Enjoy your trip! Travel within the United States does not require a travel signature or any special documents. If you are leaving the U.S. and intend to return in the same visa category, the information below will help you determine what documents you need.
Before you leave:
Valid I-20/DS-2019 Travel Signature
For F-1 students: If the information on your I-20 is correct, you will need a travel signature on the 3rd page of your I-20. Travel signatures are valid for 1 year. Drop your I-20 and a completed Travel Signature Request Form off at the OIS front desk (2111 Holzapfel Hall). You may pick it up after 2:00 pm on the next business day.
For J-1 students: If the information on your DS-2019 is correct, you will need a travel signature on the 1st page of your DS-2019. Travel signatures are valid for 1 year. Drop your DS-2019 and a completed Travel Signature Request Form off at the OIS front desk (2111 Holzapfel Hall). You may pick it up after 2:00 pm on the next business day.
Re-entering the US:
- Check the expiration date of your passport. Your passport should be valid, at a minimum, for 6 months beyond your expected date of re-entry to the U.S.
- If you need to extend your passport, contact your embassy in Washington D.C. for instructions. If you are issued a new passport and you still have a valid student visa in the old passport, ask if you can carry both; thereby allowing you to use the visa. Otherwise, on your next trip outside the U.S., you will have to apply for a new visa stamp.
- The current form should be up to date. Check the expiration date and major field of study.
- If any of the information has changed, you will need a new I-20/DS-2019. Submit an Update Request Form with the required documentation listed on form to OIS.
All Previous I-20s/DS-2019s
- Carry all of your I-20s/DS-2019s with you when you travel. The Immigration Official at the port of entry may want to see your history. This is particularly important if you have transferred from one school to another, changed program levels, or extended your program.
Valid F-1/J-1 Visa
Proof of Funding
- Ensure that your student visa is still valid. If your visa has expired or all entries have been used then you will need to apply for a new visa stamp while you are abroad.
- If you will need to obtain or renew your visa before you return, make sure the US embassy or consulate where you plan to apply will be open and able to issue your visa in the time you have available. You can obtain advance information about schedules and processing procedures at many US consulates via the State Department website. You can obtain the State Department's estimate of visa wait times at most posts. Visa issuance can be delayed by months due to security checks.
- This should be the same source of funding as is listed on your I-20/DS-2019.
Proof of registration (recommended)
- Transcript from the Registrar showing past enrollment
- Documentation showing future enrollment
Special Travel Situations
Traveling while on OPT/AT
- For F-1 on OPT: Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
- For J-1 on AT: Your J-1 Authorization Letter
- A letter from your employer indicating that you have a temporary job in your field of study and are returning to accept or continue employment
- Your valid passport
- Your valid F-1/J-1 visa
- Your current I-20/DS-2019 with a travel signature
- Your old I-20s/DS-2019s
If your visa stamp has expired, if you have not yet received your EAD or if you are not yet working, then see an OIS advisor before traveling while on OPT.
Travel for dependent family members
F-2/J-2 spouses and children, whether traveling with the F-1/J-1 student or not, need certain documents to re-enter the U.S.:
- Valid passport
- Valid F-2/J-2 visa
- Travel signature on the F-2 I-20 / J-2 DS-2019
F-2 visa holders are also eligible for automatic visa revalidation in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands (see below).
Automatic Visa Revalidation
Special Rules for Travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean (except Cuba). Under very specific guidelines you can re-enter the U.S. using an expired F-1/J-1 visa stamp if you meet ALL of the following criteria:
Your trip is:
- To Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean islands ONLY (Applicable Caribbean islands are listed below)
- LESS THAN 30 days
- are in valid F-1/J-1 status
- have a valid passport (for at least 6 months beyond day of re-entry to U.S.)
- have an I-94 marked "Admitted F-1 until D/S" or "Admitted J-1 until D/S"
- have a recent travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019. Please note, the Canadian government prefers to see a more recent travel signature (within 2 months) before they issue a Canadian tourist visa stamp.
- have an expired U.S. visa stamp in your passport. It cannot be stamped "canceled." If you applied for a new visa and it has not been issued or has been denied, you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. on your expired visa.
- have not applied for a new F-1 visa.
- are NOT from one of the following countries: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, or Syria.
Caribbean Islands Where Automatic Visa Revalidation is Applicable: 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 territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea.