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You should have a discussion/obtain approval from the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) PRIOR to travel in order to avoid complications.
You will need to visit the ISSO Office during Advising Hours to receive a travel signature and speak with an advisor regarding your travel plans. Updated Advising Hours can be found on our Advising hours page.
Do you need a travel signature?
Travel signatures are found on page 2 of your Form I-20, or page 1 of your Form DS-2019. Travel signatures are valid for 1 year unless otherwise noted on your visa document*, and can be used for multiple trips outside of the US within that 1 year period. You do not need a travel signature unless it has been over a year since your last travel signature AND you plan to travel outside of the U.S.
*Travel signatures for F-1 students on Post-Completion OPT and STEM Extension of OPT are valid for 6 months
Students are recommended to access their I-94 card after each entry into the United States.
This is to make sure your I-94 reflects the correct "Class of Admission" (F-1 or J-1), and that the "Admit Until Date" reflects D/S (Duration of Status). If you have issues accessing your I-94 card, or you find a mistake on your I-94 card, please contact the ISSO by email: email@example.com. This may prevent the processing of future Applications like Applying for a Social Security Card, CPT, OPT, etc.
You must obtain prior approval from ISSO if one of the following applies:
To re-enter the U.S., all currently enrolled F-1 or J-1 status students must have the following documentation to provide Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) Officer:
Additional documentation we suggest you have:
General Re-entry Pre-Cautions:
ATTENTION: Students are not permitted to be on a leave of absence from UMass Lowell without prior approval from the ISSO. This pertains to any type of leave, whether academic leave, personal, medical leave, military leave, etc. If you intend to leave the US with no intent to return, you must notify us immediately.
TRAVELING TO CANADA & RE-ENTERING THE U.S. FROM CANADA
If you are interested in visiting Canada, be sure to check the Canadian Consulate General’s official website in New York for the most current information. You are no longer permitted to apply for a Canadian visa in person, but you can drop off your paperwork in person. Please visit the Canadian Government's Visas and Immigration website.
You will need to complete the necessary visa application process, and submit the paperwork as per their instructions. (Be sure to follow their instructions carefully.) Typically, you will be required to mail in your documentation. If approved, your Canadian entry visa and documentation will be returned to you. In certain cases, you may receive a notice requesting an in-person interview to pick up your documentation.
Depending on your country of citizenship, you may need a Canadian visa to enter Canada. Also, depending on your country of citizenship, it could be a lengthy visa application process, as they may need to process a security check (i.e., Administrative Processing). Their address is: Canadian Consulate General; Immigration Section; 1251 Avenue of the Americas; New York, NY 10020-1175)
F-1 & J-1 visa holders are allowed to re-enter the U.S. from Canada with expired F-1 or J-1 visa stamps provided they are re-entering within a 30-day period and have a valid passport (valid at least five years beyond the expiration date of their Form I-20 or Form DS-2019). This is called “automatic re-validation”.
NOTE: If you are traveling to Canada for the sole purpose of applying for a U.S. visa at a U.S.Consulate, you are not guaranteed approval. You may be subjected to a long security check. Be sure to first discuss your travel plans with the ISSO. Third Country Nationals visiting Canada for the purpose of applying for a U.S. visa may be denied. It is always risky to enter Canada for this purpose.
TRAVELLING TO CONTIGUOUS TERRITORIES OR ADJACENT ISLANDS
CFR 286.1 (a) defines Contiguous Territories and Adjacent islands as:
Canada, Mexico and Adjacent Islands. Adjacent Islands are: Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts and The British Virgin Islands), Martinique, St. Pierre & Miquelon, Trinidad & Tobago, Windward Islands (Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent), as well as other British, French or Dutch Territories or Possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea.