Travel Abroad

Procedures for Traveling Outside of the U.S. on an F-1 or J-1 Visa

Students and Scholars are allowed to travel outside of the U.S. during their period of study or research, but they must get a travel signature from ISSS before leaving.  Travel signatures are issued on page 2 of students’ I-20 forms and on page 1 of student and scholar DS-2019 forms. You must always bring your I-20 or DS-2019 form with you when you travel. You also must have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa and your passport must be valid for six months into the future from your return date.  Please bring the following documents for yourself and your dependents to ISSS when you request a travel signature:

Required Documents for F-1 Students:

Required Documents for F-1 Students on OPT:

Required Documents for J-1 Students:

Required Documents for J-1 Scholars:

Common Travel Questions for F-1 and J-1 Students and Scholars

When traveling outside of the U.S. please travel with the following documents:
– Form I-20/DS-2019 (with valid travel signature)
– Passport w/ valid visa
– Proof of Funding (GA/Scholarship Offer Letter, Personal Bank Statement)
SEVIS I-901 Fee receipt (check status or reprint at www.fmjfee.com)**
– Enrollment Verification (for F-1/J-1 students only)
– UConn Invitation Letter (for J-1 Exchange Students and Visiting Scholars)
OPTIONAL TRAVEL DOCUMENTS:
– Conference registration documentation if traveling abroad for a conference.
– Documentation of family emergency if traveling due to family emergency mid-semester.
If you need to renew your F-1/J-1 visa while traveling, please start the visa renewal process as soon as possible. Visit www.usembassy.gov for more information on how to renew your F-1/J-1 visa. If renewing your visa, you may need to travel with the documents listed above and a student transcript or study/research plan.

Yes. Students on OPT still need a travel signature on their I-20 document. If you are traveling outside the U.S. while on OPT you must travel with your I-20 form, a recent letter from your employer verifying your employment and your EAD card. You also need a valid F-1 visa to reenter the U.S. If your visa has expired we do NOT recommend traveling outside of the U.S.. If your visa has expired then you’ll need to apply for a new F-1 visa which could be very difficult while on OPT.

Some visa applicants may have their application subject to additional “administrative processing” after their visa interview.

Information about Administrative Processing:

  • many graduate students in the sciences or engineering fields are subject to administrative processing when they initially apply for or renew their visas.
  • most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of visa interview.
  • visa applicants must wait at least 60 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents before they can inquire about the status of their visa application.
  • students whose visa applications are pending administrative processing may need to submit additional documentation to the U.S. Embassy/Consular office including:
    • student’s resume/CV
    • academic advisor/faculty supervisor’s CV
    • letter from faculty supervisor detailing their research, the student’s research and access to laboratories
    • proof of enrollment (official transcript)
    • other documents as requested by the consular officers
  • UConn ISSS cannot influence the outcome or speed of the administrative processing once an application is subject.

Yes you can travel, but you will need to apply for a new F-1 or J-1 visa while you are outside of the U.S. You will need to have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa in your passport to return to the U.S..

If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or the caribbean you do not have to renew your student visa. The Department of State regulations have a special provision related to visa stamps call AUTOMATIC REVALIDATION. Automatic Revalidation permits holders of F and J visas to enter “contiguous territory” or “adjacent islands” (Canada, Mexico and select islands in the caribbean) and return to the U.S. without a currently valid visa stamp in their passport.

Click here for more information about Automatic Revalidation.

Click here for a list of islands covered by Automatic Revalidation.

In many cases, yes. When applying for a foreign visa within the U.S. the foreign government will likely want to be sure that you can return to the U.S. after your visit to their country. Therefore always request a travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019 before applying for the foreign visa.

Some countries, like European countries who are part of the Schengen Area, require that your U.S. visa be valid in order to qualify for a visa to visit their country. Please always confirm the country’s U.S. visa requirement well in advance of your travels.

Contact information for foreign embassies inside the U.S.

European Commission Information on Schengen Area and Schengen Visas

The Department of State regulations have a special provision related to visa stamps call AUTOMATIC REVALIDATION. Automatic Revalidation permits holders of F and J visas to enter “contiguous territory” or “adjacent islands” (Canada, Mexico and select islands in the caribbean) and return to the U.S. without a currently valid visa stamp in their passport.

Click here for more information about Automatic Revalidation.

Click here for a list of islands covered by Automatic Revalidation.

Yes. Whenever you travel outside of the U.S. you need a valid travel signature when you re-enter.

Citizens of most countries need a tourist visa to visit Canada and Mexico.

To determine if you need a tourist visa to travel to Canada visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website. Under “Come to Canada”, click “Visit”.

To determine if you need a tourist visa to travel to Mexico visit the National Institute of Migration, Mexico, website.

After you obtain your tourist visa to Canada or Mexico you still need a valid travel signature for re-entry to the U.S.

Yes. If you will be outside of the U.S. for several weeks you could mail your I-20 to Immigration Services for a travel signature. After verifying your enrollment Immigration Services will issue your travel signature and return your I-20 to you.

You could also return to U.S. and present your passport and I-20 at customs. The border officer will ask about your travel signature and you can explain that you forgot to get a travel signature. The border officer will issue a form I-515 that requires Immigration Services respond with your proper I-20 with travel signature or it will limit your stay in U.S. to only 30 days. If you are issued a form I-515 please come see an advisor in the Immigration Services office as soon as possible.

Please see the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website – “I still have my I-94″

Not necessarily. Many embassies and consulates accept visa applications from “Third Country Nationals”. It is always safer to apply for your visa in your home country as consular officials may be able to better assess your home country ties. Also not all embassies will accept visa applications from third country nationals, so always check with the embassy where you plan to apply for your visa before finalizing your travel plans.