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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spring Break Travel Advice

Spring Break Travel Advice

TITLE: Spring Break Travel Advice

Dear Students,

The following message provides recommendations for students in F-1 and J-1 status who will be traveling internationally OR domestically this Spring Break. If you plan to travel outside the Pittsburgh area, read this email carefully and contact OIE with questions or concerns.

OUTLINE OF TOPICS COVERED BELOW.

1) What documents should I carry for international travel?
2) What do I need if I will apply for a new US visa?
3) Will I need to follow US-Visit departure procedures?
4) What if I'm traveling to or through another country?
5) What about Special Registration (NSEERS)?
6) What should I carry for travel within the US?
7) What items can be carried on planes?
8) Where can I find more information?
9) How can I get in touch with OIE?

1) WHAT DOCUMENTS SHOULD I CARRY FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL?

Students should travel "fully documented." Expect attention to detail from the US border officer examining your documents upon reentry to the US or by US Consular officials if you must apply for a new entry visa. Carrying all of the documents suggested may keep your anxiety level low if you are carefully examined by US officials.

Carry with you:

--- Unexpired I-20 or DS-2019 with a current signature from an OIE advisor (F-1s within the last 6 months and J-1s within the last 12 months). To get a signature, bring your most recently issued I-20 or DS-2019 to OIE's front desk and pick up the document 3 days later.

--- Copies of all previous I-20s or DS-2019s

--- Unexpired passport valid 6 months into the future

--- Unexpired US F-1 or J-1 visa stamp affixed in your passport (See point 2 below if your visa will be expired when you plan to re-enter the US)

--- I-94 card (This will be collected when you leave the US and a new I-94 will be issued upon your return). Make sure that your I-94 card is marked with either F1-D/S or J1-D/S notations depending on your visa status.

--- Enrollment Verification Letter from the HUB (You may request this letter through Student Information Online acis.as.cmu.edu/sio/). Request verification of your name, class, college, department, dates of attendance, date of expected graduation). Allow 3 business days to make sure that you have the verification letter prior to your departure.

--- CMU ID

2) WHAT DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR A NEW US VISA?

--- Plan ahead! Contact the US Consulate or Embassy where you will apply for your visa before you leave the US. Most US Consulates now require a scheduled, in-person interview. Make sure you understand their visa application processes and that you have an appointment, if necessary. Remember, US Consulates and Embassies observe both local and US holidays.

Also, a US Consulate may close for an indefinite period of time if there are concerns about security in that region. A Consulate closing will prevent your ability to obtain a new visa, if needed. You should check the relevant US Department of State websites shortly before you exit the US as a last-minute precaution.

Information on US Consulates/Embassies abroad can be found at
www.travel.state.gov/visa/questions_embassy.html. The accuracy of the information on these sites depends on each Consulate keeping it current.

--- Security checks may add several weeks to the visa processing time. If subject, it is possible that you will not get a visa in time to return to the US before classes resume. If you will be subject to security checks, there is little that Carnegie Mellon can do to speed up the process. Additionally, students who work in fields considered to be sensitive by the Department of State may also be subject to additional scrutiny. You may request a letter from your academic advisor/department explaining your research/focus of study in plain, non-technical language and offer this letter only if asked at the interview. It may also be helpful to have a copy of your CV available if requested. (For further information on sensitive fields, visit the following web site: www.state.gov/documents/organization/86964.pdf)If you are delayed, keep your Foreign Student Advisor and your academic department informed about your situation.

--- Obtain copies of official transcripts from CMU and any previous schools that you attended in the US.

--- Obtain original financial documents, showing your ability to cover remaining tuition and living expenses to complete your degree. (Examples: bank statements for personal funds and/or department letters for CMU support.)  

--- Obtain a copy of your paid student account via the HUB. This proves you are not in debt to the school. If you have paid for next semester's tuition or have a positive balance on your account, this may be counted as proof of finances.

--- You may also be asked to show ties to your home country. Property,
other assets, family, and future job opportunities in your home country should be mentioned and documented. Offer such information ONLY if the issue is raised by the Consular official reviewing your application. Officials are looking for proof that you intend to return home after completing your degree in order to qualify for the F/J nonimmigrant visa.

