Documents Required to Enter the U.S.
- Passport, valid for at least six months into the future
- Most recent I-20, signed for travel within the last 12 months
- Proof of I-901 (SEVIS) fee payment
- Valid F-1 visa (except passport holders of Canada and Bermuda)
Traveling? Request a Travel Signature on your Form I-20
If you plan to travel outside the U.S., check the signature on page 2 of your most recent Form I-20. A travel signature is valid for 12 months.
If the signature will be older than 12 months on the day you plan to return to the U.S., bring your most recently issued Form I-20 to Interntational Student Services (ISS) during our drop-in hours (login required) to request a travel signature.
Students who cannot bring their I-20 in during drop-in hours can leave their Form I-20 at the ISS office. It will take one week for ISS to process the signature request. If you are departing the U.S. in less than one week, you can either give permission for a friend to pick up your Form I-20 or provide a prepaid express mail shipping label. To have your Form I-20 shipped to you, follow the instructions to complete an express mail shipping label. Either submit the label with the signature request or email label to email@example.com.
How to Apply for a New F-1 Visa
Make an appointment at the U.S. embassy/consulate in your home country. Applicants for F-1 visas are given priority for visa interview appointments; however, you must consider the time it will take to issue the visa stamp and return your passport to you. Check the Department of State website for visa appointment and processing wait times.
*Passport holders of Canada or Bermuda are not required to apply for an F-1 visa; entry to the U.S. will be processed as an F-1 visa holder based on your Form I-20, I-901 (SEVIS) fee receipt, and valid passport.
How to Schedule a Visa Interview
Please check with the embassy/consulate where you will be applying to verify the required application documents and procedures.
Here is a list of all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Information on how to apply for an F1 visa is available online or at the embassy/consulate. All male applicants must also complete and submit the DS-157 form available online or at the embassy/consulate.
Documents to Bring to the Visa Interview
- Your most recent I-20, signed for travel on page 2 within the last 12 months. We recommend that you also bring all issued Form I-20s.
- SEVIS (I-901) fee payment receipt.
- Passport, valid for at least six months beyond your travel date.
- Financial documents to prove that you have access to the required financial resources to support your academic and living expenses in the U.S. The minimum amount you must show is listed on page 1 of your Form I-20. Financial documents should be dated within six months of your visa interview date. Financial documents can include bank statements or letters, scholarship letters, and so on. An Affidavit of Support must accompany all financial documentation that is not from your own personal account.
- Official Berklee transcript or degree audit: Official trancripts are requested online. Degree audits must be requested from the Registrar's Office in person.
- Enrollment verification letters are requested online (login required) from the Registrar's Office.
- Proof of ties to your home country. Examples include the following:
- Official letters (issued by the bank or other governing body) proving that you or your family own a business in your home country
- Deeds or papers showing that you or your family own property in your home country
- If you or your family have made numerous visits to the U.S., passports (even old ones) that show that you or your family have returned home after each visit
- Proof of membership in a professional organization in your home country
- If you have the prospect of a job offer in your home country, a letter from the company saying that you will be considered for employment upon your return or that professionals with your academic qualifications are needed in your home country
F-1 Visa Validity
What if your visa is expiring while you are in the U.S.? The visa stamp on your passport is your permission to enter the U.S. It indicates the number of times you may enter the U.S. and the time period for which this permission is valid. You do not need the visa to be valid while you are in the U.S.
Do you need a valid visa while in the U.S.? No. You do not need a valid visa while in the U.S. Your visa does not need to be valid for you to stay in the U.S. and may expire while you are here. A visa is an entry permit only: it just needs to be valid when you enter the U.S.
Can you apply for a new F-1 visa while in the U.S.? No. You cannot apply for a new F-1 visa while you are in the U.S. If you leave the U.S. and want to reenter, you can apply at a U.S. embassy/consulate for a new visa.
Automatic Visa Revalidation
Entering the U.S. with an expired F-1 visa is allowed under limited circumstances. After initial entry to the U.S., persons in F-1 status who have an expired F-1 visa in their passport may re-enter the U.S. without obtaining a new U.S. visa if their travel was solely to a contiguous territory (Canada or Mexico) or adjacent Caribbean islands* (excluding Cuba) and their travel was for less than 30 days. This procedure is known as "automatic revalidation."
*Adjacent Caribbean islands are defined as Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Dutch territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea.
To qualify for automatic revalidation, you must not apply for a new visa while outside the U.S.
If you intend to enter the U.S. under this provision, be sure to print out and take this information sheet, which includes a list of items for you to have in your possession and the citation to show the airline and/or U.S. port of entry (if they have any questions).
- If you are a citizen of Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, or Libya, you are not eligible for automatic revalidation of your expired nonimmigrant visa.
- If you have applied for a new visa while out of the country, you may not re-enter the U.S. until the new visa is issued, even if your old visa is still valid.
Travel to Canada
Citizens of some countries are required to apply for a visa before entering Canada. Click on the following links for information on applying for a Canadian visa:
- Canadian visitor visa application information
- List of countries whose citizens need visas to travel to Canada
- Canadian consulate in New York
Travel to Mexico
Citizens of some countries are required to apply for a visa before entering Mexico. Click on the following links for information on applying for a Mexican visa:
- Mexican visitor visa application information
- List of countries whose citizens need visas to travel to Mexico
- Mexican consulate in New York
Travel to the United Kingdom
Citizens of some countries are required to apply for a visa before entering the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). Click on the following links for information on applying for a visa for the United Kingdom: