Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Traveling Information

The ability to re-enter the U.S. following travel abroad is a benefit of F-1 students. It is important that you comply with all immigration regulations and requirements. Failure to comply may lead to a loss of travel benefits.

Documents Needed to Re-enter the United States

  1. An unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future
  2. An unexpired SEVIS I-20 with a travel signature less than one year old
  3. An unexpired F-1 visa valid for further entries into the United States
  4. Proof of full-time enrollment in the form of a transcript or registration record
  5. Proof of financial ability, i.e., documentation verifying your funding source, this may include personal or family bank statements, affidavits of support

*If on Optional Practical Training, a student also needs the following documents:

  • An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card issued by the USCIS for F-1 students on practical training
  • A letter from their employer stating job title, job description, begin and end dates (must fall within the practical training period), and verifying that your employer knows you are traveling and expects you to return to complete your job. If you do not have a job, you are advised not to travel as you may not be permitted to re-enter the U.S.

**Canadian citizens do not need an entry visa to enter the U.S. in F-1 status. However, they do need:

  • a valid SEVIS I-20 with a valid travel signature in order to re-enter the U.S. as an F-1 student
  • to present their SEVIS I-20 and make a request upon entering the U.S. to be granted F-1 status. This means they must receive an I-94 card indicating that they were admitted for F-1 status for duration of status (“F-1 D/S”).

Items to Note

  1. The travel signature on your Form I-20 is valid for a maximum of one year.
  2. A student may use their I-20 to enter the U.S. as long as they are a continuing, full-time student and the information listed is current.
  3. If you are returning to the U.S. after a leave of absence of more than 5 months, you must obtain a new I-20 prior to re-entry.
  4. Upon entry to the U.S., a custom officer at the port of entry will issue an electronic I-94 to you that will indicate the date of entry and grant you F-1 status for duration of status (F-1 D/S). If your I-94 indicates anything other than F-1 D/S, contact a SEVIS Advisor immediately upon return.
  5. Students should always make photocopies of their travel documents (I-20 and I-94) for safekeeping.
Automatic Visa Revalidation

If a student plans to travel to a contiguous country (Canada or Mexico) or the adjacent islands of the Caribbean (see below), they do not need to obtain a new visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. This is referred to as Automatic Visa Revalidation.  To qualify for this privilege, a student must:

  • be in valid F-1 status
  • have a valid SEVIS I-20 with current travel signature from a SEVIS Advisor
  • have an unexpired I-94
  • have an unexpired passport
  • be traveling in one of the contiguous countries or adjacent islands for less than thirty (30) days*
  • not be a citizen of one of the countries designated by the U.S., as a state sponsor of terrorism.

*The adjacent islands are: the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Pierre & Miquelon, Trinidad & Tobago, the Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, and the British Virgin Islands), the Windward Islands (Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent), and other British, French, or Dutch territories or possessions in, or bordering on, the Caribbean Sea.

This page is maintained by the OISS SEVIS Coordinator.