Travel and Re-entry as an International Student

All international students entering the U.S. by air or sea will receive an I-94 stamp in their passport - this stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission (F-1/J-1, etc.), and date that the student is admitted to (i.e. "D/S"). Those entering by land will receive a paper I-94A card.

Before you leave the inspection site after re-entering the U.S., please look at your stamp in your passport/card. If it does not read either "F-1 D/S" (for F-1 students) or "J-1 D/S" (for J-1 students), please go back to the officer and have them change it immediately! This stamp is super important.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR F-1 STUDENTS:  DO NOT TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE U.S. DURING YOUR 60-DAY GRACE PERIOD FOLLOWING THE COMPLETION OF YOUR STUDIES OR POST-COMPLETION OPT UNLESS A) YOU WISH TO DEPART THE U.S., OR B) YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE ARRANGEMENTS TO RETURN TO CONTINUE YOUR STATUS IN THE U.S. (i.e. you have successfully transferred to another U.S. institution or changed levels at your current institution, or you have a valid post-completion OPT EAD card and letter of employment).


Steps you should rake before you travel:

  • Always determine if you will need a visa for countries other than your own BEFORE you travel.
  • Make an appointment with the Assistant Director, International Student Services to discuss your travel plans. This is a crucial first step! She will ask questions to tailor the travel advice to your specific situation.
  • Have the Assistant Director, International Student Services sign your Form I-20 or DS-2019 for travel (signature on Page 2 of your Form I-20, OR signature on Page 1 of your Form DS-2019).
  • Assemble all the appropriate documentation for travel and re-entry:
    • A Valid Passport (at least 6 months into future unless your country has a treaty extension)
    • A Valid F-1/J-1 Visa - unless you are exempt - this applies to Canadians, Bahamians, and Bermudians
    • Valid Form I-94, or stamp in your passport!
    • Form I-20/Form DS-2019 (with valid travel endorsement)
    • OIE Contact Details
    • Champlain College ID Card
    • OPT EAD Card (only if in authorized post-completion OPT)
    • Letter of employment/job offer (only if in authorized post-completion OPT)

Automatic Revalidation of Visa

"Automatic Revalidation of Visa" (or, Neighboring Country Provision) allows nationals of most countries in valid F-1 student status to travel to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands of the Caribbean (other than Cuba) for 30 days or less and re-enter the United States without a valid F-1/J-1 student visa.  This procedure is not available to nationals of Iraq, Cuba, Sudan, Iran, Libya, Syria, or North Korea.

In order to take advantage of this benefit, if you still have a paper I-94, it is important that you do not surrender your I-94 when exiting the U.S.  Make sure that you tell the CBP officer that you will be keeping your I-94 in order to re-enter the U.S.

If you do not have a paper I-94, the inspector at the border will verify your I-94 electronically to revalidate your expired visa if you meet the conditions of automatic revalidation.


  • While exiting and re-entering the U.S. under this provision, you must not apply to renew your student visa in Canada. If you do, you will need a valid F-1/J-1 visa to return to the U.S.
  • If you have violated your F-1/J-1 status and your SEVIS record is in "terminated" status, you are not eligible for this provision.

Travel Around VT and the Rest of the U.S.:

Many students mistakenly feel that since they are not leaving the U.S., they do not need their documents when they travel around the U.S. Remember the U.S. is a large country comprised of individual states with very different law enforcement bodies.

OIE strongly encourages you to carry proof of identity and immigration status when traveling in and outside of Burlington, VT.

Recommended documents for travel within the U.S.:

  • A valid passport
  • A valid Form I-20/DS-2019 (endorsed for travel)
  • Your I-94 card or stamp in your passport!
  • Champlain College ID Card
  • OIE contact details

Travel and OPT - F-1 Students:

  • While you are waiting for your post-completion OPT application to be processed, please do not travel outside the U.S.
  • Only travel outside of the U.S. when you have received both your OPT EAD card and a letter of offer from your OPT employer. The regulations state that you are re-entering the U.S. to "resume employment" - this suggests that you should already have employment before traveling.
  • Required Documents for travel on post-completion OPT:
    • Valid passport
    • Valid F-1 Visa
    • Printed out Form I-94 and stamp in your passport!
    • Form I-20 endorsed on Page 2 (not older than 6 months)
    • EAD Card for OPT
    • Letter from employer (proof of job or job offer)
    • Financials
    • Transcripts
    • Contact details at the bottom of this message


  • Travel during post-completion OPT is generally risky.  Make sure that your documents are valid and in good order before traveling.
  • If your F-1 visa has expired and you are engaging in post-completion OPT, travel is extremely risky. It is very unlikely that your F-1 student visa will be renewed due to the fact that you have completed your program of study and you are returning to work in the U.S. (which is not the purpose of an F-1 student visa).

Renewal of your F-1/J-1 Student Visa:

Entry visas can only be issued outside of the United States.

OIE recommends that you apply for your new visa in your home country.

OIE also strongly encourages you to schedule an appointment in advance with the Assistant Director, International Student Services before you leave the U.S. and also double check the U.S. embassy/consulate website in your country to see if there are other documents that they will require of you.

If your visa is already expired or will expire during the Winter Break while you are away from the US, you will need to renew your visa before re-entering the U.S. to resume your studies. Please make an appointment with the Assistant Director, International Student Services immediately to start the process, get your documents, and discuss your renewal of your visa.

Standard documents necessary for renewal:

  • Valid Passport (at least 6 months beyond the date you plan on re-entering)
  • DS-160 On-line Non-Immigrant Visa Application
  • Current Form I-20/DS-2019 (updated with new finances and endorsed for travel)
  • All previous Forms I-20/DS-2019
  • New proof of funding (dated within the last two months)
  • Transcripts from Champlain College and any other previous institutions
  • Proof of compelling ties to your home country
  • Enrollment Verification Letter from OIE
  • SEVIS I-901 receipt (from your first visa interview)
  • Any previous immigration documents (old passports, etc).
  • Any fees that might apply and receipt for them

Visa Renewal in Canda or Mexico:

Many students wish to travel to Canada or Mexico to apply for a new visa because they are so close to the United States; however, if you are denied a visa in Canada or Mexico, you will not be able to re-enter the U.S.

If you decide to travel to Canada or Mexico you must be prepared to stay at least four (4) days before your visa application will be approved.

If you are a full-time student at Champlain College, and wish to visit Canada or Mexico to apply for a new F-1/J-1 visa, OIE recommends that you contact the American embassy in Canada or Mexico before leaving Burlington to schedule an appointment and to check on the embassy's rules and requirements. See list above for the standard documents to bring with you to the visa interview. Once you are granted a visa, you will be able to return to the U.S.