Travel Outside the US

Important Note

If you require a travel signature on your I-20 to reenter the US, please stop by Bryan Hall 206 to drop off your I-20 for the travel signature or you can request it through myPassport > F-1 Student Services > Travel Signature Request.

Traveling for 5 months or less

For new students

  • Valid passport
  • WSU admission letter
  • Initial 1-20 (paper form)
    • If you are an F-1 student who is out of status, you will need a new initial attendance I-20.
  • Financial documents showing necessary funds to cover your tuition and living expenses (recommended)
  • Proof of I-90 fee (recommended)

Evidence of adequate financial support

In certain circumstances, the university may need to verify your estimated expenses and availability of funding. If your funding changes, you must notify International Student and Scholar Services.

Documents needed to verify funding

You may need one or more of the following:
  • Bank statement or statement of approved loan in your name
  • Bank statement in your sponsor’s name
  • Letter of support from your sponsor
    • It must be from the same sponsor named on the bank statement
    • The letter must indicate your sponsor’s relationship to you (parent, family member, friend, etc.)
    • Your letter must reflect your current funding situation and must be signed within the past 6 months
  • Letter from your academic department if you are a graduate student with a teaching or research assistantship
  • Letters from government/organizations
  • Financial Declaration of Support (I-134) if your sponsor resides in the United States; a bank statement must be attached

Requirements for financial documents

  •  Must be dated and less than 6 months old
  •  Written in English or accompanied by an English translation
  •  Copies are acceptable, including faxes and scanned documents

For students reentering the U.S. from abroad

F-1 current students

  • Most recent valid I-20 form with a travel endorsement on page 2 that is less than 1 year old
  • Valid passport (that won’t expire for at least 6 months)
    • If your passport is nearing expiry, please contact your home country’s Consulate in the U.S.
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp (except Canadian citizens)
  • Your most recently issued I-20
    • Students who were issued a transfer pending I-20 must obtain a new updated I-20 issued for “continued attendance” to reenter the U.S.to continue their program.

F-2 dependent of current F-1 student

  • Most recent valid I-20 form with a travel endorsement on page 2 that is less than 1 year old
  • Your passport (not due to expire for at least 6 months)
  • Valid F-2 visa stamp (except Canadian citizens)
  • Additional documents recommended
    • Copy of F-1 I-20 (no colored copy)
    • Visa and passport (colored copy)

J-1 current student and their dependent(s)

  • Most recent valid DS-2019 form with travel signature that is less than 1 year old
  • Valid passport (not due to expire for at least 6 months)
  • Valid J-1 visa
  • Valid J-2 visa for dependents
  • Employment or acceptance letter from WSU

SOURCE:  ISSS UC SANTA CRUZ and Office of International Affairs-University of Chicago

Travel under OPT or STEM OPT

F-1 student on OPT

  • Most recent valid I-20 form (showing OPT recommendation on page 2)
  • Travel endorsement that is less than 6 months old
  • Valid passport (not due to expire for at least 6 months)
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD/OPT card)
  • Letter from employer verifying employment
  •  Name and contact information of your ISSS advisor/ DSO
Note

Students reentering the United Sates after the Program End Date but before OPT start date must have the EAD card with them to enter the U.S.

F-1 student on STEM OPT extension or pending STEM OPT extension

  • Most recent valid I-20 form (showing OPT recommendation on page 2)
  • Travel signature that is less than 6 months old
  • Valid passport (not due to expire for at least 6 months)
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD/ OPT card) – both OPT and STEM EAD cards
  • Letter from employer verifying employment
Note

If you have a pending STEM OPT application with USCIS, then you should carry your OPT card (expired post completion) and the receipt of your pending STEM application. Please contact an ISSS advisor to confirm if it is safe for you to travel with a pending STEM application.

F-2 dependent of student on OPT

  • Most recent valid I-20 form with a travel signature
  • Valid passport (not due to expire for at least 6 months)
  • Valid F-2 visa (except Canadian citizens)

Additional recommended documents: copy of F-1 student’s I-20 form showing OPT recommendation, and copy of F-1 student’s EAD

Travel for academic training

J-1 student on post-completion academic training (AT)

  • Most recent valid DS-2019 form with travel signature that is less than 1 year old
  • Valid passport (not due to expire for at least 6 months)
  • Valid J-1 visa (except Canadian citizens)
  • Employment offer letter

J-2 dependent of student on AT

  • Most recent valid DS-2019 form with travel signature that is less than 1 year old
  • Valid passport (not due to expire for at least 6 months)
  • Valid J-2 visa
  • Additional recommended documents
    • Copy of J-1 Student’s DS-2019 showing approved AT
    • Copy of job offer letter

Reentering the United States on an expired F-1 or J-1 visa

With a few exceptions, most students may travel to Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands and reenter the United States on an expired F-1 or J-1 visa if the trip does not exceed 30 days. This is known as automatic visa revalidation.

