CDC Update on International Flyers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that all air travelers arriving to the U.S. on or after January 26, 2021, are required to have a COVID-19 test within 3 days before their flight the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline, or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.

This new testing requirement applies to international air travelers as well as U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents arriving to the U.S. from abroad.

For further details see:

Preparing to Enter the U.S. in F-1 Status

The Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) has put together some tips to help international students preparing to travel to the U.S. in F-1 status.

Make Certain Your Immigration Documents are in Hand and Up-to-Date

As you pack your bags for travel, make certain you have the immigration documents required for you to enter the U.S. in F-1 student status.

  1. Valid Passport – with an expiration date at least 6 months into the future
  2. Valid F-1 visa (Canadian citizens are visa exempt)
  3. Emerson Form I-20* printed out in paper copy
  4. Also suggested: I-901 SEVIS Fee Receipt

*Returning students: Your Form I-20 must be signed (on page 2) within 12 months of the date you intend to enter the U.S. If you need an updated I-20 Travel Signature, please submit an OISA Request Form. Allow 48 hours for Travel Signature requests. 

New first time students: No page 2 signature is required until after you have arrived in the U.S.

Admission to the U.S. through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

As you request admission to the U.S. in F-1 status, be well prepared for immigration and customs inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP):

  • Print out a paper copy of your electronic I-20. While you may have received your Form I-20 electronically via email attachment, you must print a hard copy (paper copy) to carry with you and present to CBP.
  • Carry your immigration documents in your hand luggage. You will pass immigration inspection before retrieving your checked bags. Be sure you have your Form I-20 and other support documents with you in your hand luggage.
  • Complete your Form I-94 in flight. You will need to complete a Form I-94 Arrival Form on the airplane prior to your U.S. landing.
  • Carry proof of Emerson’s hybrid learning plan. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Guidance prohibits new students from entering the U.S. for study that is 100% online. Consider carrying proof of your course registration and of Emerson’s hybrid study plan.
  • Pay attention to customs restrictions. In addition to immigration requirements, pay attention to U.S. customs restrictions, including banned substances and currency reporting. See: 

COVID-19 reporting, quarantine and testing

Make certain you are familiar with Emerson’s Return to Campus Guide. 

Baseline COVID-19 Testing Upon Arrival to Campus

All Emerson students will be required to complete baseline COVID-19 testing immediately upon arrival and quarantine until they receive a result. Students who test negative will not need to continue quarantine.

Complete Massachusetts Travel Form

All international travelers arriving in Massachusetts must complete the Massachusetts Travel Form and must quarantine for 14 days unless they can provide proof of a negative test result. See:

Travelers arriving from other states (including Massachusetts residents who have left the state except for transitory travel) must also complete the form unless they are coming from a low-risk state or meet exemption criteria.

  • Enter personal information as requested (full name, address, and contact information)
  • A U.S. cell phone number is required. You will need a U.S. cell phone to complete the Travel Form as well as to complete COVID-19 baseline testing upon arrival to campus. If you do not have a U.S. cell phone, consider registering for a number through a web-based program or app before entering the U.S. Consider using Google Voice or the TextNow app.
  • The “Home Address” field requires a U.S. address. Emerson students may enter their on-campus dorm address (or off-campus residence) for both their “Home” address as well as their “Massachusetts address”. 

Other Campus Resources

Additional information about arrival to the U.S. and to Emerson campus can be found at:

We look forward to having you on campus soon! Stay tuned for additional information about orientation and semester check-in.