The Office of International Programs can provide helpful information and suggestions you should consider when making the decision to travel abroad while a students, here, in the U.S. Of particular concern is the time it takes for students to renew their visas while they are overseas.
Travel to Canada and Mexico
Before you finalize your trip to Canada or Mexico, be sure to check with the consulate to see if you will need a tourist visa to enter the country and make arrangements to apply for the visa in time. When you travel, you will need to have your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, I-94 card, and College ID. Make sure that you have a valid and recent travel endorsement signature on your I-20 or DS-2019.
There have been two sets of changes in the regulations which allow students to re-enter the U.S. with an expired F or J visa after a brief (less than 30 days) visit to the contiguous territories of Canada, Mexico, and the adjacent islands other than Cuba. This benefit of student status is called “automatic visa revalidation.”
Citizens and nationals of “state sponsors of terrorism” are not eligible for this benefit and must have a valid and unexpired F or J visa to re-enter the U.S. At this time, the U.S. State Department lists the following countries as “state sponsors of terrorism:” Iran, Sudan, and Syria.
Non-immigrants (not just individuals from the countries listed above) who choose to apply for a new F or J visa while in Canada or Mexico, are no longer eligible to use the benefit of automatic visa revalidation, but will have to wait in Canada or Mexico until the visa is approved. If the visa application is denied, then the applicant will not be permitted to re-enter the US on the old expired visa and will have to return to his/her home country.
Please note: When you are traveling to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days and returning to the US to continue your studies, you should not surrender your I-94 card. If you are from Canada or Mexico and you are traveling home for a visit, you should surrender your I-94 card and get a new one when you return to the US. Students from Canada should carry with them their financial documents and their confirmation of enrollment at the College and should get a travel signature on their I-20 every 6 months.