Center for International Education

Travel

F1 Travel & Visa Guide Handout


What Documents Do I Need to Have When I Re-Enter the U.S.?

Currently Enrolled Students:

When you re-enter the United States, you must always have the following items with you:

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid F1 Visa* (there are some exceptions, read below about Automatic Revalidation if your current visa has expired.)
  • Current I-20 that has not expired and shows your current major.
  • Valid Travel Signautre on your I-20. The travel signature on your I-20 is valid for 1 year. Make sure that the date of the travel signature was signed within 1 year from the date you plan to re-enter the U.S. 

Additional documents you should also carry with you (although not required):

  • Evidence of adequate finances (e.g. bank statement, assistantship/scholarship letter)
  • UW Bothell official or unofficial transcript: Request a transcript through MyUW here.    
  • Your class schedule for the current and/or upcoming quarter

OPT Students:    

While on OPT, you are still on your F1 visa. When you re-enter the United States, you must always have the following items with you:

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid F1 Visa* (there are some exceptions, read below about Automatic Revalidation if your current visa has expired.)
  • Current I-20 with a valid travel signature and information about your current employment on it.
  • Valid Travel Signature on Your I-20: The travel signature is valid for 6 months, so please make sure that you receive a new travel signature before you depart the U.S. 
  • OPT (EAD) Card
  • Any documentation that shows proof that you are employed, such as paystubs, letter from your supervisor, etc.

Can I Re-Enter the U.S. with an Expired F1 Visa After Visiting Canada? 

Yes. If you are in good immigration status, you are eligible to use your expired F1 visa to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico or the Adjacent Islands. This is called Automatic Revalidation of visa. This is allowed only if the trip does not exceed 30 days, you have a valid passport, and a valid I-20.

However, the following individuals are not eligible for the automatic revalidation:

  • An F-1 student who applies for a new visa in Canada, Mexico or Adjacent Islands; AND    
  • Citizens of “state sponsors of terrorism” designated by the U.S. Dept. of State; Cuba, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Canada?


Travel Within the U.S.

Federal law requires you to carry "registration" documents at all times, including your immigration documents. CIE suggests that you keep your original immigration documents in a secure location, and carry copies of your immigration documents for day-to-day purposes. However, if you are traveling outside the U.S., you must carry your original immigration documents with you. Keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location in the event your documents are lost or stolen.