When re-entering the United States from abroad, be sure you have with you (not in your suitcase) these items:
If taking a short trip (30 days or less) to Canada, Mexico or some islands in the Caribbean, please read additional guidelines below. If you are traveling domestically within the United States, it is recommended that you carry your passport and current Form I-20, but no travel signature is needed.
If you are traveling while on OPT, please read these additional guidelines.
Customs and Border Protection utilizes an electronic Form I-94 process at most ports of entry. F-1 and J-1 students and their dependents, as well as other non-immigrants, are not issued a paper Form I-94 — the small white card stapled into the passport — when entering the United States. Instead, passports will still be stamped at the port of entry, showing the date and place of entry, non-immigrant status and the "admitted to" notation (D/S).
Entry information is recorded electronically by Customs and Border Protection, but instead of being given an I-94 at the time of entry, students are be able to print the I-94 form online. When departing from the United States, travelers previously issued a paper Form I-94 should surrender it upon departure. Read more about these changes at the Customs and Border Protection website.
If you are traveling and need to apply for a new U.S. visa, it is important to thoroughly review all information on the specific Embassy's Consular Section website for local procedures and instructions, such as how to make an interview appointment. Consular websites will also explain any additional procedures for students, exchange visitors and those persons who need an earlier visa interview appointment. All applicants age 16 and over from Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria should also review the information on Special Visa Processing Procedures.
Due to security screening procedures, international students and scholars should expect delays when attempting to get a new U.S. visa. Visa processing time can range from a few days, to six to eight weeks or longer. In some cases the delays are indefinite. View more information about visa wait times. The Office of International Affairs is unable to help with any visa delays that may occur.
Please be advised that certain students or scholars may be required to pay the SEVIS fee when applying for a new visa.
Under certain circumstances, a nonimmigrant alien (F-1/F-2 or J-1/J-2) may re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa provided that he or she:
This process is technically called "automatic extension of validity of visa." This means that the United States Customs & Immigration Service (USCIS) extends the expired visa to the day of application for a single entry. Automatic extension of your visa does not extend your visa for future use. Travel to all other countries will still require a new visa.
If you are denied a visa from a U.S. consulate in Canada, Mexico or "Adjacent Islands", you will not be allowed to re-enter the United States on an expired visa.
Steps to follow for Automatic Revalidation
If you encounter any problems in reentering the United States, ask to speak to an immigration coordinator.
Students who do not have an F-I visa and changed status in the United States
A person who entered the United States in a classification other than F-1 student and later changed his or her status to F-1 student may also reenter the U.S. with this process. In this situation, the visa is automatically changed to meet the status identified on the I-94 card. The F-1 student need only meet the conditions whether the original visa is expired or unexpired. [22 CFR 41.112(d)(ii)]. A student whose visa has been cancelled is not eligible.
Students with new passports not containing the visa
Individuals carrying passports issued from within the United States to replace the passport that contains their original nonimmigrant visa must have the old passport in their possession. Citizens of countries that keep the old passport upon issuance of a new one, therefore, are at a disadvantage when traveling to contiguous territories (i.e., Mexico, Canada, and certain adjacent islands in the Caribbean). These individuals would have to apply for a new F-1 or J-1 visa before re-entering the United States