doing all that we can to support your ability to continue your studies with as little interruption as possible.

In the meantime, please email questions to or schedule an appointment with a Davis International Center advisor by visiting: or join us for our virtual drop-in hours to speak to an advisor. 

Davis IC Team