Health and Safety

All efforts are made to ensure the safety, security, and well-being of our students throughout the duration of their programs. While Veritas cannot guarantee a risk-free environment, we follow prudent measures to reduce risk and provide the safest environment for study abroad participants. We are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students, parents, and home university staff who need urgent assistance outside of regular office hours may contact the Veritas Austin office at 512-480-8522 for emergency contact information. 

 

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Student Health And Safety

Please click here for up-to-date alerts for Veritas program locations

The safety, security, and well-being of study abroad program participants are of utmost importance to Veritas Christian Study Abroad. While neither Veritas nor Veritas' host institutions can guarantee a risk-free environment, all efforts are made to best ensure the safety and well-being of our participants throughout the duration of the program. Veritas follows prudent measures to verify that all transportation, lodging, medical facilities, communications, and emergency procedures are in place to reduce risk for study abroad participants.

While Veritas is firmly committed to the provision of this support, we also emphasize to students, faculty, and parents that all program participants must take responsibility for their own safety and security. This is highlighted during pre-departure preparations, on-site orientation, and throughout students' stay in the host countries. Points of emphasis during the orientation include students using common sense, being aware of their surroundings, and not putting themselves in compromising positions with the abuse of drugs or alcohol. The same precautions anyone would follow in their home communities in the U.S. should be maintained when traveling abroad.

The information below describes Veritas infrastructure, procedures, and guidelines that will help Veritas reduce students' risk while abroad.

 

Veritas Staff Support

Veritas employs local personnel at the majority of our international sites. Most were raised in the program city and all, without exception, are highly knowledgeable about the available facilities, customs, support services, and local people. A staff to student ratio of 1:20 is maintained with few exceptions on all Veritas programs, and staff members are available 24-7 to respond to the needs of the program participants. In addition, each main Veritas Resident Director has a cell phone, at least two land-lines (home and office), and email services at their disposal.

Stateside Veritas support is available to students, faculty, and parents 24-7 as well. The Veritas Austin office may be contacted during regular business hours (Monday-Thursday, 7:00 AM-7:00 PM CST / Friday, 7:00 AM-5:00 PM). During the weekend and evening hours, Veritas Austin's telephone answering machine provides the number for the Veritas Austin office emergency contact that is on duty 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The Veritas Austin staff is trained to answer emergency calls and respond appropriately by following the Veritas emergency guidelines.

Veritas on-site staff provides support to students in the event that a program participant must go to the hospital or to a doctor. The on-site staff will assist in scheduling the appointment, accompanying the student on the visit, and aid the student in any other way necessary. Additionally, they will ensure that the student is aware of all procedures required to file a claim for reimbursement for medical services.

 

Safety Orientation

We begin sharing safety information with students prior to their departure, as soon as they are accepted to the program. Students will receive even more information through their online orientation following the final forms and payment deadline for their specific program. The Veritas online pre-departure orientation covers a variety of valuable information and provides recommended safety precautions, links to a number of health and safety resources, and important Veritas information for emergency situations.

Prior to their departure from the U.S., students are provided with the names and photographs of the Veritas on-site staff or drivers who will be meeting students at the airport (if applicable). Students are given detailed information regarding their airport pick-up and transportation (if applicable) and are advised to only accept rides from the specified individuals. Upon the students' arrival to the program site, the on-site Veritas resident staff facilitates an orientation meeting to provide useful information on acclimation to the host culture as well as emergency situation procedures. The staff provides all students with instructions regarding the protocol to follow in the event of a political crisis, terrorist event, natural disaster, or other emergency. Each program participant is provided with a Contact Card upon arrival in-country that contains the names and cell phone numbers of all on-site Veritas staff members, the appropriate U.S. embassy phone number and address, the recommended local medical facilities, and the local equivalent to the U.S. emergency "911" number. Students are strongly encouraged to carry the contact card with them at all times while on the program. During orientation, students also receive names, addresses, and phone numbers of medical facilities at the program site. Medical facilities are recommended based on the quality of their services, proximity to the areas in which students live and/or to the university or classroom facility, and their experience providing services to American students.

 

Insurance

A Blanket Accident and Sickness Policy is included in the price and covers the program participant while abroad for the official on-site period of program. This is not an optional benefit; every ISA participant will be covered by this policy.

 A detailed description of the coverage may be found here.

 

We recommend that all program participants maintain comprehensive health insurance while abroad. This is particularly important if you have any pre-existing conditions, but is also beneficial if you have an injury or illness while abroad and require further treatment upon your return home. Consult with your current insurance provider to confirm coverage policies while traveling abroad.

 

Lodging

While there are no risk-free residential areas in any American or foreign city, Veritas' student housing accommodations are located in areas deemed to be of lower risk. The same attentiveness is given to the arrangement of lodging during Veritas-organized excursions. Hotels are selected based on the security of the area in which the accommodations are located, and also on their proximity to the sites to be visited. Furthermore, all students are provided with a description of their host family or housing arrangements and a contact telephone number prior to their departure in the event that a family member in the U.S. needs to contact the student abroad.

 

Transportation

Veritas is consistent in utilizing the safest and most reliable transportation (bus and plane) for Veritas-sponsored travel. The companies are selected based on their prior safety records, insurance coverage, their administrative responsiveness, and the mutual trust that has developed as a result of the well-established relationships with Veritas. In the selection of a transportation company, Veritas also takes into account the recommendations from trustworthy external advisors.

 

Monitoring Worldwide Security Levels

Veritas Stateside and on-site staff closely monitor U.S. State Department Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information at all times. We also encourage students to visit the following two State Department websites for more information:

 

Department of State, Tips for Students Studying Abroad:
http://travel.state.gov/visa/americans/americans_1252.html
Department of State, Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets:
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html

 

U.S. State Department Travel Warnings

If the U.S. State Department issues an official Travel Warning for a Veritas location, and the warning includes an official State Department recommendation that all U.S. citizens evacuate the country, Veritas' default action will be to cancel the program and proceed with evacuation procedures. If the program has not yet started, Veritas' default course of action will be to suspend the program. Exceptions can be made if the language in the Travel Warning gives Veritas management clear reason to believe that the warning is the result of dangers that exist in areas well outside of the city/cities where our program is operating. If we do suspend the program, we will work with students to transfer them to another Veritas program. During this process, we will ask students to obtain written approval from their home institution. For further information about all State Department Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information please click here.

 

Veritas Region-Specific Travel Restrictions

In order to maintain the highest level of safety for all Veritas participating students, Veritas has restricted travel to certain areas of the world.

Veritas participants are not allowed to enter or travel within the following regions during the participation of a Veritas  program:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Bangladesh
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Colombia**
  • Congo-Kinshasa
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Cuba*
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Eritrea
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel and the West Bank
  • Kenya**
  • Lebanon
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mexico**
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines**
  • Russia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • The Gambia
  • The Gaza Strip
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

There are a wide variety of criteria that Veritas uses to determine whether or not to restrict travel to a specific region. The restriction may be based on an ongoing situation which poses an immediate threat to Veritas participants, significant regions of the country that are dangerous for Veritas participants, the lack of services for US citizens, or other factors.

This list of restricted locations is continually updated based on Veritas direct observation, US Department of State recommendation, Overseas Security Advisory Council, WHO reports, and expert consultation.

Veritas reserves the right to add countries/regions to this list, without notice. Students must contact Veritas for more information on specific travel restrictions if they are planning to visit any location outside of the host country while participating in a Veritas program.

All Veritas students are made aware of the regions that have travel restrictions when they sign our Code of Conduct which states that they will abide by all travel restrictions established by Veritas. It is the Veritas student's responsibility to be aware of the most current travel restrictions, which can always be accessed on the Veritas website. Violation of any Veritas travel restriction is cause for automatic dismissal from the Veritas program, and participants will be required to return to the U.S. immediately.

*Only students enrolled in an ISA Cuba program are permitted to travel to Cuba. All other ISA & Veritas students are restricted from traveling to Cuba due to US regulations on tourist travel to the country.

**Before finalizing any travel plans, students should submit all requests for travel to Israel to their Resident Directors for approval. We will continue to monitor the current situation and reserve the right to deny travel to this country.

 

Potential Evacuation of Students from Program Site

Any decision to evacuate participants from an ISA/Veritas program site will be based largely on the advisories and warnings of the U.S. State Department, but also on information gathered from OSAC, news media, local government, law enforcement agencies, and trusted friends/colleagues residing at the affected site. In the event the U.S. State Department issues a Travel Warning for an ISA/Veritas location after the program has started, and if the warning also includes an official State Department recommendation that all U.S. citizens evacuate the country, ISA/Veritas's default action will be to evacuate students. Evacuation efforts will include the following:

