F1 Travel & Visa Guide Handout (click here)
Travel Signature on Your I-20
You need to have a valid signature from ISS on page three of your current I-20 in order to re-enter the U.S. as a continuing F-1 student. The travel signature is valid for one year (see the travel signature description on page 3 on your I-20). The signature must be issued within 1 year from the date you intend to re-enter the United States.
You should go to ISS at least two weeks before your intend to travel, and bring all of your immigration documents.
Required Documents for Re-entry into the U.S.
At the port of entry, be prepared to present the following items:
- Valid immigration documents: passport, F-1 visa*, and current I-20 with travel signature that was issued within one year from the date you intend to re-enter the United States.
*Read below about Automatic Revalidation if your current visa has expired.
- Evidence of adequate finances (e.g. bank statement, assistantship/scholarship letter)
- Official or unofficial transcript (recommended by ISS)
*Request an official transcript from the Office of the Registrar, click here.
- Your class schedule for the current and/or upcoming quarter (recommended by ISS)
Travel Outside the U.S.
Consulates & Embassies
Return to the U.S. on an expired F1 visa after traveling to Canada, Mexico or Adjacent islands.
An exception to the rule requiring a valid, unexpired visa is called Automatic Revalidation. Most lawful F-1 students are eligible for automatic revalidation of visa. This allows students to solely travel to Canada, Mexico, or Adjacent Islands (except Cuba) and re-enter the U.S. on an expired F-1 visa.
This is allowed only if the trip does not exceed 30 days, you have an unexpired I-94 card, 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
Travel Within the U.S.
Federal law requires you to carry "registration" documents at all times, including your immigration documents. ISS 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 within/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.
Travel After Completion of Studies at UW-Bothell
If you travel outside the U.S. after completing your studies you may return to the U.S. in F-1 status only if you are in possession of:
- A new 1-20 indicating a new program of study, passport, visa and evidence of financial support.
- An Employment Authorization Document (EAD), I-20 endorsed for OPT and signed for travel within the last six months, proof of employment, passport and visa.
Absence from the U.S.
Your current F-1 program will be terminated if you are outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months, unless you have been authorized to study abroad. Consult with ISS if you plan to be out of the U.S. for more than 5 months.