Important Travel Information
Travel document checklist
- Valid passport. Most foreign nationals must have a passport valid six months beyond their period of intended stay in the United States.
- Valid visa stamp in passport (with exceptions for Canadians and Automatic Revalidation cases outlined below).
- I-94 Admission Information
- Additional evidence of legal status (Form I-20, Form DS-2019, I-797 approval notice, etc.). Your I-20 or DS-2019 must have a travel signature that is less than 1 year old at the time of re-entry (applicable to dependents’ documents). For individuals on post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT), we advise renewing the travel signature every six months.
- F-1 students on OPT should also carry their EAD card and job offer letter.
- Financial Documents. You must provide proof of liquid assets that cover the academic tuition (if applicable) and living expenses corresponding to your status.
- (Optional) Evidence of continued activities required for visa status (evidence of continued employment, enrollment verification from the Office of the Registrar or academic department
General Travel Information and Recommendations
- You may need a visa to enter the country to which you are travelling. Please be sure to check with that country’s Embassy or Consulate in the U.S.
- You may only use your visa documents to re-enter the U.S. if you are entering for the purpose outlined on the visa documents. For instance, if you have completed your academic degree, you cannot enter the U.S. using an I-20 that specifies that you are studying.
- For individuals in F-1/F-2 or J-1/J-2 visa status, your Form I-20 and F-1/2 visa or Form DS-2019 and J-1/2 visa will no longer be valid if you depart the U.S. for a period of five months or more if you are not continuing with your research and/or will be enrolled while abroad. Please notify International Student Affairs of such a prolonged absence so we may provide the best advice for future re-entry to the U.S.
Upon Return to the U.S. Shortly after you return to the U.S, please take the following steps:
- Check your I-94 Admission information at http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructions/i94-rollout. Report any errors to International Student Affairs.
- Provide copies of new immigration documents (passport, visa stamp) to International Student Affairs.
Travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands for Less Than 30 Days
In some cases, you may be eligible to return to the U.S. from abroad with an expired visa stamp using a program called “Automatic Revalidation.” Always check with International Student Affairs to determine if you qualify for this program. You may qualify if you:
- Are travelling only to Canada or Mexico;
- Will return to the U.S. no more than 30 days after departing;
- Have a valid (unexpired) Form I-94 and either I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel;
- Are not travelling to your home country;
- Have not applied for a new U.S. visa while abroad; and
- Are not a citizen of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, or Syria.
*If you are in F-1/F-2 or J-1/J-2 status you may also use Automatic Revalidation for travel to some of Caribbean islands other than Cuba. You can find a list of the adjacent islands and more information here
Travel via Cruise Ship
If you will take a cruise, please be sure to print out your I-94 and travel history before departure. If, upon return, you find that you have trouble retrieving your new I-94 information, you will need that previous I-94 information to correct your record.
Travel to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and certain other U.S. territories
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are part of the United States. As such, you will not need a visa to return to the U.S. from these locations. However, students and scholars should always carry a passport, I-20/DS-2019, and I-94 during such travel. Please verify that your travel does not involve transit through or short stays in other countries, since full documentation (including a visa) for return to the U.S. may be necessary.
Applying for a U.S. Visa Stamp
Visa application requirements and wait times can vary from one country to the next. Check the web site of the U.S. Embassy in the country from which you will travel for specific information and requirements and to schedule an interview. Allow enough time abroad for visa processing. You can find the consular web site at http://www.usembassy.gov/. Review these ten points on what you should remember when applying to renew your visa: www.nafsa.org/resourcelibrary/default.aspx?id=8643
Be sure to check if there are any travel advisories posted for the countries to which you are travelling. Both the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have information on their websites about areas in the world that may present high-risk situations for travelers (i.e. severe weather, medical, political, etc.). You may also want to check with resources in your home country about travel advisories.