Travel & Re-Entry
The following information will help you plan your trips within the U.S. and outside of the U.S.
Traveling in the U.S.
As an F-1 student, it is important to have your immigration documents with you while you travel. Your immigration documents include your passport, visa, I-94 card, visa document (I-20), EAD card [if applicable], as well as any other information that can verify your status in the U.S.
When traveling within the U.S. a travel signature is not required on your documents from the PDSO/DSO.
Traveling Outside of the U.S.
If you are traveling outside of the U.S. (including travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean) during the semester break and holidays, then you will need a travel signature in order to return to the U.S.
Each time you travel out of the U.S., you will need to complete the Leave of Absence Form and receive a travel signature from the PDSO/DSO.
A travel signature is valid for 1 year or only 6 months if you are on post-completion F-1 OPT. You can request a travel signature on your I-20 on any business day throughout the year and pick up your endorsed document the next business day.
Note: Travel Signature Day is offered so you can receive a special while-you-wait service.
F1 Visa Renewal
If your visa has expired or you have changed visa status while in the U.S., you must obtain a new visa before your re-entry to the U.S. It is recommended that you apply for a visa in your country of permanent residence. Contact the U.S. Embassy where you will apply for a visa for information about visa appointments, document requirements, and application processing times.
Please request for F1 Visa renewal supporting letter from the PDSO/DSO before travel.
Automatic Visa Re-Validation
For travel to Mexico, Canada, or adjacent islands, you may be eligible to travel and re-enter even if your visa has expired or if your visa category has changed. Your visa will be considered valid and in current status for re-entry to the U.S.
- Valid I-94 Card. Do not give this up when leaving the U.S.
- Endorsed I-20 for travel, or H-1B Approval Notice
- Travel is less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands
- Have maintained and intend to maintain non-immigrant status
- Has not applied for a new visa during the trip
- Has never had a visa canceled under INA 222[g]
- You are not inadmissible as a non-immigrant under INA 212
- Not a citizen of a state sponsor of terrorism
Traveling While On OPT
Under certain conditions, it is permissible to travel while on OPT. Read ‘Regulations on OPT Travel’
If you have applied for OPT and your application is still pending, you may leave and re-enter the U.S. with a valid passport, visa, I-797 receipt notice, and I-20.
Once your OPT is approved, you must have a job in order to re-enter the United States. In addition to a valid passport, visa, I-20, and EAD (Employment Authorization Document), please have a letter from your employer verifying that you will resume employment upon your return, as well as your dates of employment and salary.
If you have been approved for OPT but are not employed, it is not advisable that you travel.