Traveling Outside the U.S.

Required Documents

As an international student, you must carry certain documents in order to successfully re-enter the U.S. after you have begun your studies. These required documents include:

Valid Passport

Your passport must be valid at least six months into the future or more on the date that you plan to re-enter the U.S. If you need to renew your passport, you can do so in your home country or within the U.S. If you wish to renew your passport in the U.S., contact the consulate representing your home country in the U.S. for assistance.

Valid F-1 or J-1 Visa

It is important to make sure your visa will be valid on the date you plan to re-enter the U.S. ISSS cautions against making plans to return on the same day as your visa expiration in the event that you encounter unexpected travel delays.

Make sure that your visa is a multiple entry visa (denoted by an “M”) or has at least one entry remaining.

If your visa has expired, review instructions on Visa Renewal. If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or a country in the Caribbean and your visa has expired, review Automatic Visa Revalidation.

This is a reminder that you only need to renew an expired visa if you have plans to travel outside the U.S. It is okay for your visa to expire while you are in the U.S. as this document is not proof of your legal status. It is also not possible to renew your U.S. visa from inside of the U.S.

While almost all international students require a U.S. visa to enter and study in the U.S., if you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda there is a special exception and you are not required to have an F-1 or J-1 visa to enter the U.S..

Valid and accurate I-20 (F-1 Students) or DS-2019 (J-1 Students) signed for travel

Travel signatures are valid for 12 months or until the completion of your program, whichever comes first. To check if your document has been recently signed for travel:

  • F-1 Students: Review the bottom of page two of your I-20
  • J-1 Students: Review the bottom right-hand corner of your DS-2019

If you do not have a valid travel signature, you must request one from ISSS.

Instructions to Request Travel Signature

  1. Login to your InterLink account.
    1. Click on the blue login button. Login with your Miami unique ID and password.
    2. Navigate to “F-1 Student Services” or “J-1 Student Services” located in the menu.
  2. Complete the e-form “Travel Signature Request”
    • Be prepared to provide details of your travel plans.
    • Note you will need to upload an image your I-20 or DS-2019 DS-2019.

Please submit your travel signature request at least one week minimum before you plan to depart the U.S.

In addition, if there have been changes in your situation (degree level, major, or source of financial support) that is not reflected on your current document, please submit a travel signature request to notify ISSS and receive an updated document.

Travel on OPT

Review F-1 Optional Practical Training guidelines for additional required documentation for travel while participating in OPT.

Other Recommended Documents

Proof of enrollment

Consider taking an official or unofficial transcript or certificate of enrollment to demonstrate you are a current student.

Proof of funding

Consider having funding documentation that matches what is indicated on your visa document.

Proof of SEVIS fee payment

This is a required fee paid at the start of your SEVIS program. A receipt notice is provided upon payment. If your receipt notice is lost, visit SEVP and select the “Check Payment” option to print payment confirmation.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I am traveling within the U.S., do I need special permission or documentation?

No, however it is recommended you carry your passport and visa document with you whenever you travel outside the Cincinnati area. This is especially important if you will be traveling near the Mexican or Canadian border.

I forgot my travel signature. What should I do?

If you do not have a valid travel signature at the time of re-entry into the U.S., you will have trouble and may be denied entry. If you forgot your travel signature, follow these instructions:

  1. Submit a “Travel Signature” request in InterLink.

  2. Please note that you have already left the U.S. and provide your return date.

  3. ISSS will review your request and travel dates.

    • If there is sufficient time, we will issue you a new I-20 signed for travel and email you to provide instructions on how to receive your new document through express mail.

    • If there is insufficient time, we will email you a letter asking that the U.S. Customs officer provide you with a document called and I-515. This document allows you temporary entry for up to 30 days. If you are issued an I-515, please immediately schedule an appointment with ISSS. An advisor will help you complete and submit the document to the government so that you may remain in the U.S.

Every time I enter the U.S., there are problems and the officer takes me aside for questioning. What can I do?

When an officer cannot immediately verify your ability to enter the U.S., he/she may take you to a secondary office so that they can have more time to review your documentation or record. This may happen because there are truly problems with your record or missing documentation but this may also happen in error. If this consistently happens and ISSS has verified that there are no problems with your SEVIS record or documents, you may submit a “Traveler Redress” inquiry to Customs & Border Protection. This may help.

I’m about to complete my program. Can I travel?

After you successfully complete your program, you will have a grace period during which you may travel in the U.S. For F-1 students, the grace period is 60 days. For J-1 students, the grace period is 30 days. However, if you leave the U.S. during the grace period, you may not reenter in F-1 or J-1 status.

I have F-2 or J-2 dependents. What documents do they need to carry?

In general, dependents should carry the same documentation as an F-1 or J-1 student. Dependents should also carry documents that demonstrate the F-1 or J-1 is maintaining their student status such as a transcript or certificate of enrollment.