Traveling to Northeastern campuses located in the United States

UPDATED 09/23/2021 03:27 PM

As Northeastern responds to the global COVID-19 pandemic, our number one priority remains the health and well-being of our students and community. At each of our campus locations, our plans are guided by real-time COVID-19 updates and follow guidance from public health and government authorities.

This page contains up-to-date information on travel to the US, including and specifically related to COVID-19 protocol.  For information related to necessary paperwork, border crossing, and practical tips on airport transportation please see, Arriving in the US.

The information on this webpage is intended to help you make necessary arrangements for your travel to Northeastern. Please read carefully the below information and check back regularly to make informed travel plans. As always, we are available to answer your questions and to provide comprehensive advice and information on resources that may be helpful to you. For additional support, email us at:

If you need immediate assistance while traveling, call +1.857.214.5332 (for international assistance) or +1.617.373.2121 (if you need assistance at a U.S. Port of Entry).

If you’re traveling to Northeastern campuses in Canada or the UK, please read our guides to Traveling to NU Campuses in Canada or Traveling to NU in the UK

General requirements

Requirements for entry in the United States during COVID

All air passengers are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States.

  • Test must be taken at most three days (72 hours) before travel.
  • Travelers must be prepared to present COVID-19 test results.
  • Additional COVID-19 testing details can be found here.

Passengers must complete and present a signed Passengers Disclosure and Attestation to the United States before embarkation.

If you travel from a country or region placed on the United States Restricted Travel List (below), additional guidance is provided elsewhere on this page.

  • People’s Republic of China (except SARs Macau and Hong Kong)
  • United Kingdom (excluding Overseas Territories outside of Europe)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Schengen Area
  • Federative Republic of Brazil
  • Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Republic of South Africa
  • India

Required documents

 Travel documents required for entry into the United States

  • Valid entry visa
  • Apply for an Expedited Visa Appointment within 60 days of program start date: This option is limited only to students and exchange students who are within 60 days of their start date, and who have not been previously refused a visa within the last six months. For detailed information click here.
  • Visa supporting documents such as:

If you need assistance with your travel documents, please email [email protected].

Travel steps

1 Arrange your travel

2 Register your travel

  • Register your travel with the university via “MyTravelPlans” in the myNortheastern portal or directly through the GardaWorld Travel Security Portal (sign in with your NU credentials).
  • More information on the Travel Registry can be found here.
  • Access instructions for registering travel and activating an account here.

3 Research possible restrictions for the duration of your travel

  • Determine what is needed for you to comply with the relevant regulations for your travel (e.g. departure, connections, customs) according to your citizenship(s) and immigration documentation at each checkpoint.
  • Adhere to airlines’ COVID-19 safety requirements.
  • Be aware of the specific exit requirements from your point of origin and the entry requirements at any transit points, as well as the point of entry in the United States.
  • Pay special attention to:
    • Possible required quarantine periods at each point of travel.
    • Any test requirements or the need for proof of a negative COVID-19 test before departure.

If in doubt about any information, contact the relevant immigration or government authority of the countries of the travel.

State Advisories

Massachusetts (MA)

Before arrival

Review the following guidelines:

Upon arrival

Students arriving in Boston will be required to have a COVID-19 test on arrival and then get tested every three days if not yet vaccinated or once weekly if fully vaccinated. Students are not required to quarantine upon arrival.

North Carolina (NC)

Before arrival

Upon arrival

Northeastern members utilizing the campus are required to get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Washington (WA)

Before arrival

From March 19, 2021, the prior travel advisory of the State of Washington is rescinded, and travelers must instead comply with the Federal CDC COVID-19 travel advisory guidance.

Upon arrival

Northeastern members utilizing the campus are required to get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, even if they are fully vaccinated.

California (CA)

Before Arrival

Review the following:

Upon arrival

Northeastern members utilizing the campus are required to get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Vaccination Requirement for Fall 2021

Northeastern University has announced that the university’s fall plans envision returning to normal regular campus activities and in-person classes for the Fall 2021 term. All Northeastern students will be required to show proof of vaccination in order to undertake in-person courses at all Northeastern campus locations 

To make the attestation of vaccinationstudents will have to complete a Self-Report Vaccination Form found at vaccine.northeastern.eduFor more information, please consult the university’s student vaccination requirements for Fall 2021 or Vaccine FAQs 

After they attest that they are fully vaccinatedstudents will only be COVID tested once every seven days 

Notice for first-time United States visa applicants

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. diplomatic missions worldwide are operating on a reduced schedule, which may create some challenges for those needing interviews to complete the visa application process. 

Certain U.S. diplomatic missions are currently processing non-emergency visa applications. Please check the U.S. non-immigrant visa appointment wait times to see which embassies and consulates are currently processing visas and the wait time for each location. Please note, the site is updated regularly, and information may change.  

Students requiring visas should check in with the closest U.S. embassy or consulate before looking at other locations. U.S. diplomatic missions might be unable to process non-emergency visas in your country of residence.   

If you attempt to travel to a third country for visa processing, please be mindful of the following: 

  • Make sure the U.S. embassy or consulate you are considering processes non-immigrant visas for non-resident foreign nationals.  
  • What is needed to enter the third country.  
  • How will you return to your primary residence country. 
  • How will you support yourself if you are required to wait for a visa or need to return to the third country to gather the visa at a future date.    

Traveling to Northeastern University for Commencement 2021

International students who graduated in Fall 2020 will have a Completed SEVIS record(Active SEVIS Record or I-20) if they did not apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).  

  • Do not request a travel signature since you are no longer eligible for this benefit.  
  • Utilize alternate visas for travel to the U.S. such as Visitor Visa or the Visa Waiver Program if you are a citizen of a participating country.

Kindly note that since you have completed your studies, your F-1 visa and I-20 are no longer valid for travel to the United States even if they have a future end date. Please do not request a travel signature. You should plan to travel to the U.S. on a visitor visa or the Visa Waiver program. You can request a visa/travel support letter by completing the appropriate e-form.   

Entry into the United States for Fall 2021 Academic Term

This guidance takes effect on August 1, 2021.

Brazil, China, India, Iran, IrelandSchengen Area, the Republic of South Africaand United Kingdom 

Per the national interest determination by the Secretary of State of April 26, 2021, regarding eligibility for travel exceptions, students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE), which makes possible direct travel to the U.S. without needing to quarantine in a third country. No previously issued visas or NIEs will be revoked due to the new policy.

Be advised that the direct travel authorized by the national interest determination will only be possible after August 1, 2021. Keep in mind, travelers may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to beginning of their classes as listed on the I-20 Form. 

Students with valid F-1 visa who begin or continue an academic program that starts on or after August 1, 2021 do not need to contact US Embassy to seek NIE to travel. 

Travel from India 

In keeping with the Department of State’s commitment to facilitate legitimate travel to the United States, on April 30, 2021 Secretary Blinken announced that the same set of National Interest Exceptions applies to India 

F-1 visa holders or applicants 

  • Students who already possess a valid F-1visa, and valid I-20 can travel without taking any additional steps.  
  • Students seeking to apply for new F-1 visa should check the status of visa services at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (using the U.S. non-immigrant visa appointment wait times site). Those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 visa will automatically be considered for an exception (NIE) to travel. 

J-1 visa holders or applicants 

Students who are traveling on a valid J-1 visa may contact their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to request a National Interest Exception (NIE). National interest exceptions can only be approved for J visa applicants in the following categories: 

  • Students participating in an exchange program 
  • Professors 
  • Research scholars 
  • Short-term scholars 
  • Specialists 

All other visa holders or those seeking to apply for a visa other than F-1 

Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to learn if they qualify for a National Interest Exception. 

  • If a National Interest Exception is approved, you may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization, as appropriate. 

Please review the guidance on the website of your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for information on how to request a national interest exception (Example of NIE guidance: If you do not hear back from the Embassy within 2 business days, please forward the email you sent to the embassy to [email protected].  

