Travel Outside the U.S.
After a temporary absence from the United States, certain documents must be presented in order to re-enter the U.S.
F-1 students must have the following:
- Valid passport
- Valid F-1 visa stamp in the passport
- Current signature on page 3 of the Form I-20, obtained from OISS
- Recent transcript if the student has attended school in the U.S.
- Proof of financial support.
J-1 scholars or students must have the following:
- Valid passport
- Valid J-1 visa stamp in the passport
- Current travel signature on the Form DS-2019, obtained from OISS or from the program sponsor, if not UNR.
F-2 and J-2 Dependents
Dependents in F-2 or J-2 status must also have valid passports and visas. They must also have a valid Form I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature.
Canadian citizens do not need to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. They must, however, obtain an entry stamp in their passport and carry all of the other appropriate documents with them, including an I-20 or DS-2019.
Entry Visas to Other Countries
To travel outside the U.S. to a country other than the student's or scholar's home country, an entry visa may be required. Call that country's embassy or consulate in the U.S. for information.
If an international student or scholar is traveling outside the U.S. and his/her visa has expired, or if s/he has changed status while in the U.S., she/he will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad in order to re-enter the U.S.
Short Trips to Mexico or Canada
For short trips (less than 30 days) to Mexico, Canada, or adjacent islands, a valid visa is not needed to re-enter the U.S. A valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a current signature and Form I-94 (white card marked D/S), however, must be presented.
The student or scholar should NOT surrender the I-94 at the border or the airport if she/he is going to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days. Contact the Canadian Consulate at (213) 346-2700 or the Mexican Consulate at (916) 441-3287 before traveling to those countries to find out their entry requirements and restrictions.
List of countries whose citizens require visas in order to enter Canada as visitors.
Advice on Travel for F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 Students, Scholars, and Dependents
For those of you who will travel outside of the U.S., we would like to offer the advice below. If you are traveling inside the U.S., it is wise to carry your passport and visa documents wherever you go, but you do NOT need a valid visa stamp in your passport when traveling inside the United States.
If you are traveling outside the U.S., please read the following carefully:
- You must have a valid visa to get back into the U.S. if you are traveling outside the U.S., and it must be in the F-1 category (if you are F-1) or the J-1 category (if you are J-1), etc.. Please check your passport. If your visa is NOT valid, or if it is in a B or other category (for example, spouses who entered with an F-2 visa stamp but now have an F-1 visa status), you must apply for a new visa at an American Embassy or Consulate when you travel outside the U.S., in order to re-enter the U.S. Note: Canadian citizens are not required to have visa stamps in their passports. There is currently no way to apply for an F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2 visa inside the U.S.
- Travel in Canada or Mexico: It is very difficult to get a visa in Canada or Mexico if you are not a native of the country. Anyone who applies for a visa in Canada or Mexico who is not from the country, and receives a denial, will now be required to return to their home country and will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. In addition, citizens of countries that are deemed "state sponsors of terrorism" are no longer allowed to enter Canada or Mexico. Other citizens of certain countries are now required to have a visa in order to enter Canada or Mexico. Please contact the OISS if you have questions.
- Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future (for example, on December 1, 2002, your passport must be valid until June 1, 2003, or longer). If your passport is expired or will expire within 6 months of your re-entry, you must have your passport renewed before returning to the U.S. For a list of countries exempt from this rule, go to Six Month Club.
- You must have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel by an advisor at the OISS. Failure to get the document signed could have serious consequences under current security procedures. In addition, if you are a student, we cannot sign your immigration document unless you have enrolled full-time or have been given permission to enroll less than full-time by an advisor at OISS. The travel signature is valid from 1 year while studying and 6 months while on post-completion Optional Practical Training.
- New VISA application forms: Go to Student and Exchange Visitor Visas for information on how to apply for a visa.
- For all travelers, we also recommend that you travel with the following additional items:
- A current University transcript
- A student ID card
- A health insurance card
- Proof of funds to be in the U.S. without working illegally
- Proof of employment authorization if you are working off-campus
- All I-20 or DS-2019 documents, with the current, valid document signed, and other documents previously issued available for inspection. For example, if you entered the country to go to IELC, then transferred to TMCC, and then transferred to UNR, please have the UNR (most recently issued) I-20 or DS-2019 signed and ready to present. Please carry the IELC and TMCC (old) I-20s or DS-2019s, in case you need to verify your continuous legal stay in the U.S.
- Transit Visas: It is now necessary for nationals of certain countries (including Bangladesh, Ghana and India) to apply for a special transit visa when traveling home through many European countries (such as Belgium, Denmark and Germany). If you do not have the transit visa when you arrive at the airport, it is likely you will not be allowed on the plane.
Please talk to an advisor at OISS with any travel concerns. We are here to help! Call (775) 784-6874, Monday thru Friday (8 am to 5 pm) for an appointment.
New Requirements for Transit Visas at Airports Between the U.S. and Selected Countries
International students and scholars on any type of non-immigrant visa who are from a country listed below must apply for a transit visa to stopover at an airport on the way home if their airport stop includes:
Transit visas are obtained at the consulate in the U.S. of the country at which you will have a stopover. Consulates have more information at their websites. For example, information can be found at the website for the Consulate of France.
Effective as of March 19, 2002, some European Community countries (under the Schenegen Agreement) began requiring "airport transit visas" from the nationals of the following countries:
- Rep. of Congo
- Sierra Leone
- Sri Lanka
Palestinians holding travel documents for refugee status issued by Egypt, Lebanon or Syria.
PLEASE CONTACT THE FOREIGN CONSULATE IN THE U.S. OF THE COUNTRY YOU WILL LAND IN (OR VISIT THEIR WEBSITE), IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR TRAVEL PLAN. FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU ARE FROM GHANA AND YOU WILL HAVE A STOP-OVER IN FRANCE, PLEASE CONTACT THE FRENCH CONSULATE IN THE U.S. FOR MORE INFORMATION OR VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.
It is unknown how long each consulate takes in issuing a transit visa so please allow time for this important step in your travel. It is likely that you will not be allowed on a plane if you are required to have a transit visa and you arrive at the airport for departure without one.