Traveling Outside the Country
Below are some frequently asked questions about travel and visa requirements. If you have additional questions, please contact Kathaleen M. Alexander
What documents do I need to reenter the United States after a trip outside the country?
- A valid SEVIS I-20
- Before leaving the US, verify your I-94 information. (Many U.S. ports of entry no longer provide the paper I-94 card. Instead, entrants are receiving a passport stamp. Every time you travel you should go to this website to access and print your I-94 information www.cbp.gov/i94. )
- A passport that is valid for 6 months from the date that you plan to reenter the United States.
- A valid F-1 VISA (United States entry visa) with unused entries--- except for travel to Canada and Mexico (see below). If you do not have a valid visa, you will have to obtain a new visa in order to reenter the United States.
- A valid signature from the Designated Student Official, Kathaleen M. Alexander, on page 3 of your SEVIS I-20. The signature must be less than 12 months old at the time you plan to reenter the United States. We recommend that you obtain a travel signature every 6 months if you travel frequently.
What documents do I need to reenter the United States after travel in Canada or Mexico:
A valid SEVIS I-20.
A passport that is valid for 6 months from the date that you plan to reenter the United States.
A valid signature from the International Student Advisor on page 3 of your SEVIS I-20 or on your DS-2019. The signature must be less than 12 months old at the time you plan to reenter the United States.
If you stay in Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days, you may reenter the United States with an expired entry visa under a special provision called “automatic revalidation”. In order to qualify for this benefit, do not surrender your I-94 Card (usually the white card stapled in your passport) to immigration or airline officials when entering Canada or Mexico. If they ask for your I-94 Card, explain that you are staying for 30 days or less and will need it to reenter the United States. When traveling by air, make a copy of your I-94 card to give to the airline official and keep the original. You are not eligible for automatic revalidation if:
- You are a citizen of a country that the Department of State (DOS) has determined to be a sponsor of terrorism. The list of countries is updated periodically in a report from the Department of State titled “Country Reports on Terrorism.” As of November 2012, the list includes Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.
- You apply for a visa while you are in Canada or Mexico. You will not be allowed to reenter the United States if your visa is denied.
- You may need an entry visa to enter Canada or Mexico. Please consult with the Mexican or Canadian Consulate before your trip.
My entry visa is expired or will expire soon. Do I need to renew it?
You only need to renew the visa stamp in your passport if you are traveling outside of the United States. As long as you maintain your F-1 student status (see Maintaining Your Visa and are remaining in the United States, it is not necessary to renew your visa.
How do I apply for a new entry visa?
Please take the following items with you if you are traveling and will need to apply for a new visa in order to reenter the United States. Information about visa applications and fees is available at www.travel.state.gov. Any items the United States Embassy/Consulate requests. We recommend reviewing the website of the Embassy/Consulate at which you plan to apply.
- Official transcripts from Clinton.
- A good standing letter that verifies current full time enrollment. This letter can be obtained from your academic advisor or the Designated Student Official, Kathaleen Alexander.
- Financial documentation, such as an official bank letter from your sponsor, or an original letter from your funding department, verifying the amount specified on your SEVIS I-20. If your funding has changed significantly, you will need to request an updated SEVIS I-20 from the IEC before you return home to apply for a new visa. See the “SEVIS I-20 Request Form” available in Kathaleen Alexander’s office.
- A valid signature from the Designated Student Official, Kathaleen Alexander, on your SEVIS I-20. The signature must be less than 12 months old at the time you plan to reenter the United States.
Can I apply to renew my visa in Canada or Mexico?
It is possible to renew your visa in Canada or Mexico. However, if your visa is denied for any reason, you will not be allowed to reenter the United States. Citizens of certain foreign countries are not eligible to apply for a visa in Canada or Mexico. Visa appointments can be scheduled at the following website: www.travel.state.gov Please note that the Mexican government considers applying for a visa in Mexico as “official business”. This means that an entry visa for Mexico will probably be required. Please contact the Mexican Consulate for more information.
How long will it take to get a new visa?
The time that it takes to get a new visa varies. Overseas consulates and embassies are required to give in-person interviews to the majority of visa applicants by law. There are also security clearances that must take place for each visa applicant. Therefore, it could take 6 to 8 weeks from the time of your interview for the visa to be processed. In some circumstances, it may take longer. We recommend consulting with the embassy/consulate where you plan to apply for a visa well in advance. Whenever possible, schedule an appointment before you leave the United States.
My passport will expire or has expired. How do I renew it?
You can renew your passport in the United States at the embassy/consulate of your home country. An official listing of consular offices in the United States can be found at http://www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/fco.