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Traveling Stipulations for International Students

As an international student, there are a few items you will need to check off before doing any travel.

Travel within the U.S.

You should not be asked for any official travel documents while traveling within the U.S. However, you should carry your passport with your I-94 and your I-20. Your I-94 is proof of legal entry to the U.S.

Travel outside of the U.S.

Before you make your trip to the airport to travel outside of the U.S. make sure you have done the following:

1. Obtained a travel signature

Students wishing to leave the country to travel for any reason must have page 3 of their 1-20 endorsed (signed) by the DSO. Travel signatures are good for one calendar year, or until the completion of your program, whichever comes first. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure that the 1-20 has this signature. The signature is necessary for re-entry into the U.S. but not for leaving it.

2. Ensured you have the following travel documents

Required documents to travel with:

  • Valid Passport: Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months into the future at the time of re-entry to the U.S.
  • Valid F-1 Visa
  • Valid 1-20 with a recent signature from a DSO. Please make an appointment to get your travel signature 2 weeks before you leave the U.S. 
  • Your current EAD if you have graduated and are on OPT.

Optional (but recommended) documents to travel with

  • Evidence of your financial resources
  • Evidence of your student status (e.g. tuition receipts, transcripts or letter of acceptance)
  • Name and contact information of the DSO

Do not put your immigration and travel documents in your checked baggage!

Travel to a 3rd country

If you are traveling to a country other than your home country, you may need a visitor's or transit visa. To find out, visit that country's embassy website and search for the consular section nearest you.

Travel while on OPT

If you are on F-1  Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completion of your studies, you must carry your employment authorization document (EAD), in addition to the required documents listed above, when you travel.

ISP can provide a letter explaining to the port of entry officials that you may re-enter the US with your EAD and I-20 even though the completion date on your I-20 has passed and your EAD says "Not Valid for re-entry." To receive this letter, contact ISP several weeks in advance of your departure.

You should also travel with a letter from your employer.

You must have a travel signature which is valid for 6 months.

*If a student has both an EAD and a job, they should not experience difficulty reentering the U.S. If either of these two conditions is missing, then the student is assuming risk.

*An F-1 visa in a passport does NOT need to be current as long as you do not travel. If you leave the United States and your visa has expired, then you will need to renew your visa to re-enter the U.S. Having a current visa in your passport is not required (but is recommended) to maintain your F-1 student status.

Overseas Study (study abroad)

International students are allowed to study abroad, however, to maintain your F-1 status while studying abroad, you will need to be enrolled in course work at Wheaton College for the duration of your overseas experience.

Useful Travel Resources

The following websites can provide more information about traveling:

US embassies 

Embassies around the World 

Travel Warnings 

Traveler’s Health From the Center for Disease Control