Learn about what documents to carry and other frequently asked questions for international student travel.
We strongly recommend that you review this additional information on travel while on OPT for more specific considerations such as travel with a pending OPT, applying for a visa, unemployment, Cap Gap situations and more.
If you are approved for post-completion Academic Training, in addition to the above required documents, we recommend that you carry a letter from your employer verifying your academic training employment.
Upon arrival at a U.S. international airport, seaport, or land border crossing, all persons, including U.S. citizens, are subject to inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Anyone seeking to lawfully enter the U.S. must establish their admissibility to the satisfaction of the CBP officer.
You must present your passport, visa, and other supporting documents. The CBP officer will review your travel documents to confirm your identity and nationality, and ask questions about your visit to the U.S. Most nonimmigrants will have their digital finger prints and photograph taken. If you are determined admissible, the CBP officer may place an admission stamp in your passport, specifying the date of entry, the visa class, and the duration of admission and will issue an electronic I-94.
For most travelers, the screening process takes no more than a few minutes.
If the travel endorsement signature on your I-20 (page 2) or DS-2019 (bottom right, page 1) has expired please complete the appropriate Travel Endorsement/Travel Validation Request eform in UB Global.
If you lost your I-20, please complete the I-20/DS-2019 Reprint Request eform found in UB Global. Check our e-form processing page for current processing times. Once approved we will send you a new I-20 with a new travel signature.
If there is not enough time before your flight or trip to Canada to receive the updated I-20 we recommend that you change your flight date/travel plans to allow time for ISS to get a new I-20 to you. If that is not possible, you can choose to attempt to enter the U.S. without a valid travel signature, however, this is risky and not recommended. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers may deny entry into the United States if:
CBP officers can also decide to permit your entry to the U.S. by issuing an I-515A. Please read the information below about I-515As. Again, our strong recommendation is that you prepare ahead of time and receive a travel endorsement before your planned re-entry to the U.S.
Rather than deny your entry to the U.S., the CBP officer has the discretion to issue you a Form I-515A. This document allows you to enter the U.S. and remain in the U.S. for 30 days. To remain in the U.S. beyond 30 days, and to maintain your F-1/J-1 status, you must submit required documents to SEVP within 30 days of arriving in the U.S. It is extremely important that you contact ISS for advise on completing the I-515. In many cases we must issue a new I-20/DS-2019 before you can submit the documents to SEVP.
If you fail to complete any required actions or send all of the required documents to SEVP within 30 days of entering the U.S., your SEVIS record and I-20 may be terminated. If your SEVIS record and I-20 are terminated, you will be required to leave the U.S. immediately or file for Reinstatement to F-1 status with USCIS, if eligible.
If your passport is lost or stolen, either in the U.S. or while traveling, you must first contact the embassy or consulate of your own country to get instructions on how to obtain a new passport. If you were outside the U.S. when your passport was stolen or lost, you must contact a U.S. embassy/consulate to make an appointment to apply for a new F-1 or J-1 visa before you can return to the U.S. If your passport was stolen or lost inside the U.S., a new visa is not immediately required. You will need a new visa the next time you plan to enter the U.S., so please plan accordingly.
If your Form I-20 or DS-2019 have also been stolen or lost, you can request new documents by submitting a I-20/DS-2019 Re-print Request in UB Global.
You must have a valid F-1 or J-1 visa and a valid passport in order to reenter the U.S.
Most UB students will clear U.S. immigration after your documents are reviewed by a CBP officer. However, a few may be referred to another officer to verify your student status or for additional questioning. This is referred to as “secondary inspection”.
Although a referral to secondary inspection can be intimidating and make you feel anxious, there is usually little cause for alarm. Be aware that it can take a few hours to complete this inspection process.
If the CBP officer has questions that can be answered by ISS, ask the officer if they would like to call ISS for confirmation. During office hours, CBP can reach us at our general office number, (716) 645-2258.
If you are regularly sent to secondary inspection, please contact ISS for advice.
Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands are part of the United States. You should carry your valid passport and valid immigration documents when you travel there, as you should with any travel in the United States. However, if you go from Puerto Rico or the United States Virgin Islands to other islands, then you are leaving the United States and will need to formally re-enter and a valid visa will be required, unless you qualify for Automatic Revalidation.
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.