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F-1 and J-1 Travel

Students wishing to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status after travel abroad will require all of the following:

  • A travel signature by appropriate staff in the Center for International Programs on Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. F-1’s must have a travel signature within 6 months of the time in which their travel and return occurs (every semester if necessary). J-1’s must have a travel signature within 1 year of their travel/return.
  • A valid visa stamp (see exceptions in the visa section).
  • A valid passport (see the Department of State's Web site for exceptions).

Additionally, students returning to the U.S. after filing for or obtaining post-completion optional practical training employment authorization should be prepared to present evidence of their OPT and a job offer letter.

Dependents wishing to return to the U.S. in F-2 or J-2 status must comply with the same conditions including a travel signature on their own I-20 or DS-2019.

Students and scholars in F-1 or J-1 status should visit the CIP to obtain a travel endorsement on Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 approximately two weeks before any planned travel abroad. When applying for a travel endorsement, you must submit all of the following:

  • Your current Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (and forms of any traveling family members)
  • Travel Request Form
  • Valid passport (and passports of any traveling family members)


Travel to Canada or Mexico 

Automatic Visa Revalidation

"Automatic visa revalidation" allows certain nonimmigrants to travel to Canada or Mexico (and in some instances, adjacent islands other than Cuba) and return to the U.S. in their most recent status using an expired or previous classification visa stamp. You may be eligible to use this program if you comply with the following:

  1. You are only outside the U.S. for 30 days or fewer;
  2. You are in possession of a valid passport and the visa stamp most recently used to enter the U.S.;
  3. You are in possession of a valid I-94 card (or valid I-94 coupon from Form I-797 for an approved application to change or extend nonimmigrant status) and, for F-1 or J-1 nonimmigrants, are in possession of a valid travel-endorsed I-20 or DS-2019;
  4. You do not travel to a third country; and
  5. You do not apply for a new visa stamp.

Citizens of any country identified by the U.S. as supporting terrorism are not eligible to use the automatic visa revalidation program. A list of these countries may be found at http://www.state.gov/j/ct/c14151.htm.

Individuals in a nonimmigrant status other than F-1 or J-1 may use the automatic visa revalidation program to visit Canada or Mexico only.