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International Immigration Advice for MBAs in the Trump Era

  1. Consider obtaining a Massachusetts Liquor ID if you don’t already have one.  While you will have to first obtain a Denial Notice from the Social Security Administration, this ID is sufficient for domestic travel in the U.S., and may help you avoid unnecessary questioning or detention as you travel domestically.  (see //

  2. Be aware that U.S. law enforcement officials may “inspect” your electronic devices at the border.  Although forensic searches are not allowed, “inspections” are authorized by the Department of Homeland Security.  If you are asked to unlock a device or enter your password, comply.  If you don’t, your device will be seized and you could be detained for up to five days.  If this concerns you, do not travel with electronic devices.  Those students with family and/or contacts in banned countries should be extra careful.

  3. Carry identification at all times.  U.S. law enforcement officials have recently conducted “spot checks” for undocumented immigrants, including on commercial flights.  Have all of your personal identification and travel documents (passport with visa, I-20, I-94, etc.) ready.  

  4. If you are detained or questioned, be cooperative.  This may seem obvious, but travel is stressful as it is, and tensions can flare.

  5. Be prepared to answer questions about your status, travel itinerary, and school attendance in the U.S.  Regardless of whether you possess a F-1 or J-1 visa, maintain records of your visa, enrollment in school, I-20, I-94, and any other evidence of your reason for being in the U.S.  The better you can answer questions, the easier any screening will be.  

  6. If a new ban is enacted and you are from an affected country, consult with an immigration lawyer.  If you leave the U.S., you may be detained even with a valid visa, or at worst, denied re-entry.  Depending on your port of entry, you may need an immigration lawyer to make your case with CBP.This is not the proudest chapter of U.S. history, but like me, many Americans want to help in whatever way we can.  Navigating the U.S. immigration system is not easy, and we are here for you at Harvard and at HBS.  The Harvard International Office also stands by to assist.  If you are traveling and face difficulty, you can also reach Harvard Travel Assist at 617-998-0000 or, where case managers will advise you and notify the Harvard International Office immediately to help.

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