Travel Requirements

Traveling outside the U.S. 

Students may travel within the U.S. at will and do not require prior authorization from OGI

The visa in your passport was obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and is used for entering the U.S. The visa functions as a key to enter the U.S. Once you are here in the U.S., you do not need to keep your visa current.

It is only when you are leaving the U.S. and need to return that you must be sure that you have a valid U.S. visa to re-enter the U.S. (Canadian citizens are not required to have a visa, but they must show their I-20 and proof of Canadian citizenship at the U.S. port of entry.

Students are allowed to travel within and outside the U.S. during their studies.


During a school break

Current students who are planning to re-enter the U.S. after a trip overseas you will need to present to an immigration officer:

1) A valid passport
2) A valid F-1 or F-2 visa (except Canadians)
3) A current I-20 with a valid travel endorsement. You must fill out the Travel Request Form and submit it to your adviser.
4) Proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, financial aid or Teaching / Research Assistant award notice letter)
5) Proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript). You can obtain a certificate of enrollment from the Office of the Registrar.

Travel while on OPT

According to federal regulations (C.F.R. 214.2(f)(13)(ii)) students on OPT “may return to the United States to resume employment after a period of temporary absence”.

If your OPT has been approved you should bring the following documents with you:

1) A valid passport
2) A valid F-1 visa
3) A valid Form I-20 (complete three-page form) with travel signature
4) EAD card
5) Proof of employment

Renewing your visa

If you or your dependents need to renew your visa in order to re-enter the U.S., you must apply in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Applicants are normally required to submit the following documentation:

1)A valid passport
2)A valid Form I-20 (complete three-page form) with a valid travel endorsement
3)Proof of financial support (bank statements and/or scholarship, financial aid or TA/RA letter)
4)Proof of enrollment (certificate of enrollment or transcript). You can download a certificate of enrollment from Office of the Registrar.

Depending on the country, U.S. embassies or consulates can request additional documentation.  Please check with the local U.S. embassy or consulate in your country for a complete list of required documents.

Travel Signature (Form I-20 Travel Endorsement)

You need to have a valid travel signature from an OGI staff on page 2 of your I-20 in order to re-enter the U.S. The signature or endorsement is valid for 12 months while you are attending classes. Travel signatures are only valid for 6 months when on OPT or STEM OPT. 

Fill out the Travel Request Form if you need your Form I-20 to be endorsed for travel. Attach your current, original I-20 to be signed. 

F-2 Dependents

The spouse or child of an F-1 student enters the U.S. in F-2 status. Any student wishing to bring a spouse and/or child to the U.S. should visit our office to have the necessary documents prepared. People in F- 2 status are not eligible for employment and may not enroll in a full-time course of study. For traveling and re-entering the U.S., F-2 dependents need all the same documents as the F-1 would need as outlined above including an I-20 that is produced with the F-2’s biographical information.


Traveling during cap-gap extension period

Do not travel outside the U.S. before your H1B and change of status request is approved. If you travel outside the U.S. while it is still pending, USCIS will consider that you abandoned your petition.

You may generally travel abroad and seek readmission to the United States in F-1 status during a Cap-Gap period if:

  • Your H-1B petition and request for change of status has been approved by USCIS.
  • You are reentering before your H-1B employment begins (before October 1). If you try to enter after October 1st, you will need an H-1B visa stamp in your passport.
  • You are otherwise admissible and have all proper documentation including a valid form I-20 with travel signature, unexpired passport and valid F-1 visa, letter of employment, and I-797 Notice of Action as proof that your H1B is still pending.

Remember that it is ultimately up to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to determine if you can reenter. OGI recommends consulting with the attorney retained by your employer before traveling.