Services for International Students and Scholars

Travelling

You should carry the following when you re-enter the U.S. after a trip abroad:

  • A passport which should be valid for at least six months into the future.
  • A valid F-1 or J-1 visa
  • Your most recent Form I-20 (F visa) or DS-2019 (J visa) with a valid travel signature.

It is also recommended you bring with you:

  • Any previously issued I-20s or DS-2019s
  • Proof of your enrollment (you may request an Enrollment Verification from the Registrar’s Office)
  • Proof of funding (as reflected on your I-20 or DS-2019)

Upon your return, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will issue an I-94 (your arrival/departure record) to you. If you arrive by land, you may receive a paper I-94 that you should keep with your passport. If you arrive by plane, you will be issued an I-94 electronically; print the Most Recent I-94 after each entry into the United States. Your I-94 should be marked with your visa type (F-1 or J-1) and an “admit until date” of D/S (Duration of Status).  If there is an error on your I-94, notify the OGS.

For students on post-OPT, please click here for documents required for travel

For students on STEM OPT, please click here for documents required for travel

*Notice for ALL international students, scholars and faculty regarding travel.

Northeastern University requires all students, and highly recommends all faculty and staff, to enter their travel itinerary and housing accommodations abroad into “My Travel Plans,” also called the “traveler registry”.

This allows the university to communicate directly with travelers if unexpected events or conditions create circumstances that might pose health or safety risks. In addition, it enables on-campus resources and external support providers to better respond to students, faculty, and staff who may need medical or security assistance.

When traveling within the United States or U.S. territories, you should have:

  • A valid passport. The passport should be valid for at least six months after your date of entry to the United States.
  • Form I-20 (F visa) or DS-2019 (J visa)
  • Form I-94, your arrival/departure record that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) maintains with information you gave on arrival at U.S. immigration. Print the I-94 each time you enter the United States so you can carry it with you. If you arrive by land, you may be issued a paper I-94 that you should keep with your passport.

Any family members traveling with you who have F-2 or J-2 visas should carry the same documents.

*Notice for ALL international students, scholars and faculty regarding travel.

Northeastern University requires all students, and highly recommends all faculty and staff, to enter their travel itinerary and housing accommodations into “My Travel Plans,” also called the “traveler registry”.

This allows the university to communicate directly with travelers if unexpected events or conditions create circumstances that might pose health or safety risks. In addition, it enables on-campus resources and external support providers to better respond to students, faculty, and staff who may need medical or security assistance.

If you will participate in a University approved study abroad program for one semester/quarter or longer, you should request a study abroad I-20 from the OGS.  To do so, you need a Letter of Enrollment from the Global Experience Office or from your academic department at Northeastern University that is sponsoring the study abroad which confirms the following:

  1. Exact dates of study abroad
  2. Location (institution, city, country) of study abroad

After you obtain the letter, please go to Request for SEVIS I-20/DS2019.

NOTE:

  • A letter from your host institution abroad or other agent/company will not be acceptable.
  • If you study abroad only during the Summer term, you do not need to request a study abroad I-20.

If you travel to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the United States (other than Cuba) for less than thirty days with your valid passport, a valid Form I-20, and your most recent Form I-94, you may be eligible to travel with an expired F or J visa.  This process is known as automatic visa revalidation.  However, you must meet certain conditions in order to be eligible for automatic visa revalidation. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more information on eligibility.

Do I Need a Travel Signature?

For travel within the United States, including U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam, you do not need an updated travel signature. For travel to the rest of the world,

  • If you are a full-time student who will continue studying after you return to the United States, the signature at the bottom of page 2 of your current I-20 (if you are on an F-1 visa) or on the bottom right of your DS-2019 (if you are on a J-1 visa) must be less than one year old when you re-enter the United States.
  • If you are on Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT), the signature at the bottom of page 2 of your current I-20 (if you are on an F-1 visa) or the signature on the bottom right of your DS-2019 (if you are on a J-1 visa) must be less than six months old on the day you re-enter the United States.
  • If you have completed one academic program and plan to start another the following semester/quarter and you also have the I-20 or DS-2019 for your new program, then you may travel without getting a travel signature on the I-20 or DS-2019 for your new program. Make sure to take all of your old I-20s or DS-2019s with you when you travel.
  • If you have completed Optional Practical Training (OPT), Academic Training (AT), or your academic program and are in a grace period, you will not be allowed back into the United States on your F-1 or J-1 visa.
  • Any family members traveling with you who have F-2 or J-2 visas will also need to carry the same documents. Please review the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tips for travel. If you plan to travel when your visa has expired, please see the section below on renewing your visa.  Look for upcoming travel signature sessions here!

How can I obtain a Travel Signature?

To request a Travel Signature, you have two options

  1. Taking your I-20/DS-2019 to the Office of Global Services (OGS) where it will be processed within five business days. OR
  2. Prior to major vacation periods, the OGS often offers travel signature sessions that require pre-registration. Upon successful screening, you will receive your travel signature on the spot. If you come to a session, please bring your I-20/DS-2019 form and your nine digit NU ID number. Visit the events pagefor the dates for travel signature sessions.

How can I renew my student visa?

Should your visa expire before you return to the United States from a visit abroad, you will need to reapply for the F-1 or J-1 visa abroad. The process is the same as when you obtained your original student visa application. Refer to the travel preparation steps in the new students section.

How can I renew my passport?

Contact or check the website of your country’s nearest embassy or consulate in the United States to learn the process for renewing your passport. Your I-20 or DS-2019 will remain valid until its expiry date.

I will renew my passport but my student visa is still valid and is in my old passport, what to do?

When you travel, carry both the new passport and the old passport with your student visa if your country of nationality allows you to keep your old passport. If your country does not allow you to keep your old passport containing a valid F-1 or J-1 visa, you will need to apply for a new visa the next time you travel abroad.