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Travel instructions will differ depending on your current immigration status (e.g., F-1, J-1, H-1B) and your travel plans. In general, short-term travel outside of the US while you are studying, researching, or working at Tufts should be possible as long as your documents are valid and unexpired and you are maintaining valid status. For information about traveling in your specific category, click on the appropriate box below.

Travel Information for Students

Required and Recommended Documents

Carry the following required documents if you are returning to the US in F-1 or J-1 student status following a temporary absence. You must have these documents

  1. Unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future on the date of your return to the US
  2. Unexpired F-1 or J-1 entry visa issued by a US consulate
  3. Unexpired Form I-20 (for F-1 students) or Form DS-2019 (for J-1 students) with a travel signature from an International Center advisor that is not more than one year old
    • The travel signature is located on Page 2 of Form I-20 and Page 1 of Form DS-2019
  4. Recommended: evidence of current enrollment as a full-time student at Tufts University, such as an Enrollment Verification form or unofficial transcript from your school's Registrar's Office
  5. Recommended: evidence of financial ability, such as a copy of your most recent scholarship letter or bank statement

Obtaining a Travel Signature from the International Center

If your I-20 (or DS-2019) needs an updated travel signature, you must come to one of the International Center locations serving your program. You may drop by during regular business hours (Mondays - Fridays, 9am - 5pm) to obtain a travel signature. Only an International Center advisor can sign your I-20 or DS-2019 for you. Please plan ahead. If you are not in the Boston area, you may need to arrange to send us your I-20 by express mail and pay for express mail return shipping.

Notify the International Center

When making travel plans, be sure to notify the International Center if your plans include time outside of the United States for any of these reasons:

  • A leave of absence for family reasons, military service, or other reasons
  • A study abroad experience (Tufts or non-Tufts)
  • Termination or withdrawal from studies

These situations can have a significant impact on your F-1 status and your ability to return to the US as an F-1 student. Talk to an advisor if any of these or similar situations apply to you.

Customs and Border Protection Inspection

When you return to the US, you will undergo inspection by a US Customs and Border Protection officer, who will review your passport, F-1 / J-1 visa, and I-20 / DS-2019. Do not use any other visa if you are returning as an F-1 / J-1 student, since entering under another visa may render you ineligible to continue studying.

After you have arrived, check your I-94 admission record to make sure all information is correct, including your visa type and 'admit until' date (which should always indicate duration of status, or "D/S")

Read this information sheet from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) about what to do if you have problems with Customs and Border Protection upon arriving in the US.

Required Documents

F-1 students who have completed their studies and have applied or are approved for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or the 24-month STEM extension of OPT must have the following documents to return to the US following a temporary absence:

  1. Unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future on the date of your return to the US
  2. Unexpired entry visa issued by a US consulate
  3. Unexpired Form I-20 (for F-1 students) with a travel signature from an International Center advisor not more than six months old on the date of your return
  4. One of the following documents, depending on the status of your application:
    • OPT application is pending (in process): copy of your I-797 Receipt Notice from USCIS
    • OPT application has been approved: your Employment Authorization (EAD) card from USCIS

Recommended Documents

  • Proof of employment, especially once your OPT has been approved and your post-completion OPT period has started

Contact the International Center

Contact the International Center if you are on OPT and do not have valid employment, or if your passport or visa will expire in the near future. You must also contact the International Center if you plan to discontinue your OPT or STEM Extension.

Travel Information for Scholars and Employees

Required Documents

Carry the following required documents if you are returning to the US as a J-1 exchange visitor (visiting scholars, professors, and researchers). You must have these documents

  1. Unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future on the date of your return to the US
  2. Unexpired J-1 entry visa issued by a US consulate
  3. Unexpired Form DS-2019 with a travel signature from an International Center advisor not more than one year old

Recommended Documents

  • Evidence of the purpose of your J-1 activity at Tufts, such as your appointment or invitation letter, a brief letter from your department or supervisor confirming your current role at Tufts, or copies of paychecks (for J-1 exchange visitors employed by Tufts)

Contact the International Center

Contact the International Center if your travel will require an extended departure from the US or a visa renewal while you are overseas, or if you have completed your J-1 program ahead of schedule and are leaving more than 15 days prior to the expiration of your Form DS-2019.

Required Documents

International employees currently at Tufts in a non-immigrant status such as H-1B, TN, O-1, or E-3 status should plan travel carefully. In general, documents required to return to the US following a short trip abroad will include:

  1. Unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future on the date of your return to the US
  2. Unexpired entry visa issued by a US consulate (*note: Canadian citizens are not generally required to have entry visas to enter the US)
  3. Copy of USCIS Form I-797 approval notice indicating approval of your non-immigrant status

Recommended Documents

  • Proof of ongoing employment at Tufts, such as a letter from your department manager or supervisor and/or copies of your recent paystubs from Tufts

Contact the International Center

Contact the International Center if you expect to be outside of the US for an extended period of time beyond a standard business vacation or holiday period, or if you intend to discontinue your employment with Tufts.