Traveling Outside of the US

Enrolled F-1 students need to have the following documents in order to re-enter the country:

  • Valid Passport

    • Your passport must be valid beyond the date on which you plan to return to the US. If you need to renew your passport you should contact the embassy of your home country located in Washington, DC. Information about foreign embassies located in Washington, DC can be found at Electronic Embassy.

  • Valid Visa

    • You should check to see if the F-1 visa sticker in the passport is still valid for re-entering the United States after departure. If not, a new visa must be obtained at a U.S. consulate or embassy in the country you are visiting by presenting evidence of financial support and either your current I-20 or a new one as appropriate. It is not possible to obtain F visas while in the United States. Information about U.S. Embassies is available at Electronic Embassy.

  • Valid I-20 with the International Students’ Advisor signature on page 3.

    • The signature is valid for twelve months and multiple entries. To obtain a signature, you should bring your I-20 to the Center for International programs at least a week before your planned departure from the United States. The receptionist will give the I-20 to the international student advisor for the signature.

Travel to Canada, Mexico, or Adjacent Islands

Students who are maintaining nonimmigrant status may travel to these countries for 30 days or less and return to the U.S. using an expired F-1 visa stamp in their passports. The student retains the Form I-94 (departure record) when leaving the country and shows this form to re-enter. The visa is considered automatically extended to the date of re-entry. However, a new visa sticker is not issued.

Adjacent islands include: 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 territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean. Cuba is not included.

Travel to Third Countries

Students may need visas to enter third countries (countries other than the U.S. and their home country). They should contact the consulates or embassies of third countries to obtain information on visa requirements and procedures necessary to enter these countries. Information about embassies and consulates is available at Electronic Embassy.

Travel for Students on Optional Practical Training

To re-enter after completing a course of study and starting optional practical training, a student must have filed the practical training application and received the EAD card. The student will need the following items to re-enter the U.S.:

  • a valid EAD card

  • an I-20 endorsed by the DSO in the last 6 months

  • a job offer letter or other proof of employment

  • a valid passport

  • a valid F-1 visa sticker in the passport

Cautions: Students who travel while the OPT application is being processed before they have received the EAD may not be readmitted to the U.S. The student’s departure from the U.S. may also cause USCIS to withdraw the application form.

Additional Information for Students

We recommend traveling with proof of the current semester's registration (e.g. printout of full-time class enrollment). F-1 students on OPT should carry the Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

In the following cases, consult with the International Student Advisor/Coordinator at least two weeks before departure:

  • You will need to renew/ apply for a new visa.

  • You will be out of the U.S. for more than five months.

  • You are planning to travel to Mexico or Canada to renew or change the U.S. entry visa.

  • Your I-20 or DS-2019 has expired or will expire within 30 days of your expected return to the U.S.

  • You have ever applied for U.S. legal permanent resident status (green card).