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International Students & Scholars

Planning to travel?

There have been a series of Executive Orders issued by the current administration. Some of them may impact visa processing and certain nationals’ entry to the U.S. under certain visa type. We have been following up throughout the year and updating you on our Immigration Updates page with any new development. So far, based on the latest Supreme Court Order from Dec. 4, 2017, with the exception of Syria and North Korea, F-1 and J-1 visa applicants are not affected. We will continue to update you.


Planning international travel or going home for summer?

Before traveling abroad it is important to review the following information to be certain you have all necessary signatures and documents.

Travel on a School break

1. Valid passport (must be valid for at least 6 months into the future)
2. Valid/unexpired F-1/J-1 visa stamp (Canadian citizens are exempt)
3. Valid I-20 or DS-2019 endorsed with a current travel signature (issued within 6 months prior to your return)

Travel while on OPT (F-1) and AT( J-1)

1. Valid passport (must be valid for at least 6 months into the future)
2. Valid/unexpired F-1/J-1 visa stamp (Canadian citizens are exempt)
3. Valid I-20 issued for OPT (F-1) endorsed with current travel signature (issued within 6 months prior to your return)
4. Valid DS-2019 issued for Academic Training (AT) endorsed with a valid travel signature (issued within 6 months prior to your return)
5. Employment Authorization Document (EAD)  issued for OPT employment – F-1
6. Employment letter verifying employment on OPT (F-1) or AT internship (J-1)

Travel during grace period - NOT PERMITTED

If you are an F-1 student, you have a 60-day grace period after completing your degree.  If you are J-1 student, you have a 30-day grace period. This period of time allows you to make plans for your departure. You can travel within the U.S., but if you leave and are planning to reenter, you may not return as an F-1 or J-1 student. You will be re-admitted to the U.S. as a tourist. Consequently, your status and the post-completion benefits, such as OPT for F-1 and AT for J-1 will be negated.

Travel signature

If you are traveling and need a signature on your I-20/DS-2019, be sure to request it at least one week before departure. Log in ISS Connect to complete the Travel Signature Request, and drop off your original I-20/DS-2019 to the ISS Front Desk. It generally takes 4 business days from the time ISS receives your I-20/DS-2019 to process your request, so please plan accordingly. 

Visa renewal

If you are in F-1 or J-1 status and your entry visa expires while you are studying in the U.S., there is no need to renew your visa as long as you stay in the U.S. and continue your studies.

If you are on OPT in F-1 status or on AT in J-1 status and your F-1 or J-1 visa expired while you were studying in the U.S., there is no need to renew it as long as you stay in the U.S. and continue your employment or internship.

However, if you travel abroad you must plan to renew your visa, no matter the duration of your international travel.  It is not possible to complete this procedure in the U.S. You may renew your visa at a U.S. Consulate in your home country; countries other than your own may impose stricter requirements or may be unwilling to renew a visa for a citizen of another country. To renew an F-1 or J-1 visa, you do not need to pay a SEVIS processing fee. You need to request a visa renewal letter (PDF) from the ISS along with travel signature.

Learn more about the documents you need to compile for your new visa application from the U.S. Consular Services.

Change of status approved students obtaining a visa

If you changed your status to F-1 in the U.S. through the USCIS, you will not have an F-1 visa stamp in your passport. You will have to obtain one while in your home country. Same requirements apply.