F-1 visa holding students are normally eligible to leave the U. S. for temporary trips while they are studying. This can include leaving the U.S. for a conference, to visit family, or to spend summer at home. However, some specific details must be observed when traveling:
1. Be certain to have a valid F-1 visa in your passport upon your return to the U.S. **
2. Be certain that your form I-20 has been endorsed for travel on page two by staff
in your International Student Services office. We recommend that this travel endorsement
be applied within 6 months of your planned trip.
a. Due to meetings and other possible availability issues, please plan to get your I-20 travel signatures at least one week prior to traveling.
b. Please plan to have F-2 spouse/child I-20s signed in addition to the main F-1 student I-20, if the F-2 family members are also traveling.
3. Be certain that your passport will still be valid for at least six additional months into the future upon your return to the U.S. This is a mandatory condition of maintaining legal F-1 status while inside the U.S.
4. Before leaving, check for any possible need for transit visas in other countries as you progress towards your destination.
5. Be prepared with alternate plans in case your travel is unexpectedly disrupted. As we have seen in recent news, new federal travel restrictions can erupt unexpectedly and without warning.
** Automatic Revalidation – for some F-1 visa holders, it is possible to take short term trips to Canada or Mexico (30 days or less), under the Automatic Revalidation program, which recognizes expired F-1 visas in combination with Active I-20s for travel purposes. Find further details here: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/automatic-revalidation.html Note that Automatic Revalidation is available to a limited list of approved countries, always check before attempting to use Automatic Revalidation.