Prior to traveling, it is important that you notify ENC of your travel arrangements and arrival date in the United States.
It is important to note that you may not enter the United States prior to 30 days before the start date of your academic program. This date is listed on page 1 of your I-20 as "Program Start Date:"
E-mail the following information to dso(at)enc.edu when you have made your travel arrangements:
You may travel within the U.S. provided you are maintaining your lawful status. Make certain to carry your original immigration documents with you (including your passport, I-20, visa, and passport stamp or I-94 reflecting admission in F-1 status.)
If you leave the U.S. during your program of study, you will need the following documents to return to the U.S. in F-1 status:
A “travel signature” is generally valid for one year. You may request a more updated travel signature (six months prior to your expected date of return) if you intend to apply for a new visa during your trip abroad.
If you are traveling out of the U.S. after the date you official complete your program of studies, you may not be eligible to return in F-1 status unless you have applied for an been approved for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or have a new I-20 to attend a new program of study.
To return to the U.S. during OPT, you will need to present:
In addition, we advise that you also carry:
The F-1 visa stamp in your passport must be valid on the day you will reenter the U.S. in order for you to be eligible to return in student immigration status. If your visa will expire before the date of your return, you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy while you are out of the U.S.
If your visa has expired and you are planning a short trip to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands, you may be eligible to travel with automatic visa revalidation.
If you will be applying for a new nonimmigrant visa while abroad, please be aware that the U.S Department of State has introduced a new Form DS-5535, Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants, which may be required at the point of visa renewal. This supplemental form is not required for all visa applicants, but may be requested at the discretion of a consular officer. If you are asked to complete this form, you will need to disclose your travel, address, and employment history, family information, and social media handles.
If you are planning to graduate or if your I-20 is expiring, then you may need to take steps with the DSO before you depart the U.S. You may have difficulty returning to the U.S. in F-1 status if your classes are done and you have no further academic activities to complete at ENC. If you plan to request an I-20 extension, transfer to another school, or apply for post-completion OPT, you should do this before you leave so that your I-20 correctly reflects your future academic intentions upon your return.
Check to see if there is a valid travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 (within one year for continuing F-1 students, or within six months for F-1 students on OPT).
If you already have a valid travel signature, then you do not need a new one! A travel signature is considered valid if it is dated no more than one year before the date you expect to return to the U.S. A more recent travel signature is recommended if you will renew your visa on this trip abroad.
Bring your I-20, along with your passport showing your most recent U.S. entry and your most recent visa, to the DSO to request a travel signature.
Travel signatures can often be completed the same day if you plan ahead with the DSO. Please come prepared to wait a few minutes for this expedited service. To request a travel signature please email email@example.com
When you arrive in the U.S. by air or sea, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will stamp your passport and electronically update your I-94 entry record to reflect the immigration status in which you were admitted and the length of lawful stay that you have been granted. For F-1 students and your F-2 dependents, your passport stamp and electronic record should reflect your correct status for “D/S” (duration of status). Each time you reenter the U.S. it is important to check both your passport stamp and your electronic I-94 record to make certain these are correct. Errors to your admission status or length of stay can jeopardize your ability to study, work and remain lawfully in the U.S. If you discover an error to your passport stamp or your electronic I-94 record, contact an ENC DSO immediately to discuss how this can be corrected.
Both your passport entry stamp and your I-94 record should read F-1 status and “D/S” (for “duration of status) if you are a student pursuing a full course of study.
A clear passport stamp is often sufficient to show your admission in a specific immigration status. However, if the stamp in your passport is not clear, OR, you need to apply for employment authorization or other benefits from federal government agencies, you will need to present a printout of your electronic I-94 record.
Questions? As always, please contact the DSO staff for questions about travel, visa renewal, and reentry to the U.S.
Boston Logan International Airport is the closest airport to ENC and is accessible by taxi, uber, and train.