Information about Travel and Visas

We hope you’ll have travel opportunities during your stay in the U.S., whether to explore other parts of the U.S., to visit your home country, or to visit other places for holidays or professional activities.

There’s probably no better time to explore other parts of the U.S. than during your time studying or working at BU. Just make sure you follow these key guidelines:

  • U.S. immigration regulations require you to keep your passport in your possession at all times.
  • Your passport also serves as a required government-issued identity document for air travel within the U.S.
  • If you leave the Boston area, even for a weekend or vacation, we also recommend you bring your most recent immigration document with you. This is especially important if you plan on traveling within 100 miles of a U.S. border or to U.S. territories like Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Travel to Your Home Country  – You will probably want to visit home to see family and friends over holidays and school vacations. When you return to the U.S., you’ll pass through a U.S. port of entry, so you will need a valid visa and updated immigration documents. See our Travel Tips for detailed instructions.

Travel to a Third Country – If you decide to travel to a third country—a country other than the U.S. or your home country—you will need the appropriate documents and visas to enter that country, as well as valid U.S visa and updated immigration documents to re-enter the U.S. Learn more about travel to Canada, Mexico, or other contiguous territories.

Extended Travel – You may need to return home for an extended period of time for academic, family, personal, or professional reasons. You may also choose to participate in a study abroad program or conduct academic research outside the U.S. for a prolonged period of time. Always confer with the ISSO if you are going to be outside the U.S. for more than 30 days (excluding summer vacations) to understand how this will impact your immigration status, documents, and benefits.

  • !NOTE: Students and scholars that have completed their studies, Optional Practical Training, or employment cannot exit and enter the US using their current I-20 or DS-2019, regardless of grace period. Once you leave the US, the grace period ends. For more information about grace periods and restrictions, visit Exiting BU.

When to Avoid Travel

While we encourage you to travel for holidays, vacations, conferences, etc., there may be times when it is neither practical nor possible to depart the U.S. You may not have the documentation necessary for re-entry to the U.S. to continue your activities. Examples include:

  • If your visa has expired. If so, you must have enough time to renew your visa. You will not be allowed to re-enter without a valid visa.
  • If you are still waiting for F-1 OPT approval after completing all program requirements.
  • If you are in the process of extending or changing your status.
  • If you are in the process of applying for F-1 reinstatement.