Travel Dates

(Updated 02/28/2024)

All F-1 and J-1 students are expected to arrive at Northeastern University by the program start date that is listed on their Form I-20/DS-2019 in order to appropriately abide by federal regulations. The program start dates on the Form I-20/DS-2019 are aligned with the Academic Calendar of the University. Plan on arriving by the first day of the program start date listed on your Form I-20/DS-2019.

Remember: Students can only enter the United States 30 days before the program start date listed on their Form I-20/DS-2019. Students who attempt to enter the U.S more than 30 days before their program start date may be found inadmissible by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Late Arrival

We recognize that some students may experience extenuating circumstances outside of their control, and that may delay their arrival by a few days. If you find out that you are unable to arrive for the first day of classes, you must notify your College contact. For your convenience, you may click here for a list of each College’s contacts.

*No late arrivals may be approved by your College beyond the University Add/Drop deadline.

Last Day of University Add/Drop – Spring 2024 (last day to add classes)

Graduate Spring Quarter 2024 Students 4/22/2024

*If your Form I-20/DS-2019 has not yet been issued by your program’s start date, you are not eligible for late arrival and you will be required to defer your program. Please find more information here.

If your College contact approves your late arrival request, you will receive a support letter in an email. A late arrival support letter does not guarantee entry to the U.S. as all students should be entering the U.S. by the program start date listed on their I-20/DS-2019.

Upon entry to the U.S., you must complete the Online Immigration Clearance check-in so OGS can activate your SEVIS record in a timely manner.

Students who may need to travel to the U.S. later than the Add/Drop deadline must work with their College to defer enrollment to the next academic term. Please find more information here.

Required Documents

 Travel documents required for entry into the United States 

  • Valid entry visa for study in the U.S. (in most cases an F-1 visa or J-1 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. The process to request an expedited visa interview varies by location. You should refer to the instructions on the website of the Embassy or Consulate Visa Section where you will interview, or on their online appointment scheduling site. OGS is not able to provide letters nor is a letter required to request an expedited appointment if you’re eligible.
  • Visa supporting documents such as: 
    • Form I-20 (F-1 students) or Form DS-2019 (J-1 students/scholars). Ensure that you have a valid travel signature on your document. Travel signatures can be requested here. 
      • If your document is an Initial I-20 or DS-2019, you do not require a travel signature
    • Passport that is valid for at least six months after the intended entry into the US. 

If you need assistance with your travel documents, please contact OGS.

Travel Steps

  1. Apply for a visa
    • If you have recently applied for a F-1 or J-1 visa, submit the Visa Application Status form via myOGSWe do not recommend making travel plans until you have valid documents for travel.
  2. Arrange your travel 
  3. Register your travel 
  4. Ensure that you have gathered and printed the following important paperwork and pack it in your carry-on luggage for easy access: 
    • Original Form I-20 or DS-2019 (make sure you have signed it in the appropriate spot) 
    • Acceptance Letter from Northeastern University 
    • Proof of Funding (generally the financial documents you provided in your I-20/DS-2019 application) and/or a receipt of tuition payment (if available)
    • Proof of SEVIS Fee Payment (I-901 Fee Receipt) 
    • Passport, valid for at least six months into the future from the date of your arrival
    • F-1/J-1 Visa Stamp (in your passport)
  5. 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. 
    • 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.
    • Adhere to airlines’ COVID-19 safety requirements (if there are any).

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

After Landing in the U.S.

Primary Inspection 

When you arrive at the U.S. Port of Entry, you will first go through Primary Inspection. This is where a Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officer will review your documents to determine if you may enter the U.S. They may also ask you some basic questions. Provide truthful answers and ask for clarification if needed. Here are some tips: 

  • Be sure to tell the CBP officer that you will be studying at Northeastern University as an F-1 student, or a J-1 exchange visitor when you present your I-20 and F-1 visa or DS-2019 and J-1 visa.  
  • You will be issued an electronic I-94, which indicates your nonimmigrant status in the U.S, which should be F-1 student status or J-1 exchange visitor status. 
  • Currency: if you or the family members you are travelling carry currency amounting to more than $10,000, you must fill out an additional form to declare this. More information can be found here. 
  • Food items: there are restrictions on certain food and agricultural items that are allowed into the US. Please reference the CBP website for more details 

Generally, this step should not last more than a few minutes. Until recently, visa holders received an entry stamp in their passports, and the CBP officers noted D/S (Duration of Status) on F-1 and J-1 visa passport pages; this meant you are allowed to stay in the U.S. for the length of time indicated on your I-20 or DS-2019, provided that you maintain full-time enrollment and a valid F-1/J-1 visa status. 

Many U.S. airports have discontinued stamping passports with an entry stamp when entering the U.S. Instead, each time you enter the U.S., the CBP creates an online, electronic entry record to record your entry into the U.S. This is called your I-94 record (Scroll down to read Check Your I-94 Record for more information). 

