International travel requires advance planning and careful attention to details. Most importantly, make certain you have all the required documents with you in order to re-enter the United States.
Your passport must be valid for six months beyond your date of re-entry to the United States.
Valid U.S. Visa
Your visa stamp does not determine how long you can remain in the United States. Therefore, you may stay in the United States beyond the expiration date of your F-1 visa stamp as long as your I-20 remains valid. However, should you choose to travel internationally, it will be necessary to apply for a new visa stamp in order to reenter the United States.
- Exception: A valid visa stamp is not necessary when returning from Canada, Mexico and most islands adjacent to the United States if you have been gone for less than 30 days. This exception does NOT apply to students from Cuba, Iran, Sudan or Syria.
- Exception: Canadian citizens are not required to have a visa stamp.
I-20 Signed for Travel
Re-entering the country requires a travel signature on your I-20. Travel signatures are valid for 12 months. Before you leave the country, be sure that your signature will not be more than 12 months old on your date of re-entry. Submit this request through WildcatSync (Davidson login required).
You will need financial documents to prove that you have funding to cover your educational and personal expenses in the United States. Documents may be in the form of a bank statement or scholarship letter. Learn more about this requirement at StudyInTheStates.gov.
Alumni on OPT or STEM OPT
Alumni maintaining F-1 status through OPT or STEM OPT must verify that their employment information is correct in the SEVP portal and travel with an I-20 signed within the past 6 months. Other documents that may be requested at the port of entry include your current EAD and/or I-766 receipt notice and a job verification letter.