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Current F-1 Students: Travel

Travel Inside of the United States (U.S.)

If boarding a flight in the U.S., you will need to present either a U.S. driver’s license or a foreign passport. If traveling via bus or train, you will need to research any documentation requirements with the specific company. If driving, you must have a valid driver's license on your person while operating a vehicle. Students traveling within the U.S. are generally advised to carry copies of their passports and I-20 forms, or to keep a copy on their phones. These can be used for identification purposes, if needed. Puerto Rico is part of the U.S., and students flying there directly do not need to have a valid U.S. visa stamp to enter.

Travel Outside of the U.S.

If you are traveling outside the U.S. you will need the following documents to re-enter the U.S.:

  • Valid passport (your passport must be valid 6 months into the future at all times)
  • Valid visa stamp (Canadian citizens are exempt from this requirement)
  • I-20 form with a travel endorsement on page 2 that is less than a year old.
  • Students pursuing OPT should see additional requirements on the Employment page

If you will need a new travel signature on your I-20 form, you should complete a Travel Signature Request eform in iCats at least 2 weeks prior to your anticipated travel date. Please note that any entry to the United States is up to the discretion of the Customs and Border Patrol at the initial border entry point. 

Renewing an F-1 Visa Stamp

The process to renew a visa stamp is nearly the same as the process to get the initial F-1 visa stamp. Visas can only be obtained at U.S. embassies and consulates outside of the U.S. In addition to the documents you took for the original interview, we recommend that you obtain an Enrollment Verification form from the Registrar’s office. You will be expected to present updated financial documentation. Contact your chosen embassy to learn if they have any additional documentation requirements. You can read tips about the visa interview process.

Travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean

Many students in valid status may travel to Canada, Mexico and many of the Caribbean islands without a valid U.S. visa if they qualify for a benefit called Automatic Visa Revalidation. Students must have a valid passport with an expired visa, a copy of their I-94 record, and a valid signed I-20. To learn if you will be eligible for this benefit, read this important information from the U.S. State Department.  If you have further questions, contact an ISSS advisor.

Note that citizens of the following countries are not eligible to use Automatic Visa Revalidation: Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan. In addition, travel to Cuba invalidates this option.

Transit Visas

If your travels will take you to or through a third country, be sure to find out if you will need a visitor or transit visa for that country. Some countries require transit visas even for airport transfers. ISSS is not able to provide information about foreign visas. However, most details can be found by searching for that country's embassy online.