As of January 2005: The Department of Homeland Security issued a news release with travel tips and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list for students and exchange visitors entering the United States. Click here for more information.
FOR TRAVEL: REENTRY INTO THE U.S. WITH AN F-1 VISA
Adapted from The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Website
BASIC REENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR F-1 STUDENTS TRAVELING OUTSIDE THE U.S.
- you have been outside the U.S. for less than 5 months
- a current SEVIS I-20 endorsed for travel by Yvette or Chia-Yen
- 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
- a valid, current visa OR you have traveled to a contiguous territory or adjacent island for less than thirty days
- 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 www.UnitedStatesVisas.gov. 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?
No. Please click here for information on traveling while on OPT.
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.