Travel Information

Traveling Inside the United States

We know many of you have family and friends in various parts of the United States. Please be aware that you may be asked to show proof of your student status at ANY time in the United States . . . and especially when you take domestic flights. When you travel, be sure to take your passport and current I-20 with you!


Traveling Outside the United States

You may have been worried about going through Customs and Immigration on your first trip to the United States, but did you know that you need to be just as careful upon re-entry to the United States? The ability to re-enter the United States is a privilege for F-1 and J-1 international students. Failure to comply with all immigration regulations may result in a loss of this privilege.


First, you can expect to comply with the new U.S.-VISIT program. This new program monitors the entry and exit of all non-immigrants to the United States. You will be fingerprinted and photographed at every port of entry to the United States. For more information on this program, please see the following:

Second, you must carry the following documents with you to avoid being detained at the border:
  • PASSPORT - un-expired and valid for at least 6 months into the future. If your passport is expired or will be in the next 6 months, you must renew it through your home-country consulate.
  • I-20 OR DS-2019 FORM - un-expired and with a travel signature less than one year old. If any information on your I-20 has changed, please contact the ISP Office to receive a new I-20.
  • VISA - un-expired and valid for re-entry into the United States (if your visa is expired please be fully prepared to interview in your home country for a new visa).
  • PROOF OF FULL-TIME ENROLLMENT - in the form of transcripts from the registrar's office or a letter from your immigration advisor in the ISP Office.
  • PROOF OF FINANCIAL ABILITY - documentation verifying your funding source as indicated in Section 8 of your I-20 or Section 5 of the DS-2019; this may include personal or family bank statements, affidavits of support, or copies of your scholarship letter.

If you are on OPT, you will need to bring additional documents with you when you travel. These documents are as follows:
  • I-20 - signed within the last 6 months
  • EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION DOCUMENT (EAD) CARD - issued by USCIS for F-1 students on OPT
  • A LETTER FROM YOUR EMPLOYER - complete with your job title, job description, begin and end dates, and verifying that your employer knows you are traveling and expects you to return to complete your job. If you do not have a job, you are advised not to travel as you may not be permitted to re-enter the U.S.
  • IF YOUR VISA HAS EXPIRED, it is advised that you do not travel outside the country, as it will be difficult for any student on OPT to receive a new visa
  • You must return to the U.S. within five months of leaving. If you choose not to return to the U.S. within five months of leaving, you must get a new I-20. Please contact the ISP Office for further information.

Further questions? Check out this Fact-sheet published by the Department of Homeland Security in 2004: "Tips for Students Who Will Travel Outside the United States."