This section contains information for F-1 and J-1 students who are currently in the U.S. and plan to travel abroad. Prior to leaving the U.S., students are strongly encouraged to visit the ISS office for guidance.
Requirements for Travel
- Your immigration status must be in good standing (must be “in status”).
- Information on your I-20 or DS-2019 must be up-to-date.
- You must have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed for travel by your ISS immigration advisor.
It is recommended that you verify with professors that travel will not interfere with your coursework (if traveling during the semester).
Documents required to travel and re-enter the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 student:
- Active, valid I-20 or DS-2019, which has been signed for travel by your ISS immigration advisor.
- Valid passport, which must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the re-entry date into the U.S. There are some exceptions that may apply that allow citizens of certain countries to re-enter up to the expiration date of the passport. Please verify this information before traveling.
- Valid F-1 or J-1 visa (except Canadian citizens). If your visa is expired, you must apply for the renewal of your F-1 or J-1 visa prior to re-entry into the U.S. Please refer to the Visa Renewal section below for more information. If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean, you may not need to renew your visa. Please refer to the automatic revalidation section for more information.
- Proof of full-time enrollment is recommended, but not required, in the form of a letter from ISS or official Valencia transcript.
- Required entry visa (if necessary) for any countries that you are visiting other than your home country.
VISA RENEWAL OVERVIEW
A valid F-1 or J-1 visa is required to legally enter the U.S. When traveling outside the U.S. with an expired visa, you must apply for the renewal of your visa prior to returning. This process can take some time and will require that you plan ahead. Click here to view visa appointment and processing wait times. Keep in mind that some visa applications may require administrative processing, which can take an additional 60 days.
You are legally allowed to remain in the U.S. even if your F-1 or J-1 visa has expired, as long as you are maintaining your status and meeting all other requirements.
It is highly recommended that you review all of the information under the visa section of your specific embassy’s or consulate’s website. Please click here to find a specific embassy/consulate location. These websites will include local procedures and instructions, how to make a visa interview appointment, and other important information for students and exchange visitors.
Required Documents for Visa Renewal
- Active, valid form I-20 or DS-2019 which has been signed for travel by your immigration advisor
- Official copy of your Valencia College transcript, which can be ordered through Atlas (transcript shows proof of past and future enrollment)
- Financial support documents (bank statement, declaration of support from sponsor, government scholarship letter, etc.)
- Valid passport (valid for a minimum of six months beyond the re-entry date to the U.S.)
- Enrollment letter from ISS
- Visa application Form DS-160, photographs, fees and other embassy/consulate requirements. Click here to apply for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa.
- Any other documents that show strong ties to your home country or demonstrate non-immigrant intent
Applying in a Country in Which You Are Not a Citizen
We recommend that you apply for visa renewal in your country of citizenship. However, if you would like to apply at a U.S. embassy/consulate in a country that is not your country of citizenship, it is highly recommended that you research the specific visa application requirements of that embassy/consulate. Some embassies/consulates will have specific requirements for “third party” applicants. You will need to determine:
a) if the embassy/consulate will accept and consider an application from someone who is not a citizen of that country
b) how long it will take for the visa to be issued, if approved
Automatic Visa Revalidation
The automatic revalidation provision allows individuals in F or J visa status to re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa when traveling to and from a “contiguous territory or adjacent island” for 30 days or less. “Contiguous territory or adjacent island” refers to Canada, Mexico or any of the Caribbean islands, except for Cuba. F or J visa holders must be “in status” in order to benefit from this provision. Please visit the U.S. Department of State’s website for more information about this provision.
Automatic Revalidation does not apply to:
- Citizens of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria
- Students traveling from a contiguous territory or adjacent island to a another country with the intention of re-entering the U.S. through the contiguous territory or adjacent island
- Students who have applied for a visa renewal in a contiguous territory or adjacent island and are awaiting a decision. If the visa application is denied, the individual cannot re-enter under automatic revalidation and must secure a new F or J visa.
Documents Needed to Travel Under the Automatic Revalidation Provision:
- Copy of valid I-94
- Active form I-20 or DS-2019, which has been signed for travel by your ISS immigration advisor
- Valid passport (must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond re-entry date into U.S.)
- Enrollment letter from Valencia’s ISS office
- Copy of automatic revalidation fact sheet (ask your ISS advisor for a copy)
- Any required entry documents for the specific country that you plan to visit (for example, Canada requires many international students to obtain a tourist visa to enter). Please speak with your ISS advisor if you have any questions.