Do you need a travel signature?

All F-1 and J-1 visa holders planning to travel abroad and request reentry to the US must have a valid travel signature (endorsement) on their I-20 or DS-2019 form.

In order for the signature to be considered "valid," it must be less than one year old at the time of your return. To request a travel signature, please follow the steps below.

Traveling abroad? Be sure to plan ahead!

If you are a current F-1 or J-1 student planning to travel abroad, be sure to carry the following documentation with you when you request reentry into the United States.

All F-1 and J-1 visa holders:
  • A valid passport, with at least 6 months of validity remaining
  • A valid F-1 or J-1 visa*
    • *Exception: If you are a Canadian citizen, you will not have a visa stamp in your passport.

Visitor Visas for Family Graduation Guests

International Seniors,

Many of you have family members who are starting to think about plans for visiting the United States to attend your graduation, possibly including the need to apply for visitor visas to enter the United States. At many US embassies and consulates abroad, applicants for visitor visas to attend graduation are recommended or required to submit a “letter of invitation" from the College, confirming the legitimate basis for the applicant’s visit to the US. These letters of invitation for the families of international students and international family members of domestic students are issued through the Center for International Student Engagement (CISE).

Once you have submitted the required information on the form below, we will prepare the necessary letter(s) and notify you by email when they are ready. The letters will be sent to you via campus mail. You may then send the letter(s) to your family member(s) for inclusion with the visa application.

Please note that the form provides space for the request of 5 letters. If you need more than 5 letters, please complete a second form.

You should allow at least one week for preparation of the letter(s).

If you have questions, please feel free to visit us during advising hours or email us.

Student Pronouns (as you would like for them to appear in the letter): *
Person(s) who will require a "letter of invitation" for US visitor visa application.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for New International Students

Below are some of the questions that new students most frequently ask. The answers have been provided by many Amherst community members such as current students, including the International Students Association.

Learn about how to apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa!

Applying for a US visa might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Explore the sections below to learn more about the process for F-1 (nonimmigrant student) and J-1 (exchange visitor) applicants. And when in doubt, please do not hesitate to contact the Center for International Student Engagement (CISE).


Helpful Information for New International Students

Congratulations on your admission to Amherst College! We look forward to welcoming you to campus soon. The coming months will be a busy and exciting time as you make plans for your new academic adventure. Some of your first and most important tasks will be completing the steps necessary to apply for the proper visa, planning your travel, and preparing for Pre-Orientation. The information in this section will help guide you through the visa application process and provide key information to help you get started with your planning.

Political yet Personal: Student Documentaries Explore Torture and Immigration

June 16, 2015


A former military police officer attempts to reconcile his love for music with the memory of hearing it used as a weapon while stationed at Guantanamo Bay.

An immigrant family from Cuba mourns the loss of their wife/mother/grandmother thousands of miles from the place they know as home.

These are the real stories behind two documentaries filmed, edited and produced by Ashley Blasczyk '15 and Joyzel Acevedo '15 as part of their Film and Media Studies senior thesis projects.


Local History, and an Unjust Execution, Take Center Stage in Professor’s New Opera

Submitted on Monday, 9/23/2013, at 10:31 AM

In Northampton, Mass., in 1806, two Irish immigrants, Dominic Daley and James Halligan, were hanged in front of 15,000 cheering spectators for a murder they did not commit. This September, Northampton’s Academy of Music staged world-premiere performances of The Garden of Martyrs, a new opera that dramatized this miscarriage of justice. The opera featured music by Amherst College’s Associate Professor Eric Sawyer and libretto by UMass Professor Harley Erdman.

Ilan Stavans Pens Lyrics for Immigration-Themed “Tres Colores” Choir Concert at Amherst College

April 12, 2013

AMHERST, Mass. — Ilan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, has chronicled aspects of his own immigrant experience from Mexico City to the United States in memoirs, poetry, books and graphic novels.

For the last several months, he’s been collaborating with a children’s chorus, renowned composers and the Amherst College Concert Choir to add music to his creative repertoire, while bringing talented children and college students together to address the theme that’s consumed much of his creative energy.

The end result will appear onstage in Buckley Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 12, when the college and the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation sponsor the world premiere of Tres Colores,a musical journey of immigration and hope in America. The event is free and open to the public.