Travel

 

This section will cover travel outside and within the U.S. Please select your visa type for more information regarding travel.

Travel Within The U.S.

Travel within the United States for any international student or scholar on a non-immigrant visa does not require any special documentation, letters, or any signatures from the Office of Immigration and International Admissions. Still, anyone on a non-immigrant visa should be able to present proof of their legal status within the United States at any time. It is recommended that for travel outside of Mobile you take your passport and at least a photocopy of your accompanying documentation (i.e. I-20, DS-2019). Also, it is recommended that you keep photocopies of your main passport page, visa page, and any other visa documentation with you at all times even when not traveling.

Visa Requirements for Other Countries

Traveling to another country may involve obtaining an entry visa to that country. It is best to check the consulate website of the country you wish to visit to get the current visa procedures.

To find visa requirements for another country, you should visit that country’s consulate or embassy website..

For Canadian visas, click the Government of Canada.
For Mexican visas, visit the Secretaria de Gobernacion.
For other visas, visit Visa HQ.

▼   H-1B Travel Information

Travel Outside the U.S.

When traveling, H-1B Temporary Workers will need a valid entry visa stamp in their passport to enter the United States. Those who changed their immigration status to H-1B since entering the United States and have not yet traveled abroad will need to apply for an H-1B entry visa stamp in order to re-enter the United States. Others may have an expired H-1B visa stamp in their passport and will need to have the H-1B visa renewed.

Additionally, H-1Bs and H-4s seeking to reenter the United States must have a passport which will be valid for at least 6 months after the date you intend to return to the United States.  If your passport is expiring, you should make plans to renew or extend your passport before your travel.  Please contact your home country’s Embassy or Consulate in the U.S. for information on how to renew or extend your passport from within the U.S.

Documents Required for H-1B Travel and Re-entry to the U.S.
If you are making a trip outside the United States, to re-enter the U.S., you will need the following:

• valid passport;
• original Form I-797A (H1B Approval Notice for your current position);
• letter from your employer confirming current employment in the position described in the H-1B petition; and
• valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport.  (If you do not have a valid H-1B visa stamp in your passport, you must apply for one at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.  Canadian citizens do not require visa stamps.)

Obtaining an H-1B Visa Stamp:
If you are currently abroad and will be entering the U.S. in H-1B status for the first time, if you have changed your nonimmigrant status while in the United States and have never had an H-1B visa stamp in your passport, or if your H-1Bvisa stamp has expired, you must make an application with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. to obtain an H-1B visa for re-entry (exception:  Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa stamp requirement; for Canadian citizens, H-1B Status will be granted at the Port-of-Entry with just the I-797A H-1B Approval and a copy of the H-1B Petition paperwork).

For the visa interview, you will need to present the following documentation:

• original Form I-797C (H-1B Approval Notice for your current position)
• copy of Form ETA-9035 Labor Conditions Application (LCA)
• copy of Form 1-129 (petition for H-1B submitted to USCIS on your behalf)
• letter from your department confirming employment and that you are expected to return to the U.S. to resume the terms of your contract
• original waiver or proof of fulfillment of the two year home residency requirement (if you were previously in J-1 visa status, were subject to the two-year requirement, and received a waiver)
• valid passport (valid 6 months into the future)
Form DS-160 

Please contact the specific U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you plan to apply for other requirements, including photos and fees. Also, note that some Consulates and Embassies have recently changed to an appointment system. Please confirm application procedures prior to your trip.  For more information on applying for a U.S. visa, visit these State Department websites:

Department of State’s Travel  
Locate a U.S. Embassy or Consulate  

▼   F-1 Student Travel Information

Applying for the F-1 Visa Renewal

Students in F or J visa status may remain legally in the U.S. on an expired visa provided they have a valid, unexpired Form I-20 or DS-2019. F and J visas cannot be renewed inside the United States. Students can apply for an F or J visa at a U.S. Embassy located outside the U.S. Before re-entering the U.S., all F and J students must provide a valid, unexpired visa at the port of entry. More information regarding visa renewal and Automatic Visa Revalidation are listed below.

