Travel Information

Travel Stress

It is common to become stressed and overwhelmed when traveling to a new country. To help make your travel easier:

  • Plan ahead. Organize your travels, arrival and transportation
  • Do research on life in Michigan and the American culture
  • Bring pictures of family and friends with you
  • Get plenty of sleep and drink extra water
  • Avoid heavy or irregular meals and alcohol before and during a long trip
  • Stretch your muscles and walk around before and after your flight
  • Massage your legs, feet, neck and shoulders to relieve tension from long flights

When to Arrive

It is best to arrive one to two weeks before classes start. Arrive in time to attend the mandatory International Student Orientation and check-in. You may not arrive more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019.

If You Cannot Arrive Before Classes Start

It is best to arrive one to two weeks before classes start. If you are unable to arrive at campus prior to the day classes begin, please contact the Office for International Students and Scholars and your academic advisor. If this is a concern, please contact our office at oiss@emich.edu. If you arrive late, you are responsible for all missed classes and homework, along with late registration fees and add/drop fees for your classes.

Where to Arrive and Getting to Campus

Arrive at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The airport is located in Romulus, Michigan, only an 18-minute car ride away from Ypsilanti and EMU. Shuttle, taxi and car rentals are available at the airport. Taxis cost about $60 plus tip. We recommend you have cash on you to pay the taxi.

Luggage Advice

Label all of your luggage with your home country address and your US address. Various items, such as foods and medicines are not allowed in the U.S. For more information on restricted items, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Know Before You Visit website.

How Much Money You Should Bring

Exchange money at the airport or before you arrive. We suggest you obtain $100 in US dollars and coins. This can be used for cab rides, bus fares, tips, food and baggage carts. Exchange more if you are planning on staying in a hotel.

  • Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available
  • Open a local bank account as soon as possible to keep your money safe

If you are bringing more than $10,000USD in any form (cash, bank draft, or traveler's checks) you must declare it to US Customs on a FinCen 105 Form. Print this form. You will not be charged for bringing in these funds. Do not pack any money or traveler's checks in your luggage; it may be lost or stolen. Keep all money and traveler's checks with you at all times.

Documents Received Upon Arrival

On your flight you will receive a Customs Declaration Form (6059B) and information regarding the electronic I-94 form. Complete these forms before you land. Be sure to print your name, family name (last name), date of birth and country of citizenship exactly as shown in your passport. List your US address on the forms. Do not list the school's address or your home country address. Remember, in the United States the date is written as month/day/year. If you have questions while completing the following forms, please ask a flight attendant for assistance.

The Immigration Process

Please be polite and patient. You must state your reason for entering the country and provide information about your final destination. Tell the immigration officer you are studying in the United States. Be prepared to provide the name and address of the Eastern Michigan University, if asked. The immigration officers may ask the purpose of your stay and about the items on your entry documents (such as proof of funds). Have your documents ready. You will need:

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of arrival
  • F or J valid visa
  • SEVIS I-901 receipt, and I-20 or DS-2019. Do not enter the US on another school's I-20 or DS-2019 if you are going to study at EMU.
  • CF-6059 Customs Declaration Form
  • Evidence of Financial Support
  • Contact Information for OISS: 734.487.3116, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 240 Student Center, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.

When your inspection is successfully complete, the immigration officer will:

  • Stamp your passport for the duration of status ("D/S") for F-1 and J-1 visas.

Make sure you have all of your documents and the stamped dates are correct. Remember, in the United States the date is written as month/day/year. Welcome to the United States!

US-VISIT

This is a registration system that tracks the entries and exits of nonimmigrant visa holders in the United States. Digital fingerprints and a photograph are usually taken during the visa application process and repeated upon arrival in the United States. More information on Biometric Identity Management.


The OISS does not endorse or recommend any of the above companies. They are provided merely as an informational resource.

Taking a Trip Outside the US while Attending EMU

F-1 and J-1 students need:

  • Updated I-20 or validated DS-2019 with OISS travel signature within the past 6months. 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 OISS, no appointment needed. Please allow one business day for your I-20 to be processed. Although you present the I-20 with the 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 six 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, you will still be given an I-94 number, which you should print proof of from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. 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 ICE FAQ for Nonimmigrants: Entry and Exit on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website.


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 OISS 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.

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

  • 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 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 your 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 Travel Re-entry FAQs.


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 petition and a request to change status to H-1B for employment starting on October 1? If you are planning to travel abroad before your H-1B begins, please contact the attorney that helped you file for H1-B.

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