  • ISA/Veritas resident staff at affected ISA/Veritas program location will work to help students make necessary changes to their return flights back to the United States. Students will be responsible for any fees charged by airline to change flights. ISA/Veritas is prepared to temporarily cover these fees for participants who cannot pay. A detailed accounting of the expenses incurred by ISA/Veritas on behalf of students will be maintained, and participants will be invoiced for the costs accordingly.
  • ISA/Veritas office(s), computers and phones at the locations will be made available for students to contact airlines and/or interested parties. The ISA/Veritas on-site office(s) would serve as the main communications center(s), although ISA student housing in most sites are also equipped with phones, and some with internet.
  • Another key resource is ACE, ISA/Veritas's insurance provider. ACE can provide information and coordination of various resources as necessary in the event an emergency evacuation is deemed necessary by ISA/Veritas Management.
  • ISA/Veritas's host university(s) will be ready to offer assistance. All of our host universities are prepared to provide various resources in the event of a political unrest, and these resources would include meeting spaces, communications infrastructure, and temporary safe havens, should the entire ISA/Veritas group need to remain in one place at one time to coordinate the evacuation response.
  • Per the U.S. State Department web page on section regarding evacuation (www.state.gov): "Sometimes commercial transportation entering and leaving a country is disrupted during a political upheaval or natural disaster. If this happens, and if it appears unsafe for Americans to remain, the embassy and consulates will work with the task force in Washington to charter special air flights and ground transportation to help Americans to depart. The U.S. Government cannot order Americans to leave a foreign country. It can only advise and try to assist those who wish to leave. By law, an American receiving evacuation assistance is required to sign a promissory note, Emergency Loan Application and Evacuation Document agreeing to reimburse the government for some of the evacuation costs." ISA/Veritas will help students with the arrangements to utilize this assistance.
  • ISA/Veritas will arrange for ISA/Veritas participants' ground transportation to airport(s). Evacuation by ground transport to neighboring cities or countries may also be necessary due to airport closures, overbooking of flights, or loss of access to nearby airports. ISA/Veritas will arrange and cover the expenses for this transportation. ISA/Veritas's agreements with providers of ground transportation will facilitate these efforts.
  • ISA/Veritas on-site staff in nearby ISA/Veritas program locations can assist students who may need to be rerouted through those locations.
  • If evacuation is delayed due to circumstances beyond the students' control, ISA/Veritas will arrange for students' extended housing in the host country. Students will be responsible for covering the costs of the extended housing and related incidental expenses. For students who are temporarily unable to pay, ISA/Veritas is prepared to offer temporary financial assistance. Detailed accounting of the expenses incurred by ISA/Veritas will be maintained and the participants will be invoiced for the costs.
  • ISA/Veritas will use its resources and communications network to try to keep interested parties (e.g. home institution, parents, embassy etc.) informed, as necessary and appropriate, of the students' whereabouts, status, and well-being.
  • ISA/Veritas will work with students' host institution(s) to salvage the work they've completed during their time in the host country. ISA/Veritas cannot guarantee that these efforts will be successful. ISA/Veritas will explore various possibilities, including the completion of coursework at remote locations. The possibility of completing the canceled program at an alternative ISA/Veritas program location will also be explored.
  • If ISA/Veritas cannot provide students with a reasonable means of completing the academic coursework for the affected program, ISA/Veritas will make attempts to recover and refund tuition plus any other recoverable program costs.

 

Veritas Code of Conduct

View the Veritas Code of Conduct.

 


Insurance

For information regarding insurance coverage during a Veritas program, please visit the Insurance Abroad page.

 

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

Should you have any questions about health information in the region where you will be studying, please visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website. Along with a list of resource materials provided by the CDC, you will find information pertaining to the following categories: Outbreaks, Diseases, Vaccinations, Food and Water Safety, Traveling with Children, Special Needs Travelers, and Cruise Ships and Air Travel.

 

Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)

The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) is a Federal Advisory Committee with a U.S. Government Charter to promote security cooperation between American business and private sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State. OSAC currently encompasses the 34-member core Council, an Executive Office, over 100 Country Councils, and more than 3,500 constituent member organizations and 372 associates.

 

The State Department

The U.S. State Department is an incredibly valuable source of information for anyone who is planning to travel and/or live abroad. One of the main objectives of the State Department is to protect and assist U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad. The State Department also strives to keep the American public informed of any important issues developing around the world.

 

The State Department website contains a vast amount of information that will be helpful for students and parents who have concerns about international travel. The website offers information about travel advisories, tips for living abroad, U.S. foreign policy, ideas for American students abroad, international doctors/hospitals, and more. In addition to passport/visa information, you may also access Country Specific Information (previously: Consular Information Sheets) for every country in the world. 

 

The U.S. State Department recently launched a website specifically for students abroad, their parents, and study abroad advisors. We highly recommend visiting this website to learn more about being a student abroad

 

Travel Advisories: Travel Advisories: The U.S. State Department closely monitors countries around the world to ensure that American citizens are aware of issues that may affect their international travel. The following information is issued by the State Department and can be found on their website

"Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department decides based on all relevant information, to recommend that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Travel Alerts (previously: Public Announcements) are a means to disseminate information about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term and/or trans-national conditions posing significant risks to the security of American travelers.

Country Specific Information (previously: Consular Information Sheets) are available for every country of the world. They include such information as location of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the subject country, unusual immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime and security information, and drug penalties."

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Helpful Links

U.S Department of State
U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs
Foreign Entry Requirements
Passports: Applying for Them the Easy Way
Locate a U.S Consulate
Replace a lost or stolen passport