FAQ Regarding Problems While Travelling

Please find information below regarding the steps to take in case of forgotten, misplaced or lost travel documents, or travel-related emergencies.

Travelling with an expired travel signature on Form I-20 or DS-2019

If you are travelling with an expired travel signature on your Form I-20 or DS-2019, i.e. a travel signature older than 12 months at your time of reentry, 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.

Lost or stolen passport and/or visa documents

If your passport is lost or stolen, either in the U.S. or while traveling, you must first contact the embassy 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.

If your visa documents (Form I-20 or DS-2019) have also been stolen or lost, 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.

Lost, forgotten, or missing Form I-20 or DS-2019 while outside the U.S.

If you are outside the U.S. and realize you forgot or misplaced your Form I-20 or DS-2019, 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.

Assistance for immigration-related emergencies

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.