Travel Outside the U.S.


Required Travel Documents

When traveling outside the United States, all students must have:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid visa
  • Form I-20 with a valid travel endorsement

 

Additional Documents - OPT and STEM OPT

When traveling outside of the United States during OPT or STEM OPT, students must have:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid visa
  • Form I-20 with a valid travel endorsement
  • If OPT pending, I-797 Receipt Notice
  • If OPT approved, Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

It is also highly recommended that students travel with an offer letter or employment letter that demonstrates they have not exceeded 90 days of unemployment.

 

Travel Endorsements (Travel Signatures)

A travel endorsement, otherwise known as a travel signature, is issued by ISSO. This signature verifies that you are currently enrolled and maintaining status, and therefore eligible for reentry into the United States. Travel signatures are only needed for reentry into the United States and are not needed for travel within the United States. Read more about how to get a travel signature on our Travel Signatures FAQ

 

Validity of Travel Signature

Travel signatures are valid for one year. For students on OPT, travel signatures are only valid for 6 months.

 

Expired Travel Signature and Outside U.S.

Contact ISSO at 515-294-1120 or isso@iastate.edu. ISSO will provide more instructions at that time.

 

Visa Renewal

A student does not need a new visa if it has not expired. However, students in the following circumstances may need to get a new visa and should contact the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their home country to confirm:

  • Students who have reported their passport (and visa) lost
  • Students who have updated their name on their passport
  • Students who have taken an absence from the U.S. for 5 months or longer
  • Students who have been dismissed and are reentering the U.S. with a new SEVIS record
  • Students who have violated their F-1 status and have NOT been reinstated to valid F-1 status
  • Students whose visas have been revoked by the Department of State
     

F-1 Visa for Students on OPT

Students on OPT do not need to get a new visa if the visa has not expired.

 

Documents Required for Visa Renewal

ISSO recommends students check the U.S. Consulate or Embassy policies in the country where they will renew their visa.

 

Visa Renewal as Third Country National

It may be possible for students to renew their visa in a country other than their home country, but there is a higher risk of facing complications, and ISSO therefore recommends that students renew their visas in their home countries to reduce those risks. Some countries have policies that do not permit third-country nationals from renewing their visas in that country. It is always recommended that students check the U.S. Consulate or Embassy website before applying.

 

Processing Time for Visa Renewal

Wait times vary from country to country. For current information, please refer to this Department of State website

 

Validity of New Visa

The validity period varies from country to country. For current information, please refer to this Department of State website.

 

Automatic Revalidation

Automatic revalidation allows an F-1 student to reenter the U.S. without a valid visa if they visited Mexico, Canada, or adjacent islands. The visit can be for no longer than 30 days for automatic revalidation to apply. Students must have a valid passport, I-20, and travel endorsement to reenter the U.S. using automatic revalidation. ISSO also recommends students take a copy of their I-94 record. There are some exceptions to automatic revalidation, and students are encouraged read more about Automatic Revalidation on the Department of State’s website here.

 

Automatic Revalidation and OPT

Automatic revalidation applies to students on OPT. Students on OPT must have a valid passport, I-20 with travel endorsement, and EAD to reenter the U.S. using automatic revalidation. ISSO also recommends students take a copy of their I-94 record.


Disclaimer: This Frequently Asked Questions is intended for general information and guidance. As this information can quickly become outdated or may not apply to your situation, please consult with an International Student Advisor in the International Students and Scholars Office regarding your individual questions.