Travel

Travel advisory

The ISSC wishes to provide support during this uncertain time, and answer questions related to traveling as ASU responds to COVID-19. We understand the uncertainty of the situation and respect the unease it may cause, and we aim to give as much advice as we can based on the available information. Due to the rapidly changing nature of this situation, please continue to: 

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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.

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:
    1. Passport (valid six months into the future).
    2. Valid F-1 or J-1 visa.
    3. Current I-20 with valid travel signature.
    4. Have copies of your unofficial transcripts and enrollment verification forms from ASU.
    5. Negative COVID test results.
    6. Airport recommendations
    7. Letter from ASU (please email us if you have not received this letter)
    8. Letter from Fragomen (please email us if you have not received this letter)
    • 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.

      Things to consider before traveling:

      • Is your travel essential and worth the risk of issues with travel and reentry to the U.S.?
      • Is there a travel restriction for you to return to the U.S. from the country you will be visiting? Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the United States
      • Is there a quarantine requirement when you get to that country that you must fulfill? Quarantine is no longer required when you return to the U.S. but still recommended.
      • Does the country you are visiting require COVID testing upon arrival? Health and travel history? Smart-phone based tracking of travel around the country?
      • Do you need a visa for the country you will be visiting? 
      • Do you need to renew your visa to return to the US? Is the embassy open in the country you will be visiting and accepting F-1 or J-1 student visa appointments?
      • Will you have a layover in a country that has a travel restriction for the US? Are you able to have a layover in a different country?
      • If you are unable to return to the US due to travel restrictions or embassy closures, can you continue your degree program from your home country or must you return to the US to continue?
        • If you are graduating and considering pursuing Post-OPT, will you be back in the US in time to apply?
      • If you are visiting a travel restricted country, you may need to obtain a National Interest Exception (NIE) visa to return to the U.S which you would automatically qualify for as an F-1 or J-1 student

      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 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 an 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:

      • Passport, valid six months into the future
      • Valid F-1 visa. Please see Visa Renewal for instructions on how to renew your visa. 
      • OPT authorized I-20 with a valid travel signature endorsed within the last six months.
      • Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)
      • Job offer letter (if available)
      • Bring a letter from your employer explaining the nature of the employment activities outside of the U.S. if you will be traveling for more than 30 days. Travels may not exceed 5 months.

      Frequently asked questions

      What are the possible risks involved with traveling home during break and re-entering the U.S.?

      What are the possible risks involved with traveling home during break and re-entering the U.S.?

      There is always a risk when traveling outside the country. Risks include:

      • Flights being cancelled

      • Travel restrictions being added due to COVID-19

      • Quarantine enforcements

      • Federal Regulations changes

      • ASU modality changes

      Please continue to watch the CDC’s travel recommendations. Currently, the CDC is advising travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. Because this situation is likely to continue to rapidly change in the weeks ahead, we encourage you to check the U.S. Department of State, Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization websites to find updated guidance for your destination as well as for those countries you may plan to travel through. If you plan to travel internationally, please be sure you have completed the necessary steps to allow yourself to be granted entry to the U.S. upon your return.

      What do I do if I get called into secondary inspection at the airport?

      What do I do if I get called into secondary inspection at the airport?

      There is no cause for alarm if you are asked to step into a side room for a secondary inspection. They may need to ask you some questions or verify some information. You are allowed to ask the officer what the issue is, but we recommend you do so respectfully.  We recommend you review this website for more information. 

       

      What do I do if I get denied entry to the US?

      What do I do if I get denied entry to the US?

      If you are told that you are being denied entry to the US, contact the International Students and Scholars Center emergency cell line at +1 480-647-4874 immediately.

       

      What documents do I need to have to return to the US?

      What documents do I need to have to return to the US?

      Initial Students: Incoming students should review travel information and other next steps here: https://admission.asu.edu/international/admitted

      Continuing Students: Continuing students should bring the following documents with them when traveling abroad:

      Post-OPT and STEM OPT Students: Students on Post-OPT and STEM should bring the following documents with them when traveling abroad: 

      • 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.

      Can I enter the U.S. after the semester start date?

      Can I enter the U.S. after the semester start date?

      Initial Students: Initials students can only enter the US within 30 days prior to the start date listed on their I-20. If you plan on arriving in the U.S. after your program start date, you will need to have your I-20 deferred to the next academic session.* Please contact admissions to have your I-20 deferred. 

      *Due to COVID-19, students may arrive no later than 15 days after your program start date.  

      Continuing Students: Continuing students can enter the U.S. at any time during the semester as long as you have all the proper documentation. If you plan to arrive after the semester start date, be prepared to answer questions at the Port of Entry regarding your late arrival. If you plan on applying for Post-OPT, please note that you must be in the U.S. in order to apply. 

       

      What should I do when I arrive in the U.S.?

      What should I do when I arrive in the U.S.?

      What to do when you arrive in the U.S.:

      •  When the plane lands in the U.S. and you are able to use your mobile device: 

        • Text us at +1 480-647-4874 with your full name and the airport where you have landed. 

      • Proceed to the immigration and customs checkpoint when you deplane. 

      • Have all necessary information ready to present to the officer. 

      • When you complete all immigration and customs checkpoints, text us again to confirm that you are successfully through. If you do not text us with your confirmation, we will call you after 3–5 hours to check in. 

      • Once you have cleared the customs checkpoint, you will exit into the international arrivals area of the airport. If you need to catch a connecting flight to get to Phoenix, you will need to take your bags with you to the proper terminal or check-in counter for your domestic flight. At many airports, you may need to take a free inter-terminal shuttle to get to the proper gate. We highly recommend visiting the website of your international destination airport to prepare for what you will need to do.

      What can I expect at the US airport?

      What can I expect at the US airport?

      At your Port of Entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will check your documents. This is where you will present your passport, visa and I-20 to the Customs and Border Protection officer. 

      • While a CBP officer inspects your immigration documents, you may be asked some general questions. We encourage you to remain calm as questions are a normal, routine procedure. Always answer questions clearly, honestly and politely. If there is a problem, suggest that they contact the International Students and Scholars Center emergency cell line at +1 480-647-4874. 

      • There is no cause for alarm if you are asked to step into a side room for a secondary inspection. They may need to ask you some questions or verify some information. You are allowed to ask the officer what the issue is, but we recommend you do so respectfully. You may also share with them your letter from our partnering immigration attorney, Fragomen.

      •  Due to COVID-19, you may be asked to submit a form in regards to your health. This form will ask for general information like your name, citizenship status or passport number, as well as health screening questions about possible symptoms (fever, cold, cough). The form will also ask for your contact information for follow-up if needed. If you do not have a U.S. phone number, list the ISSC’s phone number: +1 480-727-4787

      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)

       

      HOW CAN I GET A TRAVEL SIGNATURE?

      HOW CAN I GET A TRAVEL SIGNATURE?

      Before submitting a 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 a caseload. Therefore, plan your travels accordingly.

      To request a travel signature: 

      • Submit a Travel Signature Request eForm through the ISSC’s ISSC eForm 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.