Canada, Mexico & Caribbean

Find out what international students need for travel to Canada/Mexico and re-entry to the United States.

CDC Travel Advisories

CDC Travel Advisories are being updated and changed frequently. Travelers should visit the CDC's advisories website for the latest notices.

View the latest CDC Travel Advisories

Temporary Restriction of Travelers Crossing US-Canada and Mexico Land Borders

On March 21, 2020, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada temporarily restricted non-essential travel across the US-Canada land borders. For additional information please read CBP's page on the topic.

What Documents Do I Need to Re-enter the U.S.?

1. A Valid Passport

F and J students are required to have a passport that is valid at least 6 months into the future.  

2. Proof of Your Immigration Status

  • If you are in F-1 status: Your I-20 must have a DSO signature on page 2 that is less than one year old. Your I-20 must also be valid (i.e. your Program End Date must not have passed).
  • If you are in J-1 status: Your DS-2019 must have a travel signature that is less than one year old. Your DS-2019 must also be valid (i.e. your Program End Date must not have passed.)
To request a Travel Endorsement on your I-20/DS-2019

1. Log in to UB Global.  Click on the blue “LOGIN” button and enter your UBIT Name and Password.  Do NOT click on “Administrative Services for University Departments”.

2. F-1 students click on “F-1 Student Services” and J-1 students click on “J-1 Student Services”.

3. Select the “Travel Endorsement Request” e-form.

4.  Complete and submit the e-form. 

5. ISS will issue a new I-20 for travel. You will be notified when the I-20 is ready for mailing. 

*ISS processing is currently 7-10 business days. Please plan accordingly. 

3. An valid U.S. Visa Stamp *

If your visa has expired, please see the Applying for a U.S. Visa page.

* You may or may not need a U.S. visa to re-enter the U.S. from Canada. This will depend on many factors, such as the length of your stay in Canada and your citizenship. Please read the questions below for more details.

Do I Need a Valid U.S. Visa Stamp to Re-Enter the U.S. from Canada?

If my trip was less than 30 days?

Under the “automatic revalidation of visa” benefit, individuals on nonimmigrant visas (F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, etc.) may re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa after a stay of less than 30 days in Canada or Mexico.

To re-enter, F-1/F-2 students will need a valid I-20, valid signature on page 2 of their I-20 and a valid passport. J-1/J-2 students will need a valid DS-2019, valid travel signature on their DS-2019 and a valid passport.

Individuals in F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2 status may also enter the U.S. after a stay of less than 30 days on islands in the Caribbean. A list of the specific Caribbean Islands where automatic revalidation is possible can be found here.

There are two important exceptions to the “automatic revalidation of visa” benefit:

  1. Individuals from Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria may not re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa. This means that they will have to return to their home country, renew their U.S. visa there and attempt to return to the U.S.
  2. Individuals whose U.S. visa application is pending or was denied may also not re-enter the U.S. They will also have to return to their home country, renew their U.S. visa there and attempt to return to the U.S. 
    • This restriction applies even if the original U.S. visa is still valid.

If my visa stamp indicates a different nonimmigrant status than my current documents because I changed my status while I was in the U.S. AND my trip was less than 30 days?

NO. If your application for a change of status was approved and your current documents are in accordance with the new status, you may re-enter the U.S. without a visa stamp matching your new status as long as your trip to Canada was less than 30 days and you are not a citizen of Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

If my trip to Canada was more than 30 days?

YES. If your trip to Canada was more than 30 days, you will need a VALID U.S. visa stamp in addition to your other immigration documents to re-enter the U.S.

If I traveled to another country?

YES. If you traveled to another country outside Canada, Mexico or Caribbean Islands eligible for automatic revalidation (regardless of the length of time) and you wish to re-enter the U.S., you must have a valid U.S. visa stamp to re-enter the U.S.

Visa Stamp Expiration

If your U.S. visa stamp has expired or will expire prior to the date of your re-entry to the U.S., and you do not meet the eligibility requirements for automatic revalidation, you must apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. This may only be done OUTSIDE U.S. borders.

I am a Student Traveling Outside the U.S. Temporarily. Is There Anything Else I Should Carry?

If you are a student, we recommend that you also carry the following documents:

  • Proof of enrollment (transcripts, class schedule printout)
  • Proof of funding (copy of letter offering you an assistantship, financial documentation provided for the issuance of your I-20, etc.)

What If I am an F-1 Student on Optional Practical Training?

If you are on Optional Practical Training, we recommend that you carry the following documents in addition to the above required documents:

  • Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)
  • Job offer letter or letter confirming current employment

What If I am a J-1 Student on Academic Training?

In addition to the above required documents, we recommend that you carry a letter from your employer verifying your academic training employment.

I’ve Changed my Immigration Status Since I Entered the U.S. Now, my Status is Different from my Visa Stamp. Do I Need to Apply for a New U.S. Visa Stamp to Re-Enter the U.S.?

YES. You need to get a new visa stamp from a U.S. Consulate. Your visa stamp must be valid and must match your current status in order for you to re-enter the U.S.

If you traveled ONLY to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, you may not need a new U.S. visa stamp. Please read the information about traveling to Canada/Mexico and re-entry to the U.S. to confirm this point.

What Documents Does my Dependent Need to Travel and Re-Enter the U.S.?

Your dependent spouse or minor children should carry the following documents in order to re-enter the U.S.:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Valid U.S. visa stamp
  3. Valid dependent Form I-20, DS-2019
  4. Photocopy of your documents (your passport, U.S. visa AND your I-20, DS-2019)
  5. Proof of financial funding
  6. Photocopy of spouse’s Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) and letter of employment (if applicable)

It is important to understand how the Public Charge rule (i.e. utilizing U.S. taxpayer funded benefits) can impact your re-entry to the U.S.

I want my family to visit me in the U.S. What do they need?

If they are not eligible for the visa waiver program (ESTA), they may apply for the B-2 Visitor Visa.

A letter from ISS is not needed; instead an invitation letter written by you is best.

For a list of additional documents required for a B-2 visa application, please check the Consulate website where they will apply. Generally, it is recommended to provide your visitors with copies of your immigration documents (I-20, I-94, F-1 Visa Stamp) and a copy of your enrollment verification or transcript from the Registrar office. It is also important that they show sufficient funds to cover any expenses during their trip to the U.S.