3) WILL I NEED TO FOLLOW US-VISIT PROCEDURES?

Travelers entering the US are photographed and have a fingerprint scan as part of the US-VISIT entry procedure.

For further information on the US-VISIT program see
www.dhs.gov/xtrvlsec/programs/content_multi_image_0006.shtm

***NSEERS Special Registrants must be sure to follow NSEERS departure procedures regardless of port of departure. See section 5 below for more information.***

4) WHAT IF I'M TRAVELING TO OR THROUGH ANOTHER COUNTRY?

If you are planning to travel to, or in transit through, a country where you are not a citizen, you should check with that country's Embassy or Consulate regarding entry requirements. In addition to the documents you need for re-entry to the US, you may also need a visa for entry to any other country you may be traveling to or through. For example, the European Union (including the United Kingdom) is now requiring citizens from several countries, including India, to have transit visas for flights routed through the European Union. This rule may only apply to individuals with expired US visas. Contact the Embassy/Consulate concerned for more information:

www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/dpl/32122.htm


5) WHAT ABOUT SPECIAL REGISTRATION (NSEERS)?

EXIT PROCEDURES
If you have a fingerprint identification number on your I-94 card and you were fingerprinted and photographed separately from the US-VISIT procedure at the port of entry or at the local USCIS office, you are subject to NSEERS. This means that when you exit the US you must follow special exit procedures. You are required to go to a specific location in the final airport before you depart the US to report your intention to leave to Customs and Border Protection officers. If you fail to report your intent to depart, you may not be permitted to re-enter the US.  Even if it means missing your flight, DO NOT LEAVE THE US WITHOUT FOLLOWING THESE INSTRUCTIONS. Make an appointment to discuss this with your Foreign Student Advisor if you have concerns about this requirement. 

RE-ENTRY PROCEDURES
Whether you are already subject to NSEERS or not, you may become subject to the NSEERS/Special Registration requirements at the port of entry. 

For more information, visit the Special Registration Home Page at
www.ice.gov/pi/specialregistration/index.htm

6) WHAT SHOULD I CARRY FOR TRAVEL WITHIN THE US?

It is required by Immigration and Nationality Act that non-US citizens carry proof of their valid status while in the United States. If you will travel outside the Pittsburgh area, OIE recommends that you carry your I-94 card, passport, and all I-20 or DS-2019 forms.

7) WHAT ITEMS CAN BE CARRIED ON PLANES?

If you will be flying, make sure you pack according to current restrictions. Consult the US Transportation Security Administration’s website for US flights. Consult the website of the air carrier you will be traveling on for international flights.

US Transportation Security Administration: www.tsa.gov

8) WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?

OIE will strive to keep you informed via e-mail. If you would like to do research on your own, check out the resources listed below.

GOVERNMENT RESOURCES:

US Department of State: www.state.gov

US Customs and Border Protection: www.cbp.gov

US Citizenship and Immigration Services: www.uscis.gov

US Transportation Security Administration: www.tsa.gov

TRAVEL RESOURCES:

Carnegie Mellon International Travel Information: www.cmu.edu/itravel

The Pittsburgh International Airport: www.pitairport.com

Daily updates on safety and travel alerts: www.expedia.com

9) HOW CAN I GET IN TOUCH WITH OIE?

OIE will be open during our normal office hours over Spring Break.  The best way to contact OIE is to call 412-268-5231 between
the hours of 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday. If you are experiencing an emergency, communicate this to the receptionist and ask to speak with a foreign student advisor. You may also send a fax to 412-268-7832.

For routine questions that do not require an immediate response, OIE may be reached by email at oie@andrew.cmu.edu.

General information on travel and immigration issues can also be found on the OIE web site at: www.cmu.edu/oie

Best wishes as you make travel plans, and don't hesitate to contact us with questions!

Sincerely,

OIE Staff

----
Office of International Education
Carnegie Mellon University
Third Floor, Warner Hall
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 268-5231 Phone
(412) 268-7832 Fax
www.cmu.edu/oie