Documents to bring while traveling:

  • A valid passport 6 months into the future
  • A valid F-1/J-1 visa in order to re-enter the U.S.* 
  • A valid I-20/DS-2019 endorsed for travel by OISS within the last 6 months

*Travel to bordering countries and islands may not require you to have a valid U.S. visa to re-enter.  See automatic visa revalidation.  Canadian Citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S.

Traveling to Canada, Mexico or Adjacent Islands for less than 30 days

You can usually revalidate an expired visa automatically when returning from a visit of not exceeding thirty days to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the United States provided that you have a valid I-20/DS-2019. This process is known as automatic visa revalidation.

However, if you meet any one of following criteria, you will not be able to automatically revalidate your visa.

  • You applied for a new visa and it has not been issued
  • You applied for a new visa and were denied
  • You have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status
  • You have been out of the United States for more than thirty days
  • You are a citizen from one of the following countries:
    • Iran
    • Sudan
    • Syria

The adjacent islands are:

- Saint Pierre
- Miquelon
- The Dominican Republic
- Haiti
- Trinidad - Bermuda
- The Bahamas
- Barbados
- Jamaica
- Martinique
- The Windward and Leeward Islands
- Other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea

Renewing your visa

You can stay in the United States on an expired F-1 visa as long as you maintain your student status. However, if you are returning home or traveling to a country where automatic revalidation does not apply, you must have a valid visa to return to the United States.

Ensure that you have all the documentation you need for your visa application and allow sufficient time for processing a new visa. The documentation you may need for a new visa includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • A SEVIS Form I-20/DS-2019, endorsed for travel by OISS
  • Updated financial documents to show proof of funds for tuition and living expenses
  • Official transcript from St. Thomas (and other U.S. schools attended, if applicable)
  • Evidence showing your intention to return to your home country upon program completion, including evidence of compelling social and economic ties to your home country
  • If you have applied for or had optional practical training (OPT) approved, bring a copy of your OPT I-20 and your EAD

The Department of State recommends that you apply for a visa in your home country. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website.

You can apply in a third country for a visa, but you will not be able to return to the United States until your visa has been issued. In some cases, this could take several weeks if a background check is required. If your visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the United States. Be sure to check the Department of State website for specific information pertaining to each consulate.

If you have an expired visa and a terminated record, we strongly advise that you do not travel outside the United States until your SEVIS record shows that you are in active status. If you do travel, you may not be able to renew your visa or return to the United States.