Automatic visa revalidation

Automatic visa revalidation will permit MOST F-1 and J-1 students to take a trip of less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the U.S. (except Cuba) and reenter the U.S. on an expired visa, if you have proper documentation and have not applied for a new visa during your visit abroad. This process revalidates your visa for the single reentry to the U.S.

This process DOES NOT RENEW your visa.

To find out if you are eligible to use Automatic Revalidation, please visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

You should consult with an International Student Advisor at ISSS before leaving the U.S.

Exceptions

  • Applied for a new visa that has not yet been issued*
  • Applied for a new visa and was denied
  • Has been outside the United States for more than 30 days
  • Has traveled to a country other than Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island that is not included in the automatic revalidation provisions
  • Is a national of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designated country, including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Review more about State Sponsors of Terrorism and FAQs.
  • Is in possession of an F student visa or J exchange visitor visa and has traveled to Cuba

*If you apply for a new F-1 or J-1 visa and that visa is denied while you are in Canada or Mexico, automatic revalidation does not apply.

You must have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa to enter or reenter the United States at all times.

Keep your original I-94 card

When you depart the United States do not relinquish this card to the airlines or an immigration officer. If challenged, you may need to present a copy of the printed regulations to explain why you must retain your I-94 card.

Bring a copy of the regulations with you

When traveling, carry a printed copy of a DHS automatic visa revalidation document explaining rules related to automatic revalidation. If there are difficulties processing your reentry, you can provide these documents to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry.

Evidence of adequate financial support

In certain circumstances, the university may need to verify your estimated expenses and availability of funding. If your funding changes, you must notify International Student and Scholar Services.

Documents needed to verify funding

You may need 1 or more of the following:

  • Bank statement or statement of approved loan in your name
  • Bank statement in your sponsor’s name – (for sponsored students only)
  • Letter of support from your sponsor (for sponsored students only)
    • It must be from the same sponsor named on the bank statement
    • The letter must indicate your sponsor’s relationship to you (parent, family member, friend, etc.)
    • Your letter must reflect your current funding situation and must be signed within the past 6 months
  • Letter from your academic department if you are a graduate student with a teaching or research assistantship
  • Letters from government/organizations
  • Financial Declaration of Support (I-134) if your sponsor resides in the United States; a bank statement must be attached

Requirements for financial documents

  •  Must be dated and less than 6 months old
  •  Written in English or accompanied by an English translation
  •  Copies are acceptable, which includes faxes and scanned documents

Travel to Canada or Mexico

Canada

Requirements for a Canadian visa depend on your nationality.

If you do need a visa to visit Canada, check well in advance with the Canadian Consulate and ask them what documents you will need to obtain a visa and the how long the processing time will be.  

Consulate General of Canada
1501 4th Ave # 600
Seattle, WA 98101

Phone: (206) 443-1777
Email: ccs.scc@international.gc.ca
Hours by appointment: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am to noon, 1-4:30 p.m.
Web:  international.gc.ca/country-pays/us-eu/seattle.aspx?lang=eng

Mexico

You may need a visa to enter Mexico, depending on your nationality. 

If you do need a visa to visit Mexico, check well in advance with the Mexican Consulate and ask them what documents you will need to obtain a visa and the how long the processing time will be.  

Consulate General of Mexico                    
807 E Roy Street
Seattle, WA 98102

Phone: (206) 448-3526/6819/8971
Fax: (206)448-4771

Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Web: consulmex.sre.gob.mx/seattle/index.php/es/servicios-para-extranjeros/visa-requirements

Keep your original I-94

If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands and plan to reenter with an expired visa number under the automatic visa revalidation law, it is critical that you retain the original copy of your I-94. It will substitute for a valid visa when you reenter the United States.

When you depart the United States do not relinquish this card to the airlines or an immigration officer. If challenged, you may need to present a copy of the printed regulations to explain why you must retain your I-94. Make sure to print and carry multiple copies of your I-94.

Traveling more than 5 months

If you travel outside the United States for longer than 5 months, immigration officials will regard you as beginning a new F-1 or J-1 program of study when you return.

At that time, you will need to get a new “initial attendance” I-20 or DS-2019.

If you were issued a new I-20 or DS-2019 to begin a new program of study, and if you need a visa to enter the United States, you will likely need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.

Travel outside the United States may affect your visa status and eligibility for off-campus employment, so you will need to plan ahead carefully.

Before you leave the United States, review the regulations governing travel and reentry.