If you plan to travel outside the U.S. and return in F-1 status, you must have the following documents upon re-entry:
- Valid F-1 visa.
- Valid passport with an expiration date that is at least six months beyond the date you want to re-enter the U.S.
- I-20 endorsed by the International Student Office (ISO) within the last six months.
- For OPT students, the above documents plus the OPT EAD and proof of employment.
Application process for I-20 travel endorsement
- Complete a travel endorsement request and submit it to the ISO with your most recent I-20.
- The ISO will send you an email when the I-20 is ready for pickup, within one business day of submission.
- If your current I-20 does not reflect your current major, or if you wish to update the financial or dependents portions, you will need to submit a request for a new I-20. Such requests require additional documents and require a processing time of five business days.
In order to enter the U.S. you must have a valid, unexpired visa in your passport. Once inside, visa status takes over. If you are an F-1 or J-1 student and complying with the regulations pertinent to your visa category, you are eligible to remain in the U.S. until you reach the end date on your I-20 or until the end of your academic program, whichever comes first. The expiration of the visa in your passport has no effect. Once you leave the U.S., however, you will need a valid, unexpired visa to return.
Automatic visa revalidation
You may be eligible to leave the U.S. and re-enter with a U.S. visa that is expired if you meet the following conditions:
- You are in valid F or J status.
- You are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands.
- You will stay outside the U.S. for less than 30 days.
- You have a valid, unexpired I-94.
- You are not a citizen of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria.
- The purpose of your trip is not to apply for a renewal of your U.S. visa.
To use this benefit, tell the port of entry official your intention as you leave the U.S. and keep your current I-94. You will need to present it to the port of entry official upon re-entry. If you apply for a visa renewal while outside the U.S. you are not eligible for this benefit and will not be allowed to re-enter without a new, unexpired visa.
This process only covers your re-entry to the U.S. Be sure to check if you need a visa to enter any of the countries listed above.
Travel greater than five months
To maintain F-1 status, students must be enrolled full time every fall and spring semester and avoid gaps of more than five months between terms.
- If you leave the U.S. for more than five months, your F-1 status will end.
- To re-enter the U.S., you will need an initial attendance I-20 and new visa.
- To be eligible for off-campus employment, you will have to re-establish your eligibility by maintaining full-time enrollment for one academic year even if you met that requirement in your previous status.
ACC’s International Programs Office works with international students interested in Study Abroad classes. Speak with an International Programs representative who will provide a list of required documents and procedures.