DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR RE-ENTRY TO THE U.S.
Additional Recommended Documentation:
Examples: An unofficial transcript, official transcript, or enrollment verification through MyUW
If you arrive at the U.S. port of entry without all of your required documents or with unsigned documents, you may be denied entry.¬† Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have the right to issue you a¬†form I-515A, which allows you temporary entry into the U.S for 30 days.¬† If you are issued a form I-515A, you must contact ISS and follow the instructions given to you on the I-515A.
You will need a valid signature in order to re-enter the United States during your program of study or while you are on OPT.¬† Travel signatures are valid for one year while you are a student and for six months during OPT.¬† In order to get a new travel signatures you can drop off your I-20 at ISS and pick it up the next business day.¬† If your travel signature lines are full, please contact ISS two-weeks in advance in order to request a new I-20.
If you are not in Madison and need a new travel signature, you have two options.¬†
1.¬† If time allows, ISS can issue you a new I-20 which can be express mailed to you at your expense through eShipGlobal. Please email ISS to receive instructions on how to receive your new I-20 via express mail and allow approximately 1-2 weeks for processing and mail time. ¬†
2.¬† As a last resort, you can attempt to enter with an expired travel signature.¬† It is at the discretion of CBP to allow entry into the U.S. but most students in this situation are allowed entry and issued an I-515A. In this case, expect delays at the border. See section on I-515A for details.
The I-94 is your U.S. arrival and departure record which is issued by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).¬† It confirms that you have been legally admitted into the United States in a particular visa category.¬† As of 2013, students entering the U.S.¬† by air or sea will be issued an electronic I-94.¬† Your most recent I-94 and travel history can be found on the CBP website. You should access your I-94 after entering the United States and verify that the information is correct including your travel history, the status under which you were admitted, and the spelling of your name.¬†
If you entered the United States at a land border crossing or last entered the U.S. before spring 2013, you may still have the paper I-94 card stapled in your passport.¬† This card should be surrendered the next time you depart unless you are participating in Automatic Visa Revalidation. (see section below)¬†
You will need a copy of your I-94 in order to verify employment eligibility and to apply for a social security number, a Wisconsin Driver‚Äôs License/ID card, or OPT. ¬†¬†¬†¬†
If there are errors on your most recent I-94 record or you are unable to locate it, please meet with an ISS advisor during walk-in advising.
VISA STAMP RENEWAL
The expiration date on your visa is the last day you can use your visa to seek entry into the U.S.¬† It has nothing to do with how long you can stay in the U.S.¬† If your visa has expired and you plan to return to the U.S., you will need to renew it while you are out of the country. It is NOT possible to renew your visa while you are still in the United States. Countries that offer visa renewal services via mail are designed to be used while you are in your home country.¬†
It is worth noting that some visas are issued for multiple entries to the U.S. while others may only be used once to enter the country.¬† This information is noted on your visa stamp in the form of an ‚ÄúM‚ÄĚ for multiple entries or a number such as 1 or 2.
Any time someone applies for a visa, there is a possibility of denial or delays due to administrative processing.¬† Allow sufficient time during your travels in order to apply for a new visa.¬† Ideally, you should renew your visa in your home country during an extended break such as the first week of winter or summer break. Estimated wait times can be found at:¬† http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/wait-times.html/¬†
You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.¬†
In order to renew your visa, at minimum, you will need:
Students on OPT will also need:
It is important to thoroughly review all information on the specific Embassy or Consulate Visa Section website for local procedures and instructions, such as how to make an interview appointment. Embassy and Consulate websites will also explain any additional procedures for students, exchange visitors and those persons who need an earlier visa interview appointment.
Note to F-1 transfer students:¬† You do not need to get a new visa if you transfer from one school to another within the United States. The school annotated in your visa may be different from the school which you are attending.¬†
If you are traveling only to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands in the Caribbean and your U.S. visa has expired, check to see if you are eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation.
TRAVEL TO CANADA, MEXICO, & ADJACENT ISLANDS
AUTOMATIC VISA REVALIDATION
If your US visa has expired, you might be able to visit Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent Caribbean islands for 30 days or less, and return to the United States prior to your program end date without having to obtain a new visa.¬† This is called Automatic Visa Revalidation (AVR).¬†
AVR does not void the requirement to obtain a visa for entry into these countries so please find out if you need to apply for a visa to visit Mexico, Canada or the adjacent islands before you make travel plans. The adjacent islands are:
¬†For details regarding AVR including eligibility requirements, please visit the Department of State‚Äôs website.¬† If you still have questions, ISS advisors would be happy to discuss your situation during walk-in advising or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRANSIT & ENTRY VISAS FOR OTHER COUNTRIES
Before traveling to countries other than your own, check to see if you need a visa to enter or transit.¬† ISS cannot advise on procedures to secure entry or transit visas for other countries.¬† The requirements vary from country to country and are based on your country of citizenship.¬† Please visit the website for the consulate or embassy through which you plan to apply.
TRAVEL AFTER PROGRAM COMPLETION
The 60 day grace period following program completion is meant to allow time to prepare to return home, transfer to a new school, or travel within the United States.¬† Traveling to another country during your grace period can be complicated, particularly if your plans include transferring your SEVIS record or applying for OPT in the near future.¬† Without careful planning, you may experience travel interruptions or require a visitor visa in order to return to the U.S.¬† Please consult ISS if you have doubts about your plans.
OPT applicants:¬† Traveling after your program end date but before you have received your EAD card can be risky.¬† Reduce your risk of encountering difficulties by postponing all unnecessary travel until after you receive your EAD card. Please be aware that if you need to renew your visa while on OPT, you must have a job offer letter in order to do so.
Traveling in between programs:¬† Please consult ISS if you are transferring your SEVIS record to another school and plan to travel internationally prior to starting your new program.¬† The timing of your SEVIS transfer will determine which I-20 you should use for travel and re-entry.¬†¬†¬†¬†
TRAVEL WITHIN THE U.S.
You should always travel with your passport and I-20, but you will not be required to go through customs when flying within the United States or to U.S. territories.¬† The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires a government issued photo identification to fly.¬† For a complete list of acceptable IDs, please visit http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/acceptable-ids .¬† ¬† ¬†¬†