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Travel With an F-1 Visa

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Travel During Your Program


  Travel Within the US

If you are already legally in the U.S., you do not need a visa to visit Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S.-territory islands such as Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, unless your travel plans include entry to another country en route to these destinations. It is always recommended, however, that you carry your passport, Form I-94 and Form I-20 when traveling by air, sea, or land within the U.S. or in U.S. territories.

  Travel Outside the U.S.

Before traveling outside the US, make sure your data is updated and accurate in order to facilitate your readmission to the US. Prior to each trip, you must complete the Travel Permission or I-20 Update Form online through our International Students portal at oiss.pepperdine.edu

Please allow up to five business days for processing, depending on the number of requests received ahead of yours. OISS will notify you by email when your Form I-20 is ready. If you have an emergency, please make an appointment by calling 310.506.4246.

What Documents to Travel With: F-1 students returning to the U.S. to continue study must present the following documents at the port of entry:

  • Valid Form I-20 signed less than 12 months before the date you will return to the U.S.
  • Valid Passport (in most cases, it must be valid at least 6 months beyond your entry date)
  • Valid F-1 Visa

Any necessary visas to enter destination, including transit visas. The OISS is not responsible for ensuring you have obtained these.

  Travel to Countries Contiguous to the U.S.

A process known as "automatic visa revalidation" allows most F-1 students to take a trip of less than 30 days to countries contiguous to the U.S. (Canada, Mexico and certain islands adjacent to the U.S. in the Caribbean other than Cuba) and reenter the U.S. on an expired visa, provided they have proper documentation and have not applied for a new visa during the visit. This process revalidates the expired visa (making it eligible for the single trip), but does not renew it. This benefit also applies to nonimmigrants who have changed nonimmigrant status in the U.S., whose visa is still in the category in which they had entered the U.S. In that case, the visa is considered "converted" to the proper visa category as well as "extended" to allow re-entry.

You are eligible for automatic visa revalidation if you:

  • Have all the required travel documents for the country you are visiting
  • Have a valid passport, Form I-94 and Form I-20
  • Have maintained and intend to resume nonimmigrant status
  • Have not applied for a new visa during this particular trip
  • Are not inadmissible as a nonimmigrant under INA § 212
  • Have never had a visa canceled under INA § 222(g)
  • Are not a citizen or national of a country that has been designated as a "state sponsor of terrorism"

Automatic visa revalidation authority cites:

  • 22 CFR 41.112(d)
  • 8 CFR 214.1(b)(1)
  • 8 CFR 214.1(b)(2)

Additional resource: The Immigration and Customs Enforcement website provides an FAQ for continuing F-1 students who travel outside the U.S. for five months or less.

  Travel While on IP

When applying for a study abroad program, be sure to know in advance if you will be multiple countries that will be visited during your duration abroad, so that you can arrange to have the appropriate visa (if any) to enter those countries. Seaver undergraduate students should contact the International Programs Office, and graduate students should contact the coordinator of the study abroad program to get more information about the requirements for obtaining the proper visas on your trip. It is the student's responsibility to initiate the process of obtaining necessary visas.

Be sure that your passport will not expire within six months of any travel. Also make sure that your U.S. F-1 visa will not expire while abroad.

Some Embassies/Consulates may require that your I-20 is endorsed for travel before you apply for that country's study visa. Please complete a Travel Permission form on the OISS portal at oiss.pepperdine.edu.

When leaving for a program abroad, be mindful that before you re-enter the U.S., there must be a DSO signature on page 2 (back) of your I-20 which will not be older than 12 months at the time you plan to re-enter. For Seaver undergraduates, there will be an opportunity in the middle of each of the Fall and Spring semesters for your endorsed I-20 to be couriered to you for free, provided that you meet the established deadline (TBA).

If any of the information on page one (front) of your I-20 changes while you are studying abroad, you must submit a new Travel Permission or I-20 Update Request eform and receive a new I-20. Be sure to indicate that you will need a DSO signature on page 2 for re-entry to the U.S.

