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As an international student, you may travel freely within the U.S. at any time. You may leave the U.S. at any time; however, you may need a visa to enter other countries. Please check with the relevant embassy to determine entry requirements for any country you are planning to visit during your travels. If you re-enter the U.S., you must have all necessary documents with you. You should carry your I-20/DS-2019 and passport with you whenever you travel.

Necessary documents for international travel and re-entry

Sample travel signatures
Your DS-2019 or I-20 should be signed for travel in the indicated area.

The following requirements apply to all F-1 and J-1 students and their dependents:

  • Passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of re-entry
  • Valid U.S. visa for your current status (may not be necessary when returning from Canada, Mexico and most Caribbean islands if you have been gone for less than 30 days; see Department of State website for more information about automatic visa revalidation)
  • I-20 or DS-2019, signed for travel
    • Travel signatures are technically valid for one year, but it is recommended your travel signature be no more than six months old at the time you re-enter the U.S.
    • Obtain your travel signature from the International Center during walk-in advising or special travel signature sessions at the end of each semester (check the calendar for upcoming sessions).
    • If you are transferring to a new school, you must re-enter the U.S. on immigration documents issued by your new school.
  • Financial documentation

Passport renewal

In general, your passport is valid as long as it has not expired; do not let your passport expire while you are in the United States. If your passport is nearing its expiration, contact your country's embassy or consulate for instructions on how to renew it. This process can take three to six months, so plan accordingly.

Visa renewal

The visa in your passport may expire while you are in the U.S., but it must be valid when you re-enter the United States. To renew your visa, you will need to submit the appropriate documents at a U.S. embassy or consulate. For additional information about your specific visa type, see the Department of State website.

Required documents

  • Passport, valid for at least six months into the future
  • DS-160 (apply online)
  • Receipt for the visa application fee (must show payment for each applicant, including dependents
  • New I-20/DS-2019, signed for travel within the past six months

Additional documents

Nonimmigrant intent documentation

You must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that you have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country that you do not intend to abandon, and you will depart the U.S. when you have completed your studies. It is not possible to specify what evidence the consular officer will ask for, because each student's circumstances vary significantly.