You should consider the following when planning to travel:
Travel Outside the U.S.
When traveling outside the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student or scholar, you will need the following documents to return:
- A valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity upon return to the United States
- If you plan to renew your passport at home please check renewal times before you travel so that your return to the U.S. will not be delayed.
- A valid F-1 or J-1 visa
- If your visa is expired, you will need a new unexpired visa to request entry to the U.S.
- If you have changed your status to F-1 or J-1 while in the U.S. you will need a new visa to re-enter. If you re-enter in your old status, the F-1 or J-1 status you have obtained through a change of status in the U.S. will be cancelled.
- Current Transcripts or proof of funding is not required, but recommended
- For J-1 students and scholars: DS-2019 endorsed for travel by an ISSS coordinator within the past 6 months
- For F-1 students not on OPT: a valid I-20 endorsed for travel by an ISSS coordinator within the past 12 months. If you are traveling outside of the U.S. and require a travel endorsement, you must submit the travel endorsement request through your ISSS Connect portal.
- For F-1 students on OPT: a valid I-20 endorsed for travel by an ISSS coordinator within the past 6 months and your valid EAD card and employment letter. If you are traveling outside of the U.S. and require a travel endorsement, you must submit the travel endorsement request through your ISSS Connect portal.
Your F-1 or J-1 visa must be valid to request re-entry to the U.S. Consider the following before traveling back and requesting re-entry to the U.S.:
- The expiration date of your visa must be on or after your return date.
- The number of entries listed on your visa allowing for your re-entry.
- The letter “M” in this section of your visa indicates multiple entries that are not limited.
- Some visas have a number for entries; ensure that you have enough allowed re-entries available to be eligible for re-entry upon your return.
Students with a valid visa in an expired passport:
- You may continue to use the valid visa.
- A valid passport is required to request re-entry to the U.S.
- You will continue to use the valid visa that is in your expired passport.
- You will need to carry both your expired passport with the valid visa AND the unexpired passport to request re-entry to the U.S.
- Make sure your valid visa is physically intact and does not have any cuts or holes in it, even if the expired passport does have cuts or holes.
Students with an expired visa:
- You will need to apply for a new visa before you will be eligible to request re-entry to the U.S.
- Visas can only be issued while outside the U.S.
- If possible, it is recommended that you apply for the new visa in your home country.
- It is not guaranteed that you will be given an appointment in a third country. Exceptions are made for citizens of countries where there is no U.S. embassy or for students who have another valid reason for being in the third country, such as residence in the third country or attendance at a conference in the third country.
- If applying in a third country, you must be prepared to spend a significant amount of time for the visa process, especially if you become subject to administrative processing or a background check.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for a complete list of visa requirements.
- F-1 students on OPT: you may be required to bring additional documents to the visa appointment.
If you plan to visit Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands (excluding Cuba) for less than 30 days, you may be able to return to the U.S. with an expired F-1 or J-1 visa. Make an appointment with an Immigration Coordinator to see if you qualify.
Upon your return to the U.S.:
- Review for accuracy, download, and keep for your records a copy of your new I-94 record
- If your entry is not reflected correctly after 24 hours from your entry to the U.S., make an appointment with an Immigration Coordinator for assistance
- Determine if you need to consult with an Immigration Coordinator if you were given any materials by Customs and Border Protection Officials at the Port of Entry (ex. an I-515A/Deferred Inspection I-94 and letter; DHS Form I-193)
Travel Within the U.S.
When traveling you should always be able to document your immigration status, particularly while traveling in the U.S. This means having your passport and I-20/DS-2019 with you.
You should be extremely cautious when traveling near a U.S. border to ensure you don’t unintentionally cross into a different country.