Travel Outside of the U.S.

What to Take with You

Make sure to have the following documents with you in an easily accessible place:

  • I-20 (F-1 or F-2) or DS-2019 (J-1 or J-2) with an ending date occurring after your re-entry to the U.S. and signed for travel by your immigration sponsor within the last year
  • Passport (valid for at least six months beyond your re-entry date)
  • F-1 or J-1 visa valid on or after the date of re-entry to the U.S. with available entries, as well as valid F-2 or J-2 visas for any traveling dependents (If visa is expired, you will need to renew it at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before returning to the U.S.**)
  • Information on any medications you are carrying with you during travel
  • Any entry documents required for the countries to which you will be traveling (check with those countries’ embassies in the U.S.)

OPT Students - please remember that you should also travel with:

  • I-20, signed for travel within the last six months
  • EAD Card (or OPT receipt notice if card has not yet arrived)
  • Proof of employment or employment offer
  • See your F-1 advisor if your visa has expired or will expire before you return

Travel Signatures

F-1 students will obtain a travel signature, see an advisor during walk-in hours or drop off your I-20 and a Travel Signature Request at the front desk (once it has been signed you will receive an email).

J-1 students will need to contact the program sponsor listed in box 2 of the DS-2019 form at least one month prior to their intended travel to verify the sponsor’s procedures for obtaining a travel signature. If the program sponsor in box 2 of the DS-2019 form is Florida State University, students can follow the same procedures listed above for F-1 students. Please note that the advisors at FSU are not authorized to give travel signatures for students sponsored by another agency and cannot expedite a sponsor’s procedures.

Travel Tips

  • If you are traveling to or through the airport in a country other than your home country, check to see if you must apply for a special visa to do so.
  • Make sure your passport is stamped F-1 D/S or J-1 D/S, as appropriate, when you pass through Customs and check your I-94 at for the correct status and admit until date (this will be the only evidence you have that you entered in the correct status).
  • Let an F-1 or J-1 advisor know if you have difficulty during your visa renewal or at Customs.
  • Please contact your F-1 or J-1 advisor immediately if you were given an I-515 at the port of entry OR if your I-94 does not indicate you entered in F-1 or J-1 status, as appropriate.
  • If you exit the U.S. during your grace period, you will need to have another valid U.S. visa or status, such as a B visa or Visa Waiver eligibility and a valid ESTA record, in order to re-enter the U.S. You lose the remainder of your grace period once you exit the U.S.
  • Be sure to check the TSA website for any restricted items you should avoid bringing with you or purchasing while abroad.
  • Let your credit card company or bank know your travel itinerary so that your credit/debit cards will not be blocked for suspected fraudulent activity.
  • Notify your country’s embassy or consulate of your travel itinerary, so that you can be reached in the case of an emergency.

After returning to the U.S., please email your advisor a copy of your new I-94 (you can print this at, along with copies of any renewed passport or visa.

**If you are traveling to Mexico, Canada or certain islands near the U.S., you may be able to travel with an expired visa. Ask an F-1 or J-1 advisor for more information.

Travel Within the U.S.

You are required to carry with you at all times during your travel within the U.S.

  • Your original passport
  • Your original I-94 (or a copy printed off of the website)
  • Your original I-20 or DS-2019, signed for travel (though you don’t need a travel signature to travel within the U.S., having one is just a precaution)

If flying, you will need to present your passport as identification. You will not be able to use only your Florida driver’s license or identification card.

Renewing Your Visa

You can remain in the U.S. if your F-1 or J-1 visa expires. However, once you leave the U.S., you will need to renew your F-1 visa. Check for a list of documentation REQUIRED for visa renewal. You may need:

  • FSU Official Transcript (available from FSU Registrar)
  • Verification of Current Enrollment (available from FSU Registrar)
  • Updated proof of funding (i.e. bank statement, department award letter, scholarship award letter)
  • Proof of ties to your home country (i.e. family obligations in your home country; bank accounts or property; job offers, or proof of need for your job field at home)
  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019 form
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your anticipated date of re-entry to the U.S.
  • Passport style photo without glasses

Visa Renewal Tips:

  • It is recommended that you renew your F-1 or J-1 visa in your home country, as this carries a lower risk of denial and you will likely have more resources in the case of a lengthy wait for visa processing.
  • Be aware that you could be subjected to visa administrative processing, which may delay the issuance of your visa up to 90 days. Try to plan for visa renewals during the longer summer break. If you have ever been subjected to the visa administrative processing in the past, please let your F-1 or J-1 advisor know. It is possible that it can happen again.
  • Renewing an F-1 visa during OPT is not recommended. Please talk to your F-1 advisor for more information.
  • Renewing a J-1 visa during Academic Training is possible.

You should NEVER use a tourist visa or the Visa Waiver program to enter the U.S. – neither status allows you to study or be employed!

Automatic Visa Revalidation

Students whose visas have already expired may still be able to travel as tourists to Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands under a program called Automatic Visa Revalidation. Students attempting to travel to their home country using this program can be denied re-entry without a valid visa.

Federal regulations "permits aliens who are traveling in territories contiguous to the mainland U.S. or, in some cases, in adjacent islands and whose visas have expired to re-enter the United States without obtaining a new visa. The alien may do so provided that s/he has been outside the U.S. for not more than thirty (30) days and the alien's I-94 remains valid." These regulations "prohibit ... re-entry using an automatically revalidated visa of any alien who has applied for a new visa while outside the United States. In order to utilize automatic visa revalidation, the student must:

  • Have a return ticket for travel back into the U.S. (unless crossing at a land border);
  • Have an expired non-immigrant visa;
  • Have a valid passport and a valid and signed I-20 or DS-2019 form. It is advisable to take evidence of financial support, which could include a bank statement, or an assistantship/scholarship letter; and
  • NOT be applying for a visa while traveling. Students may apply for a visa or use Automatic Visa Revalidation, but not both.
  • We advise that you carry a copy of the Automatic Visa Revalidation Fact Sheet when re-entering the U.S. using this program.

Please note that citizens of some countries are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation. The list of affected countries is renewed yearly in a State Department report to Congress. Please check with the CGE if you think you may be affected by this provision.

Visit the following links for more information on automatic visa revalidation

Adjacent Islands are Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Marie-Galante, Martinique, Miquelon, Montserrat, Saba, Saint-Barthelemy, Saint Christopher, Saint Eustatius, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre, Saint Vincent, Grenadines, Trinidad, Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Other British, French and Netherlands territory or possessions bordering on the Caribbean Sea.