Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng left hospital in Beijing this morning in a convoy of unmarked cars and was taken to Beijing airport.
He and his family were issued with passports this morning, after having his visa approved by US authorities last week.
State news agency Xinhua announced that he had applied to study in the United States, "via normal channels in line with the law."
The brief report, citing sources from relevant departments, was the first official confirmation of Chen's activities. It did not mention whether Chen has left the country.
ITV News China Correspondent Angus Walker spoke to Chen from inside the airport this morning. He confirmed he was leaving to travel with his immediate family to the United States.
He said he hoped that the situation will improve for the relatives he leaves behind. He boarded the plan with a doctor and nurse with him.
The US State Department confirmed that the family have left China and are en route to America. He is expected to arrive in Newark, New York, at around 11pm (BST) tonight.