Travel Instructions for F-1 Students

This section will provide you with information regarding reentering the U.S. after a temporary absence. If you plan to leave the U.S. and return to the University of Miami, you must have the necessary documents to permit entry to another country and reentry to the U.S.

Entry to another country
If you wish to temporarily visit your country of citizenship or permanent residency, you will be allowed to enter that country if you hold a valid passport.    Before temporarily visiting a country other than your country of citizenship or permanent residency, you must check on entry visa requirements for said country.  Go to http://www.embassy.org for the addresses and phone numbers of all foreign embassies located in Washington D.C.

Reentry to the U.S.
To reenter the U.S. after a temporary absence (i.e., an absence of five months or less), you must have a properly endorsed Form I-20, a valid passport, and a valid F-1 visa (not required for citizens of Canada).

Properly endorsed Form I-20: If you have already used your Form I-20 to enter the U.S. once, then you must have page 3 of your Form I-20 endorsed by your ISSS Advisor. Complete the FORM I-20 OR FORM DS-2019 CERTIFICATION SIGNATURE APPLICATION, available at ISSS and on the ISSS website, and submit to ISSS along with your original Form I-20. This page, when properly endorsed, may be used for reentry to attend the same school after a temporary absence from the U.S. Each certification signature is valid for only one year from date of signature, or until the Form I-20 expiration date, whichever comes first.

In the case that you have left the U.S. without a valid I-20, read the ISSS handout titled "Traveling Without a Valid I-20 or DS-2019" for instructions.

Valid Passport: You must have a passport that is kept valid at all times while you are in the U.S. If your passport will expire within six months, contact your embassy in the U.S. and make arrangements to renew as soon as possible.

Valid F-1 visa: The U.S. visa tells you by which date you may enter the U.S. The expiration date of the visa has nothing to do with how long you may remain in the U.S. – that is determined by your I-20 and I-94.  However, if you are traveling abroad and wish to reenter the U.S., then you must have a valid F-1 visa in your passport.

Documents you will need for visa issuance: You will need a valid passport, a current photograph, a properly endorsed Form I-20, proof of financial capability for continuing studies, and continued nonimmigrant intent. Go to the Department of State website for other documents you may need. Information on applying for an F-1 visa is also available on the ISSS website.

Where to apply: Although you may be able to secure an original or renewal of an F-1 visa in a foreign country other than your own, your chances of being issued an F-1 visa are greatest when you apply at a U.S. consular office in your country of citizenship or permanent residency. You may face more stringent requirements in a third country and should allow more time in case of delays. It is not possible to obtain an F-1 visa in the U.S.

When to apply: You usually cannot apply for a new visa until 90 days before the expiration of the old one.

Visa voidance: If you have overstayed or been unlawfully present during your studies immediately prior to leaving the U.S., you might be subject to visa voidance. Such overstayed students would be subject to payment of the $200 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee and would need to obtain a new F-1 visa stamp in the home country in order to reenter the U.S. The SEVIS fee must be paid online through use of a credit card, locally using the Western Union Quick Pay service, or by mail through use of a check or money order at least three days prior to the date SEVIS fee payment verification is required by the U.S. Consular Office. ISSS highly recommends that you file and pay the required SEVIS fee online with a credit card or in person through the Western Union Quick Pay service instead of by mail with a check or money order since the online option and the Western Union Quick Pay option result in speedier processing of your required fee payment. Please ask your ISSS Advisor for detailed information on options for payment of the SEVIS fee.

"Automatic revalidation of visa" benefit: Under certain circumstances, you may reenter the U.S. with an expired visa as though the visa were still valid. An expired F-1 visa may be considered to be automatically extended to the date of application for readmission to the U.S. (and therefore the visa in the passport need not have an expiration date that is in the future), provided you do the following:

  1. Apply for readmission to U.S. after an absence not exceeding 30 days in contiguous territory (Canada or Mexico) or adjacent islands (Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea other than Cuba);
  2. Maintain lawful F-1 status and intend to continue doing so;
  3. Present a valid passport containing Form I-94 which authorizes a stay beyond the date of entry (e.g., D/S);
  4. Present a properly endorsed Form I-20.

Under these circumstances, you may be saved the necessity of applying for a new F-1 visa even if your visa has expired. A student whose visa has been canceled or voided is not eligible for automatic revalidation of visa benefit. Citizens of “state sponsors of terrorism” cannot take advantage of the automatic revalidation benefit. Any non-immigrant who chooses to apply for a new visa while in contiguous territory is not eligible for the automatic revalidation benefit during the course of that trip, but has to wait until the visa is granted in order to enter the U.S.

Transfers: If you have lawfully transferred schools while in the U.S., the visa will specify the school for which it was initially issued. In this instance you may reenter with an unexpired F-1 visa and Form I-20 from the new school without having the new school's name reflected on the visa.

Status Violation and Travel: If you have violated your F-1 immigration status prior to traveling abroad and wish to seek reentry to the U.S. with a new Form I-20 to resume your F-1 status, you must pay the $200 SEVIS fee and apply for a new visa prior to being able to seek reentry to the U.S. with proper documentation. Read the ISSS handout titled “F-1 SEVIS Fee Payment Options” for information on procedures regarding payment of SEVIS fee.

OPT Students: If you have applied for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) and have graduated but have not yet received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you must also present the Form I-797 receipt notice for the pending EAD application to reenter the U.S.

If you graduated and received the EAD for post-completion OPT, you must also present the EAD and a letter from your current or prospective employer to reenter the U.S.   Page 3 of your new Form I-20 with approved OPT dates must be validated for travel within the last six months.

Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts:  Ensure that you are traveling safely by reviewing the Department of State (DoS) International Travel Information web page.  On the DoS website, you will find travel warnings, travel alerts, country specific information, and country background notes.   There is also a section titled “Tips for Traveling Abroad” for other important health and safety information.  Go to http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html to access this information.

Keep your documents: It is your responsibility to retain copies of all your immigration documents and all immigration applications (I-20, employment, change of status, program extension, etc.) for your records/future use.  ISSS is required to keep copies of your documents and applications for only three years beyond the end of your program of studies at UM and any authorized post-completion Optional Practical Training.



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Student or Form I-20 Travel Application
To have your current Form I-20 endorsed for travel, complete the Student Form I-20 Travel Application, attach your original Form I-20, and bring to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), or complete the form in person when you come to ISSS.

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Travel Tips
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued important reminders to assist international students expected to arrive in the United States.

These reminders for international students registered in the Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) are intended to ensure that legitimate students are quickly processed at ports of entry. A comprehensive list of answers to frequently asked SEVIS questions has also been posted online at www.ice.gov and www.cbp.gov.
DHS offers the following recommendations for international students:
  1. Hand carry (do not check with your baggage) the following documents:
    • Your passport;
    • Your SEVIS Form I-20;
    • Evidence of financial resources;
    • Evidence of student status, such as tuition receipts, transcripts or letter of acceptance;
    • Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee; and
    • The name and contact information of your designated school official (International Student and Scholar Services Advisor).
    Important Note: If you are a new international student program participant, remember to carry with you the sealed envelope given to you by the U.S. Department of State's Consular Officer and attached to your passport. It is important that you do not open this envelope.

  2. Inform the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the port of entry as soon as possible that you will be a new or returning (in case you previously attended school in the U.S. and are transferring to the University of Miami) international student in the United States.

  3. Report to your school or program upon arrival so that your school official can validate your participation in SEVIS.

  4. Maintain contact with your designated school official throughout your stay to ensure your SEVIS data is updated and accurate.


Traveling without a valid Form I-20

Failure to have all proper documentation upon re-entry to the U.S. may be a cause for delay when going through the U.S. port-of-entry, and may be reason for the officer to send you to Secondary Inspections. Please click here for information on what to do if you do not have a valid Form I-20 upon reentering the U.S.

 

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