» Travel Outside the U.S.

This F1 Student Travel Guide provides information for F1 students re-entering the U.S. after traveling abroad. Please contact International Student & Scholar Services in the Center for Global Education if you have any questions prior to leaving the country.

+ - Checklist Before you Travel

  • Travel signature on I-20: Make sure your I-20 has been signed in the travel authorization section within six months of your departure date.
  • Valid passport: Be sure your passport has not expired and that it will still be valid at least six months after the date you plan to re-enter the U.S.
  • Valid visa: Be sure the visa in your passport will still be valid on the date you plan to re-enter the U.S.
  • Visas for other countries: Be sure you have any visas needed to enter countries other than your own that you plan to visit. Go to www.embassy.org for a listing of foreign consulates in the U.S. to see if you might need a visa for the country to which you are traveling.
  • Leave of Absence: If you are taking a leave of absence for one semester or more, please contact ISSS office.

+ - Domestic Travel

When traveling domestically in the United States, it is recommended that you carry your passport, Chapman ID, and California drivers license or identification. The visa stamp in the passport may be valid or expired.

+ - International Travel

To re-enter the U.S. from abroad, you will need the following documents:

  • Valid I-20 form with a travel signature on page 2
  • Valid passport
  • Valid F-1 visa (except Canadian citizens)
  • Optional documents: evidence of financial resources, official Chapman transcript

Note: Always use the most recently issued I-20 form. Students with "initial" or "transfer pending" I-20 can pick up "continued attendance" I-20 at ISSS office.

+ - Visa Renewal Information

Students whose visas have expired and who are re-entering the U.S. after traveling outside the country must renew their visa at U.S. consulate in their country. Check the website (usembassy.state.gov) of the U.S. consulate you will visit to see what documents, including forms and phots, you will need to present.

Note: If your visa has expired but not leaving the country, you are still legal to stay as long as you are maintaining your F1 status.

+ - Travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean - with an expired visa (Automatic Revalidation)

Students in F status can re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands on an expired visa if:

  1. they are returning from a visit of less than 30 days, and
  2. they did not apply for a new visa while outside the S., and
  3. they have with them (a) a valid passport, (b) a copy of I-94, (c) appropriate financial documentation, and (d) a valid I-20 signed for re-entry

Note: The automatic revalidation option is not available to citizens of Iran, Sudan, and Syria.

+ - Travel on Optional Practical Training - Pending status

If your OPT has not been approved yet (your Employment Authorization Document [EAD] card has still not yet been issued by USCIS), and you do not have a job or a job offer, you may leave and then re-enter the U.S. to continue to look for employment. Make sure you have the following documents:
  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the US)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport
  • I-20 (with a travel signature no older than six months)
  • I-765 receipt notice (Form I-797)
The visa stamp requirement does not apply to Canadian citizens. If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa when your OPT application is pending (RISKY), you should also be sure to have your I-765 receipt notice (Form I-797) in addition to the usual documents required for a visa application.

+ - Travel on Optional Practical Training - Approved status

If your OPT has been approved (your EAD card has been issued by USCIS) and you have a job, you may leave and re-enter the U.S. in order to begin or resume employment. If your OPT has been approved and you leave the U.S. before getting a job or a job offer, you may not be able to re-enter the US as an F-1 student! Make sure to have the following documents:
  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the US)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport
  • I-20 (Request from Susan a new one that indicates your employer on page 2)
  • EAD Card
  • Evidence that you already have a job in the US or that you have a job offer
The visa stamp requirement does not apply to Canadian citizens. If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa, you should also be sure to have your EAD card and evidence that you already have a job in the U.S. or that you have a job offer in addition to usual documents required for a visa application.

+ - International Students Studying Abroad

International students at Chapman may participate on a Semester/Academic Year Program, Short Term Travel Course in January or Summer, or a Summer International Internship. In the 2016/2017 academic year, 19 international students participated on a semester abroad or Travel Course! Consider these points as you plan to go abroad:

International students will need to follow all eligibility and deadline requirements to participate.

  1. Research your host country’s visa process thoroughly to make sure that you are following all of the necessary steps to obtain your visa and ensure that you are submitting the necessary paperwork. As a student at a U.S. institution you may be able to apply through the host country’s consulate in the U.S. However, if you plan on applying at the host country’s consulate in your home country, have an understanding of the visa processing time as it may be longer.
  2. Understand your travel throughout the program. If you are studying abroad for a summer, semester, or on a short-term program, you should know which countries you are going to visit and understand the visa process for each country to ensure that you will be visiting them legally.
  3. Make sure that your U.S. visa stays current and active while you are abroad. You will need to be in touch with Susan Sams in the Center for Global Education to make sure that you have submitted all the necessary paperwork for this process.
  4. Follow the F1 Student Travel Guide above to make sure you complete all of the necessary steps.