Travel Information

Travel Information

When you received your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019, it had been endorsed for travel on page three. The endorsement is valid for a one year period from the date that it has been signed or until the expiration date of the I-20 or DS-2019, whichever comes first. The expiration date is given on item #3 of the DS-2019 and on item #5 of the I-20. The staff of the Center for Multicultural Affairs suggest you have your SEVIS I-20 signed every six months if you travel out of the country regularly, particularly to Canada.

There are exceptions to the one year validity rule: 

  • On the date you complete your degree or program the endorsement is no longer valid. For students this will be the date of graduation. For scholars this date may be the date you terminate your employment or program within the inviting department.
  •  A new travel endorsement must be obtained for F-1 students on optional practical training (OPT), and J-1 students on academic training after application approval.
  •  If you are academically dropped, suspended, expelled or terminated from the university the endorsement and your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 is no longer valid. If one of these situations applies to you and you travel outside of the U.S., you will need a new I-20 or DS-2019 with “initial entry” on it.
  •  If you are out of the U.S. for over 5 months your I-20 or DS-2019 will no longer be valid for re-entry according to CIS regulations. Please notify the CMA of such prolonged absences so we may give you the best advice for future re-entry into the U.S.

Travel outside the U.S.
F-1 students and all dependents who plan to travel outside of the United States and return to Dickinson State University must bring your I-20 or DS-2019 to the Center for Multicultural Affairs so a DSO can sign it for re- entry into the U.S. Remember to allow a 48 hour processing time.

F-1 and J-1 students and visiting scholars who leave the United States must have the following documents with them to ensure their re-entry:

Valid passport
Valid U.S. visa stamp (except for Canadian citizens)
Valid I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel
Verification of Enrollment (suggested, but not required – you may request one from the Registrar’s Office)

  • If you travel abroad while your OPT is pending, be sure to carry your OPT application receipt and proof of employment in the US in order to return.
  •  If the visa stamp in your passport has expired you will need to have your J document/I-20 endorsed for travel and obtain a “good standing letter” from the ISS office in order to apply for a re-entry visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

F-2 or J-2 spouses and minor children who are not accompanied by student or visiting scholar must have:

Valid passport
Valid U.S. visa stamp (except for Canadian citizens)
Valid separate I-20 or DS-2019
Every time you leave the United States, it is important that you turn in the Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) to an airline representative or Customs Border Protection (CBP) official when leaving the U.S.

(If you are not a citizen of one of these countries then follow the procedures below):

Auto revalidation of visa:
If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands other than Cuba for less than 30 days, you may be eligible to reenter the U.S. without obtaining a visa stamp. If you visit countries outside the United States other than Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean area, you must have a valid F or J visa stamp in your passport to re-enter the United States.
In order to re-enter the U.S. you not only need the expired or valid visa but also a valid passport, an endorsed I-20/DS-2019, a valid I-94 and a Verification of Enrollement from Registrars’ Office to ensure that you retain your I-94 card(s). See the exceptions below.

  • Auto revalidation is cancelled if you choose to apply for a U.S. visa at the U.S. consulate/embassy in one of these countries and are denied.
  •  Citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba are not eligible for automatic revalidation when traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands. Citizens from these countries must have a valid visa before they may re-enter the U.S
  •  If you remain in Canada or Mexico or the Caribbean Islands for 30 days or longer, you must obtain a re-entry visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Your application for a re-entry visa may be the lowest priority and may be denied.

For students under NSEERS Special Registration, please remember to leave enough time for your exit interview at your last port of departure. If you are unsure where to find the immigration office, please ask airport authorities at your designated port of departure.

Travel inside the U.S.
If you are traveling within the U.S., you do not need to have your documents signed for travel but you are required to carry your passport and I-20 or DS-2019 with you at all times.