Travel Information

for those with F-1 and J-1 Status

Main Content

Travel Guidelines for F and J Non-Immigrant Students

When traveling to your home country you will need to request a travel signature to confirm your continued enrollment with ACU. Complete the Travel Signature Request form to get this process started.: 

You will need the following to reenter the U.S.:

  • Valid passport (at least 6 months into the future)
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa (except Canadian citizens)
  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature form. The travel signature form is valid for five months.

Travel Signature Request Form

Keep your original documents with you at all times but also 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.

When traveling to a third country:

If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, check that country’s website for information about visas to enter their country and plan ahead. It often takes several weeks or months to process visa applications.

When traveling while on Optional Practical Training:

Travel recommendations are based on your stage in the OPT process. Check with OISVS for the most current recommendations.

In most cases, you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date you enter or re-enter. However, for the most up-to-date accurate information, visit the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) travel page at the button below.

Travel | ICE

If you are traveling in the United States, make sure you carry the following documents with you at all times:

  • Valid Passport
  • I-94 page
  • Valid I-20 or DS-2019

Be aware that you may be required to show your documents at checkpoints near the Mexico border.

For information on U.S. requirements for entry, see the U.S. COVID Travel information from the U.S. Department of State.
Additional CDC resources:

Domestic Travel Advisories

International Travel Advisories

For information about safety abroad, check out the U.S. travel advisories webpage.


Many international students have had great experiences and been an asset to their cohort. We know you will be as well!

As an F-1 or J-1 international student, there are a few things to think through to ensure you have a good experience without any immigration issues. 

  • 9-12 Months Prior:
    • Check your passport validity dates. Your passport will need to have at least 6 months of validity at the time of your reentry into the U.S. If you need to renew your passport, now is the time to work on that through your country’s consulate in the U.S.
    • Check your F-1 or J-1 visa end date. If your U.S. student visa will expire prior to your reentry date after the study abroad program, consider the best way to get it renewed. Talk to Lucy to think through the associated risks and timing issues.
    • Ensure you are financially able to fund this trip (and related excursions) as well as future semesters at ACU.
      • Your immigration status requires that you are able to fund your studies each year at ACU to continue. Study Abroad is a great choice if you have sufficient funding to complete your degree program.
      • Please be advised that ACU is not able to add to your current funding package unless specified by the Study Abroad office.


  • 6 Months Prior:
    • Be sure the Study Abroad office is aware of your F-1 or J-1 international student status at ACU.
      • You may need to remind your program leadership of this at various times during the preparation process and the trip itself.
    • Apply for Entry Visas for each country where you plan to travel or transit.
      • Check with the program director to get the list of all of the countries they plan to visit, including any transit stops along the way (such as Canada). Include any other countries you plan to visit on your own as well.
      • Then check each country’s consulate website to see if you will need an entry visa for these countries, and what the requirements are to secure the visa. This will take time, so don’t delay in sending off those applications!
      • Talk to Lucy if you need reentry signatures on your I-20 or a letter for your visa applications.
    • Inform the Study Abroad Office that you will be covered by equivalent GeoBlue insurance during the trip. You may not need to purchase the study abroad trip insurance.
      • Please note: Using your insurance may be different with overseas health providers:  you may have to pay upfront and file a claim afterwards.  For questions, call the GeoBlue on your card.  Be sure to keep all receipts and records of treatments.


  • 1-2 Months Prior:
    • Request a reentry travel signature for your I-20 and inform the OISVS of your exact study and travel plans.
    • Meet with Lucy to discuss the immigration ramifications of your study abroad program on your immigration status, including for future benefits like OPT, CPT.


  • After you return: Check back in at the OISVS and send us your newest address, phone number and I-94 after you return so your records can be changed. And let us know how it went!

Updated 1/24

For information on travel while on OPT, visa revalidation when traveling to Canada or Mexico and other travel questions, see the Immigration and Customs Enforcement frequently asked questions page at the button below.

Travel FAQs | ICE