Travel & Visas

International Students gather on Old College lawn

COVID-19 Updates

CGPS COVID Updates & FAQ
Immigration, travel, employment & more

UD COVID-19 Updates 
Impact on the University community

UD Spring 2021
Plans for the academic year

Travel & Visas

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has provided temporary guidance and
changes to regulations related to your immigration status. Please review the

CGPS COVID Updates & FAQ

 for changes to regulations that relate to employment, travel, maintaining status and other guidance from the university and federal agencies.

Traveling Outside of the U.S.

An F-1 or J-1 student planning to travel outside the U.S. whose I-20 or DS-2019 has not been endorsed for travel within the past 12 months must complete the Student Request for Travel Signature Form. In this form, you can indicate if any F-2 or J-2 dependents are also traveling. The travel endorsement from an ISS advisor certifies that the F-1 or J-1 student is maintaining legal status upon traveling and is expected to come back to continue studies or research.

* Please submit your travel request at least one week before your travel date as CGPS staff will have to review your school and immigration records.

Always check with CGPS before you travel to make sure your visa status is currently valid and will remain so until you return through the port of entry.

When traveling, remember to carry the following documents for your re-entry to the U.S:

  • Passport valid six months into the future. 

  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport (unless exempt, e.g. Canadian citizens).

  • Financial information showing proof of necessary funds.

  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel.

  • Proof of Insurance (J-1/J-2 visas only).

 


For F-1 students traveling on approved OPT, please also bring:

  • Valid EAD Card.

  • Evidence of employment.

 


For J-1 students traveling on approved Academic Training, please also bring:

  • Academic Training Approval Letter

  • Employer Letter


If you will be applying for a visa while outside the U.S., be sure to bring all documents listed above. In addition, you should also check the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will be applying to find out which additional items are required. Please visit the U.S. Embassy website for more information.

Travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Islands (other than Cuba) Adjacent to the United States

An F-1/J-1 student traveling to visit Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands of the Caribbean for less than thirty days may reenter the U.S. with an expired visa provided that you have been maintaining legal status. This process is called Automatic Visa Revalidation.


The adjacent islands are:

  • Saint Pierre

  • Miquelon

  • The Dominican Republic

  • Haiti

  • Bermuda

  • The Bahamas

  • Barbados

  • Jamaica

  • The Windward and Leeward Islands

  • Trinidad

  • Martinique

  • Other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea


You will be required to present the following documents at the Port of Entry:

  • A valid Form I-20/DS-2019 endorsed for travel.

  • A valid Form I-94 marked with D/S (do NOT surrender your current I-94 when you leave the U.S.).

  • A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your planned reentry or, a passport that is current through the date of reentry if issued by one of the countries on the list of the Department of State.

  • A previously-issued nonimmigrant visa (even for a different nonimmigrant classification).


However, if you meet any one of the following criteria, the special exemptions do NOT apply to you:

  • You applied for a new visa and it has not been issued 

  • You applied for a new visa and were denied

  • You have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status

  • You have been out the United States for more than thirty days

  • You are a citizen of one of the following countries:

    • Cuba

    • Iran

    • North Korea

    • Sudan

    • Syria

Read about requirements and support for family members on the CGPS Families & Dependents webpage.

All individuals who apply at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad for a U.S. entry or re-entry visa are screened before the visa is issued, regardless of nationality. After the events of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Department of State is especially strict and requires consulates to comply with pre-visa clearances on all cases, with no exceptions.

The consular post conducts an initial review of the application and interviews the applicant about his/her planned activity in the U.S. It is at this initial stage that clear and concise information about the student's teaching, research, or other activity should be explained. In most cases, the visa is issued within a matter of days or weeks. However, in some cases it is decided that further checks are needed.

  • The applicant has not spelled his/her name consistently on all documents (passport, visa application, supporting documentation). This can cause delays and confusion. The name given on the visa application and supporting documentation should be exactly the same as the name listed in the passport.

  • The applicant has not read and followed the tips and guidance on the website of the U.S. consular post having jurisdiction over the visa application; this can cause delays or denial. The consular post cannot understand the kind of work the person is doing and officers cannot assess the risk/benefit of granting the person a visa. A security clearance will likely be requested if the field is unclear.

  • The applicant is from a country considered to pose a risk or is working in a field that is considered sensitive in some way.

  • There are other individuals with the same or similar names. The consulate must rule out any incidents and clear up any hits the Consular Lookout (CLASS) system reveals on the name(s) in question.

  • The consular officer may tell the individual that a security advisory opinion (SAO) is needed and that he/she will be notified when it has been completed. In most cases, security clearances are completed within 30 days; however, there is no set time frame. The U.S. Department of State will neither discuss nor reveal the reason for a security advisory opinion on a particular case.

The consular post asks the Department of State in Washington, D.C. to initiate the process of requesting clearances from various government agencies and databases including the FBI, CIA, Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Asset Control, Interpol, the national criminal and law enforcement databases, the DOS Bureau of Non-Proliferation, and others. The Bureau of Non-Proliferation is concerned with technology transfer and other issues. This bureau considers lasers, satellites, and many other technologies that people study and research at the University of Delaware to be "sensitive" technologies with possibly risky applications or at risk of being exported. Satellites are considered "munitions." It is important to understand this in order to understand why University of Delaware researchers are subject to these clearances.

Although discretion to request SAOs always rests with the consular post, there are ways to ensure that the U.S. Consulate has the information needed to determine if such a clearance is really necessary

  • Make sure the student follows all directions from the Consulate and website and lists his/her name consistently on all documents.