If everything is in order, the CBP officer will return all of your documentation they inspected, and you can proceed to collect any checked luggage and/or transfer. Ensure that you have collected all of your belongings before exiting the immigration inspection area.  

If the officer has additional questions, you may be directed to Secondary Inspection. 

Secondary Inspection 

Secondary Inspection (also called Deferred Inspection) allows a CBP officer more time to ask you additional questions and gather information to determine if you may be allowed entry. It is not a punishment and does not mean that you will be denied entry. 

The officer may ask you additional questions or try to reach out to Northeastern to confirm your status. If additional information regarding your F-1 or J-1 status is needed, please request that the CBP officer calls the university to speak to a Designated School Official (DSO) for F-1 visa holders or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) for J-1 visa holders, using the following contact information (The operations center is staffed 24/7 for this purpose): 

Most importantly, ensure that you cooperate with the officer as much as possible so as not to create further difficulties. More information on Secondary Inspection can be found here. 

Check Your I-94 Record

The I-94 is an admission record that contains information about your most recent entry to the U.S. It is issued to all international travelers who enters the U.S. (with the exceptions of those who are part of a visa waiver program), and is updated with each entry you make. It contains your basic biographical information, as well as information about your visa status and how long you are allowed to remain in the U.S.  

Once you have successfully cleared inspection and entered the US, you should retrieve your electronic I-94 record here. Note that it may take a few days after your entry for the record to populate. You should check and save a screenshot of your I-94 record each time you enter the U.S. as the I-94 is the only official evidence of your entry into the U.S. 

Please review your I-94 record for accuracy. Two fields you may be unfamiliar with are “Class of Admission” and “Admit Until Date.” These fields should be filled out as follows: 

  • Class of Admission: matches what is listed on your visa stamp 
  • Admit Until Date: D/S (This stands for “Duration of Status”) 

Visa status other than F-1/J-1 must be corrected immediately (B-1/B-2, WT, or WB status does not permit full-time study in the U.S.) 

If anything looks incorrect on your I-94 record, please visit this page for more information on how to request a correction. 

Form I-515 or I-515A

The CBP officer may issue you a Form I-515A if you are missing paperwork, or if they are not able to verify your status. This form allows you temporary entrance into the US for up to 30 days, during which time you must collect and submit the necessary evidence to the government to be able to remain in the US for the duration of your F-1 or J-1 status. 

If you receive a Form I-515A, the Office of Global Services (OGS) is happy to provide guidance with your response to the government. Please complete the Request to Comply with I-515A e-form to notify us so that we may best assist. 

Note that an I-515A should not have any negative impact on your status as long as you respond in a timely manner. More information on the form I-515A can be found here. 

Departing the Airport

Car Service

A car service is great way to pre-arrange a convenient and safe ride from the airport to your final destination. OGS recommends Boston Carriage. Click here to visit their website and enter your reservation details. Use promo code HUSKY2020 for a 5% discount! 

Tips for using Boston Carriage:

  • Book your ride in advance as soon as possible to guarantee that there is availability on your date of travel. You will receive detailed instructions about where to meet your driver upon your arrival.
  • Make sure to build in a 60-minute delay for clearing Customs & Border Protection and baggage claim after your flight arrival time.
  • Traveling with friends or family? Consider booking a van instead of a car so there is enough room for your luggage.
  • Expect “no-contact service” to decrease risk of COVID-19 transmission; this means all cars are outfitted with a partition between the driver and passenger area, the driver will be wearing a face mask, and vehicles will be sanitized before/after pick-up.

Ride-Share Apps (such as Uber or Lyft)

  • Download the app before you travel. You can log onto wifi at the airport to use the app and communicate with your driver.
  • Some airports, such as Boston-Logan, have a designated Ride App pick-up area. After collecting your luggage from baggage claim, follow signs and head to the appropriate spot before ordered the ride.
  • Always check that the license plate of the car matches the information in the app to make sure you are getting into the correct car.
  • Ask your driver to wear a mask and put down the windows for airflow to decrease risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Public Transportation

Depending on your final destination, public transportation can be a great way to get around your new city! Make sure to look up in advance directions to get from the airport to your destination. Many areas have a transportation app you can download before you arrive.

Traveling to Northeastern for Commencement

International students, who graduated in a previous academic term, but who want to participate in graduate ceremonies at a later date (for example, a student who graduates at the end of the fall academic term wants to participate in graduation ceremonies at the end of the spring academic term), will have a Completed SEVIS record if they did not apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or continue in a new academic program. This means that your F-1/J-1 visa and I-20/DS-2019 are no longer valid for entry to the U.S. (even if they have a future end date) as you are no longer enrolled in a program of study.

  • 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 a Visitor Visa or the Visa Waiver Program if you are a citizen of a participating country. 

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