Applying For An F-1 Visa Renewal

First, verify that your name, date of birth, country of birth and citizenship as listed on your I-20 form match what is written in your passport .  If changes are needed on your I-20, submit a Request Form, along with the required documents, to the Office of International Programs 2 weeks before travel.

Students should contact the U.S. Embassy they plan to visit for detailed requirements before exiting the U.S. Below are the basic documents needed to apply for the renewal of an F-1 visa.

Required Documents
  • Active Form I-20 – must be signed for travel by the Immigration Coordinator. Travel signatures are valid for one year.
  • Proof of full-time enrollment – Letter of enrollment from Office of the Registrar.
  • Proof of current financial support – financial statements, affidavit of support from sponsor, or scholarship letter.
  • Valid passport for a minimum of six months beyond the re-entry date to the U.S.
  • Copy of last I-94 Arrival Page.
  • Visa application – form, fees, and photographs (according to Embassy required format).

Applicants with dependents must also provide:

  • All immigration documents for F-2 dependents.
  • Additional funds are needed for each F-2 dependent, thus the amounts on financial documents will need to be higher.
  • Proof of relationship to spouse or children (e.g. marriage and/or birth certificate).
  • If dependents apply for a visa without the presence of the principal F-1 student, they need to bring copies of the student’s SEVIS I-20.

Steps for Visa Renewal Prior to Leaving the U.S.:

  • Students must identify the visa application requirements for the Embassy or Consulate where they plan to apply for a visa renewal. Visit www.usembassy.gov for more information.
  • Acquire all documents the Embassy or Consulate need to issue a visa.
  • Make a visa appointment.
  • Reserve a flight that allows sufficient time to obtain a visa. Certain individuals may be subject to security clearances, which can result in delays of 20 additional business days or more. Students should be aware of the negative effect a delay may have on completing courses when traveling in the middle of a semester.
  • Inform the Immigration Coordinator of visa renewal plans a few weeks in advance. The Immigration Coordinator will verify student’s enrollment and endorse Form I-20 for travel.
  • Preparation and organization is important during a visa interview. Students must be mindful that the purpose of a student visa is to study. They must also show they have reasons and plans to return to the home country.

Applying for a Visa Renewal at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate as a Third Country National

Not all Embassies accept third country visa applicants and the decision to accept applications vary throughout the year. Students must contact the Embassy prior to making travel plans and ensure their application is accepted.

  • Canada and Mexico are popular locations for visa renewals and have various locations. Students may visit the ICE Travel site for locations and information on how to make an appointment. Please note that citizens of countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism are ineligible to apply at an Embassy or Consulate at a U.S. border. Students who have violated their immigration status may not be eligible to apply for a renewal at U.S. border sites.
  • Students who have applied for a visa renewal in a contiguous territory (Canada, Mexico and Caribbean Islands) and are awaiting a decision (visa has not been issued) may not re-enter the U.S. using Automatic Revalidation. Certain individuals will be subject to a security clearance and should expect delays of 20 business days or longer. If the visa application is denied, students cannot re-enter the United States until they obtain a new visa from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country.
Security Checks

Security checks during application for a visa stamp are very common for all people studying or working in scientific fields.  They are even more common in specific countries such as China, India, Korea and Middle Eastern countries.  While these checks are usually completed within a couple of weeks, a few have taken as long as 9 months and there is nothing USA can do to shorten the period of time it will take.  Please plan accordingly and let your supervisor know about this possibility.

Additional Helpful Sites:
Travel FAQ

Student Visa

Study in the States

Many students travel within and outside the U.S. during holidays and breaks. We encourage travel as part of the experience of being an international student. Please read the instructions before setting off on your adventures.

