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  Immigration Information - Travel Outside of the U.S.

Travel Outside the U.S. in F-1 Status

Temporary Absence (5 months or less)

Students who leave the country and return within five (5) months may return to the U.S. on their current SEVIS I-20, as long as there is a valid DSO signature on page 3. Although the signature is technically valid for one year, immigration officials often require that the I-20 bear a DSO certification for reentry executed in the current term (if a student is entering during the academic year, or in the term preceding the excursion if the student is returning from a vacation.

In order to reenter the U.S. after a temporary absence, an F-1 student must have the following:

  • A valid passport
  • A valid F-1 visa
  • A properly endorsed Form I-20

Important! If you must withdraw from school to take a temporary leave of absence, please be sure to complete a Leave of Absence Form and notify the DSO of your departure. Failure to do so can result in dire consequences, including termination of your SEVIS record.

If your visa has expired or expires while abroad, you will need to obtain a new one. Click here for information about renewing your visa.

Absences Greater Than 5 Months

Students who remain out of the U.S. for five (5) months or more will need to submit new financial documentation in order to secure a new SEVIS I-20 marked "initial entry". They cannot return on their original I-20.

Important! If you must withdraw from school to take a temporary leave of absence, please be sure to complete a Leave of Absence Form and notify the DSO of your departure. Failure to do so can result in dire consequences, including termination of your SEVIS record. If your visa has expired or expires while abroad, you will need to obtain a new one.

Travel and Optional Practical Training

Can I reenter the U.S. after a short trip abroad if my request for OPT is pending?

Yes, you may reenter while OPT is pending in order to search for employment. Take your I-797 Notice of Receipt with you and show it to the immigration official on your return trip.

Can I reenter the U.S. if I left while on OPT?

If your OPT has been approved and you depart before you get a job, your OPT ends and you cannot reenter. If your OPT has been approved and you have a job, you may travel and reenter to resume work at the same job. Take your EAD card and a letter from your employer stating that you are to begin or resume work upon your return, and show it to the immigration official at the port of entry.