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Traveling as an F-1 Student

  • Traveling Outside of the U.S.

    Traveling Outside of the U.S.

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

    Continuing/Currently Enrolled Students Students on Post-Completion OPT/STEM

    Original I-20 signed for travel within the last 12 months*

    Original I-20 signed for travel within the last 6 months*

    Passport (valid for 6-months into the future)

    Passport (valid for 6-months into the future), with a valid F-1 Visa 

    Valid F-1 Visa

    Current and valid EAD Card 

    Proof of Enrollment

    • Undergraduates:  Enrollment Verification from the Registrar

    • Graduates: Good Standing Letter from your department

    Proof of Employment (Offer Letter / Recent Pay Stubs)

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

    To request a travel signature you must submit the Travel Signature Request form in accessVIS. With the request, you will indicate how you wish to receive an I-20 endorsed for travel. If approved, you will receive an email with instructions based on your document delivery preference indicated on the request form. 

    IMPORTANT:  It is your responsibility to see if you need any visitor's visas to enter the country to which you plan on traveling. Your F-1 student visa is only for entry to the U.S.

  • Traveling within the U.S.

    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 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 (Form I-797). This notice proves that you have an application pending with USCIS.

  • Automatic Visa Revalidation

    Automatic Visa Revalidation - Travel to Canada & Mexico

    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 F-1 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.
    • 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.

    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.

    IMPORTANT: This information only pertains to re-entering the U.S. You may need a visitor's visa, or an eTA, in order to enter Canada. Click here for more information.

  • Reminders

    Important Reminders

    • F-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 discuss their eligiblity for Automatic Revalidation with an International Student Advisor before traveling.

    • Canadian nationals should be sure to carry with them 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.

    • Click here for travel tips for F-1 Students on OPT or those planning a change of status to H-1B.