Travel Information
>> Taking a trip outside the U.S. while enrolled at EMU
>> Taking a trip outside the U.S. while on OPT
>> Applying for a new visa
>> Travel to Canada, Mexico or considered contiquous islands on an Expired F-1 or J-1 Visa
>> Travel Advisory for Students with Pending H1-B Application


Taking a Trip Outside the US while Attending EMU

F-1 and J-1 students need:

  • Updated I-20 or validated DS-2019 with OIS travel signature within the past 6 months. To obtain a travel signature you must be registered full time (or have an approved Reduced Hours Form) for the current and future term, if the registration is open. Bring your most recent I-20 to OIS, no appointment needed. Please allow 2-4 business days for your I-20 to be processed. Although you present the I-20 with recent travel signature to the immigration officer, also carry all previous I-20s in case the officer would like to review your I-20 history.
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months into the future.
  • Visa stamp in your passport which is valid for re-entry on your anticipated return date.  See the next sections if your visa is expired or will expire before you will reenter the U.S.
  • I-94: Make sure to surrender your I-94 card to the airline agents upon departure from the US, if you have a hard copy of your I-94 and were not processed electronically last time you entered the US. If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands for less than 30 days, you should not surrender your I-94 card. Starting in summer 2013, Customs and Border Patrol officers were not issuing hard copy I-94 cards. However, will you still be given an I-94 number which you should print proof of at www.cbp.gov/I94. You will need the I-94 number and proof when applying for a Michigan driver's license, a Social Security Number, and Optional Practical Training.
  • We also recommend that you carry, per U.S. government suggestions:
    • Proof of financial support
    • 24-hour emergency phone number at EMU, which is Department of Public Safety at 734-487-1222
    • EMU admission letter
    • I-901 fee payment proof

It is your responsibility to determine if the country you plan to visit requires a valid visa for you to enter.

For additional information see the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, ICE FAQ for fF-nonimmigrants: Entry and Exit webpage.

Taking a Trip Outside the U.S. while on Initial OPT and STEM Extension OPT

When Initial OPT is Pending

Note that it can be challenging to travel while your OPT is pending. We recommend that you talk to an OIS advisor prior to making your travel arrangements.

OPT is pending when:

  • Your OPT application has been received by USCIS, and
  • Your OPT has not been approved yet, and
  • Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card has not been issued

According to U.S. travel regulations, if you do not have a job, you may leave and then re-enter the United States to continue searching for OPT employment. However, travel during this time can be complicated as not all border officers are familiar with the entry regulations. If you must travel while your OPT is pending, you need to have the following documents with you:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S.)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport (not required for Canadian citizens)
  • I-20 (with a travel signature no older than six months); present the most recent one to the visa or border officers, but have all of them with you
  • I-765 receipt notice (Form I-797C)
  • Screen shot of your profile via the case status system to prove your pending status on the date of departure from your place of travel (https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard.do)

If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa when your OPT application is pending, you will need to take the documents listed above to the visa appointment. Be sure to read your U.S. Consulate's website for more information on additional documents required and procedures for F-1 visa issuance.

WARNING: Re-entering the U.S. in a status other than F-1 (such as a tourist) will terminate your OPT authorization and it cannot be renewed.

When Initial OPT has ended and the STEM Extension is Not Yet Approved

You are unable to travel outside the United States after your Initial OPT has ended while you await the STEM Extension approval from USCIS.

When Initial and/or STEM OPT is Approved

OPT is approved when your EAD card has been issued. Once your OPT is approved, you may leave and re-enter the United States ONLY to begin or resume employment.
If you need to travel while your OPT is approved, you should have the following documents on you:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S.)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport (not required for Canadian citizens)
  • I-20 (with a valid travel signature no older than six months and your employment information listed on page 3). Present the most recent I-20 to the visa or border officers, but have all of them with you.
  • EAD card
  • Evidence that you already have a job in the United States. Proof of employment can include a letter from your employer and recent pay stubs.

If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa, you should also have your EAD card and evidence that you have a job in the United States in addition to the usual documents required for a visa application. Be sure to read your U.S. Consulate's website for more information on additional documents required and procedures for F-1 visa issuance.

WARNING: Re-entering the U.S. in a status other than F-1 (such as a tourist) will terminate your OPT authorization and it cannot be renewed.

Dependent Travel while F-1 is on OPT

F-2 dependents need to have the following documents when returning to the United States:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S.)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport (not required for Canadian citizens)
  • I-20 (with a valid travel signature no older than six months); present the most recent one to the visa or border officers, but have all of them with you
  • Copies of the F-1 student's I-20 with OPT recommendation, EAD card, and proof of employment (job offer letter, pay stubs).

Applying for a New Visa

We recommend that you apply for a renewed visa at the U.S. consulate in your home country or the consulate with jurisdiction over your home residence. Keep in mind that depending on the time of year and your location, you may experience a significant delay in your new visa thereby resulting in a delayed return back to the U.S. to resume classes. Also, visa applications are never guaranteed and you may be denied.

Tips on applying for a visa:

  • Be sure to read the consulate's website where you plan on applying for your new visa to learn about the procedures and necessary application documents.
  • View the U.S. visa wait times (http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html) to see the estimated time it will take for you to apply for and receive your visa (not including a potential background check).
  • Apply for your visa as early as possible.
  • Request documents to prove your student status. We recommend that you collect a:
    • Certificate of Enrollment (from you're my.emich account or SERVICE EMU) to confirm that you are enrolled full-time.
    • Transcript (official or print out from your my.emich account) to confirm your academic history.
    • Copy of class schedule for the next term.

Travel to Canada, Mexico, or considered contiguous islands on an Expired F-1 or J-1 Visa

If your F-1 or J-1 visa has expired, you may not be required to obtain a new visa if you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands. This is called Automatic Visa Revalidation.
The following conditions apply:

  • Your trip must be limited to Canada, Mexico or a considered contiguous island
  • Your trip must be less than 30 days in length

For more information on the regulations and eligibility of the Automatic Visa Revalidation, please visit the Automatic Visa Revalidation Handout and http://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel/faq_f2.htm#_Toc81222014.

Travel Tips for Students with Pending H1-B Application

Are you an F-1 student who is (or will soon be) the beneficiary of an H-1B peittion and a request to change status to H-1B for employment starting on October 1? If you are planning to travel abroad between now and....Read more



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