As an international student or exchange visitor maintaining valid status in the United States, you are able to travel during a school break.

Students and scholars maintaining valid status are eligible to travel internationally during your program, provided you have the appropriate documents before you travel to ensure a smooth re-entry into the United States.

If you wish to travel to a country that is not your country of citizenship or permanent residence, you should contact the consulate or embassy of the country to be visited to determine what documents are necessary for entry.

Documents Required for Travel

You must present the following documents to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in order to re-enter the U.S. following your temporary travel. An individual traveling within your designated grace period is not eligible to re-enter the US after departing.

  • Valid F-1 Visa
  • Form I-20 – travel endorsement within 12-months
  • Passport – valid at least six months after the entry date

Students on active OPT must also present the following:

  • Valid EAD Document
  • Proof of employment
  • OPT endorsed I-20 – travel signature within 6 months
  • Valid J-1 Visa
  • DS-2019 Form – travel endorsement within 12 months
  • Passport – valid at least six months after entry date

Expired Visa

You can stay in the United States on an expired visa as long as you continue to maintain valid 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. A valid visa is only required for entry purposes to the United States and is not required to maintain status.

  • An individual should apply for a visa in the country of citizenship but may be eligible to apply in a third country. However, in some cases, this could take several weeks for visa processing which could result in a status interruption if you are not able to return to the United States to resume your program.
  • If the Department of States denies your visa, you will not be able to return to the United States.
  • Review the F1- Visa Process

Travel Endorsement Signature

An international student or exchange visitor must obtain a travel endorsement signature from your designated school official or responsible officer, necessary for reentry after a temporary absence abroad. This signature is valid for 12-months unless you are on OPT and then it is only valid for 6-months.

To request a travel signature log into the International Services Portal and complete the travel endorsement request.

Travel Questions

Yes, as long as you are maintaining your status, you may legally remain in the United States with an expired visa.

No, please refer to U.S. Department of State for how to file for a visa.

No, unless your travel plans include entry to any other country en route to these U.S. territories. You will need a valid Form I-20 or DS-2019 and a valid unexpired Form I-94.

Yes, in most cases. You can usually revalidate an expired visa automatically when returning from a visit of less than thirty days to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the United States provided that you have a valid Form I-20 or DS-2019 and a valid unexpired Form I-94. This process is known as automatic visa revalidation.

You must renew your passport before re-entering the United States.

No. The 60-day “grace” period is only to prepare to leave the country.

Yes, but traveling during this time should be undertaken with caution as USCIS may send you a request for evidence while you are away. You will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States.

If USCIS has approved your OPT you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States, in addition to your Form I-20, valid passport and visa, and a letter of employment if you have one. If you exceed the limits on unemployment while outside the United States, you will not be eligible to re-enter the United States in F-1 status.

Because of the changing array of travel restrictions, students should refer to their local embassy’s website through the U.S. Department of State for any updates about visa issuance. Also, DHS and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) websites provide information about current travel restrictions to the United States.

Travel Resources

Federal guidelines for international students and scholars traveling and reentering the United States.
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