When you are traveling internationally and need to re-enter the country, there are several documents you will need and specific procedures you should follow.

You should consider the following before any international travel:

Is my passport valid?

Your passport must be valid at least six months into the future to enter the U.S.  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.

Do I have the appropriate visa for my status?

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.

Is my visa valid for re-entry to the U.S.?

Your F-1 or J-1 visa stamp must be valid to re-enter the country.  You must consider the expiration date of the visa and the number of entries you have remaining on your visa.  The letter “M” indicates multiple entries that are not limited.  Some visas have a number for entries.

If you still have a valid, unexpired F-1 or J-1 visa stamp for your current F-1 or J-1 program in an expired passport, you may continue to use the visa. To do so, you will need to carry both your expired and unexpired passport AND you have to ensure that the visa is physically intact (i.e. does not have any cuts or holes in it, even if the passport does have cuts or holes).

If your F-1 visa stamp has expired, you will need to apply for–and be granted–a new F-1 visa by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you are eligible to re-enter the U.S. It is not possible to “renew” a visa while you are in the U.S.

Do I need a travel signature on my DS-2019?

F-1 and J-1 students and F-1 and J-2 dependents need a travel signatures from CIE on their I-20s or DS-2019(s) for re-entry to the U.S.  Plan to have your original and most recent I-20s or DS-2019(s) signed by a Designated School Official or Responsible Officer at CIE at least one week before travel. The Travel Signature Request form is here.

Do I need to do anything upon my return?

Upon your return to the U.S., please provide copies of the following to CIE:

  • your new I-94 record. You may obtain a copy of your I-94 record from
  • the Port of Entry admission location, status and date stamp in your passport
  • your new F-1 or J-1 visa stamp (if applicable)
  • any materials you were given 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)

Traveling 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.

More Questions About Travel?

CIE’s International Student Immigration Coordinators are happy to talk with you about your personal travel questions. Advising is available by appointment or during Walk-In Advising hours (Monday-Thursday: 10am-12pm & 2-4pm, Garland 138).