Q: How do I schedule a US consular appointment to obtain my student visa?
A: We still do not have definitive updates on the resumption of worldwide US consular services: Some US consulates have indicated gradual re-openings and resumption of visa interviews, though many/most are beginning to do so very late in the summer or later in the fall, even after the UMass semester is scheduled to begin. Each US consulate in each international city is different. Please continue to monitor your local US consulate’s website
for the latest scheduling information. We anticipate that there will be forthcoming information in the weeks ahead, so please continue to monitor your local US consulate’s website.
Q: Can I use my electronically transmitted (e-mailed) I-20 form for my F-1 visa application?
A: Yes, the US immigration service guidance currently has permitted the use of electronically transmitted I-20 forms for US visa appointments and for entry into the US at a US airport or border. Please print your I-20 form with a color copier for your US consular appointment and travel to the US.
Q: How can I arrange a flight to the US?
A: This is complicated. Until further notice, there is a ban on all international arrivals from anyone who has been in the following countries for the past 14-days: China, the European Union/Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. This includes also includes citizens not only from these above countries but who wish to transit through an airport in one of these above countries on the way to the US. Furthermore, international airline operations continue to be severely disrupted because of COVID-19 and international flights schedules are very much subject to change. Please continue to check directly with your airline or travel agent as this information is very much subject to change.
Q: As an international student will I be required to be quarantined on the UMass campus before I can begin studies?
Q: I am a Mexican or Canadian student. Can I enter the US through a land border crossing?
A: Yes. If a Mexican citizen has a valid F-1 or J-1 student visa, you may enter the US either at a US border crossing or at a US airport. Canadian citizens are visa-exempt and do not need an F-1 visa stamp, only a valid I-20 form issued by the IPO. Educational purposes are considered “essential” travel during the temporary US land border closure with Mexico and Canada.
Q: What documents do I need to enter the US?
A: To enter the US in F-1 or J-1 student immigration status you will need a valid passport, a valid F-1 or J-1 student visa stamp issued by a US consulate and an I-20 form (F-1) or Ds-2019 form (J-1) form. Canadian citizens are exempt from visa requirements but will need an I-20 or DS-2019 form to enter the US. You cannot enter the US in B-2 visitor/tourist status and begin academic studies, without exception.
Q: Can or should I travel internationally?
A: Given the ever-increasing disruption to international air travel, and mounting restrictions other countries are implementing on travel and re-entry, the IPO continues to discourage all non-essential international travel at this time. Ultimately, the decision to travel and return home internationally is entirely you and your family’s decision and we completely respect that. If you do plan to travel internationally you should plan in advance for all possible contingencies and the distinct possibility that you will not be able to return to the U.S. until further notice. Valid visa, passport, and signed I-20 or DS-2019 forms for re-entry to the U.S. are still an international travel obligation as usual.
Q: If I travel internationally will I be able to come back to the US?
A: The ability to travel and re-enter the US is extremely fluid and there are many variables out of our control including US consular operations, health-related travel bans and quarantine procedures in various countries and the disruption of commercial airline service. You will need to check the travel and visa restrictions that may be in place at the time you are planning to travel as the situation is changing daily. If you are currently outside the U.S. or plan to travel outside the U.S., we recommend that you continue to monitor travel updates by CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also as of March 18, 2020 most routine U.S. consular operations have been suspended worldwide. The IPO continues to carefully monitor updates from the CDC, US immigration service (SEVP, USCIS, CBP, etc.) and the US Department of State. Please continue to check the IPO website for updates.
Q: My visa stamp has expired/will expire soon, and I am unable to travel to my home country, what should I do?
A: Your visa stamp in your passport is only necessary for international travel and re-entry to the US. As long as you continue to maintain status as indicated on your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) program ending date, you do not need a valid visa to remain inside the US.
Q: My visa stamp has expired/will expire soon and I plan to travel to my home country, what should I do?
A: If you choose to leave the U.S. and your visa will have expired by the date you wish to re-enter the U.S., then you must obtain a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas before you can re-enter the U.S. (Canadian citizens are exempt from visa stamp and consular interviews to enter the U.S.) The U.S. State Department announced on March 18 that routine U.S. visa issuance has been suspended indefinitely worldwide.
I-20 & DS-2019 Travel Signatures:
The IPO cannot provide in person travel signatures until further notice. Please see the links below to request your I-20 or DS-2019. Note: I-20 forms are now currently allowed to be sent electronically, however DS-2019 forms cannot by regulation.
F-1 student Travel Information (I-20)
J-1 student Travel Information (DS-2019)