Traveling: F-1 status
F-1 students planning to return home or to visit another country should make sure their I-20 form is valid, has been signed on the back by the International Student Advisor within the past six months and that the passport is valid. If your passport is not valid, you will need to renew it at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad.
After September 11, 2001, re-entering the United States may become more difficult. If you are obtaining a new visa while you are abroad, you should expect longer than usual processing times.
Required documents for travel:
- Passport, valid at least 6 months after your date of entry into the U.S.
- Valid visa (some exceptions for Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands)
- I-20 signed for travel in the past 6 months
- EAD card, if you are currently on Optional Practical Training (OPT) (It is also strongly recommended that you have a letter from your employer stating that you are fulfilling the OPT and acknowledging the period of travel.)
- Financial certification (required by law, but you may not be asked to present it)
DO NOT PACK THESE ITEMS IN YOUR LUGGAGE! CARRY THEM WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES.
The following documents are helpful in verifying your activities as an F-1 student at the port of entry if an immigration official questions your immigration status:
- Copies of all previous I-20s issued to you
- Transcript of course work
- Printout of current and future enrollment
If you are on OPT or CPT, a letter from an employer acknowledging the travel and your salary amount would help.
For the latest information regarding traveling, please visit http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html
If you need to obtain a US visa while you are abroad, first visit the local website of the local consulate or embassy for updated visa processing information. You can find a list of US consulate and embassy websites at http://usembassy.state.gov