Traveling Outside the US
If you plan to travel outside the U.S. and return in F-1 status, you must have the following documents upon re-entry:
- Valid F-1 visa.
- Valid passport with an expiration date that is at least six months beyond the date you want to re-enter the U.S.
- I-20 endorsed by an international student advisor within the last six months.
- For OPT students, the above documents plus the OPT EAD and proof of employment.
Note: You may need a visa for the countries you are visiting. Check that country’s tourist information.
Application Process for I-20 Travel Endorsement
- Complete a travel endorsement request and submit it to the International Student Services Office (ISSO) with your most recent I-20.
- The ISSO will send you an email when the I-20 is ready for pickup, within one business day of submission.
- If your current I-20 does not reflect your current major, or if you wish to update the financial or dependents portions, you will need to submit a request for a new I-20. Such requests require additional documents and require a processing time of five business days.
Traditionally, upon every arrival to the U.S. a visitor was issued an I-94 Arrival/Departure Record in the form of a white card stamped by a port of entry official. Now many visitors will be told to obtain their I-94 information online. To access the information, the visitor goes to www.cpb.gov/i94 and completes a brief form requiring information from the visitor’s passport. Both the versions of the I-94 are valid. If after submitting the online form you get an error message, try again using a different format of your name. For example, enter it as it appears in your passport, then as it appears on the U.S. visa. Print a copy of the I-94 for your records. You will need it for a variety of uses, such as obtaining a driver’s license or Social Security card.
If the online information is incorrect or cannot be found, a visitor can obtain a new I-94 at the local Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deferred Inspection office. The Dallas CBP office is located in D/FW airport Terminal D, Level 1., at
3200 East Airfield Drive DFW Airport, TX 75261.Office hours: M-F8:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. You must call 972-973-9846 to set an appointment.
Visa RenewalIn order to enter the U.S. you must have a valid, unexpired visa in your passport. Once inside, visa status takes over. If you are an F-1 or J-1 student and complying with the regulations pertinent to your visa category you are eligible to remain in the U.S. until you reach the end date on your I-20/DS-2019 or until the end of your academic program, whichever comes first. The expiration of the visa in your passport has no effect. Once you leave the U.S., however, you will need a valid, unexpired visa to return. For more information, see the Visa Renewal brochure.
Automatic Visa Revalidation
You may be eligible to leave the U.S. and re-enter with a U.S. visa that is expired if you meet the following conditions:
- You are in valid F or J status
- You are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands
- You will stay outside the U.S. for less than 30 days
- You have a valid, unexpired I-94
- You are not a citizen of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria
- The purpose of your trip is not to apply for a renewal of your U.S. visa
To use this benefit:
- Tell the port of entry official your intention as you leave the U.S.
- If you were given a white card I-94 the last time you entered the U.S., do not surrender it. You will need to present it to the port of entry official upon re-entry.
Remember, if you apply for a visa renewal while outside the U.S. you are not eligible for this benefit. If you are denied the renewal and your current visa is expired, you will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S.
Travel Greater than Five Months
- To maintain F-1 status, students must be enrolled full-time every long semester and avoid gaps of more than five months between terms.
- If you leave the U.S. for more than five months, your F-1 status will end.
- To re-enter the U.S., you will need an initial attendance I-20 and new visa.
- To be eligible for off-campus employment, you will have to re-establish your eligibility by maintaining full-time enrollment for one academic year even if you met that requirement in your previous status.
Study Abroad and Conference Travel
UT Dallas has an official protocol regarding school-related international travel. The Office of International Education (OIE) administers that information. You will speak with an OIE advisor who will provide a list of required documents and procedures. The minimum amount of notice to OIE before travel is three weeks.
In April 2011, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) became inactive. If the back of your I-94 was stamped at the port of entry with "NSEERS" or "Special Registrant" you were subject to special requirements, such as reporting your departure to law enforcement. Those procedures are no longer required. You can read the regulation canceling the NSEERS program.