In order to re-enter the United States after a temporary absence, you must carry the following documents:
- A passport valid for at least six month after the date of your reentry or, if you are from one of the these countries, a passport that is valid through the date of entry.
- A valid F-1/J-1 visa stamp (except for trips to Canada, Mexico and Adjacent Islands for fewer than 30 days).
- A valid I-20/DS-2019 with a current travel signature.
- Copy of your current re-enrollment reply, or a copy of your admission reply if you are are a first year student
- Evidence of adequate financial support.
To travel outside of the U.S. and re-enter as an F-1/J-1 student, you must have a valid travel signature. The signature may be obtained at the Davis International Center (87 Prospect). You must be enrolled and maintaining your status to receive a signature. You are not required to present any additional documentation. Please allow one business day for processing. A travel signature is valid for one year from the date of issuance.
If you are a J-1 student whose DS-2019 was issued by another program sponsor (e.g., IIE), please contact your program sponsor to have your document signed for travel.
Evidence of Adequate Financial Support
Financial support can be demonstrated by one (or a combination) of the following;
A copy of your current re-enrollment reply, or a copy of your admission reply if you are a first year student;
• A letter from your department outlining financial support and student status;
• A scholarship or a fellowship award letter indicating the duration and amount of support;
• A personal bank statement;
• A letter from a financial sponsor and documentation of his/her ability to support you (bank statement, letter of employment, etc.);
Applying for a new F-1/J-1 visa
In order to re-enter the U.S., you must have a valid F-1/J-1 visa in your passport. A visa can only be obtained abroad, at a U.S. embassy/consulate. Exact procedures at embassies/consulates vary. Information about individual consulates can be found by accessing the U.S. Department of State website.
For your visa application, at the minimum, you will need:
• A valid passport
• A valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a current travel signature;
• Copy of your current re-enrollment reply;
• Evidence of adequate financial support.
Apply for your visa early to allow time for visa processing. Do not assume that the procedure and time frame for applying for a new visa will be the same as it was the last time you applied for a visa. Make a visa appointment before departing the U.S.It is important to thoroughly review all information on the specific embassy's website for local procedures and instructions. Consular websites will also explain any additional procedures. Also check the Department of State Visa Wait Times for Interview Appointment information. This does not include time required for additional administrative processing.
Be prepared for delays due to increased security clearance processing by the State Department. If your field of study and research is technologically sensitive, you may be subjected to a security clearance. Please consult a Department of State telegram regarding the Technology Alert List. If subject to a security clearance, visas can be delayed indefinitely. Most clearances are resolved within 60 days of application, but the timing varies based on individual circumstances of each case. Please arrange an appointment with your international student advisor at the Davis IC to discuss the security clearance process and additional documentation you may want to take with you.
F and J visas are non-immigrant visas. The success of your visa application depends on your ability to demonstrate ties to your home country. During your visa interview, a consular official may ask about how your visit to the U.S. fits into your long term plans. If you are asked that, you must be able to prove your intent to return to your home country after completion of your academic program. If you are not able to sufficiently demonstrate to the consular officer that you qualify for the nonimmigrant visa category you applied for, your visa application will most likely be denied. For more information about visa applications and non-immigrant intent , please consult the Department of State website.
Travel to Canada, Mexico and Adjacent Islands
Most F-1/J-1 students traveling to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands for a trip of 30 days or fewer can usually revalidate an expired visa automatically when returning to the United States. This process is known as Automatic Visa Revalidation.
To qualify for Automatic Visa Revalidation, you must meet following criteria:
• Currently be in F-1/J-1 student status.
• Present an unexpired form I-94 (with the notation D/S). Students should not surrender the I-94 when leaving the U.S. for a contiguous territory.
• Have been in lawful status while in the U.S.
• Present an unexpired passport with a U.S. nonimmigrant visa stamped within (valid or expired).
• Have been in one of the contiguous territories for fewer than thirty days.
• Present a current I-20/DS-2019 with a valid travel signature.
However, if you meet any one of following criteria, you will not be able to automatically revalidate your visa:
• You applied for a new visa and it has not been issued
• You applied for a new visa and were denied
• You have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status
• You have been outside the U.S. for more than thirty days
• You are a citizen of one of the following countries: Cuba, Iran,North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
F-1 students on OPT and J-1 students on AT
F-1 students on OPT or J-1 students on AT who have unexpired visa stamps in their passports need only to obtain a new travel signature on the I-20 or DS-2019 documents prior to travel. Travel signatures should be no older than 6 months from the date you intend to travel while on OPT.
The following documents will be needed when traveling:
• Valid I-20/DS-2019 with a valid travel signature.
• Proof of work authorization (EAD: Employment Authorization Document for F-1 students or a Academic Training letter issued by the Office of Visa Services for J-1 students).
• Employer letter stating the job title, job description, beginning/end dates, and salary.
Students on OPT/AT who need a new entry visa are strongly advised to discuss their travel plans with their international student advisor. It may be more difficult to obtain a student visa while on OPT or AT as the issue of intent to return to a home country could be more difficult to prove once the student has obtained a degree and is working in the U.S.
Canadian citizens are exempt from visa requirements. However, if you are a Canadian citizen, you MUST present a valid passport and a valid I-20/DS-2019 with a current travel signature at a U.S. port of entry, so that an immigration officer admits you into the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status. Entering the U.S. in other than F-1 or J-1 status (i.e., as a tourist) will make you ineligible for benefits of student status, i.e., work on campus, Optional Practical Training or Academic Training, etc.
The US-VISIT program is a US Department of Homeland Security immigration and border system that involves the collections of biometrics - digital fingerprints and a photograph - from international travelers, including F-1 and J-1 students, at U.S. visa-issuing posts and ports of entry. For more information about the US VISIT program procedure can be found here.
If you arrive at the U.S. port of entry without all of your required documents or with unsigned I-20/DS-2019, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer may deny your entry into the U.S. As an alternative, the officer has discretion to issue your a Form I-515A, which allows you temporary entry into the U.S. for 30 days. Receiving a Form I-515A is not good, but it is better than having to travel back home. It is serious and can become a real problem if you do not pay attention. The CBP officer who issue your a Form I-515A may tell you what documents, signatures or information are missing or incomplete. The form is a checklist that describes exactly what is missing or incomplete and tells you what you must do. You have 30 days from the date of entry into the U.S. to submit your correct paperwork to the SEVP I-515A processing team. If you receive this form, report to the Davis IC immediately so that we can process your documentation and mail it to SEVP in Washington, D.C. SEVP will process your documents and return them to Davis IC.
To avoid getting the I-515A, make sure to hand-carry the required paperwork when you arrive at the U.S. port of entry. Do not put them in your checked baggage because you will not receive your bagage until you are admitted into the U.S. by a port of entry officer.
Travel to a Third Country
For travel into any country other than your home country, you must check with an embassy/consulate of the country you plan to visit to inquire about specific visa and entry procedures. a complete and official listing of the foreign consular offices in the U.S. can be found here.
You didn't hand in your I-94 when you left the U.S.
If you returned home with your I-94 Arrival/Departure card (small white card stampled into your passport), it is possible that your departure from the U.S. was not recorded properly. For more information, please consult the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.