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If you are planning to travel overseas, make sure you have these things in order to re-enter the United States. Please consult the International Student Advisors in the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) for further information.

  • A valid passport. We recommend one that is valid 6 months into the future.

  • A valid F-1 or J-1 visa.
    - If you are traveling to Canada or Mexico or an adjacent island which includes Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea for 30 days or less, a valid American visa is not required for most countries. This is called Automatic Revalidation of an expired visa. You may be required to obtain a visa from any of these countries; check with their embassies for details.
    - Although you may need to obtain a visitor’s visa, depending on your country of citizenship, for Canada go to
    - If you are traveling to a country other than Canada or Mexico, but do not have a valid American visa, you must obtain a new one. To do this, you must get a new I-20 from the ISSO and supply financial documentation to verify sufficient funds. NOTE: Make sure that your visa will not expire before or during your trip. If you have been outside of the United States for 5 months or longer and your F-1 or J-1 visa is still valid (i.e., unexpired), you may need a NEW visa according to a recent State Department rule. Please check with the nearest U.S. consulate to determine if your visa is still valid for entry to the U.S.
    - If you are a citizen of Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea or Cuba, you are not eligible for Automatic Revalidation.
    - It is your responsibility to determine if the country you plan to visit requires a valid visa for you to enter.

  • Your I-94 card (white card in your passport). Remember to turn in your I-94 card as you depart the U.S. unless you are travelling to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island.  In that case, make sure you do NOT give this up when leaving the U.S. upon your departure.

  • A valid I-20 (F-1 students) DS-2019 (J-1 students) with a travel signature (page three on I-20) and revalidation signature (on the right side on DS-2019) dated less than six months from your planned date of re-entry to the U.S. from a Designated School Officer/Responsible Officer (Petra or Dave at the ISSO). You should check that your I-20 will not be expiring soon. For F-1 students, your I-20 must state “Continued Attendance at this school” on the first page of your I-20 section 3. If you need to obtain a new travel signature, you must submit your original I-20/DS-2019 and a photocopy of your class registration or an OPT card and allow one business day for the ISSO to process it.

  • Evidence of adequate finances.  Only if you are obtaining a new visa.

  • A copy of your current course schedule. You can print this through SAIL.

A student who entered the country on some other immigration status (such as H, L or B) and subsequently received F or J student status from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), should consult the ISSO before departing the United States, even to Canada or Mexico. Since such a student does not have an F or J visa stamp issued by a U.S. consulate, the student will need to petition for a student visa stamp at a U.S. consulate outside the United States to reenter on the student status. A change of status is valid only as long as the student is within the United States and abides by the requirements of the student status. It does not allow reentry without appropriate visa category.

For students under NSEERS Special Registration, please remember to leave enough time for your exit interview at your last port of departure.

TRAVEL ON OPT or OPT STEM (F-1 students)
Same applies as above plus:
  • Valid OPT card.
  • Employment offer letter.
  • Updated I-20 signature with the employers information listed on page 3.
ISSO does not recommend traveling outside of North America and applying for a new visa when on OPT.

  • ANY time you leave the U.S., there is no guarantee you will be allowed to return.
  • If you have applied for an extension of stay or change of status, these procedures must be completed before traveling outside the U.S.

For more information, go to Wishing you safe and happy travels!