Washington, DC: The Alliance for International Exchange’s Executive Director, Ilir Zherka, issued the following statement today regarding a letter to Secretary Blinken from 11 associations. The letter urges the Department of State to consider changes regarding the level 4 travel advisory update that impacts approximately 80 percent of countries worldwide. The below may be quoted in whole or in part.
Yesterday, the Alliance for International Exchange sent a letter to Secretary Blinken cosigned by eleven associations expressing collective concerns regarding the April 19, 2021, travel advisory update that increases the number of countries at “Level 4: Do Not Travel” to approximately 80 percent worldwide.
The Alliance joins its colleagues and members in calling on the U.S. Department of State to reconsider its designation of “Do Not Travel” for 80 percent of countries worldwide. Many colleges and universities look to the Department when developing their student travel policies. It is now difficult to discern why advanced democracies that are making progress vaccinating their residents are in the same category as failing and war-torn states.
The Department should consider changes in the Level 4 advisory that acknowledge differences among those countries with that rating. They should also review the change in advisories within 30-days to determine whether states that were recently moved to Level 4 should be moved back to Level 3 and/or whether the alignment with CDC’s rankings is beneficial.
We very much appreciate the Department’s strong support of international education and understand the rationale for aligning its advisories with that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But time is of the essence. Without a change, the new advisories may result in tens of thousands of opportunities for students to travel abroad being eliminated. That would likely affect the readiness of many college graduates entering the U.S. job market over the next few years and deepen the economic crisis facing organizations that administer study abroad and other travel programs.
The Alliance for International Exchange is an association dedicated to promoting the growth and impact of exchange programs and the effectiveness of its members. Since 1993, it serves as the collective public policy voice for organizations comprising the international educational and cultural exchange community in the United States.