FAQ Regarding Problems While Travelling

Q:  I left the U.S. and my Form I-20 or DS-2019 has an expired travel signature, i.e.,  one that will be more than 12 months old at the time of my reentry to the U.S.  What should I do?

A:  The immigration officials at a U.S. port of entry have the discretion to readmit you for up to 30 days when you go through customs at the airport. You will likely be given the Form I-515A that has a 30-day admission period. It is very important that you report to the HIO immediately after you are back at Harvard. The HIO will give you instructions on correcting the I-515A to extend your permission to remain in the U.S.  It is essential that you submit your documents to an office in Washington, DC before the 30 days expire in order to maintain valid immigration status in the U.S.  Please contact your HIO advisor with any questions.

Q: What do I do if my passport and/or visa document (Form I-20, DS-2019, or I-797) were stolen or lost?

A: You must first contact the embsasy or consulate of your own country to get instructions on how to obtain a new passport. Sometimes, the new passport may be in the form of a travel document or a temporary passport. In the meantime, you must contact your HIO advisor to request a  replacement I-20 or DS-2019. Once you have your new passport and new I-20 or DS-2019, you must contact a U.S. embassy or consulate where you are and make an appointment to apply for a new F-1 or J-1 visa in your passport. You must have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa in order to reenter the U.S. If you are on any other immigration status such as H-1B or O-1, please reach out to your HIO advisor for instructions on how to replace your visa document.

Q:  What could I do if I left the U.S. and forgot to take my Form I-20 or DS-2019 with me or if my Form I-20 or DS-2019 was lost or stolen while I am outside the U.S.?

A:  The HIO can send you a new Form I-20 or DS-2019 if there is sufficient time.  We can FedEx the visa document to you if you provide us with a FedEx shipping label via eShipGlobal, a company that provides shipping services to students and scholars at a rate that is deeply discounted. We recommend that you use FedEx, since they have the best service from our building. Click here to sign up for the service.

Once you have set up your FedEx shipping label, please email your HIO advisor so s/he may use the label to mail you the visa document. In the eShipGlobal site, please be sure to select Harvard International Office in the department selection. You will receive a confirmation back from eShipGlobal once we activate the label, and you can obtain the tracking information directly from their website.

If there is not enough time for us to Fedex a new Form I-20 or DS-2019 to you, the immigration officials at a U.S. port of entry have the discretion to readmit you for up to 30 days when you go through customs at the airport. You will be given the Form I-515A that has a 30-day admission period. It is very important that you report to the HIO immediately after you are back at Harvard. The HIO will give you instructions on correcting the I-515A to extend your permission to remain in the United States.  It is essential that you submit your documents to an office in Washington, DC before the 30 days expire in order to maintain valid immigration status in the U.S.  Please contact your HIO advisor with any questions.

Q: What do I do if I encounter an immigration-related emergency?

A: The HIO has established an emergency telephone number to assist international students and scholars. This emergency number (857-302-3772) should only be used for immigration and visa related emergencies that require an immediate response when University offices are closed.  During the hours of 9:00 am -5:00 pm ET, Monday to Friday, please call the HIO main number at 617-495-2789.

During the time when the HIO is closed call the emergency number if you experience:

• Loss of your passport or other important documents while overseas
• Visit by government official at home or on campus. If you are asked to sign anything and you are not sure if you should politely ask the government official if you can call the HIO.
• Detainment at a U.S. port of entry like an airport. If you are asked to sign anything and you are not sure if you should politely ask the government official if you can call the HIO.
• Threat of deportation or removal. If you are asked to sign anything and you are not sure if you should politely ask the government official if you can call the HIO.