Frequently Asked Questions
For updates and clarification regarding SEVP's COVID-19 guidance our Student FAQ's During COVID-19 page.
New International Students should complete Visa and Immigration Intake procedures during Orientation week or as soon as possible. Failure to complete the Intake procedures in accessVIS and report to VIS may endanger a student’s status in the United States. Students must complete the online Immigration Intake and report to VIS with the following documents:
- U.S. Visa
- I-20 / DS-2019
- I-94 Electronic Document (Printout)
If you wish to return to Stony Brook University, we recommend beginning the readmission process at least 3 months prior to the start of the semester.
- If outside of the United States for less than 5 months you may request to have your SEVIS record reactivated and an updated I-20 with valid travel signature issued. Please note the reactivation of your F-1 record is at the discretion of SEVP and not guaranteed.
- If outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months you are required to request a new I-20 from Visa and Immigration Services and apply for a new F-1 Visa prior to their return.
In order to obtain a Form I-20 you must submit the Readmission Following Leave of Absence request in accessVIS. Follow the steps below to do so:
- Login to accessVIS through the "Limited Services" link on the accessVIS homepage.
- Enter your Limited Services Pin, date of birth, and Stony Brook ID#. See below to have your Limited Access PIN emailed to you. Email Pin
- Expand the F-1 Student Services window within the menu bar.
- Complete and submit the Request Readmission Following Leave eform.
You will be notified via email once your request is approved. If anything is missing, your advisor will contact you by phone or email.
If you are unable to collect your document from Visa & Immigration Services, you may authorize a friend or family member to collect the documents on your behalf. To do so, please complete the Authorize Friend to Collect Documents form in accessVIS.
Note: VIS will not release any personal documents without written authorization.
- 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)
- Proof of enrollment is recommended (undergrad: enrollment verification from registrar; grad: good standing letter from academic department)
- Students on OPT must also have their EAD card and letter from your employer verifying your employment.
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. You c an also make an appointment during the semester to receive a travel signature.
For students on OPT, complete the pre/post completion OPT reporting form and select “travel signature” as reason.
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:
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:
- Undergrads: Enrollment Verification from the Registrar
- Graduates: Good Standing Letter from your Department
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.
If you are only traveling to Canada or Mexico for a period of less than 30 days, you may be eligible to re-enter the US on the basis of an expired visa in your passport under a process called “automatic visa revalidation.”
In order to take advantage of Automatic Revalidation all of the following must apply:
- The visit is ONLY to Canada or Mexico and you may NOT travel to any other country.
- You did not apply for a new US visa stamp while in Canada/Mexico.
- Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your date of re-entry to the U.S., unless your country is a member of the so-called “six-month club.”
- You must possess an unexpired I-94 record* or admission stamp.
- You must apply for readmission to the U.S. within the authorized period of your immigration status.
- You must have maintained and intend to resume your non-immigrant status.
NOTE: When exiting the U.S. for Automatic Revalidation do not surrender your I-94—you will need it for reentry.
Automatic revalidation is not available to nationals from countries identified as state sponsors of terrorism. Individuals who apply for a new visa in Canada and/or Mexico, but are denied such a visa, are also not eligible to benefit from the automatic visa revalidation option.
We recommend that individuals planning to re-enter the US under the automatic visa revalidation process carry with them the CBP article on automatic visa revalidation. In addition, please print the relevant regulations.
If you will be traveling by air, you should confirm that your airline is familiar with the visa revalidation process and will issue you a boarding pass when returning to the US even though you have an expired US visa in your passport.
Students interested in working on-campus, and who do not already have an employment offer, should visit Career Center’s Handshake website to apply for a position. Once you have been offered a position on-campus, your employer will need to issue you an Employment Authorization Letter with specific information pertaining to your position, each department should have this letter on file. If the department does not have this on file, they may email firstname.lastname@example.org directly for a template. Once the letter is complete, fill out the SSN Authorization Request on accessVIS. You will receive an email when the process is complete and when you may pick up your letter. After receiving the SSN Authorization Letter from the VIS office, you should go to the Social Security office with the SSN Authorization Letter, I-20, I-94, passport, and offer of employment letter to apply for a Social Security number (SSN).
See below for a full description on the difference between CPT and OPT!
See below for the full OPT/CPT Workshop schedule.
See below to view Philip Kleiner's presentation about immigration options after graduation.
Visit our Tax Return page for more information on submitting your tax return. Please note, the VIS office is not equipped to answer tax related questions. Due to the complexity of income tax laws, it is advisable to have questions answered by the IRS or a reliable tax consultant.
Your employer can visit our Resources for U.S. Employers page for information on the hiring of international students from Stony Brook University for internships or post graduate work.
A helpful resource for Undergraduate students, seeking additional funding for their course of study.
Immigration scams are an unfortunate occurrence that may come in many forms. Scammers may even have very specific, detailed information about you and your immigration situation. Don't be a victim! Please visit http://www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams/common-scams to learn more about common immigration scams. DO NOT give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official. If you have any questions about your status, contact your VIS advisor.
Should international students & scholars wish to participate in a protest or demonstration, it is not prohibited under U.S. immigration regulations or other laws. International students and scholars should take the opportunity to familiarize themselves with local laws and standards concerning the ability to protest. It is important that the activities remain peaceful and respectful. However, should the activities appear to become threatening in nature, disruptive or some form of violence appears to be starting, it is advisable to leave the area. Should law enforcement officials be called, it is important to follow their instructions and leave the area as directed. While each situation is different, generally only when people become disrespectful, ignore law enforcement personnel instructions and violence is imminent is there a risk of being arrested or charged with a legal offense. It is important that international students and scholars understand that arrests, criminal charges, criminal proceedings, and convictions can impact student and scholar interactions with immigration officials and future immigration benefits.