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All international students and family members planning to depart from the U.S. and return after a temporary absence must have a valid passport in order to exit the U.S. At the time of re-entry, the passport must be valid for a minimum of six months into the future.

Visa Stamps

All international students* require a valid F-1 visa stamp in their passport issued by a U.S. embassy. A student cannot obtain or renew an F-1 visa stamp inside the U.S. If your visa stamp has expired, you will need to go to a U.S. embassy outside of the U.S. to apply for a new visa.

Visa Documentation

If you travel outside the U.S. while you are in F-1 status, your DSO must sign page 2 of your Form I-20. Your valid I-20 with a DSO’s signature confirms that you intend to maintain your F-1 status and are eligible to re-enter the U.S. This signature is valid for one year and is valid for multiple entries.

I-94 Record

All nonimmigrants entering the U.S. on a sponsored visa have an I-94 record created by U.S. officials upon entry. It is the responsibility of international students to look up their I-94 record after entering the U.S. to ensure that there are no errors. F-1 students I-94 record should always indicate duration of status (D/S).

Visiting a Third Country

If you are planning to visit a country outside the U.S. which is not your country of citizenship or legal permanent residence, be sure to research whether or not you will need a visa to enter that country

Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands

If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands for fewer than 30 days, you may be eligible for a visa renewal exemption.

Travel Checklist

  1. Valid I-20 with DOS signature on the bottom of page 2
  2. F-2 dependents must have their own I-20 forms meeting the same criteria above
  3. Valid F-1 or F-2 visa stamp from a U.S. embassy 
  4. Valid passport (see above note) 

*Canadian citizens do not require an F-1 visa stamp.