Traveling as an F1-International Student

Contact Us

Office of Admissions
524 West 59th Street
Room L.64.00
New York, NY 10019

For questions about
obtaining F-1 status, please contact:
Elaine Thompson, Designated School Official
524 West 59th Street
Room L.64 NB
New York, NY 10019

Applications, Forms & Information

Fall 2014/Spring 2015 I-20 Application

Changing to F-1 Student Status

F-1 Transfer Release Form

Curricular Practical Training



If you are planning a trip within the United States by car, bus, train or airplane, to U.S. cities near or far, it is essential that you have your passport and visa documents with you.

Therefore, students are urged to be sure to have their passport, visa documents (I-94 card and SEVIS I-20), and John Jay  College student ID card with them for ALL distance travel, even travel within New York State. In addition, be sure that your current I-20 has an authorizing signature for travel. Signatures are good for one year, however it is advised to get a DSO’s signature every time you travel.



In order to re-enter the United States, your passport MUST be valid at least six months into the future. Passports may be renewed at your country's embassy or consulate in the United States.

* SEVIS I-20

You should be traveling using your most recently issued SEVIS I-20. However, be sure to save all of your previous SEVIS I-20s, as they represent your immigration “history” in the United States.

The SEVIS I-20 has to be signed for traveling on page 3 by a DSO.
Once your SEVIS I-20 has been signed, it is valid for travel for one year, as long as you are registered full time each semester and all information on your SEVIS I-20 remains the same.

****Lately immigration officers at the airport ask students for their Initial SEVIS I-20, Continuing attendance SEVIS I-20 and also proof of the SEVIS fee payment.****


Check your U.S. visa stamp inside your passport. Has your visa stamp expired? If it is still valid, is it for multiple entry, or has the entry been used up? Finally, is the category for which the visa was issued the status you currently hold (for example, if your visa is F-2, are you currently in F-2 status or did that status change after you entered the United States)? If you are in F-1 status and traveling to Canada, Mexico, or islands adjacent to North America, you do not need a valid U.S. visa as long as you have been maintaining your status, have a valid passport and I-20 and are entering those countries for tourist purposes and your stay will be thirty days or less (you DO need a valid U.S. visa if you are a citizen of Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, or Cuba). However, travel to all other countries will require that you have a valid U.S. visa before you may re-enter the United States. This is especially true if you changed your non-immigrant status while in the United States (for example, changed from F-2 to F-1). This will mean applying for a new visa at the U.S. consulate in the country you will visit.


If you are visiting a country other than your own, you may need a visitor’s visa to enter. You can find out about entry requirements for other countries by visiting


For travel to Canada or Mexico, first check with your Embassy to see if a tourist visa will be required to enter either country. You will need to have your passport, visa documents (I-94 card and I-20), and John Jay College student ID card with you when you travel, and be certain that your I-20 has an authorizing signature for travel. Canada now requires tourist visa applications to present a letter from their school's international student office, verifying their status as a student.

In 2002, The U.S. Department of State announced new rules for non-immigrants who use the "automatic revalidation of visa" benefit [22 CFR 41.112(d)] to re-enter the United States after a 30-day or less visit to a "contiguous territory" (Canada, Mexico, and, in the case of F non-immigrants, the "adjacent islands other than Cuba") without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry. To qualify for this privilege, you must:
1. Presently be in valid F-1 student
2. Have a valid SEVIS I-20 in your possession, which has been signed for travel
3. Have a valid SEVIS I-94 card with you (do NOT surrender it when you leave the U.S.)
4. Have a valid passport
5. Be in one of the contiguous territories or adjacent islands for less than thirty (30) days

If you have any additional questions, please make an appointment to speak to a DSO.