Traveling Out of U.S

Documents Needed for F-1 / J-1 Travel

Download this as a handout here.

Re-entering the U.S. after a Temporary Absence

To re-enter the U.S., you need to have the following documents:

  • valid passport (except Canadians unless entering from outside the Western Hemisphere)
  • valid F-1 or F-2 visa stamp (except Canadians)
  • current I-20 with a valid signature (see I-20 Endorsement)
  • proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, financial aid or TA/RA letter)
  • proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript). You can obtain a certificate of enrollment from the registrar’s office.

Traveling to Canada

Before traveling to Canada, come to ISS to check visa requirements and to pick up a Canadian visitor visa application if one is required (or on the web at http://cicnet.ci.gc.ca). You can re-enter the U.S. from Canada with an expired U.S. visa stamp if ALL of the following apply to you:

  • You have a valid passport with an expired non-immigrant visa stamp, a valid I-20 or DS-2019, and you keep your I-94 card when leaving the U.S. and entering Canada
  • Your visit to Canada will be less than 30 days
  • You do NOT apply for a U.S. visa stamp while in Canada
  • You are NOT a national of one of the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, or North Korea.

Renewing Your Visa Stamp

If you or your dependents need to renew your visa stamps in order to re-enter the U.S., you must apply in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Applicants are normally required to submit the following documentation:

  • valid passport
  • current passport-size photographs
  • valid Form I-20 (complete three-page form)
  • proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, financial aid or TA/RA letter)
  • proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript). You can download a certificate of enrollment from [INSERT HU ENROLLMENT FORM HERE].

I-20 Travel Endorsement

You need to have a valid signature from ISS staff on your I-20 in order to re-enter the U.S. The signature is valid for 12 months.

I-20 Travel Endorsement for Canadians or students on OPT

Canadians and students on Optional Practical Training need a signature from ISS staff within the last six months to be valid for re-entry to the U.S..

 


We want to ensure that in leaving and re-entering the U.S. you have all the documents for re-entry. Please contact the OISS with any questions prior to leaving the country.

  • Click here for documents needed for travel in general.
  • Click here if your visa stamp has expired.
  • Click here for documents needed for traveling while on F-1 OPT.
  • Click here if you are traveling to Canada or Mexico for a trip of less than 30 days.

General Information About Travel

F-1 and J-1 students and visiting scholars who leave the United States: you must have the following documents with you to be eligible to re-enter the U.S. in F or J status:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid (unexpired) U.S. visa stamp in your passport (except for Canadian Citizens). If you need a new visa stamp click here.
  • Valid I-20 form for F-1 status, signed for travel on page 3 by an OISS advisor within the last year (six months for Canadian students and students on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training-see Note)Come by the OISS if you need to update your travel signature!
  • Valid DS-2019 form for J-1 status with current travel signature on the lower right hand side
  • Evidence of financial funding (bring a copy of whatever funding is mentioned on your I-20: TA/RA funding letter or bank statements for personal funds)
  • proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript). You can obtain a certificate of enrollment from the registrar’s office

Important if you need a new visa stamp in your passport!!

It is very important that if you are planning on traveling out of the U.S. AND need a new visa stamp in your passport that you speak to someone at the OISS prior to traveling.


Certificate of Enrollment

A certificate of enrollment is available to download if you are a registered student at Howard University. This form will provide documentation that you are currently and have been a registered student at Howard University. While this is not a required form for re-entry it will ease in your re-entry to the U.S. if you are questioned at the border. You can get the certificate of enrollment at the registrar's office

Traveling While on F-1 Post-Completion OPT

The following are the documents you will need to ensure entry to the U.S. while on post-completion OPT:



  • valid passport
  • current unexpired F-1 visa stamp (except for Canadians)
  • I-20 signed within the last 6 months
  • EAD (OPT card) OR the receipt notice for your OPT application
  • job offer letter or letter confirming current employment

The job offer letter or letter confirming your current employment should describe the job as temporary (no more than 12 months) because the idea behind Optional Practical Training is that it allow you to gain training in a temporary position in the U.S. An offer of permanent employment may be construed as inconsistent with holding non-immigrant status in the U.S.

Dependent Travel (F2 and J2)

F-2 or J-2 spouses and minor children who are not accompanied by the F-1 or J-1 student and visiting scholars must have:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid U.S. visa stamp (except for Canadian Citizens)
  • Valid separate Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • Evidence of financial funding

If the dependents have never been given an I-20 or DS-2019, then you need to see an adviser at the ISS.

Form DS-2019 for the J-2 dependents can be obtained from the ISS or your program sponsor.

 

Returning to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico


Traveling to Canada or Mexico for less than thirty days.

Automatic Revalidation

If you have an expired non-immigrant visa stamp in your passport (for example F or J) and you have a valid I-94 card stating your current status, your visa will be considered automatically revalidated for that ONE entry when you re-enter the U.S. from Canada or Mexico as long as ALL of the following are true:

Requirements

  • you have only been in Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days
  • you have with you a current I-94 card stating your valid status
  • you do have an expired non-immigrant visa in your passport
  • you do not apply for a U.S. visa while in Canada or Mexico
  • you are not from one of the countries currently considered by the U.S. federal government to be state sponsors of terrorism (as of 07/16/2008 this includes Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba)

I-94 Card

For automatic revalidation to apply to you, you must be careful to keep your I-94 card when leaving the U.S. When you re-enter the U.S., present your I-94 card along with your valid passport, expired visa and your valid immigration document (I-20, DS-2019 or I-797 in the case of someone in H1B or O visa status).

Special Registrants

If you are a "special registrant" (you would have been told when you entered the U.S. that you were being "special registered" as part of the "NSEERS" program), then you must leave the U.S. for Canada or Mexico through a designated port of departure. You must register your departure with the port inspectors. At that time, state to the inspectors that you intend to re-enter using automatic revalidation.

Changes of Status and Automatic Revalidation

The automatic revalidation will also work for someone who originally entered the U.S. in one non-immigrant status (such as F1) and has since changed to another non-immigrant status (such as H1B). The expired F1 visa will be considered to be revalidated and changed to H1B for the entry from Canada or Mexico. Those in H1B status should also carry the original I-797 approval notice while traveling which you can borrow from the OISS.

Adjacent Islands excluding Cuba

For those in F or J status (but NOT any other status), the automatic revalidation also works for visits of less than 30 days to the adjacent islands** excluding Cuba.

**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 Sea.

Check with the OISS
If you plan to re-enter the U.S. using automatic revalidation, it is a good idea to stop by ISS before you go to be sure your documents are in order.

I forgot my I-20 or DS-2019! or I forgot to get a travel signature on my I-20 or DS-2019!


Need a Signature or a New Form?: If you have left the U.S. and are now realizing that you do not have a valid travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, or you forgot your I-20 / DS-2019 altogether, we can send you a new copy of your current form with an updated travel signature whereever you are in the world. Please fill in the form below and click on the submit button.

Not Enough Time!: If you are traveling back to the U.S. too soon for us to get a new form to you (faxed and scanned forms are not legal documents so we cannot get them to you that way), don't panic! When you reach the port of entry, explain to the port of entry officer that you forgot your I-20 or DS-2019, and can the officer please let you in to the U.S. with an "I-515." The "I-515" will allow you entry in to the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status for 30 days. If you get an I-515 at the port, come in to the ISS once you arrive back at Howard University we will help you complete the requirements.