Travel within the U.S.
You may travel freely within the U.S. provided you maintain your lawful F-1 status and have a valid passport, I-20 and I-94 in your possession.
Travel outside the U.S.
Students often travel home for holidays and during the summer breaks. Prior to leaving the U.S., preferably about the same time you are making your travel arrangements, you need to check the following:
- Your passport must be valid for the date you intend to return to the U.S. and at least 6 months after that date.
- Your visa must be valid for reentry.
- Your I-20 must be valid.
- Your I-20 has been signed within 6 months of your departure date.
- Carry a copy of your official MCC transcript with you.
- You should check with the consulate of the country you wish to visit to determine if you need a visa for entry.
Passport Renewal Information
If you need to renew your passport, contact the consulate or embassy representing your home country in the U.S., or the appropriate authorities in your home country.
Visa Renewal Information
What documents do I need to renew my visa? Check the website http://travel.state.gov/ to see exactly what documents, including forms and photos, you need to bring to the consulate.
F-1 students and F-2 dependents need (or may need - officers do not always ask for all these documents):
- SEVIS I-20 from MCC, with a recent travel signature
- Any I-20's previously issued by the MCC and any other U.S. school attended before enrolling at MCC
- Official transcript of F-1's academic record
- Evidence of F-1's financial support (bank statement, letter, family bank statement, etc.)
- If engaged in OPT, also take current EAD (dependents should take photocopy) and a letter from OPT employer stating you are working there under the terms of Optional Practical Training
How long will it take me to get a new U.S. visa?
It depends on your situation. But now, more than ever, all students are advised to go to the consulate to renew their visas at the earliest possible opportunity to avoid possible delays. Ask for a visa "renewal" appointment. Do not wait until the end of your stay abroad. If you know you will be required to appear in person at the consulate, try to make an appointment with the consulate even before you leave the U.S. Go to http://www.travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/wait-times.html/ for more information.
What if my application for a new visa is denied?
Ask the consular officer to give you a written explanation for the denial. Contact us immediately and supply details about your visa interview. Give us the date and place of the denial and, if possible, the name of the consular officer who issued it. Usually, if it is clear there has been a misunderstanding, or if your documents weren't acceptable to the consul, we can provide the additional information needed to help you get the visa. Sometimes, though, we can do nothing to help. The law concerning visas gives consular officers very wide latitude, so their decisions can seem arbitrary.
Should I apply for a new visa if my old one has not expired yet?
If your current visa will expire next semester, you might want to go ahead and renew it. Many Consulate Offices have an expedited process for renewals.
Temporary absence from the U.S.
You will be considered a returning student after a temporary absence of less than five months provided that your current I-20 contains valid travel signatures that are not more than six months old.
If you have been outside the U.S. for more than five months, you will need new documents (I-20) and you will need to be enrolled for another full academic year before being eligible for optional practical training.
Travel during Optional Practical Training
F-1 visa holders may travel outside the U.S. during their period of OPT. The following documents are needed to re-enter the U.S.:
- The unexpired Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
- I-20 endorsed by international student services within the last six months
- Valid passport with a valid visa
- We recommend you carry an additional letter from your employer acknowledging that you will return after a temporary absence.
If you have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT) but have not yet received the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) from immigration, you should be aware that leaving the U.S. before your OPT application has been processed by immigration may be considered abandoning your application. Also, if you try to re-enter the U.S. and do not have your I-20 signed for travel within the last six months and do not have your EAD card to show as proof that authorization has been granted, you may be denied entry into the U.S. These are some factors to keep in mind when making travel plans.