This information is meant for MIT students and for general informational purposes only. If you are an MIT student and you have further questions about travel information and your visa status, please contact the International Students Office for consultation with an International Student Advisor.
NOTE: Processing times for visas at U.S. Embassies/Consulates abroad have been unpredictable, with extended Administrative Processing (security check procedures). There is no avenue to expedite applications under Administrative Processing, as the Embassy/Consulate also must wait for all security procedures to be completed before a visa can be issued. Please check the U.S. Embassy/Consulate website for details and have a plan in case your travel plans are delayed due to visa processing times.
REMINDER: If you are traveling to a country other than the U.S., where you are not a Citizen or Permanent Resident/Immigrant of that country, you must verify if you need a visa to enter that country. Please plan ahead and check the Consulate General website for that country for visa requirements and application procedures.
Requesting a Travel Signature for Form I-20 or Form DS-2019: With the ISO working remotely, it is NOT possible to drop off/pick up your Form I-20 or DS-2019 to request a travel signature. Students will need to request a new Form via iMIT. To request a new Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 with travel signature:
(1) Login to iMIT
(2) Click on the left-hand menu “(F-1 / J-1) Student Services”
(3) Click on and complete the eform “Request Replacement of Form I-20/DS-2019”, and select request reason “Travel Signature”.
Updated funding documentation for the current/upcoming academic year (up to 12 months, or until the program end date, whichever is earlier, as covered by the Form I-20/DS-2019) will need to be uploaded as part of the eform.
[NOTE: Students on Post-Completion F-1 OPT, F-1 STEM OPT Extension, or J-1 Academic Training will upload copies of employment confirmation letters from their employers that include salary or stipend information as part of their financial support documentation. https://iso.mit.edu/visas-and-travel/traveling-during-f1-opt-stem-opt/]
The financial documentation will also need to be carried when traveling to present to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate (if applying for a new entry visa) and/or to U.S. Customs and Border Protection when re-entering the U.S.
(4) Be sure to click “Submit” on the eform once you have completed all fields and document uploads to the eform.
Processing time for a new document is 10 business days from date the full and complete request in iMIT is submitted.
Once your new document is completed, ISO will notify you via email from iMIT.
NOTE: New Forms I-20 can be sent to students electronically to download, print, and sign to carry as the new original document as per USDHS and USDOS guidance.
New Forms DS-2019 cannot be sent electronically, and therefore must be express mailed to the student or picked-up in-person at the ISO during Walk-In Office Hours.
Be sure to print and sign your new document and carry with all your previous Forms I-20 or Forms DS-2019 issued to you.
If you want your new document express mailed, follow the instructions to request a shipping label.
Travel Requirements by Airlines to Enter the U.S.Please consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage “Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic” concerning travel into the U.S. and travel within the U.S. Students are also advised to check with your airline for your flight to the U.S. to see if any COVID-19 test results are needed to board the flight.
MIT Travel Policy – Please be sure to consult the updated MIT Travel Policy available on MIT Now (https://now.mit.edu/policies/mit-travel-policy/), especially if you will be traveling outside of the New England states (Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island). The policy discusses registering MIT-related travel and personal travel, as well as requirements for return to campus after travel abroad.
Current Travel Restrictions
(NOTE: Travel restrictions can change at any time and with little notice. Before any travel, consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website referenced above as well as contact your airline to verify any restrictions to board flights or entry to a destination country; including even if only transiting through that country.)
- U.S. Updates Travel Requirements – Negative COVID-19 Test No Longer Required to Board Flights to U.S.; Full COVID-19 Vaccination Still Required – effective June 12, 2022
- Presidential Proclamation Lifts Travel Bans and Establishes Vaccine/Testing Requirements For Air Travel to U.S. – effective November 8, 2021
- [U.S., Canada, Mexico]: USCBP Lifts U.S.-Canada-Mexico “Non-Essential” Travel Restrictions at Land/Ferry Border Crossings, Requires Proof of Full COVID-19 Vaccination – effective December 23, 2021
- [China]: Chinese Consulate General Posts Guidance on new Airline/Travel Requirements for entry to China due to COVID-19 – effective October 29, 2020
- [Hong Kong]: Presidential Proclamation Eliminating Differential Treatment of Hong Kong from China under U.S. law – effective July 14, 2020
- [China]: Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain F and J visa Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China (PP 10043) – effective June 1, 2020
- [Cuba]: Biden Administration Announces Changes to Cuba Policy – May 16, 2022
- Changes to U.S. Sanction Rules on Cuba – effective June 5, 2019
- U.S. Department of the Treasury resources on Cuba Sanctions
Applying for a New Entry Visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate
Details on how to apply for an obtain a student entry visa from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, whether you are a new student or a continuing student applying for a new entry visa, is available on the ISO “Obtaining a Visa” webpage.
For continuing student’s whose initial entry visa has expired, and you are applying for a new entry visa, the visa application process and possible security check (administrative processing) procedures outlined on the “Obtaining a Visa” webpage also apply.
Some U.S. Embassies/Consulates may have available a program to Waive In-Person Interviews for students who are applying for the same student visa category that they previously had issued but has expired. The Consulates have discretion to participate in this program depending on staffing and other in-country restrictions. However, even if a continuing student is able to qualify for a waiver of the in-person interview, the Consulate reserves the right to request the student, after review of their application to schedule an in-person interview. Please check your U.S. Embassy/Consulate website (https://usembassy.gov) to confirm procedures for scheduling a visa interview, required documentation, and if the waiver of in-person interview is available at that consular post.
How early can I apply for a new Entry Visa if my Current Entry Visa in the Same Visa Status is Still Valid?
Generally, if an entry visa for student status will be valid for a traveler to return to the U.S., a new entry visa for that same status is not required. From our experience, if the current entry visa is valid for 2 or more months beyond planned return date to the U.S., then applying for a new entry visa for that same student status may not be recommended.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When an individual has their visa interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, common practice is that a previous entry visa in that same status, even if it is still valid, will be “Cancelled Without Prejudice” by the Embassy/Consulate and cannot be used any longer to enter the U.S. Therefore, the visa applicant will need to wait until the U.S. Embassy/Consulate issues the new entry visa in order to enter the U.S. It is important for students, especially continuing students, to be aware of this risk and plan with their academic program for any delays in original schedule for return to the U.S.
Please contact your ISO Advisor if you have any questions.