If you withdraw or are dismissed while attending an overseas program, your F-1 status will terminate immediately, and you will not have status to re-enter the U.S. Please contact the OISS right away, and have the Director of the program contact the OISS right away before you depart the country of the program.

If you will be completing all of the requirements toward your degree while you are participating in a study abroad program overseas, your F-1 status will cease the day of your last class abroad, unless you have applied for and received an official USCIS receipt notice for Optional Practical Training prior to your re-entry to the U.S. You must make an appointment with your DSO before you depart the U.S. to develop a plan for your overseas studies if you are planning to apply for OPT.

  Lost or Stolen Immigration Documents

If your passport has been lost or stolen, immediately file a police report and contact the embassy or consulate of the country that issued your passport. Obtain proof that you have applied for a new passport. Be sure to obtain a new visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate if you depart the U.S.

If your Form I-20 has been lost or stolen, immediately contact the OISS and submit a Travel Permission or I-20 Update Request form through the OISS Portal.

If your employment authorization document (EAD) for OPT is lost or stolen, you should an application for a replacement EAD with the USCIS. Be sure to contact the OISS before submitting your application.

 

  Help With eShipGlobal

If you do not have time to pick up your new Form I-20, and you wish to have it mailed to you by express courier delivery service, submit the eShipGlobal form through the OISS Portal. You will be directed to the eShipGlobal website, where you can create an account and log in to order and pay for the shipment. eShipGlobal will notify the OISS by email when you have completed the process, and your Form I-20 will then be shipped using the label you created. You can track the shipment using the tracking or order number provided. If you decide to cancel your order, be sure to notify the OISS immediately.

 

Travel on Optional Practical Training (OPT)


  Travel Before Submitting OPT

Before traveling outside the U.S., make sure your data is updated and accurate in order to facilitate your readmission to the U.S. Prior to each trip, you must complete the Travel Permission for OPT form online at our International Student Portal located at oiss.pepperdine.edu.

Please allow five business days for processing. We will notify you by email when your new Form I-20 is ready for pickup or has been mailed. If you have an emergency, please make an appointment by calling 310.506.4246.

  Travel While OPT is Pending

Travel while your OPT application is pending should be undertaken with caution. Check the status of your application online at uscis.gov while you are away in case USCIS has sent you a request for evidence (RFE). Make sure you have someone to take care of your mail and notify you when the RFE has been delivered.

The first four documents listed below are required for reentry while your OPT is pending:

  • Form I-20 with travel endorsement signature on page 2 dated less than 6 months before your reentry
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Passport valid for 6 months beyond your reentry
  • Form I-797C receipt notice

  Travel While on OPT

Be sure to submit a Travel Permission or I-20 Update Request form to the OISS through the OISS Portal prior to your trip in order to obtain a new Form I-20. To access this form, log in the OISS Portal under "Limited Services for Students & Scholars."

If USCIS approves your OPT application, you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the U.S. Whether you ask someone to mail the EAD to you is within your discretion, but keep in mind that if your EAD gets lost you must file a new OPT application and fee.

If you exceed the limits on unemployment while outside the U.S., you will not be eligible to re-enter the United States in F-1 status.

The first four documents listed below are required for reentry while your OPT is pending. If your OPT has been approved, you should be prepared to present all of the documents listed below.

  • Form I-20 with travel endorsement signature on page 2 dated less than 6 months before your reentry
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Passport valid for 6 months beyond your reentry
  • Form I-797C receipt notice
  • Form I-797 approval notice and/or Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Proof of employment. If you do not have a job offer, be prepared to present evidence that you are actively seeking employment, and that you have not exceeded the limits on unemployment.

 

Travel & Visa FAQs


  I've already left the U.S. and I forgot my I-20, or I forgot to obtain a travel signature before departing. What should I do?

Time permitting, OISS can send you a new I-20 with a travel signature on it. Go to the OISS portal at oiss.pepperdine.edu to fill out a Travel Permission form and select "eShipGlobal courier" as the delivery option. You are responsible for making a shipping label and paying for it.

