The U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have increased the level of review that international visitors face at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad, at airports, and at border crossing posts with Canada and Mexico. Ultimately, each individual must decide for him or herself whether or not to travel abroad.
If you choose to travel:
- Always consult with an ISSS advisor prior to travel (perferably 30 days prior
to your departure date). We recommend that international scholars and employees email Sharon Loughran at firstname.lastname@example.org with your travel plans so she can advise you properly.
- Always carry your passport and valid immigration documents for domestic or international travel; passports should be valid for at least six months into the future.
- Always carry proof of Temple University employment or appointment such as an updated appointment letter or an invitation letter, and/or recent Temple University paycheck stubs. We recommend that you ask your department for an employment letter which explains what you do at Temple and when you are expected to return to the US.
- Be honest, patient, and courteous with all government officials even if they are not so with you.
- Be aware of “special” registration procedures for nationals of certain countries and for any nonimmigrant who has made unexplainable trips to these countries. Special registrants must use specific ports when leaving the United States. Special registrants departing from the US must “check out” with the Deferred/Secondary Inspections office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Terminal A. First, check your luggage with the airline. Then, “check out” with CBP. Be sure to arrive at the airport early enough to complete this procedure (several hours before your flight). The CBP Deferred/Secondary Inspections office is located in Terminal A West on the 3rd Floor of the Philadelphia Airport. They can be reached by phone at (215) 594-4141.
When applying for your entry visa stamp, please consider the following:
- You should consult the DOS website for appointment scheduling and visa processing information for any U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Be aware that Consulates may require in-person interviews before issuing visas.
- Expect changes in visa processing at some U.S. Embassies and Consulates, including mail-in or "drop box" service for visa applications.
- You may experience delays at U.S. Embassies and Consulates due to special processing requirements that have been imposed on non-immigrant visa applicants (particularly for certain nationalities). This may lead to a delay from several weeks to several months in visa issuance.
- As of September 1, 2004, new F-1, J-1, and M-1 visa applicants must pay a “SEVIS fee.” However, if you are applying for a visa extension, you are not required to pay this fee. Visit the ISSS's SEVIS Fee website before you travel.
- For scholars conducting research in certain technologically sensitive fields, on the Technology Alert List, DOS is required to conduct a security clearance prior to issuing an initial U.S. entry visa or extension of visa through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Clearance may take one to several months.
- If you believe there is a possibility that a security clearance will be conducted, we recommend that you submit a letter from your faculty sponsor with your visa application. When in doubt, we suggest that you submit the letter.
Be prepared when you travel for the following possibilities:
- Delays in flights within the United States and returning to the U.S. from abroad due to heightened security measures at airports and delays along the Canadian border.
- You may have your fingerprints scanned and a digital photograph taken upon entering the United States. as part of the US-VISIT program. You may also be required to comply with new "check out" procedures when leaving the United States.
- Inquiries and increased review of documents at all ports of entry for non-U.S. citizens.
- Multiple inspections by several immigration and/or customs officials.
- Possible photocopying of documents by immigration officials and possible videotaping of Immigration, Customs, or FBI interviews.
- Inspection of personal belongings, luggage, pockets, or other searches.
Reprinted with Permission from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology