Required travel documents
The following documents are required for travel and re-entry to the U.S. It is also advisable to carry these items (or at least photocopies) whenever traveling within the U.S. outside of the immediate Philadelphia area.
- An unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future
- An unexpired I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature from an advisor at CIP that is less than one year old
- An unexpired F-1 or J-1 visa stamp valid for further entries into the United States
- Proof of full-time enrollment from SJU
- Proof of financial ability, i.e. documentation verifying your funding source as indicated in Section 8 of your I-20 or Section 5 of the DS-2019; this may include personal or family bank statements, affidavits of support, or copies of your scholarship letter
Additional things to keep in mind:
- Although the travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 is valid for a maximum of one year, CIP recommends that you get a new travel signature at least once a semester if you are traveling.
- You may use your I-20 or DS-2019 to enter the U.S. as long as you are a continuing, full-time student and all the information on it remains the same. If you are unable to maintain full-time matriculation, or if the information on your I-20/DS-2019 changes, contact a CIP advisor.
- Upon entry to the U.S., a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officer will issue an I-94 card to you that will indicate the date of entry and grant you F-1 or J-1 status for "duration of status" (D/S). If your I-94 card indicates anything other than F-1 or J-1 D/S, contact a CIP advisor immediately upon return.
- CIP recommends that you make photocopies of your travel and immigration documents for safekeeping.
- For F-1 students: If you are on post-completion optional practical training see the information on traveling while working.
- For F-1 students: If you are returning to the U.S. after an absence of more than 5 months, you must obtain a new I-20 prior to re-entry. Contact a CIP advisor if this applies to you.
- Traveling outside of the U.S. after graduation is not possible. If you are an F-1 student, you are given a 60-day grace period after completing your degree, and if you are J-1 student you are given a 30-day grace period. This period of time is meant for you to make plans to leave the U.S. You can travel within the U.S., but if you leave and re-enter, you may not return as an F-1 or J-1 student.
Be sure to meet with a CIP advisor if:
- You need a new visa. F and J visas may only be obtained outside the U.S. Due to security concerns, all nonimmigrants (including F and J applicants) are required to have an in-person interview in order to apply for a visa.
- Your I-20 or DS-2019 has or is about to expire or if any information on the form has changed (such as your major, source of funding, or degree level).
- Your passport has or is about to expire (passports must always be valid at least six months into the future).
- You are a citizen of a country for which the U.S. requires additional security clearance, including NSEERS. If you were required to go through the NSEERS special registration process either at a U.S. port of entry or as part of a “call-in” registration at a district USCIS office, because you are male and from one of the 25 designated countries, or a citizen of either gender from Cuba, Liberia, North Korea, Iran, Sudan or Syria there is a special exit procedure that you must follow before you can depart the United States, at the airport where your overseas flight will depart. Failure to do so can result in your being permanently barred from entering the United States. You need to pay the SEVIS fee. A student who has previously been enrolled would only need to pay the SEVIS fee under the following conditions:
- When outside the U.S. for over five months and not maintaining registration with SJU
- When you have violated the terms of your F-1 status and will travel with an "initial attendance" I-20 in order to re-gain F-1 status
- When applying for reinstatement and have been out of status for more than 5 months
- When applying for a change of non-immigrant status to F-1 or J-1