Remaining in good status throughout your stay should allow you to successfully travel in and out of the U.S. You will need to have your immigration document (Form I-20 or DS-2019) signed before you leave the U.S. on one of the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) Signature Days. You will also need a valid, unexpired visa to re-enter the U.S. unless you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands for less than 30 days. Also keep in mind that a valid visa for entry into other foreign countries may be necessary. 

Items Needed for Re-entry to the U.S.

The following are documents needed to re-enter the U.S. following breaks:

  • A valid passport (at least 6 months into the future). If you don't have a valid passport, check out the passport renewal process.
  • A valid visa to re-enter the U.S. If you need a valid visa, check out the visa renewal process.   
  • Your most recent immigration document (Form I-20 or DS-2019) with travel signature from an ISSS staff member. Check the ISSS events calendar for Signature Days during the semester.

Upon returning to campus, please submit a copy of your entry stamp found in your passport to ISSS so our staff can verify that you have been admitted in the correct status.

Travel to Canada and I-94 U.S. Entry Record

Attention all visa holders who travel to Canada and re-enter the U.S. from a Canadian land border crossing or sea port:

When re-entering the U.S., you must ask the border officer to provide you with an official I-94 entry record. You will need to provide the border officer with your passport and I-20 form. The I-94 record will contain the following information:

  • Date of entry into the U.S.
  • Status of entry into the U.S. (should be the same as your visa type).
  • Duration of entry status (for F-1 and J-1 students, this should say D/S).

It is also helpful if they put an entry stamp in your passport with the above information.

You will need to pay a small fee to have the border officer create your official entry record (I-94).

NOTE: When traveling on an airline, the small I-94 fee is incorporated into your ticket price.

What is an I-94?

Re-entry and Travel While on Post-Completion OPT

Before departing the U.S. it is strongly recommended that you contact one of the ISSS advisors about your particular travel situation, as every situation is unique. Here are general re-entry guidelines to consider before departing the U.S. while on OPT. 

In addition to the three items list above (items needed for re-entry to the U.S. during breaks), you will need the following:

  • Your valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD), if OPT has been approved.
  • Letter of employment, if OPT has been approved.

The following two questions are of particular interest while traveling on OPT. The answers are from the ICE website on Travel. Again, it’s best to consult the ISSS staff before traveling. 

1. Can I re-enter if my request for Post-Completion OPT is pending?

  • Yes, but traveling during this time should be undertaken with caution. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may send you a request for evidence while you are away, however, so you would want to make sure you have provided a correct U.S. address both to your DSO and on the application and would be able to send in requested documents. Also, if USCIS approves your OPT application, you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States. Like a request for further information, USCIS can only send the EAD to your U.S. address.

2. Can I re-enter if I left while on Post-Completion OPT?

  • If USCIS has approved your OPT you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States, in addition to your Form I-20, valid passport and visa and a letter of employment. If you exceed the limits of unemployment while outside the United States, you will not be eligible to re-enter the United States in F-1 status.

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