Travel and Visa
Reentry Into the U.S.
Be prepared to present the following items at the port of entry into the U.S.:
I-20 (F-1 Students) With Valid Travel
Valid U.S. Visa
An exception to the rule requiring a valid, unexpired visa exists for students in F-1 and J-1 status who travel for less than 30 days solely to Canada or Mexico or islands in the Caribbean except Cuba. Your visa will be considered to be "extended" (and "converted" to the proper visa category if you had changed status while in the U.S.) to the date of re-entry, eliminating the need to obtain a new visa at a U.S. consulate before that particular re-entry. This procedure is known as "automatic visa revalidation." Note that if you apply for a new visa while in Canada, Mexico and islands in the Caribbean, you will not be able to return to the U.S. unless the visa is granted. Also, citizens of Iran, Syria, and Sudan are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation.
Current Class Schedule
New Students for initial entry: bring a copy of proof of admission to the SBU.
SEVIS I-901 Fee Receipt
Travel Within the United States
Federal law requires you and your dependents that you carry "registration" documentation at all times. This includes a basic identity document such as a passport, plus your current I-20 and I-94 card. If you are traveling within the U.S. you should carry these documents with you. If you are traveling by air, train, bus, or ship, you may be required to produce these documents before boarding. Keep photocopies of all your documents in a separate location, in the event your documents are lost or stolen.
Entry Into Another Country
Before you leave the United States, contact the consulate of the country to be visited to inquire about visa and travel procedures. If you plan to visit Canada, contact the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles to determine if you need a visa to enter Canada.
Travel After Completion of Studies
SBU does not provide J1:
Travel and OPT
Before graduation, if your post-completion OPT application is pending, you may travel and reenter the U.S.
After graduation, if your post-completion OPT has been approved and your EAD issued, you may not reenter the U.S. unless you have evidence of employment. You should carry the following documents with you:
Travel Signature Requirement
You should get a travel signature from an ISA prior to international travel!
How To Obtain a Travel Signature
In Anaheim and Los Angeles Areas
From Outside the Anaheim and Los Angeles Areas:
The International Student Services (ISS) office is closed on weekends and federal holidays. If you have an emergency travel need when the ISS is closed, go ahead and depart the U.S. The travel signature is required for returning to the U.S. It is not required for leaving the U.S. You can contact an ISA when the office reopens to coordinate obtaining a travel signature.
Travel to Canada
If you plan to visit Canada you might need a visitor visa. Check the Canadian Consulate's website to see if you need a visitor visa and if so, how to apply. Plan ahead, as processing can take approximately one month or longer. Applications are accepted online or by mail.
Citizens of many countries might also be required to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) when applying for a visitor visa to Canada.
You must have a valid travel signature on your current I-20 or DS-2019 before you apply for a Canadian visa. Drop-off your I-20 or DS-2019 at the ISS office to get a travel signature. There is a one day turnaround to process the travel signature, so please plan ahead.
Transit through Canada
You might need a visa to transit through Canada even for a short stop in flight elsewhere. Check the Canadian Consulate's website to see if you need a visa to transit Canada.
I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
What is an I-94 record?
Your travel in and out of the U.S. is recorded electronically by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) through the I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. This important record lists your entry date, port of entry, and visa status in which you were admitted to the U.S. The I-94 record may be required as proof of status for F-1 benefits applications, employment verification, and other official purposes.
When you travel through an air or sea port into the U.S. usually you will receive an F-1 stamp in your passport. You can use the information in this stamp to access and print your electronic I-94 record. Students who come through a border crossing will still receive a paper I-94 card. (Historically, the paper I-94 card was issued to all students and always stapled into your passport when you entered the U.S. The shift to electronic I-94 records began May 2013). If you receive a paper I-94 card, keep the card stapled into your passport at all times.
How do I access my electronic I-94 record?
After you arrive in the U.S., you should print a paper copy of your electronic I-94 card record from the Customs and Border Protection website. It's important to check that your electronic travel record is accurate and accessible. Keep the I-94 record paper copy with your other immigration documents.
What if there is a mistake on my electronic I-94 record?
Sometimes CBP officers make errors in students' electronic I-94 records. Some errors, especially those regarding visa type or date of expiration, can be harmful to your immigration status. If you see an error on your electronic I-94 record, it may be possible to have it corrected. Contact an ISA immediately if you notice an error.
What happens to my I-94 record when I leave the country?
If you have a paper I-94 card, that card will be removed from your passport when you exit the country to go overseas, but not if you exit the country to go to Canada, Mexico, or most islands in the Caribbean. A new I-94 record will be issued when you reenter the country. If you have an electronic I-94 record, your departure information will be collected by the U.S. government from airline manifests; under these circumstances, nothing will be collected from you. If you have an electronic I-94 record, but leave the U.S. by a border crossing, Customs and Border Protection recommends that you take other proof of your exit with you.
How can I get more information on I-94 records?
If you have questions about your I-94 record, or want to share an experience you’ve had with the new electronic I-94 system, please feel free to contact ISA. If you want more information regarding the electronic I-94 system, please check the CBP website.
The link below will take you to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website of frequently asked travel questions.
Please go to USICE FAQs
We advise students to prepare for taking a cruise in the same way that you would for international travel. Continuing students should carry:
Although the cruise may not have a planned stop at an international port, it may travel through international water, or it might need to make an unscheduled stop for mechanical reasons. Good preparation will ensure you are able to board the ship and return to the United States smoothly.