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You can travel inside or outside of the U.S. while you are studying or working. However, you need to ensure that you follow certain regulations to travel safely, and plan ahead to avoid any delays.

Traveling inside and outside of the US as an international student | Arizona State University

Travel within the U.S.

When you travel within the U.S. to any of the 50 states (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to the U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa), be prepared to take the following documents with you: 

  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019
  • Valid electronic I-94 record
  • Passport, valid six months into the future

Travel outside the U.S.

As you prepare to arrive at the U.S. Port of Entry, please be prepared to answer the following questions and present the following documents to the Port of Entry Officer.

  • Required documents:
  • Demonstrate your ties to your home country by sharing your plans to return home after you complete your degree.
  • You may be asked to share all of your social media platforms you have used within the last five years. As such you will be required to provide the following:
    1. Username, screen name, handle or other identifier for each platform you use or have used.
    2. Your current email address and phone number.
    3. Any email addresses and phone numbers you have used in the past five years.

Note: You will not be required to provide any of your passwords.

  • Answer any and all questions honestly and calmly.
  • Carry an ISSC business card.

Travel to Country Other Than Your Own

If you plan to travel to a country other than your own, you should contact the consulate of that country to find out if you need a visa to enter that country.

Travel to Canada, Mexico, and/or Adjacent Islands

The automatic visa revalidation process re-validates that you are eligible to enter to the U.S. for a single trip. It is not considered a new admission to the U.S. nor a renewal of a visa.

If you plan to travel to Mexico, Canada and neighboring islands/U.S. territories with an expired F or J visa, you may be allowed to enter the U.S. using the automatic visa revalidation process under the following conditions if you(r):
  • Visit outside of U.S. is not more than 30 days and the purpose is pleasure or vacation only.
  • Have maintained full-time F or J status at all times.
  • Have unexpired passport and last I-94 indicates a status of “Duration of Stay.”
  • Have an I-20/DS-2019 with a valid travel signature
  • Have not applied for a visa during the travel.
  • Are not from North Korea, Iran, Sudan or Syria, which are countries identified as State Sponsors of Terrorism by the Department of State.

Travel While on Post-Completion OPT or STEM-OPT Extension

If you are completing Post-OPT or STEM-OPT Extension, your travel signature is only valid for six months from the date of the last signature or until the end date on your EAD card, whichever comes first.

*The ISSC does not recommend traveling while an OPT application is pending with USCIS.* 

When planning to travel outside of the U.S., on Post-OPT or STEM-OPT, be prepared to take the following documents with you:

  • Valid F-1 visa. Please see Visa Renewal for instructions on how to renew your visa. 
  • Valid OPT I-20 with a valid travel signature.
  • Passport, valid six months into the future
  • Valid EAD card
  • A copy of your job offer letter (if available)
  • For those students who will be traveling for an extended period of time (longer than 30 days but not to exceed 5 months), we also recommend that you bring a letter from your employer explaining the nature of the employment activities outside of the U.S.

Frequently asked questions

WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE NECESSARY WHEN TRAVELING DURING THE POST-OPT PERIOD?

WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE NECESSARY WHEN TRAVELING DURING THE POST-OPT PERIOD?

Here are the guidelines from the US Department of Homeland Security: https://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel

You must have the following documents to return to the U.S. in F-1 status: 

  • A Form I-20, endorsed for travel and signed by your DSO within the last 6 months

  • Valid F-1 visa

  • Passport, valid 6 months into the future

  • Current EAD card

  • Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses

  • Job offer letter (if available, but not required)

For more information on travel, please read through Travel While on F-1 OPT.

 

HOW CAN I GET A TRAVEL SIGNATURE?

HOW CAN I GET A TRAVEL SIGNATURE?

Before submitting Travel Signature Request eForm, make sure your employment and local address are updated.

Travel signatures while on Post-OPT are valid for six (6) months. Processing time is up to 10 days due to case load. Therefore, plan your travels accordingly.

To request a travel signature: 

  • Submit a Travel Signature Request eForm through the ISSC’s eForms Self-service Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions. Once you click the "submit" button, you will see a screen indicating that you successfully submitted your request. Processing time is up to 10 days due to case load, and therefore are processed first-come, first-served. Plan your travels accordingly as it may take up to 10 days to process your requests.

CAN I TRAVEL WHILE ON POST-OPT?

CAN I TRAVEL WHILE ON POST-OPT?

Yes, traveling while on approved Post-OPT is allowed.  Once your Post-OPT is approved, you will be expected to have your EAD card in hand to re-enter the United States.

Travel signatures while on Post-OPT are only valid for six months.

For more information on travel documents, please read through Travel While on F-1 OPT.

CAN I TRAVEL WHILE MY POST-OPT APPLICATION IS PENDING?

CAN I TRAVEL WHILE MY POST-OPT APPLICATION IS PENDING?

Traveling while your application is pending should be undertaken with caution and avoided if possible.

Here are some possible travel scenarios:

Traveling before your completion date and while you have a pending OPT application.  Returning to the US before your completion date is permitted because you are still a student even when your application is pending. 

Traveling after your completion date and while your OPT application is pending.  This is not recommended because once you complete your program you will be expected to have your EAD card in hand to re-enter the United States.

USCIS may send you an RFE (Request for Evidence) while you are away, so you would want to make sure you have provided the correct U.S. address both to your DSO/school and on the application and would be able to send in any requested documents.

Also, if USCIS approves your Post-OPT application, you will be expected to have your EAD card in hand to re-enter the United States. Like an RFE, USCIS can only send the EAD card to your U.S. address.

Travel signatures while on Post-OPT are only valid for six months.

For more information on travel, please read through Travel While on F-1 OPT.

CAN I TRAVEL WHILE MY STEM OPT 24-MONTH EXTENSION IS PENDING?

CAN I TRAVEL WHILE MY STEM OPT 24-MONTH EXTENSION IS PENDING?

Here are some possible travel scenarios:

  • Traveling after your Post-OPT EAD card has expired and while you have a pending 24-Month STEM OPT application.  The SEVP Policy Guidance outlines that if the student’s employment authorization document expires and the 24-Month STEM OPT extension document is pending the student must wait to receive the new employment authorization document to travel.

  • Traveling before your Post-OPT EAD card has expired and while you have a pending 24-Month STEM OPT application.  Returning to the US before your Post-OPT EAD card expires is permitted because you still have a valid EAD card to show at the port of entry even when your STEM extension application is pending. 

USCIS may send you an RFE (Request for Evidence) while you are away, so you would want to make sure you have provided the correct U.S. address both to your DSO/school and on the application and would be able to send in any requested documents.

Also, if USCIS approves your STEM OPT application, you will be expected to have your EAD card in hand to re-enter the United States. Like an RFE, USCIS can only send the EAD card to your U.S. address.

Travel signatures while on 24-Month STEM OPT are only valid for six months

For more information on travel, please read through Travel While on F-1 OPT.