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Travel

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:
 

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 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
  • 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 this request and your I-20/DS-2019 at least 3 business days prior to your required pick up date to allow for processing.

COVID-19 Update:
Please note that you do not need a travel endorsement to leave the U.S. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Government is allowing us to temporarily issue electronically signed I-20s and the I-20 document will be uploaded to your ISSS Connect portal.


 
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 or J-1 visa is expired, you will need to apply for a new visa before you will able to return to the U.S. If possible, you should apply in your home country. The following is a list of items you may need for your application. Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for a complete list of requirements.
  • A valid passport.
  • Current U.S.Passport size forward facing photographs with white background.
  • Your most recent valid I-20 for F-1 students or DS-2019 for J-1 students and scholars with valid travel endorsement
  • Proof of current funding that matchs your I-20 or DS-2019
  • Current transcripts
  • Non-immigrant visa application (found online or from the Embassy or Consular office abroad) and the appropriate fee
  • For F-1 Students on OPT: A valid EAD card and employment letter
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 or J-1 visa is expired, you will need to apply for a new visa before you will able to return to the U.S. If possible, you should apply in your home country. The following is a list of items you may need for your application. Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for a complete list of requirements.
  • A valid passport.
  • Current U.S.Passport size forward facing photographs with white background.
  • Your most recent valid I-20 for F-1 students or DS-2019 for J-1 students and scholars with valid travel endorsement
  • Proof of current funding that matchs your I-20 or DS-2019
  • Current transcripts
  • Non-immigrant visa application (found online or from the Embassy or Consular office abroad) and the appropriate fee
  • For F-1 Students on OPT: A valid EAD card and employment letter
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., please provide copies of the following to CIE:
  • your new I-94 record
  • 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)
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).