Important Travel Advisory

While we strive to provide updated, factual information to the University community, we cannot provide legal advice or otherwise interpret the law. Individuals seeking legal advice should consult the immigration attorney of their choice.

Additional resources:

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs

NAFSA, Association of International Educators Advisory


Travel Abroad and Re-entry Information
For F and J visa Holders

Required Documents to Re-Enter the U.S.


  • Valid Passport - valid at least 6 months from the reentry date
  • Valid F-1 visa or J-1 visa in the passport
    • If F-1 visa is expired, you will need to renew it at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate (preferably in your home country) before returning to the U.S.
  • Valid I-20 with travel signature on page 3 (signature must be obtained within the last 12 months for currently enrolled students and within the last 6 months for post-completion OPT or 17-month OPT extension)


  • Valid DS-2019 with travel signature on page 1 (signature must be obtained within the last 12 months for students enrolled in a program of study and within 6 months for students on OPT/STEM OPT)

RECOMMENDED (have these documents available in case they are requested):

  • Proof of enrollment (Official Transcripts)
  • Information on any medications you are carrying with you during your travel

Travel During OPT:

An F-1 who travels outside the U.S. while engaged in post-completion OPT can be readmitted to resume employment for the remainder of the period authorized on the EAD card. To reenter, student must present EAD card, in addition to Form 1-20 (endorsed by DSO within preceding 6 months) and valid passport and visa. A letter of employment is recommended.

Additional guidelines:

  • Students currently enrolled who are on pre-completion OPT or are in their final term of study and pending OPT authorization must follow the guidelines for currently enrolled students.
  • Students who completed their program of study and who received their OPT cards must present the REQUIRED documents above along with their EAD card and (strongly recommended) proof of employment or employment offer.
  • Students with pending OPT applications are advised to wait until their OPT cards are approved before planning to travel abroad, and should consult with ISSS before leaving the U.S.

General Travel Tips

  • Before leaving the U.S., make sure that your I-20 reflects your current academic plan (major/program of study) and the funding sources listed on the I-20 are still accurate. If changes need to be made on the I-20 or DS-2019, you must request an updated I-20 from ISSS at least five business days prior to your departure date.
  • If you are traveling to or through an airport in a country other than your home country, check to see if you need a special visa to do so.
  • When passing through U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), make sure that your passport is correctly stamped F-1, D/S or J-1, D/S (for dependents, F-2, D/S and J-2, D/S). This will be the only proof that you entered the U.S. in the correct visa status.
  • Let ISSS know immediately if you are having difficulties during your visa renewal or when entering the U.S. (at CBP).
  • After returning to the U.S., please bring a copy of your new I-94 (you can print this at to ISSS along with copies of renewed visa or passport (if applicable).
  • Make sure that your I-20 reflects the academic plan (major/program of study) that you are pursuing. If you officially change your academic plan, you will need to be issued a new I-20 stating the new academic plan.
  • Always check the program completion date on your I-20 (under item #5) or DS-2019 (under item #. If the completion date is coming up and you will not be completing your program by that date, visit ISSS for information on Program Extension.
  • If you are a Graduate Teaching or Research Assistant, please inform your department of your plans to travel abroad and expected return date. Make sure that your department is aware of your return date, especially in the case when you must apply for a visa renewal and you anticipate delays in visa processing.

Visa Renewal

If your F-1 or J-1 visa expires while you are in the U.S. or if you changed to F-1 or J-1 status from another nonimmigrant status, you must obtain a new F-1 or J-1 visa the next time you travel abroad in order to reenter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status. Visa application information can be found at For specific application procedures, visit the website of the consular post where you plan to renew your visa.

Automatic Visa Revalidation

F and J visa holders who have previously obtained an F or J visa at a U.S. consular post abroad, but whose visa validity period has expired, may travel for a visit of 30 days or less to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands in the Caribbean (except Cuba) without having to obtain a new visa prior to reentering the U.S. For complete information visit this web page:

A valid passport with the previously issued visa, a valid I-20 or DS-2019, and a valid travel signature (issued within the last 12 months) are still required for re-entry to the U.S. Similarly, F-1 visa holders on OPT must follow OPT travel guidelines.