▼   J-1 Exchange Visitor Information
Applying For A J-1 Visa Renewal

First, verify that your name, date of birth, country of birth and citizenship as listed on your DS-2019 form match what is written in your passport .  If changes are needed on your DS-2019, submit a request with the Office of Immigration and International Admissions, along with the required documents, to the Office of Immigration and International Admissions 2 weeks before travel.

Students should contact the U.S. Embassy they plan to visit for detailed requirements. Below are the basic documents needed to apply for the renewal of an J-1 visa.

Required Documents
  • Active Form DS-2019 – must be signed for travel by an Office of Immigration and International Admissions RO/ARO before exiting the U.S. Travel signatures are valid for 6 months.
  • Proof of full-time enrollment (exchange students) – Official transcripts and letter of enrollment from USA Registrar’s Office.
  • Proof of employment (J-1 scholars) - Letter of employment verification from department or Human Resources.
  • Proof of current financial support – financial statements, affidavit of support from sponsor, graduate assistantship or scholarship letter, and/or employment offer letter with salary listed.
  • Valid passport for a minimum of six months beyond the re-entry date to the U.S.
  • Copy of last I-94 Arrival Page.
  • Visa application – form, fees, and photographs (according to Embassy required format).

Applicants with dependents must also provide:

  • All immigration documents for J-2 dependents.
  • Additional funds are needed for each J-2 dependent, thus the amounts on financial documents will need to be higher.
  • Proof of relationship to spouse or children (e.g. marriage and/or birth certificate).
  • If dependents apply for a visa without the presence of the principal J-1 student, they need to bring copies of the student’s SEVIS documents.

Steps for Visa Renewal Prior to Leaving the U.S.:

  • Students and scholars must identify the visa application requirements for the Embassy or Consulate where they plan to apply for a visa renewal. Visit www.usembassy.gov for more information.
  • Acquire all documents the Embassy or Consulate need to issue a visa.
  • Make a visa appointment.
  • Reserve a flight that allows sufficient time to obtain a visa. Certain individuals may be subject to security clearances, which can result in delays of 20 additional business days or more. Students should be aware of the negative effect a delay may have on completing courses when traveling in the middle of a semester.
  • Inform Immigration Coordinator of visa renewal plans a few weeks in advance. The Immigration Coordinator will verify student’s records and endorse Form DS-2019 for travel.
  • Preparation and organization is important during a visa interview. Students must be mindful that the purpose of a student visa is to study. They must also show they have reasons and plans to return to the home country.

Applying for a Visa Renewal at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate as a Third Country National

Not all Embassies accept third country visa applicants and the decision to accept applications vary throughout the year. Students must contact the Embassy prior to making travel plans and ensure their application is accepted.

  • Canada and Mexico are popular locations for visa renewals and have various locations. Students may visit Nonimmigrants in the United States–Applying for Visas in Canada or Mexico for locations and information on how to make an appointment. Please note that citizens of countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism are ineligible to apply at an Embassy or Consulate at a U.S. border. The list of countries may be found at http://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/c14151.htm. Students who have violated their immigration status may not be eligible to apply for a renewal at U.S. border sites.
  • Students who have applied for a visa renewal in a contiguous territory (Canada, Mexico and Caribbean Islands) and are awaiting a decision (visa has not been issued) may not re-enter the U.S. using Automatic Revalidation. Certain individuals will be subject to a security clearance and should expect delays of 20 business days or longer. If the visa application is denied, students cannot re-enter the United States until they obtain a new visa from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country.
Security Checks

Security checks during application for a visa stamp are very common for all people studying or working in scientific fields.  They are even more common in specific countries such as China, India, Korea and Middle Eastern countries.  While these checks are usually completed within a couple of weeks, a few have taken as long as 9 months and there is nothing USA can do to shorten the period of time it will take.  Please plan accordingly and let your supervisor know about this possibility.

Additional Helpful Sites:

J-1 Visa


Many students and scholars travel within and outside the U.S. during holidays and breaks. We encourage travel as part of the experience of being an exchange visitor and requirement of the J-1 category. Please read the instructions before setting off on your adventures.