F-1 Students - Travel

If you wish to leave the U.S. temporarily and return to continue your studies, you must have the required documentation to:

  • Permit entry to another country (if not your home country)
  • Permit re-entry to the United States

The basic requirements for an F-1 to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad are below. Please remember that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the Port of Entry (POE) decides whether or not you are able to be admitted to the United States. This decision is based upon the facts and circumstances presented at the time you apply to enter. We cannot guarantee that you will be admitted or readmitted to the United State.

Required Documents for F-1 Re-Entry

  • A current I-20, signed for travel by a Designated School Official (DSO) within one year of your re-entry date.
    Note: Endorsing the I-20 depends on your status. We will check your status and any problems found will delay the signing of your I-20 and may lead to reinstatement. For this reason we require you to request signatures in a timely manner (5-7 business days).
  • A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your re-entry
  • A current valid F-1 visa; if your visa has already expired or is not for multiple entries, you will need to renew it prior to your re-entry date; please make an appointment to renew it, before you leave the country, by contacting the U.S. Embassy in your country.
    • If traveling to a US contiguous country or adjacent island for less than thirty days, you may re-enter on an expired F-1 visa. Be sure, as a citizen from your country, you will not need an entry visa to visit a contiguous country/adjacent island. For information, please check on the website of the country you plan to visit.
    • If you are from a visa exempt country, you do not need a visa to re-enter the United States.

The following documents may also be requested of you:

NOTE: You MUST turn in your I-94 Departure Card to an airline official prior to leaving the US if you are travelling to non-contiguous territories. Upon re-entry, you will need to obtain a new I-94 form to complete from the airline official. Be sure it is properly stamped with your re-entry date and visa status.

Required Documents for Dependents of F-1's (F-2's) Re-Entry

  • Valid passport or travel documents for at least 6 months from the date of re-entry.
  • Valid F-2 visa (unless exempt from this program): If your visa is expired please make an appointment to renew it, before you leave the country, by contacting the U.S. Embassy in your country.
  • Current I-20, signed for travel by an ISA within one year of your re-entry date
  • Dependent may be required to show proof of funds

Re-Entry on Optional Practical Training (OPT)

To travel outside of the US and re-enter while on OPT, you must have:

  • a valid visa
  • valid passport for at least 6 months from the date of re-entry
  • I-20 endorsed for OPT, with signature for travel within the last six months
  • the OPT card
  • the job offer letter on the employer’s business letterhead stating your name, a general idea of your expected start date, and a brief description of your work


  • If you have not received your EAD Card, we suggest you DO NOT travel outside the U.S.
  • If you have your OPT card and choose to travel outside of the US but you do not have a job offer, you may be denied re-entry into the US.

FAQ for F-Nonimmigrants: Entry and Exit