If you choose to apply for an F or a J visa in Canada or any other country covered by automatic revalidation, you must obtain that new visa in order to return to the U.S. Automatic revalidation does not apply if you seek to renew your visa in that country. T

Travel during special circumstances:

Transfer: If you have maintained F-1 status and are transferring to FAU from another institution, you may travel before you start your program. However, you will need to re-enter the U.S. using your new FAU I-20 for the new degree program. You may use your existing F-1 visa if it is still valid on the day of entry. Your new I-20 will say either transfer pending (if coming from another institution) or initial (if changing degree levels between FAU programs, such as from bachelor’s to master’s). You do not need a travel signature on page 3 as you are returning to the U.S. to begin a new program.

Optional Practical Training: An individual in F-1 status who travels outside the U.S. while engaged in post-completion OPT  may leave and re-enter the U.S. to resume employment for the remainder of the period authorized on the EAD card. To re-enter, you must present EAD card, in addition to Form 1-20 (endorsed by DSO within preceding 6 months) and valid passport and visa. A letter of employment is recommended.

Academic Training (AT): prior to traveling on AT, a J-1 status individual will need to travel with the following documents:

  • A valid passport with valid J-1 visa stamp the day of entry
  • Form DS-2019, endorsed by FAU International Office within the preceding 6 months
  • Proof of employment (or employment offer), usually in the form of a letter from your employer on official letterhead business stationary.

Pending Change of Status Application: Travel during this time is not recommended, as it will be viewed as abandoning your status.

Approved Change of Status: You may travel with the required documents; however, you must obtain a visa for your new status prior to reentering the U.S.

Students Traveling Abroad to Restart F-1 status:

If you are currently out-of-status and plan to travel abroad, you must to meet with an ISSS advisor for appropriate immigration advising.

You must obtain a new I-20 issued for “Initial Attendance” under a new SEVIS number (record) even if you may have a valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport.

If restarting during a summer semester (summer term entry date on I-20), you are required to enroll full-time for the summer semester (minimum of 12 credit hours for undergraduate students; minimum of 6 credit hours for graduate students).

Upon reentry, you must report to ISSS with your passport, new I-94 record, and I-20 in order for ISSS to document and confirm restart of your F-1 status.


Taking a cruise is considered exiting the U.S., so you must travel with all your valid travel documents. If you take a cruise during the grace period, please note that you will be unable to reenter as an F-1 or J-1.

Alerts and Travel Notices

FAU is closely monitoring the Ebola situation and complying with recommendations from the Florida Dept. of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has issued Travel Health Notices informing travelers to avoid nonessential travel to the following countries:

Liberia Guinea Sierra Leone

Florida Atlantic University is committed to supporting the comprehensive efforts underway to help contain and end the Ebola virus disease outbreak in parts of West Africa.  The CDC has issued guidance on steps universities can take to help support those efforts.  The following is an excerpt from information provided by the CDC.  For additional information, visit: also the Florida Department of Health at:

Grace Period

Following completion of program, an F-1 student may remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days and a J-1 may remain in the U.S. for up to 30 days. During this time, you cannot exit and reenter, take classes, or continue employment.

During the 60 day grace period, F-1’s may:

  • Prepare to depart the U.S.
  • Travel within the U.S.
  • Obtain new I-20 for a new degree level for a program beginning within 5 months of completion of previous program of study
  • Transfer out to another school
  • Apply for Post Completion OPT

During the 30 day grace period, J-1’s may:

  • Prepare to depart the U.S.
  • Travel within the U.S.
  • Begin academic training (if authorized)

Additional Resources

US Department of Homeland Security: Travel FAQ -

Department of State

Print I-94 -

 Last Modified 9/27/19