Travel and Visa Renewal for International Students
If you plan to travel outside the United States, reentry on an F-1 or J-1 visa requires a valid I-20 or DS-2019, passport, and F-1 or J-1 entry stamp.
If you need a new entry visa stamp
If the entry visa stamp in your passport has expired, you will need to apply for a new stamp at a United States Consulate in your country before you reenter the United States It is not possible to renew the entry visa stamp in the United States. To obtain a new visa stamp, you must take the following to the United States Consulate:
- A current or new SEVIS, Form I-20 or DS-2019 with updated academic and financial information, endorsed by the International Student Advisor within the last six months.
- Documentation of funding. For example, a signed bank statement verifying amount in the account, a letter and bank documents from a sponsor, proof of employment on campus, scholarship letters, etc.
- Evidence that you intend to return to your home country when you complete your studies.
- Updated transcript and a printout of courses for which you are enrolled for the next semester.
- All visa applications require a personal interview at the consulate. It can take several weeks to schedule an interview. DO SO EARLY!!!
When applying for a new entry visa stamp, there is always a risk that it will not be granted. If you are in good academic standing and in the middle of your degree program, you will probably be able to obtain a new visa. If you are on OPT, your visa application may be denied. If you are married to, or intend to marry a United States citizen or permanent resident, it is possible that your F-1 visa request will be denied. Denial means that you will not be able to enter the United States as an F-1 visa holder. If you have concerns about your visa application, discuss them with the International Student Advisor before you make your final travel plans.
Entry at the border
United States Customs will require that you present your I-20 or DS-2019 along with your financial documentation as you reenter. They may also want to review any previous I-20 or DS-2019 documents. United States VISIT is a new system that gathers digital photos and fingerprints at the Consulate or Port of Entry. Allow sufficient time between flight connections for customs, immigration, and entering data at the United States VISIT site.
If your current entry visa stamp will be valid at the time you reenter the United States, you will not need to visit the United States Consulate. For reentry you will need the following:
- Valid I-20 or DS-2019 that reflects your current program as well as a completion of studies date that is in the future
- A signature for reentry by the International Student Advisor on your I-20 or DS-2019 (to make a request for a reentry signature, present your I-20 to the Center for International Students at least two weeks before departure).
The reentry signature is valid for six months only and must be renewed if it has expired or will expire soon. Also, if your entry visa stamp was issued for a school other than Truman State University, you should be prepared to present documentary evidence of your finances to the USCIS when you reenter.
If you are planning a trip to Canada or Mexico
If you wish to visit Canada or Mexico, find out what the entry requirements are far in advance. You can find more information at the following links.
If you are currently pursuing OPT and plan to reenter the United States, you must present the following documentation for reentry:
- A valid I-20 that has been signed for reentry within the last six months.
- Passport with valid entry via stamp, unless you are reentering from Canada or Mexico (see previous)
- The OPT card (your EAD)
CAUTION: If you are on OPT and need a new entry visa stamp, be aware of the risk that your visa request may be denied. Consulates do not like to issue new visas for OPT.
Dependent (F-2 or J-2) Entry and Reentry
F-2 or J-2 entry and reentry requires a valid I-20 or DS-2019 issued at the request of the F-1 or J-1 student and an updated signature by the International Student Advisor. Individuals eligible to hold F-2 or J-2 dependent status are the spouse and minor children of the F-1 or J-1 student.
Travel within the United States
Students and their families who plan to travel within the United States need no special permission for travel. However, individuals should carry their passports, I-94’s and I-20 or DS-2019 documents in the event that the authorities do require verification of legal status. If you do not have these documents with you, you could be fined or detained.
The atmosphere at Truman is warm. People here are friendly and are willing to help you whenever you need it. Also, there are plenty of organizations available to help international students to make new friends, understand new cultures, and enjoy life in America.