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Travel Information

Traveling is still risky!  We encourage great caution and recommend you check the following websites before booking your trip:  


Be aware that policies can change quickly.  You may need to quarantine again upon reentry – so be sure to have a plan in place for this.

The current COVID period is challenging.  We recommend you talk to Lucy to discuss travel issues before booking flights, especially if you are in one of these circumstances:  

  • You need a new visa  
  • You are a J-1 student  
  • You have submitted an application to USCIS

Click here for the National Interest Exceptions for students traveling to the U.S. from the Schengen Area, UK and Ireland.

Travel Guidelines for F and J Non-Immigrant Students

Travel within the United States:

If you are traveling in the United States, make sure you carry the documents listed below. If you are crossing state borders or traveling south of San Antonio (to Corpus Christi or El Paso), take the original documents with you.

While in Abilene, it is advised that you leave the originals at home but have copies with you to minimize risk of losing original documents.

Travel to Your Home Country:

To travel to your home country, you will need the following:

  • Valid passport (at least 6 months into the future).
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa (Canadian citizens do not require a visa)
  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature. The travel signature is valid for 5 months.

TIP: Keep your original documents with you at all times, but carry copies on your phone in case of emergency.  If you are not in good academic standing, there may be delays or additional requirements before a travel signature can be given.

Travel to Another Country:

If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, check that country’s consulate website to see if you need a visa to enter that country. PLAN AHEAD: It often takes several weeks to process a visa application.

Travel While On Optional Practical Training:

Travel recommendations are based on your stage in the OPT process. Meet with the Immigration Specialist for the most current recommendations.

What should I do if my visa is about to expire or has expired?

If your visa has expired, you must apply and renew your visa before making your way back to the U.S. We recommend applying for the visa in your home country. If you are unable to apply in your home country, you may contact the visiting country’s embassy/consulate and find out if they will review your application. Please keep in mind processing time and possible delays. You will need the following documents with you:

  • Valid Passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019, signed for travel
  • Financial Documents
  • Proof of full-time enrollment (letter from Registrar in Admin Rm. 207)
  • Any other items required by your specific embassy such as transcripts

If you need to get your F-1 visa renewed or if you need to apply for an F-1 visa, you should contact the US Embassy/Consulate in the country where you are traveling BEFORE you travel to learn how long the process may take.

Automatic Visa Revalidation for Travel to Canada or Mexico

If you visit Mexico, Canada or an adjacent island for less than 30 days, you may be able to enter the U.S. on an expired F-1 or J-1 visa due to the Automatic Visa Revalidation laws. Read the U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS) information carefully:

  • Your I-20/DS-2019 endorsed for travel
  • Your valid passport and your (expired) visa
  • The link to the website above handy for the CBP officer.

Please be aware that you may still need a visa to enter these countries. Citizens of some countries are not eligible for visa revalidation; please check the U.S. DOS website.

Mailing Options

Students who need an I-20 or other documents sent to them by express mail will be responsible for the postage costs. Please refer to the page on shipping documents for instructions. To avoid high mailing costs, allow at least 3 days for your travel signature request before you leave the U.S.

For more information on F-1 Travel, visit the U.S. ICE page. These guidelnes generally apply to J-1 exchange visitors as well, but consult the immigration specialist for specific questions.