Traveling Outside the U.S?

The Biden Administration has replaced country travel bans for Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen area, South Africa, and the United Kingdom with a vaccine-based policy for all U.S.-bound nonimmigrant travelers. The new policy, which became effective on 8 November 2021, restricts the entry of unvaccinated nonimmigrant travelers.

The full policy is available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/10/25/a-proclamation-on-advancing-the-safe-resumption-of-global-travel-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/.

According to the policy:

  1. You must be fully vaccinated to travel to the U.S. by plane if you are a non-U.S. citizen or non-U.S. immigrant (to clarify: F-1, J-1, H-1B, O-1A, E-3, and TN statuses are considered nonimmigrant and these visa holders must be fully vaccinated).
  2. You are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 when you travel to the U.S. by air.
  3. Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required in indoors areas of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the U.S. and indoors in U.S. transportation hubs.

Here you can find a list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines and acceptable proof of COVID-19 vaccination: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html#covid-vaccines.

Here you can find information about required proof of negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html.

More information about air travel to the U.S. can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/noncitizens-US-air-travel.html and at the U.S. Department of State website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/requirements-for-air-travelers-to-the-us.html.

  1. Valid visa and passport:

You must have a valid passport at least for 6 months into the future to travel internationally. If your passport is expiring, you will have to renew it before your travel or next time you travel to your home country. If your visa has expired or is expiring soon, you must apply for and obtain a new visa to re-enter the U.S.

  1. If you have a pending change of status application filed with USCIS, leaving the U.S. before you receive the approval will cause the application to be cancelled. Your application will be deemed to be abandoned.
  2. Be sure to have the UAF Police Department’s number (+1-907-474-7721) with you when you travel and especially when returning to the U.S. If you have an immigration emergency after IPI business hours, and need to reach us, call the UAF Police Department, explain your situation, and you will be connected either with Joanna Cruzan or Reija Shnoro.
  3. Check out the following U.S. Customs and Border Protection informational websites for useful information:
  1. Check the international travel guidelines of the UAF's Office of Research Integrity.
  2. If you are traveling over the holiday season you may wish to review 5 Holiday Tips from the Transportation Security Administration before leaving.
  1. Make sure your immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) has a current travel authorization signature. The signature must be dated within 6 months of your anticipated re-entry into the U.S. If not, you need a new travel signature. Please stop by the IPI office during our business hours with your current immigration documentation.
  2. Make sure you have a valid passport and visa.
  3. Before your return to the U.S., register for the next semester and carry a copy of your course registration.
  4. If you receive any UAF funding (research/teaching assistantship, athletic award) make sure to carry a copy of your funding documents with you.
  5. If you are not receiving UAF funding, have a copy of your personal financial documents to show that you can afford to continue to attend at UAF.

Note: If you are an F-1 student on post-completion OPT or STEM OPT, please contact IPI before you make your final decision to travel internationally.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Status:

  1. Make sure your immigration document DS-2019 has a current travel authorization signature. The signature must be dated within 6 months of your anticipated re-entry into the U.S. If not, you need a new travel signature. Please stop by the IPI office during our business hours with your current immigration documentation.
  2. Make sure you have a valid passport and visa.
  3. Copy of your current UAF contract letter (if applicable).
  4. Take a brief memo from your department or supervisor stating that you are on official leave and are expected back on (date); or that you are attending a conference on behalf of the department and expected back on (date).

H-1B and O-1A Status:

  1. Make sure you have a valid passport and visa.
  2. Copy of your current UAF contract letter.
  3. Obtain the original immigration form I-797 Approval Notice from International Programs and Initiatives. This must be returned to IPI after your return to UAF.
  4. Your copy of the application packet if you do not have a valid visa in your passport.

E-3 Status:

  1. Make sure you have a valid passport and visa.
  2. Remember to take your copy of the LCA and your current UAF contract letter.

TN Status:

  1. Make sure you have a valid passport.
  2. Remember to take your copy of your current UAF contract letter and the Form I-797 if the status was gained by petition to USCIS. Check with IPI before traveling due to special documents that may be needed.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has good information on entering the U.S. at https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors.
 
Going Through Immigration
Before leaving the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, check your passport to make sure it was stamped and annotated correctly. If your passport was not stamped correctly, it is very difficult to have errors corrected after you leave the U.S. port of entry. It is possible that you could be required to leave the U.S. and re-enter in the correct status before being able to resume your academic program or employment.
 
Canadians:  Do not use a NEXUS card is you have one and you do not use the NEXUS line. You will not enter in the correct immigration status and will need to leave the U.S. and re-enter.
 
Copies of Documents to IPI
On your return to the U.S. you must provide IPI copies of the following documents:
Students (F-1 and J-1)
  1. Digital I-94 Arrival record via https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/.
  2. The I-20 or DS-2019 if they were stamped by U.S. immigration officials.
  3. Your passport identification page if you obtained a new passport.
  4. Passport page showing the arrival stamp.
  5. The visa page if you obtained a new visa.
Faculty and Researchers (J-1, H-1B, O-1A, E-3, TN)
J-1 Visitor Exchange Status:
  1. Digital I-94 Arrival record via https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/.
  2. The DS-2019 if they were stamped by U.S. immigration officials.
  3. Your passport identification page if you obtained a new passport.
  4. Passport page showing the arrival stamp.
  5. The visa page if you obtained a new visa.
H-1B and O-1A Status:
  1. Digital I-94 Arrival record via https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/.
  2. Your passport identification page if you obtained a new passport.
  3. Passport page showing the arrival stamp.
  4. The visa page if you obtained a new visa.
  5. Return original immigration Form I-797 Approval Notice to IPI.
E-3 Status:
  1. Digital I-94 Arrival record via https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/.
  2. Your passport identification page if you obtained a new passport.
  3. Passport page showing the arrival stamp.
  4. The visa page if you obtained a new visa.
TN Status:
  1. Digital I-94 Arrival record via https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/.
  2. Your passport identification page if you obtained a new passport.
  3. Passport page showing the arrival stamp.
 
Glacier Tax Compliance
If you have a Glacier account you must update the software with your travel dates. Log in at https://www.online-tax.net/ to update your account.
F and J visa holders may be able travel to Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands with an expired F or J visa stamp provided that they meet certain requirements and their valid immigration document I-20 or DS-2019 has been signed for travel by the IPI staff within the last 6 months. For more information about the Automatic Visa Revalidation please visit the following websites:
 

- U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/visa-expiration-date/auto-revalidate.html

- U.S. Customs and Border Protection Information Center https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-1218?language=en_US

F-1 students may remain in the U.S. for 60 days and J-1 students/scholars for 30 days after their program completion date. This is referred to as the grace period following program completion. Employees in H-1B, O-1A, E-3, or TN status should consult IPI.

Individuals wishing to return to the U.S. after the authorized grace period or program completion must enter the U.S in another immigration status, such as the B-visa category or use of visa waiver if you are from a visa waiver eligible country.  Please see Frequently Asked Questions about the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) | U.S. Customs and Border Protection (cbp.gov) for more information about visa waiver program and Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).