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Travel and Re-Entry to the U.S. on an F-1 Visa

If you travel out of the U.S., your I-20 must have a travel validation signature from the International Student Coordinator in order for you to re-enter the U.S. (See Contiguous Territory & Adjacent Islands info below for a discussion of re-entry from Canada or Mexico without a valid visa.).

You are required to have your I-20 signed for travel every 12 months. We encourage you to have it signed at least every 9 months. If you are applying for a visa, we recommend a travel signature on your I-20 dated within the last 6 months.

A valid visa stamp in your passport is also required for re-entry to the U.S.*, unless you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda (although you still must show your I-20 form upon re-entry). If your visa stamp has expired, you will need to go to a U.S. consulate abroad to apply for the new visa stamp. You cannot apply for a new visa from within the United States.

If you have graduated and are on post-completion practical training, you are also required to show your EAD (employment authorization document) and proof that you have employment related to your field of study at the port of entry. Do not leave the country if you do not have a job once your period of OPT work authorization has begun. You will likely not be able to re-enter the U.S. unless you are returning for employment.

All students who plan to re-enter the U.S. require:

  • Valid passport which does not expire within the next 6 months
  • I-20 with a valid travel signature on page 3
  • A valid F-1 visa stamp (unless re-entering from Canada or Mexico or the adjacent islands after a trip of less than 30 days)
  • I-94 card

Travel to Contiguous Territory & Adjacent Islands

After initial entry to the U.S., persons who have an expired non-immigrant visa stamp in their passport may re-enter the U.S. without obtaining a new visa if their travel is solely to a contiguous territory (Canada or Mexico) or certain islands adjacent to the United States (excluding Cuba) and their travel is for a period not exceeding 30 days. For travel to contiguous territory or islands adjacent to the U.S., travelers should have, in addition to their passport and properly endorsed I-20, a valid Form I-94, and, if on post-completion OPT, a valid EAD.

Important additional notes: You may be required to have a visa for Canada or Mexico to enter those countries. The visa you have for the United States does not automatically grant entry into these countries. Please contact the UVM Office of International Education for more information regarding travel to Canada.

Last modified July 25 2012 11:37 AM

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