Before You Depart
Before you depart, check that the following documents are in order:
In order to travel, you must have a valid and unexpired passport. The US Department of State recommends that your passport is valid for at least 6 months into the future. If your passport will expire soon, make plans to renew it when you go home next or contact your embassy in the US for assistance.
SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019
You must use your current SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 for travel. However, be sure that you keep all previously issued I-20s and save them with your important documents. Check that the I-20 still reflects correct information about you (major, level of studies, etc.) and notify OIP immediately if any of this information changes so we can issue you a new I-20. Look on the last page of the I-20 and confirm that you have a valid and unexpired travel signature. The travel signature is valid for one year (6 months for students from Canada or those on OPT). Stop by the OIP immediately if you need a new signature!
I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
You need to surrender your I-94 card when you depart the US. You will be issued a new I-94 card when you re-enter the US. If you are visiting Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days and you will be returning to the US to resume your studies, do not surrender the I-94 card. If you are a citizen of Canada or Mexico going home for the break, you must surrender your I-94 when you exit the US and obtain a new one when you return.
U.S. student (F or J) Visa
Check the F or J visa stamp in your passport to confirm that you have an unexpired multiple entry visa. If your visa has expired or will be expiring while you are overseas, you must make arrangements for a new visa (read below).
If you are visiting a country other than your home country, you may need a visa to enter. Check with the embassy of that country in advance and make the necessary arrangements to apply for a visitor visa.
IC ID Card
Carry your IC ID card as an additional identity document
Financial Certification Documents
While it is not required for travel, it is strongly recommended that you have on you (in your carry-on luggage) financial certification documents, so you can show them to the immigration authorities if requested when you are clearing customs. If you will be applying for a new visa, you must provide financial certification documents.
Certificate of Attendance
While it is not required for travel, it is strongly recommended that you have on you (in your carry-on luggage) a Certificate of Enrollment, so you can show it to the immigration authorities if requested when you are clearing customs. It will be a good idea to have this Certificate if you will be applying for a new visa. You can obtain a Certificate of Enrollment from the Office of the Registrar.
If you will be applying for a new visa, it is strongly recommended that you take with you an official transcript. Many consulates now require them, so check that before you depart. You must request your transcript in writing from the Registrar’s Office, so take care of that before you depart from Ithaca.
If you have been subject to Special Registration in the past, keep in mind that you will still need to follow the required exit procedure before you can depart from the US. You should have been given information on this procedure when you were registered initially. Check with the DHS website or with OIP if you have questions.
For OPT Students: Practical Training Students who have completed their studies and are now on Optional Practical Training (OPT) will need to have their EAD card, in addition to the other travel documents (valid passport, valid visa, endorsed I-20) to re-enter the US. Make sure that you have a recent signature (within the last 6 months) on your I-20 and contact OIP immediately if you need a new travel signature. Federal regulations also state that students on OPT may leave the US temporarily and then return to resume their employment. Therefore, when you travel, carry with you a letter from your employer verifying your employment. If your F-1 visa has expired, you will need to make arrangements to apply for a new F-1 visa while overseas. Contact OIP before you make your final travel arrangements – be advised that visa issuance for individuals on OPT tend to be very problematic and the denial rate of such visa applications tends to be high.