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1. Travel with appropriate documentation:
  • Valid Passport (at least 6 months into the future)
  • I-20 with signature on page 2 by ISS staff. It is best to have your I-20 endorsed every semester during the degree program and every six months during Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Valid F-1 visa– Must be renewed if expired.
  • State of Ohio I.D., (not required but strongly encouraged).
  • Proof of finances, (not required but strongly encouraged).

2. You must get your I-20 signed for travel by ISS, if you are leaving and then re-entering the U.S. It is best to have your I-20 signed for travel every semester during the degree program and every six months during Optional Practical Training (OPT). If the F-1 visa has expired, it is necessary to apply for a new one before returning to the U.S.

READ ALL OF THE FOLLOWING -- You are responsible for maintaining your immigration status and for exiting and entering the USA correctly.

Re-entering the USA: The basic requirements for a student in F-1 immigration status to re-enter the USA after traveling abroad for pleasure or personal business are the following:

A SEVIS Form I-20, endorsed for travel by Marilyn, Dorota or Chad every semester or every 6 months during the post completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization period.

A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your re-entry or, if you are from one of the countries that has a special treaty with the USA,
then a passport that is current through the date of entry. Please make sure that your passport is valid!

An F visa—current and valid. If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or other contiguous or adjacent countries for less than a 30-day period, then you MAY be able to re-enter on an expired F-1 visa—please see International Student Services if you have questions well before your planned travel date.

Electronic I-94 Process Entry information is recorded electronically by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), but instead of receiving a paper I-94 at the time of entry, students are able to print the I-94 form from the Customs and Border Protection website. You are responsible for printing your most recent I-94 information after entering the U.S. and making sure that it was properly recorded by CBP. Please visit: I-94 retrieval.

Additionally, you must carry and be prepared to present the following if asked:
  1. Your SEVIS fee receipt (Form I-901).
  2. Updated financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses. Thus, please make sure that you have a copy of your scholarship letter and an updated Declaration and Certification of Finances form with bank statement(s).
  3. Proof of enrollment. Screenshots of your course registration for the next semester and of your current transcript should do.
  4. Employment Authorization Card (EAD), if you have been issued one.
  5. If on OPT, job offer letter or other proof of employment.
Traveling without a valid Form I-20 Failure to have all proper documentation upon re-entry to the U.S. may be a cause for delay when going through the U.S. port-of-entry, and may be reason for the officer to send you to Secondary Inspections. If you your I-20 is lost or stolen and has not been endorsed within the past 12 months, please contact ISS immediately to determine if there is time to mail a new I-20. Students are responsible for the shipping fee.

If there is not enough time to mail a new I-20, ISS will write a letter of explanation for you to carry. If you have any problems entering the U.S., please request form I-515 (which enables temporary admission) from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Inspector at the U.S. Port of Entry. An F-1 student admitted to the U.S. with a Form I-515, Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor, is lawfully admitted to the United States for a period of 30 days. If you are receive Form I-515, you are required to report to our office immediately upon arrival so that we can mail the required documents to Immigration. SEVP will terminate the SEVIS record of any F-1 student who does not comply with the Form I-515A within the 30-day response period.

Travel to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the United States. You can usually revalidate an expired F-1 visa automatically when returning from a visit of less than thirty days to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the United States provided that you have a valid Form I-20 and a valid unexpired Form I-94. This process is known as automatic visa revalidation. You still may need to apply for a visitor visa to the country you are planning to visit. Automatic visa revalidation allows for re-entry into the U.S.