Many students choose to travel during their course of study, often returning to their home country or visiting popular U.S. travel destination during summer or winter school breaks. Some students will travel to Canada and Mexico, due to their close proximity to the U.S.


Designated School Official (DSO). DSOs are required by federal law to update and maintain the SEVIS records of nonimmigrant students in F and M visa categories.

Status. Your status is the official U.S. government designation and authorization of your stay in the U.S. as a non-immigrant student.

SEVIS. SEVIS is a web-accessible database that collects, tracks, and monitors information regarding exchange visitors, international students and scholars who enter the US on F, M or J visas. SEVIS is managed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Termination. The termination of a SEVIS record invalidates your F-1 status. Terminations are a result of a status violation(s).

Travel Outside the U.S.

As long as your travel does not disrupt your studies, you may leave the U.S. at any time. If travelling outside of the U.S., a student must have a valid I-20 in order to re-enter the country. Additionally, your I-20 must have a travel signature endorsed by a DSO. To request this signature, bring your I-20 to ISSS for an endorsement. Travel signatures are available for immediate processing Monday through Friday at 4:00 p.m. daily. Request a travel signature at least two weeks prior to travel.


To return to the United States in valid F-1 status, you are required to present the following documents:

Valid passport. Valid at least 6 months into the future.

Valid visa. If there is no ‘M’ under Entries or the Expiration Date will pass by your return date, you will need a new visa.

Travel signature. The third page of the I-20 was signed by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). This “travel signature” is valid for one year from the date it was signed or until the program end date, whichever comes sooner. You will not need another travel signature until the current one expires.

You must also have a valid visa to re-enter the U.S., unless you are a Canadian citizen, in which case only a valid I-20 is required. If your visa has expired, we recommend renewing it to a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country.

Other Considerations

If you plan to visit a country other than your home country, please consult the embassy or consulate of that country to find out if you will require a visa to enter or transit. You may find information about foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. by visiting

If you stay outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months, your I-20 and visa become invalid. You will need a new I-20 and visa to return. Additionally, you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again.

If you decide not to return to the U.S., you must notify ISSS so we can notify the U.S. government.

Travel to Canada or Mexico

Sharing borders with the U.S., Canada and Mexico are popular travel destinations for some international students. Despite their close proximity, please remember to follow all relevant immigration rules of all countries in your travel plans.

Entering Canada

A tourist visa is required to visit and transit for citizens of certain countries. To find out if you need a tourist visa and for visa application instructions, visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Web site.

Entering Mexico

Mexican tourist cards or visas are required of all persons visiting Mexico. These are obtained at the Mexican Consulate.

Returning to the U.S. Using "Automatic Revalidation"

Automatic Revalidation allows students in F or J status to re-enter the U.S. with an expired U.S. visa (but a valid passport) after visiting Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for less than 30 days. Adjacent islands include:

Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Marie-Galante, Martinique, Miquelon, Montserrat, Saba, Saint-Barthelemy, Saint Christopher, Saint Eustatius, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre, Saint Vincent, Grenadines, Trinidad, Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Other British, French and Netherlands territory or possessions bordering on the Caribbean Sea.

Note: Automatic Revalidation is NOT available to nationals of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, and Mexico (does not apply for visits to your home country).


You will need the following documents to re-enter the US using automatic revalidation:

Passport. A passport valid for at least six months from date of re-entry.

Visa. The visa from your last entry to the U.S.

I-94. If you are flying to Canada or Mexico make sure the airline does not take your I-94 upon your departure.

I-20. Valid and properly endorsed for travel.