Fall 2021 Travel Reminders (12/9/2021)

Dear Student, 

We know that many of you are planning and are considering travelling outside the United States over the upcoming Holiday break later this month. 

Please see an important update from the CDC for all International Air Travelers Destined for the United States: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel/index.html

As of Monday December 6, 2021, all air passengers eligible for entry into the United States, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States with limited exceptions or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days. More details on this requirement for all non-immigrant travelers is available here: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

In addition to the above, please be reminded that you are required to have the following documents with you to return to the U.S.: 

Travel Documents:

  • You must get a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 at least one week before your trip by emailing icenter@iit.edu a Replace/Correct form found here  
  • Previous travel signatures on your I-20s are valid for one year for continuing students or six months if you are on Optional Practical Training (F-1 Students) or Academic Training (J-1 Students);
  • You must have an unexpired F-1 or J-1 visa stamp to re-enter the U.S.;
  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months when you return to the U.S.

Thank you, 

The International Center. 

Fall 2021 Travel Reminders (11/29/2021)

Hello Students,

We hope your Fall Semester is wrapping up well.

We know that many of you are planning and are considering travelling outside the US over the upcoming Holiday break coming up in December. 

We would like for you to keep the following in mind as you consider international travel:

Travel Documents:

  • You must get a travel signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 at least one week before your trip by emailing icenter@iit.edu a Replace/Correct form found here  
  • Previous travel signatures on your I-20s are valid for one year for continuing students or six months if you are on Optional Practical Training (F-1 Students) or Academic Training (J-1 Students);
  • You must have an unexpired F-1 or J-1 visa stamp to re-enter the U.S.;
  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months when you return to the U.S.

Future Travel Considerations/Restrictions:

  • As the world continues to respond to the different variants of the on-going pandemic, please keep in mind that there could be travel restrictions imposed at any time limiting entry into the U.S.; therefore, we strongly encourage all students to keep track of any and all requirements required to return to the U.S. via their airlines, and also through the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website, and the Department of State’s website

Thank you,

The International Center.

Travel Within the United States

For travel within the United States, we suggest you carry your immigration documents in a safe place: valid passport, I-94 card/printout, I-20/DS-2019/copy of I-797 approval.

If you travel to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands, you are not required to carry a valid visa unless you travel to other countries while going to, or coming from, those locations; you will, however, need to carry your valid immigration documents.

Traveling Abroad

If you are an international student in F-1 or J-1 status, you and your dependents need the following documents to re-enter the United States and resume studies or Optional Practical Training (OPT)/Academic Training (AT):

  • I-20/DS-2019 with a valid travel signature signed within the last 12 months (if you are a continuing student) or signed within the last six months if on OPT/AT
  • Valid visa stamp
  • A passport that is valid at least six months after the date of your return to the U.S.
  • Evidence of financial support
  • SEVIS (I-901) fee receipt
  • A copy of your current enrollment at Illinois Institute of Technology or proof of employment if on OPT/AT as listed below.

Additional Documents for those OPT/AT:

  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card or Academic Training DS-2019; note: all EAD cards say “not valid for re-entry,” which means that the card alone does not guarantee re-entry
  • Offer letter or proof of employment (recent pay stubs or employment verification letter)

If you are in J-1 status as a short-term scholar, research scholar, or professor, you and your dependents need the following documents to re-enter the United States and resume your activity:

  • DS-2019 with a valid travel signature signed within the last six months (short-term scholar) or 12 months (research scholar or professor)
  • Valid visa stamp
  • A passport that is valid at least six months after the date of your return to the U.S.
  • Letter from your host department confirming your activity at Illinois Institute of Technology

If you are in H-1 status at Illinois Institute of Technology, you and your dependents need the following documents to re-enter the United States and resume employment:

  • Valid passport
  • Original I-797 Approval Notice
  • I-94 card issued for H-1B
  • Recent paystub
  • Current letter of employment
  • Copy of I-129 and Labor Condition Application from the International Center
  • Make sure your addresses are correct in MyIIT. See instructions for updating your address.
  • Drop your I-20/DS-2019 off at the front desk of the International Center and, after two business days, come back to pick it up with the new travel signature.
  • If you don't live in the Chicago area, you may:
    • Ship your I-20/DS-2019 to the International Center (3201 South State Street, Room 106, Chicago, IL 60616). Upon receipt, the I-20/DS-2019 will be signed within two business days. You must complete the shipping request in order to have the signed I-20/DS-2019 shipped back to you.
    • Submit a Replace or Correct I-20/DS-2019 form to the International Center (icenter@iit.edu). Upon receipt, a new I-20/DS-2019 will be generated and signed within two weeks (10 business days). You must complete the shipping request in order to have the signed I-20/DS-2019 shipped back to you

Note: We strongly recommend that you request the travel signature at the time that airline ticket or travel arrangements are made.

You may need a visa to enter Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands as they each have their own immigration systems, as well as individual agreements with countries regarding visas.

Adjacent islands include Saint Pierre; Miquelon; the Dominican Republic; Haiti; Bermuda; the Bahamas; Barbados; Jamaica; the Windward and Leeward Islands; Trinidad; Martinique; and other British, French, and the Netherlands territories or possession in or bordering the Caribbean Sea, except Cuba.

