Advice for F-1 and J-1 Students and Scholars
- If applying to renew a U.S. Visa, you must have a SEVIS I-20/DS-2019. A SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 is necessary to re-enter the United States.
- All F-1 and J-1 Visa Stamp holders MUST have a valid travel signature on page 3 of their I-20 or the front of their DS-2019 in order to re-enter the United States. Travel signatures are valid for one calendar year, or until completion of program, whichever comes first.
- Please check to see that your passport, visa, and Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 are valid and will not expire while you are out of the country. You will need to apply for a new Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 from ISS (or your sponsor) if there have been any changes in your situation (Examples include: any changes in your major, degree level or objective, or in the source(s) of your financial support that are not indicated on your current I-20 or DS-2019.
- Check section 5 of your I-20 or section 3 of your DS-2019 to see whether the completion date/end date is approaching. If it is and you have not yet graduated or reached the end of your exchange visitor program, you need to apply for an extension. Please contact ISS for an extension.
- In addition to reviewing the information on your I-20/DS-2019 for accuracy, please check to make sure that an ISS Adviser, Coordinator, or Assistant Director has signed the document for travel. Please allow at least one week before your planned departure to obtain an ISS signature.
- If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, you may need a visitor‚Äôs visa. To find out, visit that country‚Äôs embassy website and search for the Consulate Section nearest you.
Is the U.S. visa stamp in your passport valid? If not, you must apply for a new visa. If you are a student, we strongly advise that you carry with you the following documents when applying for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate:
- Official transcript of all U.S. institution(s) that you have attended and are currently attending.
- Certificate of Enrollment issued by ISS
- Valid I-20 issued by ISS or a valid DS-2019 issued by ISS or your sponsor.
- Financial certification: Documents indicating the source(s) and amount(s)‚Ä®of financial support for your study in the current academic year.
Employment in the U.S. After Graduation
If you plan to work in the United States you must apply for and receive work authorization (OPT) before traveling outside of the country.
F-1 Optional Practical Training
USCIS processing of applications for OPT takes at least 3-4 months. You will need to plan your travel accordingly. Once you receive your EAD, you may travel outside of the United States, but be sure to travel with your signed I-20, job offer letter, and your EAD. The OPT recommendation on page 3 of your I-20 validates the travel signature for 6 months. We strongly suggest that you consult ¬†ISS regarding travel while on OPT, before you decide to travel outside the United States.