  • Make sure that a student who is already at University of Delaware discusses his/her travel plans with the CGPS before leaving the U.S.

  • Provide the student with a brief, concise letter from the faculty sponsor or other department official describing the nature of the research.

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to speed up security checks. However, please report the delay to CGPS in case any forms need to be updated. 

Congressional offices are unable to help expedite visa issuance. The Department of State considers this to be a matter of national security and will not circumvent the security advisory opinion process under any circumstances. However, a combination of efforts on the part of congressional representatives, institutions such as the University of Delaware, and higher education associations has resulted in high-level awareness of the problems and there are on-going efforts for improvement.

Yes. All applicants need to fulfill multiple criteria to the satisfaction of the consular officer. The burden of proof lies on the applicant to demonstrate that the documents presented are genuine, the stated objectives are accurate, he/she has adequate financial resources, and he/she intends to return to the home country upon completion of the stated activity (except in the case of H-1B or O-1 applications).

Reprinted with Permission from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Before traveling outside the U.S., please ensure that you have set up your Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) using Google Authenticator. If you have used a U.S. telephone number for text alerts you may not be able to access your UDel account or Terra Dotta while abroad. For more information on accessing UD systems and setting up your account, please see the following IT webpages: "Using 2FA while traveling" and "Protect your University account with 2FA."

NOTEWORTHY

ELI Students: You will need to fill out a Leave Request Form for ELI before requesting a travel signature from CGPS. Students who do not submit this form on-time are not guaranteed permission to travel .

If you have any questions or concerns regarding travel and reentry into the U.S., please contact CGPS for more information.

Use your passport and the SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 form to schedule your visa appointment. Take all the previously mentioned documents along with your original admission letter, SEVIS fee receipt, and financial documentation (ex: stipend letter from the department, financial support letter, sponsorship letter, current bank statement) to the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country to apply for your visa. The U.S. Embassy website provides links to all U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.

Please be advised that the Department of State has added a social media question to Form DS-160, which requires applicants to indicate the social media platforms that they have used during the five years preceding their visa application. Consular officers are likely to review the information during the visa process, which may result in additional screening and visa issuance delays. For more information, see the Department of State FAQ on Social Media Identifiers in the DS-160 and DS-260.

Once approved, the visa is stamped in your passport. Canadian citizens are exempt from having to obtain a visa but must use their I-20s or DS-2019s to enter the U.S. and must obtain a Form I-94 clearly indicating F-1 or J-1 status.

You are permitted to enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date noted on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. You are required to report to and attend the school designated on your visa stamp and I-20 or DS-2019 form.

Read more on the CGPS Prepare to Become a Blue Hen webpage for lots of information about preparing for your journey and new Life in the United States.

Please note: You should have U.S. currency available for travel expenses and any emergency that might occur between arrival at the port of entry and arrival in Newark, Delaware.

Many students wish to bring their husbands, wives, or children to the USA. Usually, the best way to bring them to the U.S. is by using an F-2/J-2 visa. The F-2/J-2 visa is a “dependent” visa to bring family members to the U.S. who will be dependent on the F-1/J-1 visa holder.

Read about requirements and support for family members on the CGPS Families & Dependents webpage.

Depending on the embassy/consulate abroad, foreign nationals should anticipate up to one week's processing time for a visa. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide are available at the Department of State website.

The foreign national must pay the SEVIS fee before applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa.

In order for the foreign national (and family members) to apply for an F visa, the following documents must be submitted available for inspection at the closest U.S. embassy/consulate to the place of residence:

  1. Form DS-160 ("Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application").

  2. Receipt of the nonimmigrant Visa Application fee; a visa issuance fee (might be applicable).

  3. A passport sized photograph for each applicant.

  4. Original valid passport for each applicant with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must complete an application. 

  5. Original marriage certificate and proof of the dissolution of any prior marriages (and one additional copy), if applicable.

  6. Original birth certificate of children also relocating.

  7. Original I-20 Form properly endorsed by the Center for Global Programs & Services,

  8. Acceptance letter from the University, if applicable.

  9. SEVIS fee payment receipt.

  10. Bank statement or funding letter from the department or other institution.

  11. It is also recommended that the foreign national carry proof of ties to their home country, such as home or property ownership, bank accounts or other financial assets. These are supplemental documents and should be available in case the visa officer asks to examine them.

  12. You might be asked to provide transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended as well as scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.

In order for the foreign national (and family members) to apply for an J visa, the following documents must be submitted available for inspection at the closest U.S. embassy/consulate to the place of residence:

  1. Form DS-160 ("Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application").

  2. Receipt of the nonimmigrant Visa Application fee (NOTE: U.S. Government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are not required to pay application processing fees if participating in a Department of State, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), or a Federally funded educational and cultural exchange program which has a program serial number beginning with G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 printed on Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.); a visa issuance fee (might be applicable)

  3. A passport sized photograph for each applicant.

  4. Original valid passport for each applicant with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must complete an application. 

  5. Original marriage certificate and proof of the dissolution of any prior marriages (and one additional copy), if applicable.

  6. Original birth certificate of children also relocating.

  7. Original DS-2019 Form properly endorsed by the Center for Global Programs & Services

  8. Acceptance letter from the University, if applicable.

  9. SEVIS fee payment receipt.

  10. Bank statement or funding letter from the department or other institution.

  11. It is also recommended that the foreign national carry proof of ties to their home country, such as home or property ownership, bank accounts or other financial assets. These are supplemental documents and should be available in case the visa officer asks to examine them.

  12. You might be asked to provide transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended as well as scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.

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