For additional information regarding entry requirements specific to Canada or Mexico, please see the following sources:

Note: For those in H-1B and H-4 status, Automatic Visa Revalidation only applies to travel to Canada and Mexico. A valid visa will be required to return from the adjacent islands.

Re-Entering the United States After a Trip Abroad

Make sure you have all your immigration documents with you to present at port of entry (POE). Do not put any of your immigration documents in checked baggage!

With each new entry, you will receive a new I-94 number (unless you’re utilizing the Automatic Visa Revalidation, as described below). The I-94 is an arrival and departure record that shows that you have been granted admission to the United States. The immigration officer will stamp your passport and return your documents to you and to your dependent(s). It is imperative that you review your stamp in your passport prior to leaving the port of entry to ensure the stamp is legible and accurate—stamped with your status and D/S (F-1/J-1 Status) or the end date of your I-797 if H-1B status. As soon as you can, print I-94 cards for you and your dependent(s), if applicable. Dependent passports should be stamped “F-2/J-2/H-4.” If you lose your I-94 card, you will need reprint it.

If you do not have proper documents, you may be given an I-515A for limited entry. If you receive this, you must speak with an International Center student adviser during the next available walk-in hours or stop by the center's front desk for further assistance. If you can, try your best to avoid getting an an I-515A form.

Remember: Do not put any of documents below in your checked baggage! You must hand carry the following paperwork when you arrive at a United States port of entry: 

  • A valid passport
  • A signed Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status” for F or M nonimmigrants (students or their dependents), or a signed Form DS-2019, “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status” for J nonimmigrants (exchange visitors or their dependents)
  • Evidence of financial support (if you must have a visa, provide whatever information you provided to the U.S. embassy or consulate); review the “Financial Document Guidelines” page for more information
  • Evidence of acceptance by your school or exchange visitor program, such as recent tuition receipts or an acceptance letter
  • Paper receipt for payment of your I-901 SEVIS fee
  • Name and contact information for your designated school official (DSO), including a 24-hour emergency contact telephone number at the school

For more information about entering the U.S., please see the Customs and Border Patrol website.

F-1/J-1 Status

A valid United States entry visa may not be required to re-enter the U.S. if you travel to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands and remain there without traveling to additional countries for less than 30 days. The U.S. entry visa is considered to be automatically extended to the date of re-entry, provided the entry visa has not been canceled.

H-1B and H-4 status

Automatic Visa Revalidation only applies to travel to Canada and Mexico for less than 30 days. A valid visa will be required to return from the adjacent islands. The U.S. entry visa is considered to be automatically extended to the date of re-entry, provided the entry visa has not been canceled.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of State website.

Note: To use Automatic Visa Revalidation, you must have a valid (unexpired) port of entry admission stamp in your passport or paper form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, endorsed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

IC - Port of Entry Stamp
IC - I-94 Sample
IC - Paper I-94 Sample
Change of Status I-94 Sample
  • Automatic Visa Revalidation (AVR) is not available for citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan, or Cuba. This is subject to change if a country is designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (see procedures below to obtain/renew the F/J visa).
  • AVR is not valid if you travel from Canada or Mexico to any other country (for example, China) and return to the United States via Canada or Mexico.
  • AVR will not be available if you apply for a new U.S. visa. If you apply for a visa, it must be approved before you re-enter the U.S. If the visa is denied, you must return to your home country to obtain a new visa. If the visa requires a security check, you must wait until it is issued before re-entering the U.S. You cannot re-enter the U.S. while the visa application is pending.

To apply for a visa abroad, please review the list of documents above to know generally what to carry. The documents required may vary by country, so please inquire at the United States consulate where you will be applying. To obtain general information about visa services and the DS-160 visa application form, please visit the Department of State website.

When applying for a visa you will need to plan ahead and allow plenty of time. Additional security checks are sometimes required and can add 30 days or more to the processing time. See the U.S. Department of State website for visa wait times.

Be prepared to show evidence of the financial resources listed on your I-20/DS-2019. Evidence has to be dated less than six months old and can be in the form of bank statements, a letter from an employer, a letter of financial aid or scholarship, etc.

Warning: If you need a new visa stamp and you travel outside the U.S., you should be aware that you are never guaranteed a new visa to return, especially if you apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate in a country other than your home country. If you have difficulty obtaining a new visa, you should contact an adviser at the International Center. Please be sure to have your visa processing information and any additional information provided to you by the consulate when contacting an IC adviser.

If you want to apply to obtain or renew your F-1/J-1 visa in Canada or Mexico rather than in your home country, you must first find out if the embassy or consulate will accept Third Country Nationals (TCNs). You must also find out and apply for, if needed, a visa to enter Canada or Mexico. Details about making a visa appointment can be found at the following websites:

Check the visa wait times on the United States Department of State’s website.

Be aware that there is no guarantee that you will get a new or renewed visa. A decision will be made at the time of the interview.

Note: If you apply for a visa in Canada or Mexico and are denied the visa, you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. under Automatic Visa Revalidation. You may also be required to return to your home country in order to reapply.

If you have previously violated your immigration status, you may not be eligible to apply for a visa in a country other than your home country. If you have any questions regarding this issue, please make an appointment to talk to an adviser at the International Center.