With summer vacation almost here, you may be planning a trip home or to another international destination. We at International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) have set up several events and provided the basic guidelines to help you prepare for your travel.
To Prepare for International Travel
Attend one of our Travel Signature Drives on Wednesday, May 4 or May 11 to obtain a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019. A Travel Signature is valid for 12 months for currently enrolled students and 6 months for students in Post-Completion OPT or STEM OPT extension. Cannot make it to the drives? No problem: You can still request a travel signature in myIO or walk in during our Friday morning drop-in hours.
Do you have a complex travel situation, need to renew your visa, or just have additional questions about travel and re-entry? Attend our Ask an Advisor: Travel and Re-entry session on May 6. You can also always schedule an advising appointment to discuss your specific case.
If you don’t have any questions and already have your travel signature, then review the documents checklist below, check for updated travel restrictions related to COVID-19 and other factors, and you are ready to go!
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 visa at the local U.S. embassy in your country. Review the “Visa Renewal” Section below. Canadian citizens do not need a visa stamp.
- 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.
- 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 form 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 United States, we still recommend that you carry all your immigration documents with you in case of an emergency.
If you will be traveling anywhere within 100 miles of the Mexico or Canada border, carry all your immigration documents with you and have valid travel signatures. 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.
In order to re-enter the U.S., you will have to have a valid U.S. visa stamp on your passport. If you are traveling to your home country for the summer, this is a great time to renew your visa, as it can be a lengthy process. Review our Applying for a U.S. Visa page to learn about the process and required documents.
Here are a few tips to make it a smooth process:
- Schedule your appointment early. Wait times for appointments and processing times vary by location and can be lengthy.
- Always renew your visa in your home country. If you plan to renew in another country, please discuss the process with an international student advisor.
- Collect all required documents including financial information and transcripts.
- Have a contingency plan for dealing with administrative processing and other delays.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still not over, and is continually evolving. Rules and requirements can change quickly and unexpectedly. Additionally, local rules and regulations regarding vaccinations, quarantines and masking requirements vary greatly between different countries and localities. Before traveling, be sure to research current local quarantine, masking, testing and vaccination requirements for your travel destination.
U.S. Testing and Vaccination Requirements
Currently, all passengers entering the United States by land or air must show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 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. 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.
COVID-19 testing is not required for land or ferry travel regardless of citizenship. However, this may change in the future.
Whether you are going home to spend time with family and eat good food, to a prestigious international internship, or to do exciting fieldwork, we wish you safe travels.