Office of International Students and Scholars

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It is very important that you have the following documents on you at all times while traveling (keep them in your carry-on instead of checking them):

  • Valid passport with valid visa (if applicable)
  • Signed I-20 Form (valid travel signature – 1 year validity)
  • Your most recent I-94

*If you do not have these documents, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer may issue you a Form l-515A, "Notice of Student or Exchange Visitor." 

For detailed information about travel tips during the winter break, please visit our Travel Advisory

Adapted from The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Website
  1. you have been outside the U.S. for less than 5 months
  2. a current SEVIS I-20 endorsed for travel by Chia-Yen or Rhona
  3. a current passport valid for at least 6 months into the future (if you have an expired passport or one that will expire in less than 6 months, you must renew it before reentering the U.S.) unless you are from a country that has an agreement with the U.S. allowing entry with a passport until the date of expiration
  4. a valid, current visa OR you have traveled to a contiguous territory or adjacent island for less than thirty days
  5. financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses


What if my F-1 Student Visa has expired?

You can stay/travel in the U. S. on an expired F-1 visa as long as you maintain your student status. However, if you are returning home or traveling to a country where automatic revalidation does not apply, you must have a valid visa to return to the United States. Ensure that you have all the documentation you need for your visa application and allow sufficient time for processing a new visa.

The Department of State recommends that you apply for a visa in your home country. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at You can apply in a third country for a visa, but you will not be able to return to the United States until your visa has been issued. In some cases, this could take several weeks if a background check is required. If your visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the United States.


I wish to travel to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the U.S. Can I return if my Visa is expired?

This is possible, though still risky as you are subject to inspection each time you reenter the U.S. Click here for information on automatic visa revalidation. You should carry your valid passport, valid SEVIS I-20 (with a valid travel endorsement signature), and a valid unexpired I-94 card


Do I need a valid visa to visit Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands?

No. You will need a valid SEVIS I-20 and a valid unexpired I-94 card.


Can I reenter during the 60-day grace period after finishing my program or after finishing OPT?

If you plan on leaving the US for a brief trip during the 60-day grace period (from the day you finish your finals) immediately following your completion of studies, please keep in mind that you will NOT be able to re-enter the US using your F-1 visa.

With this in mind, please plan your travel accordingly. If you have a valid tourist visa, you may use this upon your return. If you come from a visa waiver country (please visit for a complete listing of countries), you may return on the Visa Waiver Program, provided that you have an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier.

If you have questions or want to consult with us regarding your specific travel plans, please make an appointment with our office as soon as possible.


Are there any other requirements for travel outside the U.S.?

The questions above outline the general requirements for reentry for F-1 students. However, because individual circumstances vary, consult your Designated School Official (DSO), embassy, or legal advisor before traveling. If you discuss your travel plans as soon as possible, this will allow time to ensure you have proper documentation for travel. If you are not returning to your home country, you should check the requirements of the country you are visiting. Some countries will require a visa. You may also need an in-transit visa for countries where you are making a connecting flight. Be sure to check before you travel.