If there isn't time to receive your new I-20 in time, it is possible that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer can issue you a Form I-515A. It is up to the officer's discretion and will not always be issued. This form will give you temporary admission into the United States for 30 days. If you receive a Form I-515A, you should immediately report to OISS so your DSO can assist you to resolve this issue in order to maintain your F-1 Status. You will need to mail the necessary documents within 30 days of your entry date, or your F-1 Status may be terminated.

  While traveling, my passport and I-20 were misplaced/stolen. What should I do?

If you have lost your passport, the first step you should take is to contact your country's embassy or consulate in order to ask them how to obtain a new passport. If your I-20 has also been lost or stolen, you should contact OISS immediately to request a replacement I-20. Once you get a new passport and I-20, you will have to go to the U.S. embassy or consulate to make an appointment for a new F-1 visa, which is necessary to reenter the U.S.

  I have already left the U.S. and I realized my Form I-20 has an expired travel signature on it. What should I do?

Time permitting, OISS can send you a new I-20 with a travel signature on it. Go to the OISS portal at oiss.pepperdine.edu to fill out a Travel Permission form and select "eShipGlobal courier" as the delivery option. You are responsible for making a shipping label and paying for it.

If there isn't time to receive your new I-20 in time, it is possible that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer can issue you a Form I-515A. It is up to the officer's discretion and will not always be issued. This form will give you temporary admission into the United States for 30 days. If you receive a Form I-515A, you should immediately report to OISS so your DSO can assist you to resolve this issue in order to maintain your F-1 Status. You will need to mail the necessary documents within 30 days of your entry date, or your F-1 Status may be terminated.

   What does a visa denial under INA section 221(g) mean?

A visa denial under section 221(g) of the INA means that the consular officer did not have all of the information required to determine if you are eligible to receive a visa. This means you are not eligible for the visa now, but your case is pending further action for one of the following reasons:

  • Your application is incomplete and/or further documentation is required - Applicants whose application forms or other documentation are incomplete are refused. If further documents are required to complete your case, you will be informed what is needed and how to provide it to the embassy or consulate. You will also be given a letter stating your application has been denied under 221(g) and listing which documents you need to provide. You have one year from the date you were refused a visa to submit the additional information. Otherwise, if you do not provide the required additional information within one year, you must reapply for the visa and pay another application fee.
  • Administrative processing - Further administrative processing of your application is required before a decision can be made regarding your eligibility for a visa. You will be given a letter stating this and next-step instructions after the administrative processing is complete. Processing times can vary based on individual circumstances. For more information, review Administrative Processing.

   What does a visa denial under INA section 214(b) mean?

 A visa denial under section 214(b) means that you:

  • Did not sufficiently demonstrate to the consular officer that you qualify for the nonimmigrant visa category you applied for; and/or
  • Did not overcome the presumption of immigrant intent, required by law, by sufficiently demonstrating that you have strong ties to your home country that will compel you to leave the United States at the end of your temporary stay. (H-1B and L visa applicants, along with their spouse and any minor children, are excluded from this requirement.)

  What are considered strong ties to my home country? 

While conducting visa interviews, consular officers look at each application individually and consider the applicant's circumstances, travel plans, financial resources, and ties outside of the U.S. that will ensure the applicant's departure after a temporary visit. Applicants for a student visa, for example, must establish to the consular officer's satisfaction that their stay in the U.S. will be temporary and for the sole purpose of completing a program of study. 

  What does a denial under INA section 212(a)(9)(B)(i) mean? 

A visa denial under section 212(a)(9)(B)(i) means that you were considered to have been unlawfully present in the U.S. because:

  • You stayed in the U.S. after your failure to maintain lawful visa status or after the expiration date for the period of stay authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) without the required authorization to extend your stay; or
  • You entered and were present in the U.S. without receiving the required authorization from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

When denied a visa for unlawful presence, you are ineligible for a visa for the following length of time:

  • When unlawfully present in the U.S. for 180 days or longer but less than one year, you are ineligible for a visa for 3 years after departure from the United States; or
  • When unlawfully present in the U.S. for one year or longer, you are ineligible for a visa for 10 years after departure from the United States.