Traveling Abroad for F-1 Visa Holders

(Except for Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands for which different rules apply)

If you are a student holding an F-1 visa and you plan to travel abroad or to your home country, in order to be readmitted to the US you need to present to the Immigration Officer, at the port of entry, the following documents:

  1. Valid Passport. It must be valid for at least 6 months when you enter the US.
  2. Valid American F-1 Visa. A valid F-1 visa stamped in your passport. If you need to apply for a new visa, bring proof of financial support and your I-20 form to the American Consulate or Embassy. A current photograph will also be necessary when applying for a visa.
  3. Valid I-20. A new Form I-20 or a current Form I-20 which has been signed by an ISO advisor on page 2 of your Form I-20 within the last 12 months.
  4. Documentation of Financial Support (award letters, letters from departments, bank letters, etc.)
  5. Documentation of MIT enrollment (letter from department, unofficial transcript, MIT ID card, etc.)
  6. Form I-901 (SEVIS Fee) Receipt

Please be advised that entry into the US is at the sole discretion of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Officer at the U.S. Port-of-Entry. Also, please be aware that since the passage of the Immigration Act of 1996 it has become extremely hard to receive a new US visa in a third country.

Special Cases:

  1. Students who have changed their visa type while in the US, if you decide to travel outside of the US after the change of status has been approved, you must apply for a new entry visa at the American Consulate or Embassy in the country you are visiting.
  2. Students who are married to American Citizens or Permanent Residents, and students who have been included in a petition for permanent residency, please make an appointment to talk with one of the International Student Advisors before you finalize plans for your trip.

Request a Form I-20 with ISO Travel Signature

Students should check page 2 of your current Form I-20 for a ISO advisor signed travel signature. This signature should be dated at least within 12 months of the day you plan to re-enter the U.S.

To request an updated travel signature, visit the ISO during business hours and drop off your most current Form I-20 at the reception desk. You may return to the ISO after 2 business days to pick-up your Form I-20 with new travel signature.

Please see our pages on Traveling to Canada, Mexico, or Adjacent Islands or Travel for Canadians, if your situation, applies for different guidelines on travel.


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