F-1 Student Travel
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Whether traveling within the U.S. or outside, there are certain considerations you need to make before leaving UMass. While you can make plans to depart at any time, you need to make certain that you have the appropriate documentation to return to the U.S.
Inside the U.S.
NOTE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has the right to check all documents of any person within 100 miles of the U.S. border. UMass does not fall within this zone but you should carry copies of your documents at all times once off-campus.
The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) will soon require all air travelers to have a government issued REAL ID to fly within the U.S. If you do not have a REAL ID once required, you will need to use your passport.
Outside the U.S.
If you plan to leave the U.S. to visit another country, all F-1 students and their dependents must have certain documentation to return to the US. If the F-2 dependent is traveling without the F-1 student, the dependent should also carry copies of the F-1 student's documents mentioned below.
Please make sure that you carry original documentation upon entering the U.S.
- Valid Passport
- Valid Visa (for exceptions read Automatic Visa Revalidation below)
- I-20 with a valid travel signature on page 2 (valid for 12 months)
While on OPT/STEM OPT :
- All documents listed above
- I-20 with a valid travel signature on page 2 (valid for 6 months)
- Valid EAD
- Job offer letter or job confirmation letter
12 Month OPT students with questions about travel should go here.
STEM OPT students with questions about travel should go here.
We are happy to assist with questions about your documents. If your visa stamp has expired or will expire soon, please see below regarding renewing your visa stamp.
If your flight home includes a layover in another country, even if you are not leaving the airport, you may need to apply for a transit visa. Check that countries' consular web site or the airline issuing your ticket for confirmation.
For worldwide travel advisories, check the Department of State website.
Renewing Your Visa Stamp
If your U.S. visa in your passport has expired or will expire prior to your next re-entry to the U.S., you will need to renew your visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad before you can re-enter the US. There is no option to renew a U.S. visa while inside the U.S. Visit this website for updated visa renewal information and procedures at your nearest U.S. consulate in your home country.
Note: If you are currently enrolled and your U.S. visa has expired, or will expire, please remember that you do not need to renew your U.S. visa if you do not have actual travel plans. Your U.S. immigration status remains valid as long as you are maintaining proper F-1 status at UMass. A U.S. visa is only necessary for travel and re-entry to the U.S., but is not necessary if you do not have immediate travel plans!
Anyone planning to depart from the U.S. and return after a temporary absence must have a valid passport in order to exit the U.S. The passport must also be valid for a minimum of six months into the future at the time of re-entry to the U.S. Some countries have an agreement with the U.S. that automatically extends passport validity for 6 months, for U.S. entry purposes only.
Automatic Visa Revalidation
For a visit of less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean (except Cuba), you are allowed to re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa. This process is known as Automatic Visa Revalidation.
You will need your:
- Valid Passport
- Most recent Visa Stamp
- Current I-20 with a valid travel signature
Please note if you apply for an F-1 visa in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean and are denied, you will not be able to return to the U.S. using Automatic Revalidation.
Nationals of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria are not eligible for automatic revalidation of an expired visa.
Each travel signature is valid for 1 year during your I-20 program dates and must be renewed if it will expire before re-entry. Check the travel signature date on your most recently issued I-20.
The IPO is still processing travel signature requests though the I-20 reprint E-Form. Once processed, you will receive the approval email and attached I-20 to your UMass email. The approval emails occasionally go into your Spam/Junk folder. Please check this folder if 10-12 business days have passed and you have not received the approval email yet.
Failure to acquire a travel signature prior to departing the U.S. is NOT an emergency. Do NOT call UMPD. Request a reprint of your document and we can email it to you wherever you are.
Note: This is for informational purposes only. The IPO cannot advise on non-U.S. visas, immigration statuses, or paperwork.
A Schengen visa is a short-term visa that permits travel within specific EU nation states for up to 90 days. More information can be found at the EU’s Schengen Visa.
If you plan to visit Canada, a visa may or may not be required depending on your citizenship. Review your Canadian visa requirements here.