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IMPORTANT NOTICE (Fall 2021)

As of November 8, 2021 most non-immigrant visa holders arriving in the US on international air flights must provide documentation of full vaccination against COVID-19 as well as a negative COVID-19 viral test result prior to boarding their flight. For more details, go to our International Center COVID-19 information page or contact an International Center advisor.

On November 29, 2021 a new entry restriction went into effect in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. This entry restriction affects all non-immigrant visa holders who were / are physically present in several southern African countries seeking to enter the US. For more details, go to our International Center COVID-19 information page or contact an International Center advisor.

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 endorsement 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

Note: F-1 students may receive updated I-20s from the International Center electronically as PDF documents. However, students should still print out a copy of the PDF to show when entering the US. J-1 students are required to receive a paper (non-electronic) version of Form DS-2019 and carry the original paper form with them when traveling.

Obtaining a Travel Signature from the International Center

If your I-20 (or DS-2019) needs an updated travel signature, please go to our Travel Signature page to submit an online request for a travel signature.

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 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 (H-1B, E-3, O-1 employees)
    • TN professionals will not always have Form I-797 but should carry an employment letter from their department detailing their job duties and dates of TN employment

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.

Special Travel Topics

Domestic travel within the US's 50 states and its territories (including Puerto Rico and Guam) does not require you to have a valid visa or other international travel documents. However, if you are traveling outside your immediate residential area, you should carry your original travel documents for identification purposes, which may be needed for boarding your flight or embarking on a train ride. These may include:

  • Your passport
  • A printout of your Form I-94 arrival/departure record, which you can print out from the US Customs and Border Protection's I-94 lookup site
  • Your Form I-20 (for F-1 students) or Form DS-2019 (J-1 students and scholars) or a copy of your I-797 approval notice (H-1B employees)
  • Recommended: Other evidence of your immigration status and activity at Tufts, such as a printout of your class schedule or a letter from your department confirming your employment

Travel near the US Border with Canada and Mexico: The US Border Patrol periodically conducts checkpoints within 100 miles of the US border with Canada and Mexico. These checkpoints may take place on highways or on buses traveling near the border. If you are traveling within these zones, carry your original travel documents as listed above. View this web site for more information about border zone checks.

Travel to Canada / Mexico / Caribbean with Valid or Expired Visa

In general, travel to Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands of the Caribbean (except Cuba) should be treated as international travel requiring valid travel documents for your visa type (F-1, J-1, H-1B, etc.). However, under US rules concerning the "automatic revalidation of visa validity," you may be able to exit and return to the US from these destinations on the basis of an expired non-immigrant visa if your travel meets the following requirements:

  • You are traveling directly to and returning directly from the "continguous territories" of Canada and Mexico, or one of the "adjacent islands" of the Caribbean except Cuba
  • Your trip will last 30 days or less
  • You have a US non-immigrant visa, even if the visa has already expired
  • You possess a valid I-94 arrival/departure record or I-797 approval notice indicating your current non-immigrant status (e.g., F-1, J-1, H-1B)
  • The purpose of your visit is NOT to apply for a new non-immigrant visa at a US consulate in one of those destinations (automatic revalidation does not apply if you are making a visa application)
  • You are not from a country currently listed by the US Department of State as a state sponsor of terrorism - citizens from these countries must have a valid US visa to re-enter

To return to the US, you must also have required accompanying documents such as a valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature, or an I-797 approval notice showing that you have been approved for H-1B or O-1 status. You should carry a copy of your I-94 showing your existing status so that you can be re-admitted back into the US.

Note: H-1B and O-1 visa holders can take advantage of automatic revalidation of visa validity for Canada and Mexico only. Return trips from the adjacent islands of the Caribbean require a valid US entry visa.

If you are planning a trip to Canada, please keep in mind that you may need to apply for a Canadian visa, since Canada maintains its own visa and immigration requirements. The International Center is unable to advise on how to apply for a Canadian visa, but you can research Canadian visa requirements and application procedures by clicking on the link.