Returning from Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands

International students who plan to travel to and from Canada, Mexico or Adjacent Caribbean Islands for a Short Visit (less than 30 days) must be in possession of:

  1. Valid Passport. It must be valid for at least 6 months when you reenter the U.S.
  2. Valid I-94 with D/S notation
  3. Valid Form I-20 for F-1 Visa Students. A new Form I-20 or a current Form I-20 which has been signed by an ISO advisor on page 2 of your Form I-20 within the last 12 months of the date you will be re-entering the U.S.
    (NOTE: Students on authorized periods of F-1 Optional Practical Training, F-1 STEM OPT Extension after completion of degree would require a travel signature from the ISO within 6 months of the planned date of re-entry to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, or “adjacent island”, which would include the Caribbean).
    Valid Form DS-2019 for J-1 Visa Students. A new Form DS-2019 or a current Form DS-2019 which has been signed for travel by your sponsor in the lower right hand corner within the last 12 months of the date of planned re-entry to the U.S. If MIT is your sponsor you will need the signature of an ISO advisor in the International Students Office, otherwise you need to contact your visa sponsor.
    (NOTE: Students on authorized periods of J-1 Academic Training after completion of degree would require a travel signature from the ISO within 6 months of the planned date of re-entry to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, or “adjacent island”, which would include the Caribbean).
  4. Valid entry visa to the country to which you are traveling, if citizens from your home country need one. Please note that each country has its own immigration regulations. Please consult the country’s Embassy/Consulate website in the U.S. for details.  (For example, the Canadian Consulate website if you are traveling to Canada).
  5. Proof of Financial Support other than your Form I-20 or DS-2019 (for example, original current financial certification form and supporting documents, such as scholarship/assistantship/fellowship award letter, personal bank statement, and/or sponsor support letter and financial statement).
  6. Documentation of MIT enrollment (letter from department, unofficial transcript, MIT ID card, etc.)
  7. Form I-901 (SEVIS Fee) Receipt

Please be advised that entry into the U.S. is at the sole discretion of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Officer at the U.S. Port-of-Entry.
(NOTE: In addition to USCBP checkpoints at U.S. ports-of-entry (airports and land border crossings, USCBP also has Preclearance locations in certain countries so some inspection/questioning may occur prior to boarding your flight to the U.S.)

Special Note: A valid U.S. entry visa is not necessary to re-enter the U.S. after a visit to Canada, Mexico, or Adjacent Islands of less than 30 days because of a special provision in immigration law called “Automatic Revalidation” [22 CFR 41.112(d)], as long as you have a U.S. entry visa in your passport for the status you wish to re-enter that has simply expired (not stamped “Cancelled” or “Revoked”), you are returning directly to the U.S. from Canada (Not traveling from Canada to another country, then back to Canada and then entering the U.S.), are carrying a copy of your Form I-94 record confirming your U.S. immigration status prior to travel to Canada (as you must be re-entering the U.S. in the same status), and have your valid Form I-20 or DS-2019 and proof of financial support and enrollment at MIT to confirm you are returning to continue your stay at MIT. Automatic Revalidation does NOT apply to students from state sponsors of terrorism (Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Sudan). Automatic Revalidation is NOT available if the student has applied for a U.S. non-immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate in Canada or Mexico during their trip.

Important Note on Travel to, or Transit Through, Canada: The Canadian Government, effective March 15, 2016, requires foreign nationals who are visa-exempt to Canada to receive an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through Canada. U.S. citizens, and individuals who already have a Canadian visa, are exempt from this requirement. To confirm if you require eTA, even if you do not require a visitor/tourist visa to Canada, please review the information available on the Canadian Consulate website.

Request a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 with ISO Travel Signature

Students should check page 2 of your current Form I-20 or the bottom right hand corner of your current Form DS-2019 for an ISO advisor signed travel signature. This signature should be dated at least within 12 months of the day you plan to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, or most Caribbean Islands.

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”
(4) Be sure to click “Submit” on the eform once you have completed all fields and document uploads to the eform.
Once your new document is completed, ISO can scan/email you an electronic version that you can print/sign and carry with your previous Forms.
If you are applying for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate while abroad, you should receive the paper original document for your travels.
If you want your new document express mailed, follow the instructions to request a shipping label.
Processing time for a new document is 10 business days.

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.

Students Traveling on Period of Authorized F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)/STEM Optional Practical Training Extension (STEM OPT), or J-1 Academic Training

Students on a period of authorized F-1 OPT or STEM OPT, or J-1 Academic Training, wishing to travel to Canada, Mexico, or Adjacent Islands and return to the U.S., need to have a valid travel validation signature within 6 months of the planned date of return to the U.S

More Information

Please see U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program guidelines on Travel Re-entry for F Visa.