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Travel while on F-1 OPT

Travel signatures, located on the back of the I-20, are valid for one year from the date of the last signature while attending school. Post-OPT travel signatures are valid for six months from the date of last signature.

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

If the signature will be expired on the date that you return to the U.S., students should submit a travel signature request to ASU ISSC as soon as possible to obtain a valid travel signature.

What to Take When Traveling

You must take the following, to return to the U.S. in F-1 status:

What to Take When Traveling While on Post-OPT

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

  • Valid visa

  • OPT authorized I-20 with valid travel signature endorsed within six months

  • Passport, valid six months into the future

  • Current EAD card

  • Job offer letter (if available)

  • For those students who will be traveling for an extended period of time (longer than 30 days and not to exceed 5 months), we recommend you also bring a letter from your employer explaining the nature of the employment activities outside of the U.S.

Traveling within the U.S. or to U.S. Territories

You may be asked by an officer of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to show your immigration documents. Be sure you have your documents with you. We recommend that you keep them in a safe place.

Traveling to a Country Other Than Your Own

Students should contact the consulate of that country to find out if they will need a visa for that country. Search the list of foreign consulates in the U.S.

Visa Renewal

If you are planning to renew your expired student visa in your home country you must apply early and should expect delays. Submit your most current SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 form to ASU ISSC for travel endorsement at least 10 to14 days prior to departure.

Documents needed for visa renewal purposes:

Consult individual embassy websites for periodic updates on country-specific visa processing.

Automatic Visa Renewal

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

This benefit also applies to nonimmigrants who have changed to F status in the United States, whose visa is still in the category which they used to enter the United States.

F-1/J-1 visa holders whose visa has expired may be able to return to the U.S. after traveling to Mexico, Canada and neighboring islands/U.S. territories under the following conditions:

  • Visit is not more than 30 days and the purpose is pleasure or vacation only

  • Student has maintained full-time F-1 status at all times

  • Student has unexpired passport and unexpired I-94

  • Student has I-20/DS-2019 endorsed for travel within a year or six months if on post-OPT

  • Student has not applied for the visa during the visit

  • Student is not from the countries that identified as State Sponsors of Terrorism by the Department of State

When you Return to the U.S.

You should check your I-94 record.