All students planning to travel internationally, please refer to our HLS International Travel information.
For those students travelling abroad during spring break, it is important to note that membership in a recognized HLS group does not protect international students from immigration laws. In advance of travel abroad, all members of such groups should be informed of the following: unlike U.S. citizens and permanent residents, international students at Harvard may face difficulties when traveling abroad and returning to the U.S. during their studies. Before making a commitment to travel outside the U.S., international students should check their student visa documents, and speak to an advisor in the Harvard International Office (HIO). If the student visa stamp in the passport (F-1 or J-1) is valid for re-entry to the U.S., then the student may only need a travel signature on the appropriate visa document before leaving the U.S. Travel signatures are issued by the advisors in the HIO.
If the F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in the student’s passport is not valid at the time of re-entry to the U.S., the student will need to apply for a new one at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas (these visa stamps are not issued within the U.S.). Students must be able to prove their eligibility for a non-immigrant visa by submitting the appropriate visa documentation to a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. Consular officials expect to see evidence of ties with the home country, such as family, property, employment, bank accounts, etc. In some cases, a student may be required to have a brief interview with a consular officer. If the student fails to present sufficient evidence about his/her intention to return home, the consular officer may determine the student ineligible for a non-immigrant visa. If a student is denied a non-immigrant visa, he or she will be unable to return to the U.S.
Students (including U.S. citizens) may be required to obtain a visa stamp for permission to enter another country. International students may face difficulties obtaining visas to enter a third country because they are not residing in the home country. In addition, there is an immigration law which could prohibit some students from obtaining a visa stamp at a U.S. embassy or consulate in a third country (not their home country); this might occur if there has been some previous violation in the terms of the U.S. visa status.
International students should check with the HIO before committing themselves to a trip outside the U.S. Peter O’Meara is the advisor in the HIO for students at HLS and can be reached at 617-496-2819 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; the office is located at www.hio.harvard.edu.
Please contact the Dean of Students Office with questions about travel and information on the travel waiver form.