With spring break around the corner, you may be planning a trip home or a vacation to another country. We at International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) want to make sure you know the steps to follow and which documents you’ll need to ensure a smooth re-entry back into the United States afterward.
Immigration Documents Required for Re-Entry into the United States
- Unexpired passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)
- Valid visa
- If your visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new one at the local U.S. embassy in your country.
- Canadian citizens are exempt.
- An expired visa can be used for travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean (except Cuba) if the travel time is 30 days or less. If you intend to use this benefit, be sure to read about it first on our Know Before You Travel page.
- Valid I-94 (electronic or paper)
- SEVIS fee receipt
- Lost your SEVIS fee receipt? Don’t worry! Go to the SEVIS fee website and click on “Check I-901 Status” to obtain a copy of your receipt.
- Valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature no more than 12 months old at the time of re-entry.
- Students on Post-Completion OPT/STEM OPT must have a travel signature no more than 6 months old.
- Don’t have a valid travel signature? No problem! You can easily request one through myIO.
If you will be traveling within the U.S., we still recommend that you carry all your immigration documents with you in case of an emergency.
If you will be traveling anywhere near the Mexico or Canada border, carry all your immigration documents with you. You may be stopped to have your documents checked by immigration officials.
If you will be traveling to a country other than your home country, make sure you obtain any required visa to enter that country. ISSS cannot advise on other countries’ entry requirements, so check directly with that country’s consulate or embassy.
COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Requirements for Re-Entry into the United States
Re-entry by air:
All passengers entering the United States by air must show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to board their flight. The list of approved vaccines, the types of acceptable proof, and the definition of “fully vaccinated” can be found on the CDC website.
Additionally, all passengers entering the U.S. by air must provide a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight. Passengers need to get a test within one day of their departure. Written documentation of the negative test result must be provided to the airline before boarding, or the airline will not allow you to board.
If you have previously been infected with COVID-19, but are no longer contagious, you can provide documentation of your recovery in place of a negative test result.
Re-entry by land or ferry:
All passengers entering the United States by land or ferry must provide proof of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccine administered in accordance with CDC guidelines to pass through the port of entry.
Unlike travel by air, written proof of COVID-19 testing is still not required for land or ferry travel regardless of citizenship. However, this may change in the future. If it does, an announcement will be posted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Fact Sheet: Guidance for Travelers to Enter the U.S. at Land Ports of Entry and Ferry Terminals and Frequently Asked Questions pages.
Other COVID Considerations
If you are traveling outside the USA, we recommend researching current local quarantine requirements in your destination country. Airline websites and embassy/consulate websites provide excellent resources for the most up-to-date information.
If you have any questions about travel, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We wish you a safe and relaxing spring break!