International Services FAQs

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:

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.

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How do I get my I-20 / DS-2019 endorsed for travel?

The International Services Office will host a "Travel Signature Day" at the end of the fall and spring semesters. On this day students and scholars can bring their immigration document to ISO (116 Allen Hall) to be signed for travel while they wait. An e-mail will be sent out once the date is set each semester.

Students and scholars can also bring their immigration document to ISO to be signed for travel during walk-in hours.

Outside of these times students and scholars can drop off their document at ISO to be signed for travel. You will be contacted once the document is signed and ready to be picked up.

When requesting a travel signature, students and scholars should bring the following to ISO:

  • Travel Request Form (can be picked up and filled out in our office)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Passport (must have at least 6 months of validity remaining)
  • Visa (must be valid at time of reentry; if expired, must apply for new visa while outside the US)

If student is outside of the Starkville area while on Optional Practical Training, the travel request form and copies of passport/visa can be e-mailed to an advisor who will print a new I-20 to be signed for travel and mailed to the student.

Travel signatures are valid for multiple entries. The maximum validation period is one year. Exceptions are students on OPT and short-term scholars (six months). Renewing your travel signature at the end of the the fall and spring semesters is sufficient for most students and scholars.

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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.

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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.

Submit the following to ISO:

  • Program Extension Form
  • Letter from your academic advisor explaining the need for the extension
  • Proof of funding for the extension period

You can bring these documents to the International Services Office (116 Allen Hall) or e-mail them to an advisor.

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How do I request a transfer of my SEVIS record to another U.S. school?

Submit the following to ISO:

You can bring these documents to the International Services Office (116 Allen Hall) or e-mail them to an advisor.

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How can I invite a dependent to join me here?

You can fill out the document request form and submit it to our office with proof of funding of $3,850 for each dependent and if you are bringing a spouse, a copy of your marriage certificate.

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I want to invite my family for graduation. Can ISO write a letter for that?

Yes, we can. You should fill out the letter request form and include your family members’ names, birthdays, and relationship to you. If you want it to specifiy that it is for graduation, please indicate that on the form. These letters are limited to immediate family.

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