Travel Outside of the US
If you are planning on departing for the Winter Break, you will need to start preparing now, we can help with necessary travel signatures on your I-20, but the decision is yours and yours alone. Know the risks first associated with personal travel, not only the primary risk to you but also to your surrounding family, roommates, and friends.
There are logistical risks to consider before purchasing tickets or departing from the U.S. Over the last several weeks there has been a slight easing of border restrictions and airlines are gradually adding more international flights. *If you are a student who needs to renew the U.S. visa with a face-2-face interview at your home country U.S. Embassy, you may not receive a visa interview date for you to return to the U.S. Even if you receive a visa interview date, it may get cancelled 1-2 days before your interview date, and you may be stuck until the pandemic is over to return to the U.S. We currently have students who are not able to secure a U.S. visa appointment date to return to the U.S. and this is been ongoing since the pandemic started in January for some countries. If infection rates increase again over the winter (as projected) it’s certainly possible that travel back to the U.S. could again become difficult, expensive or even may not be possible.
U.S. Department of State and U.S. Customs and Border Protection can function anyway possible to protect the United States and it is out of anyone’s control. If the COVID-19 numbers are high the President of the United States may issue new proclamations preventing students from returning to the U.S. If you do find yourself unable to travel back to the U.S. by the start of the spring 2021 term you may not be able to receive support as a TA, GA, or RA, or other scholarships if applicable. It would be important to evaluate that risk and have a backup plan in place before you embark on your travel.
If you plan to leave the U.S. for any reason, you must have the following documents in order beforehand in order to be able to return to the U.S.:
- Valid Passport: Your passport should be valid for up to 6 months before the date of your planned re-entry. You can usually renew your passport at your country’s embassy in the U.S. For a list of foreign embassies in the U.S., go to State Department, click on “Countries and Regions,” and then “Foreign Embassies in the U.S.”
- Valid Visa (the multicolored stamp in your passport): If your visa has expired and you are traveling outside of North America (Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands) you must renew your visa to return to the U.S. IMPORTANT: Do not re-enter on a visa other than your J or F visa! As of August 1, 2003, interviews are required for most non-immigrant visa applications. Procedures vary for each consulate, so be sure to check with your U.S. Consulate or Embassy for specific procedures. In some cases, you will not need an interview for visa renewal, but you should still expect a long processing time. Please plan accordingly so that you can return in time for classes.
- Valid I-20 (F students) or DS-2019 (J students and scholars): You must have a valid I-20 or DS-2019 with a valid travel signature from one of UHV’s DSOs (found on page 3 on the I-20 form and on the lower right-hand corner of page 1 on the DS-2019). Once signed, the travel signature is effective for one year after the date of the signature. You will need a new I-20 if you have recently had a change in financial support, degree, field of study, or graduation date.
- I-94 form: Since 2014, your I-94 information is endorsed electronically. Once you return, remember to print a new I-94 from Customs and Border Protection
- We recommend that you take an official copy of your transcript with you when you travel. It will demonstrate that you are enrolled full time and that you are a successful student.
- Course Registration for the next semester: Make sure you register for the next semester’s courses before requesting your official transcript so that they show up on your record. It is helpful to have evidence of course registration when re-entering the U.S.
- If you would like a letter for travel purposes or to verify your enrollment please contact the International Programs Office with your UHV ID and reason for requesting the letter. IPO will issue an Enrollment Verification Letter in 1-2 business days.
Optional Practical Training Students
If you have completed your studies, you should NOT travel while waiting for your EAD card (Employment Authorization Document). Once you receive your EAD card, it is still very risky to travel while on OPT. You might not be allowed re-entry because your academic program is completed. OPT students must have a job offer to re-enter the U.S.
Travel Within the U.S.
All students: It is recommended that students carry all of their immigration documents with them even when traveling domestically within the U.S.