Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need for re-entry to the US after a temporary absence?
Checklist of documents for reentry
In order to reenter the United States after a temporary absence of 5 months or less, an F-1 student should have the following documents:
- A valid passport or travel document, unless exempt from the passport requirement.
- A valid F-1 visa (unless exempt from visa requirements)
- A Form I-20 properly endorsed for travel by the DSO
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also recommends that students have with them:
- Evidence of financial resources
- Evidence of student status (recent tuition receipts, transcripts);
- Name and contact information for the school's Designated School Official (DSO)
Travel and reentry while engaging in OPT
An F-1 student engaged in pre-completion OPT follows the same procedure for visits abroad and re-entry as all F-1 students.
An F-1 student who is engaged in post-completion OPT who travels outside the United States temporarily (i.e., less than 5 months) can be readmitted to resume employment for the remainder of the period authorized on his or her EAD card, provided:
- The student presents a Form I-20 endorsed by the DSO within the preceding 6 months
- The student presents an unexpired EAD, and
- The student is returning to resume employment
Students approved for post-completion OPT continue to be in F-1 status. They are therefore subject not only to the requirements that they have an I-20 endorsed for travel and an EAD, but to the requirement that they have a valid F-1 visa to re-enter the United States, unless they are exempt from the visa requirement.
How do I get my I-20 / DS-2019 endorsed for travel?
What documents are required to be valid at all times?
Passport AND I-20 or DS-2019
A valid passport is required at all times. Check the expiration date and make plans to apply for a renewal at least 6 months in advance.
Do not let your I-20/DS-2019 expire prior to completing your program. If necessary, you can apply for a program extension.
Your visa does not have to remain valid while you are in the United States. You only need a valid visa when you enter the country.
How can I extend my program?
If you will not complete your program by the end date on your I-20/DS-2019, you must apply for a program extension at least 1 month prior to the expiration. Extensions can not be granted once the end date has passed.