International Students & Scholars Office


This section includes information on: 

  General Travel Tips 

International students wishing to travel outside of the U.S. need to obtain a travel signature from our office on their visa document (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019).  The travel signature should be within six months of their travel. Any student needing to visit the U.S. Embassy to apply for a student visa, must first contact the International Students and Scholars Office before travel for advice.  

Any student wishing to arrive in the U.S. after the academic session’s official start date (the start date as listed on the UMass Lowell Academic Calendar), must obtain prior approval from the International Students and Scholars Office. 

Any student wishing to take a leave longer than a one-week period during the semester or to leave the U.S. one week or earlier prior to the academic semester’s end date (the end date as listed on the UMass Lowell Academic Calendar), must obtain prior approval from the International Students & Scholars Office.   

Please do remember that you must have a valid visa stamp and corresponding visa document at all times when entering the U.S. (i.e. F-1 students must have a valid F-1 visa stamp and valid Form I-20 from UMass Lowell and J-1 students must have a valid J-1 visa stamp and valid DS-2019 from UMass Lowell when entering the U.S.).    

Do not re-enter on “B” Tourist status as it will cancel your F-1 or J-1 status immediately.  
If you run into any difficulty upon entering the U.S., be sure to contact our office immediately to review your entry paperwork.  We may need to take some action within a limited amount of time to secure your status. Contact us if you have any questions or are in doubt as to whether or not your U.S. entry was processed correctly.

Always  review your I-94 card when re-entering the U.S to ensure that it is properly processed.  The I-94 card should list F-1 & “D/S” or J-1 & “D/S” for F-1 and  J-1 visa holders. If you encounter problems at the port of entry and are uncertain if your paperwork was processed properly, contact our office immediately upon arrival for assistance.

  Visa Stamp Renewal - Check your Passport

If the visa stamp in your passport which correlates with your current legal status in the U.S. (F-1, J-1) is expired and you are traveling outside the U.S., you will be required to visit a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a renewal of the same visa status.  If you have changed your status while in the U.S. and are now legally holding a different status than the visa stamp last recorded in your passport, you will need to apply for the new visa category at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas before returning to U.S.

Important Sites to apply for Visa:

All F and M non-immigrant students and J-1 exchange visitors must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee on prior to applying for a visa to study in the United States. To make the process easier, is now accessible on mobile devices. 

  Obtaining your Electronic I-94 Record

Please be sure to print your I-94 Admission Record of Entry to the U.S. on You will need your passport and date of arrival to the U.S. (Note: You will receive an error message if your name is being entered inconsistent with how you have completed your boarding pass.)

  Security Clearance Screening (Administrative Processing)

Administrative Processing (Security Clearance Check) is applied to international students and scholars from certain countries and/or from certain fields (usually STEM fields). Visit the government travel site for information on Administrative Processing.  Anyone who is subjected to Administrative Processing will face long delays in obtaining a visa, sometimes as long as three months.  

Students holding an on-campus job, especially if the job is a Teaching or Research Assistantship should inform their on-campus employer(s) of the possible delays in returning.  The International Students and Scholars Office can assist to explain the situation to your UMass Lowell employer(s).

It is helpful to have certain documents ready when applying for a new visa or visa renewal if you are from a country which may undergo additional screening or if you are in a STEM field.  Most STEM fields are listed in the government’s Technology Alert List (TAL).   

The following is meant to help you be prepared in case you are asked to present additional documentation. However, do not present these items unless you are asked to do so. 

Some people may be asked to present some or all of the following:
  • An invitation letter from your UMass Lowell academic department outlining the research that you will be involved in. The U.S. Embassy wants to be sure that you will not be integrally engaged in any research that is of a sensitive nature and that you and your Academic Supervisor will follow Export Control guidelines. The letter should include your research experience and background. If you are being funded by UMass Lowell, it is helpful to mention the amount of funding and the source of funding.
  • Resume, when applicable which should include a list of publications.
  • Research/Study Plan, detailing your planned studies and research while in the U.S. It should include the name and email address of your advising professor and/or the department chair.
  • Official Transcripts, students who have already been studying in the U.S. and are applying for a visa renewal may be asked to submit their official transcripts.
  • Information on your Academic Advisor, students who have been issued a Teaching Assistantship and more importantly a Research Assistantship should print their advisor’s biography web page or request their Curriculum Vitae to be presented at the U.S. Embassy.

  Travel to a Third Country

Any International Student or Scholar travelling to Canada or Mexico or any country other than your own (i.e. travel to a third country):
  • Check if your country of citizenship requires you to obtain a visa to enter the third country;
  • If your reason for visiting the third country is to obtain a new visa stamp or visa renewal, first check with the International Students and Scholars Office.  You may be subjected to a long Security Clearance/Administrative Processing period (sometimes as long as three months) or you may even be denied a visa and denial of re-entry to the U.S.  

  Traveling to Canada & Re-entering the U.S. from Canada

If you are interested in Visiting Canada, be sure to check the Canadian Consulate General's official website in New York for the most current information. You are no longer permitted to apply for a Canadian visa in person, but you can drop off your paperwork in person.

You will need to complete the necessary visa application process, and submit the paperwork as per their instructions. (Be sure to follow their instructions carefully.) Typically, you will be required to mail in your documentation. If approved, your Canadian entry visa and documentation will be returned to you. In certain cases, you may receive a notice requesting an in-person interview to pick up your documentation.

Depending on your country of citizenship, you may need a Canadian visa to enter Canada. Also, depending on your country of citizenship, it could be a lengthy visa application process, as they may need to process a security check (i.e., Administrative processing). Their address is:

Canadian Consulate General; Immigration Section
1251 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020-1175
Phone: (212) 596-1628
Fax:     (212) 596-1790

NOTE: If you are travelling to Canada for the sole purpose of applying for a U.S. visa at the U.S. Consulate you are not guaranteed approval. You may be subjected to a long security check. be sure to first discuss your travel plans with the UMass Lowell International Students & Scholars Office. Third Country Nationals visiting Canada for the purpose of applying for a U.S. visa may be denied. It is always risky to enter Canada for this purpose.
  • F-1 & J-1 visa holders are allowed to re-enter the U.S. from Canada with expired F-1 or J-1 visa stamps provided they are re-entering within a 30-day period and have a valid passport (valid at least five years beyond the expiration date of their Form I-20 or Form DS-2019).
  • Note: H-1B Visa Holders re-entering the U.S. from either Canada or Mexico are allowed to enter the U.S. with an expired H1-B visa stamp provided that they are re-entering within a 30-day period and have a valid passport (valid at least five years beyond the expiration date on their Form I-797/H-1B Approval Notice). Canada and Mexico, however, are the ONLY two contiguous territories that allow H-1B visa holders to re-enter with expired H-1B visa stamps. 
For more travel information or specific information on travel to Canada visit the governments Canadian travel site.

  Traveling within the U.S.

If you are traveling in the United States to a location far from home, make sure to carry your original passport and Form I-20/DS-2019 with you at all times. You may be required to show these original documents to government officials. For local travel, you may also carry photocopies or pdf copies on your phone of above documentation, but if traveling by train, airplane, etc., away from your local area, you must  have the original passport and visa documentation in your possession.