Traveling Outside of the U.S.:

Traveling Outside of the United States:
In order to reenter the US after traveling outside of the country you must have a travel signature on your I-20 / DS-2019 - this signature confirms that you are a full-time student maintaining lawful status.  Upon reentry to the US you must show your valid Passport,  valid F-1 / J-1 Visa stamp,  I-20 / DS-2019 with travel signature and only if you are a Graduate Student, a letter of good standing provided by your department

To obtain a travel signature please complete and submit the Travel Signature Request form in accessVIS, then come to Visa and Immigration Services during designated Travel Signature Days with your passport, I-94 card/electronic printout and Form I-20 / DS-2019.

Undergraduate Students returning to the U.S. should be prepared to show the Border Patrol:

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 Visa stamp
  • I-20 / DS-2019 with travel signature
  • Enrollment Verification form
  • If currently on OPT, the EAD card and proof of employment

Graduate Students returning to the U.S. should be prepared to show the Border Patrol:

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid F-1 Visa stamp
  • I-20 with travel signature
  • Letter of Good Standing from your academic department.
  • If currently on OPT, the EAD card and proof of employment


  • F-1 and J-1 students with expired U.S. visas who are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for up to 30 days, who will not be applying for a new U.S. visa while there, AND who will be resuming their studies upon their return should NOT surrender their I-94 card.  Discuss this with an International Student Adviser before travel.
  • Canadian or Mexican nationals returning to their home country should surrender their I-94 card as they enter their country, and obtain a new I-94 card when reentering the U.S.
  • Canadian nationals should be sure to carry with them their financial documentation that verifies the information on their SEVIS Form I-20 when returning to the United States.
  • Absence from the United States for more than five months requires a new SEVIS Form I-20 and F-1 Visa for reentry. Be sure to notify your Visa and Immigration Advisor no less than 45 days prior to return to the U.S. of your intention to rematriculate.

Traveling Within the U.S.:
If you are planning a trip to cities within the United States by car, bus, train or plane, it is essential that you have your passport and visa documents with you. Since September 11, 2001 , there has been heightened security not only at all border crossings, but also at bus terminals, train stations, and airports throughout the United States. Police are usually very visible in these areas and anyone at any time may be stopped and questioned randomly. Immigration checkpoints can be set up anywhere inside the United States. Therefore, we recommend that you carry your passport, immigration documents (Form I-20 or DS-2019), and Stony Brook ID card with you for ALL distance travel, even travel within New York State.

If you are applying for a change of non-immigrant status, have an immigration petition or EAD card application pending, be sure to carry your U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) receipt notice (green Form I-797). This notice proves that you have an application pending with USCIS. A person without valid travel documents can be arrested and/or taken into Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody for further questioning.

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