Travel and Re-entry
As a student on an F-1 visa, you are allowed to travel while studying in the United States. Most students travel home over the summer and semester breaks, some have to leave unexpectedly for family reasons. If you must leave the United States while studying here there are several items to remember -
- In order to return to the U.S. to study, you must have a valid F-1 visa. If your visa is expired you will need to apply for and receive a new visa to re-enter the US. You cannot apply for a new visa within the U.S., you have to apply outside the U.S.
- You must have a valid passport. The passport is what will allow you to enter your home country. If your passport is expired, you can apply for and receive a new passport while remaining in the US. You should refer to your home country's Embassy in the U.S. for information on how to renew your passport.
- Traveling inside the U.S. is relatively easy. It is a good rule to travel with your passport and visa and I-20. If you worry about losing these documents you should at least carry photocopies of them with you.
- Page three of your Form I-20 will need to be signed by a Designated School Official in the Office of International Programs (OIP) prior to your traveling outside the US. If you are traveling you should request a signature on your I-20 prior to each departure from the U.S. You will not be able to re-enter the U.S. or you may be delayed at the U.S. border without this signature on your immigration document.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. VWP eligible travelers may apply for a visa, if they prefer to do so. Not all countries participate in the VWP, and not all travelers from VWP countries are eligible to use the program. VWP travelers are required to apply for authorization though the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) are screened at their port of entry into the United States, and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Visit program.
Currently 36 countries participate in the VWP, they are Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Generally, transit through the United States is permitted. To enter using the VWP,
- a person must have received authorization to travel under the VWP through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
- present the appropriate type of passport valid for six months past their expected stay in the United States
- stay for no longer than 90 days for business or tourism.
Please visit the U.S. Department of State for more information on the Visa Waiver Program.