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Documents for Travel

If you are planning to travel outside the United States, you need to plan accordingly and take the proper documentation with you to allow for an easier re-entry into the U.S. If you have a question about travel, always ask OISSS before you travel outside the United States. Be aware that ultimately the decision for your re-entry into the United States is made by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent.

For F-1 and J-1 students currently studying

Required documentation:

  • Valid passport
    • Needs to be valid for at least 6 months after your return date
  • Valid visa
    • If you have an expired visa stamp, then you will need to consult the Visa Renewal page for more information.
    • Not required for Canadian citizens
  • Travel endorsed I-20 or DS-2019
    • For I-20: needs to have a valid travel signature on the 2nd page from the past 12 months
    • For DS-2019: needs to have a valid travel signature on the 1st page from the past 12 months

Recommended documentation:

  • Contact information for OISSS during work hours or Bradley University Police after work hours
  • Evidence of current student enrollment
  • Evidence of financial resources to show funds to cover expenses
  • Evidence of SEVIS (I-901) Fee Payment

For F-1 students currently on OPT/STEM

Required documentation:

  • Valid passport
    • Needs to be valid for at least 6 months after your return date
  • Valid visa
    • If you have an expired visa stamp, then you will need to consult the Visa Renewal page for more information.
    • Not required for Canadian citizens
  • Travel endorsed I-20
    • Needs to have a valid travel signature on the 2nd page from the past 6 months
  • Valid Employment Authorization Document
    • This is the card you received when your OPT or STEM extension was approved
  • Letter of employment
    • Should verify employment start date and confirm continuation of work upon return

Recommended documentation:

  • Contact information for OISSS during work hours or Bradley University Police after work hours
  • Evidence of past student enrollment
  • Evidence of financial resources to show funds to cover expenses
  • Evidence of SEVIS (I-901) Fee Payment

For F-1 students with a pending OPT application

OISSS does not recommend that you travel if you have a post-completion OPT application or STEM extension OPT application pending with USCIS. Traveling while you have an OPT application pending with USCIS should be taken with extreme caution and there is a greater risk of denial when attempting to re-enter the U.S. If you decided to travel while your OPT application is pending, and your OPT application is approved while you are abroad, you will be expected to have your EAD in hand when you re-enter the United States.

If you decide to risk traveling while your OPT application is pending, you should have the following documents with you:

  • Valid passport
    • Needs to be valid for at least 6 months after your return date
  • Valid visa
    • If you have an expired visa stamp, then you will need to consult the Visa Renewal page for more information.
    • Not required for Canadian citizens
  • Travel endorsed I-20
    • Needs to have a valid travel signature on the 2nd page from the past 6 months
  • Proof of visa eligibility
    • If OPT application is not approved, Form I-797 receipt notice
    • If OPT application is approved, valid Employment Authorization Document
  • Letter of prospective employment
    • Should verify employment start date and confirm work offer upon approval of OPT
    • If you have an OPT application pending, you may not have an employment letter yet, however, the CBP agent may still ask for proof of your employment

Need a travel endorsement?

  • If you are in the Peoria area, stop by our office with your I-20 or DS-2019 and we can sign your document for travel.
  • If you are not in the Peoria area, send an email to OISSS with your SEVIS ID number and mailing address. We will then print a travel I-20 or DS-2019 and mail it to the requested address.
    • Since regular USPS can take up to two weeks to reach you and does not have a tracking number, we recommend that you request a travel I-20 or DS-2019 about 4 weeks before your departure date.
    • If you need your I-20 or DS-2019 quickly, please see the express shipping instructions.

Reminders

  • When traveling, you should always keep your important documents with you or in your carry-on luggage, never in your checked bag.
  • If you are currently studying, you should always return to campus before the start of each term. You can see when classes begin on the academic calendar.
  • If you are on OPT, you should have both your EAD that shows OPT approval and a job shown by an offer letter; if you are missing either of these then you are assuming a risk while traveling.
  • If you are on your grace period following your study or training, you cannot re-enter the United States on your F or J visa.
  • While it is never recommended to try to re-enter with an expired visa, if you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean for less than 30 days, you may be able to re-enter the U.S. even with an expired visa due to “automatic revalidation”.
  • If you travel without a travel endorsed I-20 or DS-2019, the CBP officer may use their discretion to issue you a Form I-515A which will allow you temporary admission into the U.S. If you receive this form, you need to visit OISSS within 15 days of your return as additional steps will be needed to process the I-515 Form.