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Travel and Immigration

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    Travel Information for IUP International Students and Scholars

    When traveling inside the U.S., it is always advised that students and scholars carry a passport and I-20/DS-2019 with them. If asked for identification, these are the most helpful documents you can have. Of course, keep them in a safe place and make sure to have copies of these in case documents are lost or stolen.   

    Documents Needed for Travel Outside the United States and for Reentry to the U.S.

    SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019

    Check the travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019. Each signature is valid for one calendar year (except those on OPT who need a signature every six months). You must have your I-20 or DS-2019 with you even for travel within the U.S. Make sure to carry all I-20s or DS-2019s with you. Never throw any away—these documents show the “history” of your time in the U.S. and are required for changing status or applying for work permits. Allow two to three days for a renewed signature from the Office of International Education (OIE).

    • Passport
      Your passport must be valid at all times you are in the U.S. When reentering the U.S. from abroad, it must be valid for six months in the future. Passports can be renewed within the U.S. at the closest embassy or consulate of your country. Select for a list of embassies.
    • U.S. Visa
      To reenter the U.S. after travel abroad, you must have a valid visa that is marked for multiple entries and in the current status you hold. If you change your status while inside the U.S. (example: F2 to F1), you must obtain a new F1 visa outside of the U.S. and enter on a new F1 visa. The exception is travel to Canada or Mexico or adjacent islands of North America—see next paragraph below. Those on an F1 or J1 visa, who do not leave the U.S., can remain in the U.S. on an expired visa as long as your DS-2019 or I-20 is valid.
    • Travel to Mexico, Canada, and Adjacent Islands
      Provided that your travel to those countries is for fewer than 30 days and you are not applying for a U.S. visa there, you may travel to and return to the United States on an expired F or J visa after visiting Mexico or Canada. Visit the Mexican or Canadian embassy websites for more information. You must also have a valid SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 and a valid, unexpired Form I-94. This process is known as “automatic visa re-validation.” However, if you meet any one of following criteria, you will not be able to automatically re-validate your visa:
      • You applied for a new visa and it has not been issued.
      • You applied for a new visa and were denied.
      • You have a terminated SEVIS record, indicating that you are out of status.
      • You have been out of the United States for more than 30 days.
      • You are a citizen of one of the following countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria.
    • Renewing Your Visa While Abroad
      If you will be renewing your visa while outside of the U.S., see a complete list of documents and frequently asked questions. Also, refer to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy website of the location you will be visiting. Students renewing visas with no break in studies do not have to repay the SEVIS fee. If there has been a break in studies for more than five months, or you are changing visa types, the SEVIS fee might be applicable. Find more information here about the SEVIS fee.
    • Visas for Other Countries
      If you will be travelling to another country or traveling through another country to go home—make sure to find out if any extra documents or visas are required for your travel. Find more information here.
    • I-94 Arrival/Departure Card
      The purpose of Form I-94 is to record the arrival and departure information of all visitors to the United States. It is also an important document that you will be asked to show when applying for a driver’s license or employment authorization. If you receive a paper I-94 form upon entry into the United States, staple it to your passport. You will give this form back to immigration when you leave the country. Important: The I-94 is will now be digital for most students. This means that you must print it yourself so that you have a copy of it. Print out your I-94.
    • Verification Letter From the Office of International Education
      This is not required, but is recommended for reentry. Please apply for a letter at the front desk of the OIE. Allow two to three business days before picking up your letter.
    • Transcript or Classes Enrolled In for Current Term
      Print from MyIUP showing that you have been enrolled and that you have a schedule for next semester. This is suggested especially for a visa interview.

    Other Travel Information

    What Students Can Expect at the Port of Entry:

    When to Contact the OIE About Travel Plans

    • All students who will return home for one semester or more: Please communicate with International Education to see how this affects your IUP enrollment and immigration status. Undergraduate students have to apply for readmission if no classes are taken for one semester.
    • All students who leave mid-semester or after drop/add: Please communicate with International Education to let us know you are leaving and if you plan to return, so we can update your immigration record and help you make sure all other details are taken care of.
    • All students who withdraw from a program or decide to not return to IUP: Those who withdraw from a program at IUP or decide to not return to IUP for any reason are required to contact our office so we can update their immigration record.
    • Biometric Identity Management
      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security uses US-VISIT to collect biometrics upon arrival.  All foreign nationals are required to go through a rigid process of immigration inspection that includes gathering biometric data. Essentially, biometric data is an individual digital file that catalogs various samples, models, and fingerprints - as to ensure greater national security. Find out more about the biometric identification procedure on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website
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