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International Travel


Current F-1 students should carry the following to enter the U.S.:

  • current I-20 with travel signature dated in the past year
  • valid F-1 visa (or make plans to renew visa)
  • passport valid more than six months into the future

This page is for currently registered international students who have active I-20s. Alumni on post-completion OPT or STEM extension OPT should review the OPT/STEM OPT travel guidelines.


Current F-1 students need a travel signature on I-20 page 2 from an OIA Designated School Official (DSO) in order to re-enter the U.S. Travel signatures are not needed to leave the U.S. They are only required to re-enter on an active I-20 in F-1 status. 

The I-20 travel signature must be signed by an OIA DSO within the last twelve months for your re-entry to the US. You do not need to get multiple signatures for multiple trips, just once a year. You do not need any proof of travel to request the signature. We recommend you keep the signature up-to-date in case of emergency travel.

To request a travel signature, please email with the subject, “Travel signature for: Name, Pratt ID#, SEVIS# N00XXXXXXXX” (from your I-20). The I-20 will be emailed to you. You should then print it on regular paper, hand-sign the bottom of page 1, and carry the paper I-20 with you when you travel.


If your visa has expired, you must renew your entry visa in order to re-enter the U.S. You are not able to renew your visa inside the U.S. Visas are issued at U.S. consulates, which are only outside the country. We do not recommend leaving specifically to renew your visa, unless you have another reason to travel, as you may remain legally in F-1 status with an expired visa.

When you travel outside the U.S with an expired visa, you need to make plans and allow time for visa application and approval before your planned re-entry date. We generally recommend that you apply for your visa at the consulate nearest to your home residence. It may be possible to apply at a consulate in a different country, such as Canada or Mexico, but there are some risks with this. You need to prove ties to your home country during your visa application, and it is easier to do so when you apply at your local consulate. In addition, if your visa is denied, you must return to your local consulate to reapply again.

Each consulate has different procedures for F-1 students applying for another visa, so please make sure you follow the local instructions. In general, you should be prepared with the following documents:

  • passport valid at least six months into the future
  • most recent I-20 with valid travel signature
  • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt (you paid this for your first I-20/visa)
  • proof of your financial support for tuition and living expenses
  • enrollment verification letter from the Registrar
  • unofficial or official transcript from the Registrar
  • proof of reason for travel (if applying at a consulate other than your local consulate)
  • any evidence of temporary intent in the U.S. or ties to your home country, such as property or permanent job offer, if applicable

The majority of student visa re-applications are successful, since you already demonstrated eligibility with your first visa approval. Remember that F-1 is a non-immigrant, temporary status. As with the first visa application, students should demonstrate non-immigrant, temporary intent, and show ties to their home country. If your visa is denied, you should request the denial reason in writing from the consulate and consult


The requirement to have a valid visa to re-enter the U.S. has one exception. F-1 status holders with expired visas may be eligible to travel for short trips to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The benefit is called Automatic Revalidation of visa and allows return to the U.S. despite the visa being expired. The following requirements must be met:

  • you are currently in F-1 status
  • the trip is 30 days or less
  • you only travel to Canada, Mexico, and/or Caribbean adjacent islands 
  • you are not applying for a new F-1 entry visa during the trip

If you are going to use Automatic Revalidation, we recommend bringing with you: