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Travel

Important Disclaimer: As an international student, the maintenance of your legal status is ultimately your responsibility. It is your responsibility to understand and follow the rules and regulations that govern your status and visa (e.g., 8 CFR § 214.2(f)). The Office of Global Engagement (“GE”) and International Student & Scholar Services provide support and information related to U.S. immigration laws and regulations related to F and J status at Utah State University but are not ultimately responsible for your status and visa. GE and ISSS staff are not attorneys and any information provided by GE and ISSS should not be construed as legal advice. Individuals are welcome to consult a qualified immigration attorney for specific legal advice, particularly in complicated cases.

Travel Signature Request
To reenter the U.S. after traveling, you will need a Travel Signature on the back of your current I-20 or the front of your DS-2019.  Please be sure to request the Travel Signature in the ISSS portal at least 5 business days before your departure. We will print a new I-20 for F-1 students.  J-1 students will need to arrange a time to bring in their DS-2019 for signature.  

I-20 travel signatures are valid for one year for continuing students and valid for 6 months for those currently on OPT.  Check your documents before you leave to make sure your travel signature will be valid upon your planned return to the U.S.


Assure you have the following before you travel: 
  • A valid Travel Signature. Make sure the travel signature on your Form I-20/DS-2019 is valid!
  • Program end date on I-20 or DS-2019 must be a future date.  
  • Your SEVIS record needs to be active regardless of the dates on these documents.
  • Passport and entry visa with end date beyond the time you will re-enter the U.S.A. 
  • Make sure your visa has “M” marked under “Entries” as this allows for multiple entries. “S” indicates a single (one-time) entry on the visa.
  • A printed copy of your class schedule.
  • If on OPT, your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) end date must be in the future and a printed copy of your employment letter.
The Customs and Border Patrol agency does not want to see images on a phone or other electronic device. Be sure to hand-carry these items and not put them in your checked baggage. 
Do I need COVID-19 vaccines?
“The White House announced that vaccines will be required for international travelers coming into the United States, with an effective date of November 8, 2021. For purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines."  Visit the CDC website for more information.

What are the requirements for an F-1 student to travel and reenter the U.S.?
  • A Form I-20, endorsed for travel and signed by your DSO
  • You have been out of the United States for less than five months
  • A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your reentry or, if you are from one of the countries listed on this website, a passport that is current through the date of entry
  • A valid, current entry visa or you travelled to contiguous country or adjacent island for less than thirty days
  • Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses
If you are from a visa exempt country, you do not need a visa to reenter the United States from the western hemisphere, but make sure that you present your I-20 to be admitted as an F-1 student and not a visitor.

Do I need to have at least 6 months left on my passport to travel and reenter the U.S.?  What about my entry visa?
  • In most cases, to enter the United States, you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date you enter or re-enter.
  • However, the countries listed here have an agreement with the United States that allows you to enter on a current passport up to the actual date of expiration.
  • Your entry visa only needs to be valid on the day you enter.  This visa can expire once you enter the U.S.

What if I am unable to leave the USA during the grace period after my program end date due to cancellation of flights or closure of the borders to inbound flights for my home country?
  • Contact your government embassy in the USA to determine what assistance they are offering to its citizens.
  • Document any inability to return to your home country. Schedule a meeting with your primary immigration adviser to explore alternate options to maintain status while in the USA e.g. apply for Optional Practical Training.
Will I be able to return to the USA?
  • Travel restrictions to the USA are noted on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html
  • Additionally, your home country may have restrictions on individuals departing the country. Check with your home country government or the airlines to determine what restrictions may be in place. We are seeing an increase in testing requirements, check with your airline.

I left the country and am unable to return for the next semester. What happens now?
If you are unable to return for the next semester:
We will terminate your program for authorized early withdrawal. We can provide you a new I-20 to continue your program in another semester. This will have a new SEVIS ID number, and you will need to pay a new I-901 fee. This will also limit your Optional Practical Training period if you do not enroll for at least 2 academic semesters upon return to USU.

  • Complete the Departure record if you continue to enroll in classes at USU while outside the USA. 
  • Complete the Leave of Absence record if you do not intend to enroll in classes. 

Refer to these resources before arranging travel plans:
  • Check with your home country government or the airlines to determine what restrictions may be in place.
  • Check the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory webpage for travel advisories for the destination countries. Enter the name of the country for information. Be sure to read the full travel advisory, which has links to the CDC Health Notice.
  • Be sure the embassy in your country is open and has available appointments if you intend to renew your visa when you go home 
  • Review the CDC international travel webpage
Registration
Be sure to carry a printout of the current semester's course schedule if you plan to travel during the spring or fall semesters. 
In addition, if you plan to return back to the U.S. from your holiday after the semester has started, be sure that you have registered for your classes and carry your course schedule with you. 


 

Employment/OPT and Travel

If you are applying for OPT after graduation, do not leave the U.S. without your new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. You will need this card in hand when you return to the U.S. if you have been approved for OPT.
Refer to USU's guidance on when to quarantine or isolate.
Refer to the CDC's guidance on when to quarantine or isolate.