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Travel Checklist for F-1 Students


Travel Checklist for F-1 Students

  • Current Passport - valid for at least 6 months after the date of your entry
  • Valid F-1 Visa   - not expired
  • Travel signature from DSO - located on page 2 of your I-20.  Signatures are valid for 12 months (6 months while on OPT)

If traveling on active OPT, ISS also recommends the following documents:

  • EAD Card
  • Employment Verification Letter - this can be obtained from your supervisor or HR Department)
  • Recent Paystubs

Note:  if you exceed the limits on unemployment while outside the US, you will not be eligible to re-enter in F-1 status.  Additionally, you cannot re-enter the US unless you are coming back to a job.

Traveling with a pending OPT application or a pending Change of Status is not recommended

  • Change of Status (CoS): if you depart the United States with a pending CoS, you have abandoned your application.  Additionally, CBP may also consider you ineligible to return to the United States as an F-1 student because your application to change status to that of a permanent resident is evidence of intent to immigrate, which is inconsistent with nonimmigrant student status. 
  • Pending OPT:
    • USCIS may request more information (RFE) while you are abroad. This information can only be sent to a US address and if you are abroad, you will likely miss an important deadline.
    • If your OPT is approved while you are outside of the US, you would need to show your EAD card upon re-entry.  Your EAD card can only be sent to a US address.
    • It is not an option to exit the US and re-enter as a tourist if your OPT has not yet been approved.  This will violate your  F-1 status and you will lose your OPT benefit.  

Click below to request Travel Signature

Travel R.S. Link OPT travel