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Traveling & Re-Entry to the United States:


When reentering the U.S. after traveling outside of the country, be prepared to show the Border Patrol the following:

Continuing/Currently Enrolled Students Students on Post-Completion OPT/STEM
Original I-20/DS-2019 signed for travel within the last 12 months* Original I-20 signed for travel within the last 6 months*
Passport (Valid 6-month into Future) Passport (Valid 6-month into Future)
Valid F-1/J-1 Visa Stamp (if applicable) Valid F-1 Visa Stamp (if applicable)
Proof of Enrollment:
  • Undergrads: Enrollment Verification printed from SOLAR. Click here for instructions.
  • Graduates: Good Standing Letter from your Department
Current and valid EAD Card 
Proof of Employment (Offer Letter / Recent Pay Stubs)

*Travel signatures are endorsed on page 2 of your I-20.

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

Travel Signature Day Schedule

Date Time Location
Thursday, March 1 1:00pm - 4:00pm VIS (Melville Library, E5310)
Friday, March 9 10:00am - 1:00pm VIS (Melville Library, E5310)
Wednesday, April 25 1:00pm - 4:00pm VIS (Melville Library, E5310)
Friday, May 4 10:00am - 1:00pm VIS (Melville Library, E5310)
Friday, May 11 1:00pm - 4:00pm VIS (Melville Library, E5310)
Friday, May 18 1:00pm - 4:00pm VIS (Melville Library, E5310)


PLEASE NOTE:

  • 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 (if applicable).  Discuss this with an International Student Adviser before traveling.

  • 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 return.



Traveling Within the U.S.:

If you are planning a trip within the United States it is important that you have your I-20, passport, visa and Stony Brook ID card with you for ALL distance travel, even travel within New York State.

You and your dependents may be surprised to learn that federal law requires that you carry "registration" documentation at all times. This includes a basic identification documents such as a passport, current I-20 and I-94. For day-to-day purposes, we suggest you keep these documents in a secure location, such as a fire-proof deposit box. However, if you are traveling within the U.S. you should carry these documents with you, as proof of your status may be required before boarding when traveling by air, train, bus, or ship.

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.



Frequently Asked Questions:

I heard I need a travel signature on my I-20 if I want to travel outside of the U.S., is that true?
Yes, when re-entering the U.S. after traveling abroad, you must have a valid travel signature on page 2 of your current I-20. 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.

I am a J-1 Exchange Visitor, how long is the travel signature on my DS-2019 valid for?
A travel signature issued on your DS-2019 is valid for one year (12 months) from the date issued and can be used for multiple entries.  To obtain a travel signature, submit the Travel Signature Request in accessVIS, then come to Visa and Immigration Services during designated Travel Signature Days with your passport, I-94 card/electronic printout and DS-2019.

I plan to travel home over the break, what documents should I have when reentering the U.S.?
 When reentering the U.S. after traveling outside of the country, you must have the following:
  • Valid travel signature (travel signatures are only valid for 12 months)
  • Valid passport (valid for 6 months into the future)
  • Valid F-1 Visa Stamp (if applicable)
  • Students on OPT must also have their EAD card and letter from your employer verifying your employment. 
Additionally, if you'll be renewing your F-1 visa we strongly recommend checking the U.S. Consulate/Embassy's website where you will apply for a list of required documents, as requirements tend to differ from country to country
May I travel to Canada?

Anyone can depart the country, however not everyone can reenter the U.S. Students in F-1 or J-1 status must return to the U.S. BEFORE the end date listed on their Form I-20/DS-2019 AND have a valid travel signature.

All countries have their own travel restrictions and requirements which differ depending on the individual's nationality. Be sure to check the country's official website for information on what documents you'll need visit.

For instance, those traveling to Canada must:

  • Have a Temporary Resident (visitor) Visa depending on your citizenship ( Check Eligibility or Apply Here. )
  • Have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
  • be in good health
I would like to take a cruise - are there any documents I should prepare before I travel?

We advise students to prepare for taking a cruise in the same way that you would for international travel. Continuing students should carry:

  • Original I-20/DS-2019 signed for travel within the last 12 months
  • Passport (valid 6 months into the future)
  • Valid F-1/J-1 Visa
  • Proof of Enrollment:

Although the cruise may not have a planned stop at an international port, it may travel through international waters, or may need to make an unscheduled stop for mechanical reasons. Good preparation will ensure you are able to board the ship and return to Stony Brook smoothly.

​Do I need a valid visa to visit Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands?
​No, unless your travel plans include entry to any other country en route to these U.S. territories. You will need a valid Form I-20 and a valid unexpired Form I-94. Be sure that you do not have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status.
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