Please make sure the email includes the following information: 

  • Your full name as it appears on your passport and U.S. Visa, the country of citizenship, and birthdate; 
  • Attach a photo of your passport’s biographic page and valid unexpired U.S. visa page;
  • Provide an explanation of justification for the request along with any evidence to support the request (please attach your support letter); and
  • Proof that the passenger contacted their home country’s U.S. Embassy/Consulate (the forwarded email should suffice). 

Please be advised that requirements to enter any country, including the U.S., are subject to change without notice. The university cannot confirm that you will be admitted into any specific country as entry into any country is at the sole discretion of the immigration/government authorities of that country, and the requirements may vary from country to country. 

Late Arrival Advice

Late Arrivals, U.S. campuses  

The arrival for your study must align with the academic calendar of the university.  When booking your flight, keep in mind that you may enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the program start date listed on your Form I-20/DS-2019. 

Please consult the Academic Calendar for important dates of your program. Make sure you view the calendar that is specific for your level of study and academic college or school.  

OGS has identified the following dates for late arrival in Fall Semester and Winter Quarter 2021: 

If you cannot arrive by the program start date indicated on your Form I-20you must request an approval to arrive late from your college 

  1. Once approved, the college will then submit a Late Arrival Request e-form to OGS on your behalf. 
  1. Students will then receive an email with a link to complete a Travel Support Letter Request which explains to Customs & Border Protection that your late arrival has been approved by your institution. 
  1. OGS will process the request and email the letter to the student. You may present the letter during Primary or Secondary inspection if needed. 

Please ensure that you have connected with your professors regarding your late arrival so that any necessary arrangements for the first few class sessions can be made. 

Undergraduate students must contact campus housing directly.  

OGS will assist with Orientation.  

Late Arrivals, Canadian campuses  

Please refer to your program start date on your Proof of Acceptance Letter (POA). The last day to arrive to attend courses at the Canadian campuses is the first day of classes, as indicated on the POA. IRCC recommends that you should arrive no earlier than 30 days prior to the start of classes. You may be refused entry if you arrive too early. 

If you are unable to arrive prior to the start of your classes, please email [email protected] for instructions and guidance.  

Late Arrivals, NCH London campus  

All students on NCH programs are expected to arrive in the U.K. by the latest acceptance date. 

Onesemester – Standard Visitor Visa 

  • The latest date students should arrive in London is the 5th September 2021.  
  • NCH provides students with a supporting visa letter that confirms program particulars, including program dates, to provide to the U.K. Border Control upon arrival. 
  • There should be no issues at Border Control for late arrivals. If you experience any issues at Border Control, please contact [email protected] 
  • Total stay cannot be more than 6 months, and cannot be extended. 

Twosemester  – Student Route Visa 

  • The latest date students should arrive in London is the 5th September. 
  • If the student is not arriving within the deadline, then the immigration officers at the port of entry may refuse entry to the U.K.  
  • If the student is unable to join the program by the latest acceptance date, then they must inform the GEO office at Northeastern University, who informs the NCH visa compliance office to commence withdrawal of the visa sponsorship with the UKVI. 
  • The earliest a student can arrive in the U.K. is a month prior to their course start date.  


The university understands that international travel during this time may be challenging due to restrictions and guidelines issued by individual countries.

Please be advised that requirements to enter any country, including the United States, are subject to change without notice. The university cannot confirm that you will be admitted into any specific country as entry into any country is at the sole discretion of the immigration/government authorities of that country, and the requirements may vary from country to country.

The following guidance is solely for informational purposes. It is your decision whether you chose to travel to campus. You should adhere to the health and travel guidance issued by your home country, and each country you intend to depart from, transit through (if applicable), and arrive to.

Any mention of a transit country or airline does not constitute an endorsement of the country or airline.

Wherever possible, we have provided the direct link to public resources and government-issued guidance. If the link is broken, please notify [email protected].