Traveling Outside the U.S.
Travel to other Countries
The ISSO is available to advise international students regarding what is required to enter the U.S. after travel abroad. The ISSO is not able to assist you understand what is required to enter or apply for visa’s for other countries. Please refer immigration resources for the country to which you are planning to travel.
Review the Department of Homeland Security Aviation Security Enhancements for Select Last Point of Departure Airports with Commercial Flights to the United States. It requires all passengers traveling from, or transiting into, 10 specific overseas airports to place all personal electronic devices (PDE’s) larger than a cell phone or smart phone in checked baggage. The measure will remain in effect indefinitely.
Re-entering the U.S. in F-1 Status
If you plan to travel outside the U.S. and return in F-1 status, you must have the following documents upon re-entry. If you are in J-1 status, visit the Travel in J-1 Status.
- Valid F-1 visa.
- Valid passport with an expiration date that is at least six months beyond the date you want to re-enter the U.S.
- I-20 endorsed by an international student advisor within the last twelve months.
- For OPT students, the above documents plus the OPT EAD and proof of employment.
Note: You may need a visa for the countries you are visiting. Check that country’s tourist information.
In addition to the required documents for re-entry, the ISSO also recommends carrying the following documents to avoid any delays or additional questions at the port of entry:
- Official or unofficial transcripts
- Proof of financial support
- Current course schedule
- Resume and/or CV
- UT Dallas catalog description of your major
- Documentation regarding the reason for your travel abroad
- Any written communication or emails from your professors excusing your absence if you have missed class for your recent travel
If you are missing any of the required documents when you are entering the U.S. you may be allowed to enter the U.S. temporarily. USCIS may issue you a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor.” If you receive an I-515A it is important that you respond in a timely manner. If you do not properly respond, you are at risk for termination.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers have the authority to search any and all electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptops brought into the U.S. at a port of entry. In addition, CBP also has the authority to search the social media accounts of individuals entering the US if deemed necessary.
Application Process for I-20 Travel Endorsement
- Complete a travel endorsement request and submit it to the International Student Services Office (ISSO) with your most recent I-20.
If you are not able to bring your original I-20 and travel endorsement request form to the ISSO you may mail it to:
The University of Texas at Dallas
International Student Services
800 W. Campbell Rd., SSB34
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
- The ISSO will send you an email when the I-20 is ready for pickup, within one business day of submission.You have two options to obtain your endorsed I-20:
- Pick it up in person or e-mail to authorize a friend to pick it up next business day. Provide their full name. You or your authorized person must bring a photo ID.
- Request it be mailed to you via express mail
- If your current I-20 does not reflect your current major, or if you wish to update the financial or dependents portions, you will need to submit a request for a new I-20. Such requests require additional documents and require a processing time of five business days.
Traditionally, upon every arrival to the U.S. a visitor was issued an I-94 Arrival/Departure Record in the form of a white card stamped by a port of entry official. Now many visitors will be told to obtain their I-94 information online. To access the information, the visitor goes to https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94 and completes a brief form requiring information from the visitor’s passport. Both the versions of the I-94 are valid. If after submitting the online form you get an error message, try again using a different format of your name. For example, enter it as it appears in your passport, then as it appears on the U.S. visa. Print a copy of the I-94 for your records. You will need it for a variety of uses, such as obtaining a driver’s license or Social Security card.
If the online information is incorrect or cannot be found, a visitor can obtain a new I-94 at the local Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deferred Inspection office.
The Dallas CBP office is located in D/FW airport Terminal D, Level 1.
3200 East Airfield Drive DFW Airport, TX 75261.
Office hours: M-F 8:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
You must call 972-456-2250 to set an appointment.
In order to enter the U.S. you must have a valid, unexpired visa in your passport. Once inside, visa status takes over. If you are an F-1 or J-1 student and complying with the regulations pertinent to your visa category you are eligible to remain in the U.S. until you reach the end date on your I-20/DS-2019 or until the end of your academic program, whichever comes first. The expiration of the visa in your passport has no effect. Once you leave the U.S., however, you will need a valid, unexpired visa to return. For more information, see the Visa Renewal brochure.
Study Abroad and Student Conference Travel
- Students traveling abroad on University business, such as conferences, workshops, sport competitions, etc. must submit an international travel authorization request and obtain institutional authorization prior to departure. For more information go to: International Risk and Safety
- Students traveling abroad on an Education Abroad program must follow the Education Abroad process and obtain institutional authorization to travel prior to departure. For more information go to: Education Abroad
Automatic Visa Revalidation
You may be eligible to leave the U.S. and re-enter with an F-1 or J-1 U.S. visa that is expired if you meet the following conditions:
- You are in valid F or J status
- You are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands
- You will stay outside the U.S. for less than 30 days
- You have a valid, unexpired I-94
- You are not a citizen of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria
- The purpose of your trip is not to apply for a renewal of your U.S. visa
To use this benefit:
- Tell the port of entry official your intention as you leave the U.S.
- If you were given a white card I-94 the last time you entered the U.S., do not surrender it. You will need to present it to the port of entry official upon re-entry.
Remember, if you apply for a visa renewal while outside the U.S. you are not eligible for this benefit. If you are denied the renewal and your current visa is expired, you will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S.
Absence from the U.S. for more than Five Months (F-1 only)
- To maintain F-1 status, students must be enrolled full-time every long semester and avoid gaps of more than five months between terms.
- If you leave the U.S. for more than five months, your F-1 status will end.
- To re-enter the U.S., you will need an initial attendance I-20 and new visa.
- To be eligible for off-campus employment, you will have to re-establish your eligibility by maintaining full-time enrollment for one academic year even if you met that requirement in your previous status.