F-1 Students and Travel Outside of the United States

F-1 students who wish to travel outside of the United States must be prepared to present the following items at the time they seek to reenter the country:

  1. A valid passport that is valid for at least six months after the date of reentry
  2. A valid F-1 visa.  Check to make sure that your visa contains an “M” under ENTRIES section of visa. The “M” stands for Multiple; it allows for multiple entries into the U.S.  If “1” is annotated under ENTRIES section, it means the visa is only valid for a single entry into the United States, and you will not be able to use it to reenter the country.
  3. Form I-20 with travel endorsement made and signed by the school’s DSO

In addition, it is recommended that you have in possession the following documents:

  1. School transcript or certificate of enrollment
  2. Evidence of sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses

F-1 students who are on the 60-day “grace” period after they have completed their study programs or OPT will not be readmitted into the United States. The 60-day “grace” period is for students to prepare to leave the country.

F-1 students who have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT) but have yet to receive a job offer is discouraged from traveling outside of the United States.  If you seek to enter the United States and you are not enrolled in school and do not have a job offer waiting for you, you may be refused entry because you cannot establish that you will be engaged in a valid F-1 activity.

If you have been offered a job, but have yet to receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS, you will need to bring with you the USCIS Receipt Notice of your EAD Application (Form I-765 Receipt Notice) and a letter from your prospective employer in addition to the items listed above. The letter should state that you will be employed in the position that relates to your field of study for the validity of your EAD upon your return to the U.S.

F-1 students who have begun working on OPT should carry with them an employment verification letter, the original Employment Authorization Document, and four most recent pay statements, as well as all items listed above.

Remember that a valid F-1 visa does not guarantee admission into the United States.  Every time you seek to enter the United States, CBP officers at the airport has the authority to review your application for admission into the country.  You should be prepared to answer questions on your reason to seek entry to the United States and provide documents to evidence it.

The Law Office of Jing Yeophantong, PLLC presents this information as a service to members of the general public. Use of this information does not constitute, in any manner, an attorney-client relationship between The Law Office of Jing Yeophantong, PLLC and the user. While the information is about legal issues, it is not intended as legal advice or as a substitute for the particularized advice of your own counsel. Anyone seeking specific legal advice or assistance should retain an attorney.

The information is provided as is without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement.