Required documents for travel
- Passport, valid at least 6 months after your date of entry into the U.S.
- Valid visa (some exceptions exist for Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands, see Automatic Revalidation below)
- I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel in the past 6 months
- EAD card, if you are currently on Optional Practical Training (It is also strongly recommended that you have a letter from your employer stating that you are fulfilling the OPT and acknowledging the period of travel.)
- Financial certification (required by law, but you may not be asked to present it)
Do not pack these items in your luggage! Carry them with you at all times.
The following documents are helpful in verifying your activities as an F-1 student at the port of entry if an immigration official questions your immigration status:
- Copies of all previous I-20s issued to you
- Transcript of course work
- Printout of current and future enrollment
- If you are on OPT or CPT, a letter from an employer acknowledging the travel and your salary amount
Students in F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2 visa statuses may travel to Mexico, Canada, or adjacent islands* (except Cuba) on an expired visa under certain circumstances. This is called "automatic visa revalidation" and can be used only for a stay of less than 30 days.
* Copy of the Federal Regulations Take this information in case you need to show a copy of the regulations at the Port of Entry.
Students who have changed status inside the U.S. and who do not yet have a visa for the new status may use automatic revalidation to re-enter under the new status. You must have a visa showing the previous status and an approval notice showing the newly awarded status.
- Valid I-94 stamped D/S (duration of status)
- Valid I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel within the last 6 months
- Valid passport with the expired visa
- A copy of the regulations authorizing Automatic Revalidation
An I-797 Approval Notice if you have changed status inside the U.s. and have not yet received a visa for the new status.
Other recommended travel documents
Financial certification, EAD card and letter from employer if you are on OPT, authorization letter and letter from employer if you are on Academic Training, current transcript of course work, copy of current and/or future enrollment.
Automatic visa revalidation is NOT available to:
- Students who are citizens of Iran, Cuba, Syria, Sudan
- Students who want to renew a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. (If your application for a visa is denied, you may be denied re-entry to the U.S. and may be forced to return to your home country to reapply for a visa.)
- Depending on your country of citizenship, you may need to get a visa in order to enter Canada or Mexico. You should consult the Canadian or Mexican governmental agencies to determine if you need a visa.
- If you are a Special Registrant, you should be sure to exit the U.S. through an approved point of departure and locate an immigration official to officially register. Failure to follow these procedures may result in being denied re-entry to the U.S. later.
- Students whose subject of study is included on the Department of State's Technology Alert List may be subject to additional security checks and delays upon re-entry and may want to consider not using automatic revalidation. E-mail an international student advisor at InternationalStudentServices@MissouriState.edu for questions about the Technology Alert list.
*The adjacent islands are St. Pierre, Miquelon, The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, The Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique (and other British, French, and Dutch territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea).
Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are territories of the U.S. and, therefore, you would not need a visa for re-entry. However, it is always strongly suggested to carry your immigration documents when traveling.