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SEVP made every effort to provide complete answers to these common questions. However, each person’s individual circumstances differ. So while these questions and answers serve as a general guide, they may not provide all the information you need to determine whether it is appropriate to travel or whether U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will re-admit you to the United States. You can contact your designated school official, officials at your embassy or consulate or your legal counsel for further assistance. Please remember that the CBP officer at the port of entry decides whether to admit non-immigrants into the United States. The facts and circumstances presented at the time you apply to enter are the basis of this decision. SEVP cannot guarantee that CBP will admit or re-admit you into the United States.

1. Initial Entry for F-1 Students

2. Re-entry for F-1 Non-immigrants Travelling Outside the United States for Five Months or Fewer

This section of the FAQ applies to continuing F-1 students who travel outside the United States for five months or less.

Students should consult their Designated School Official (DSO) prior to travelling. Your DSO generally works in the International Student Office. You must have a current SEVIS Form I-20 endorsed for travel and your DSO needs to be able to verify that your SEVIS record is accurate and up-to-date.

What are the basic requirements for an F-1 to re-enter the United States after travelling abroad on pleasure or personal business?

  • A Form I-20, endorsed for travel and signed by your DSO
  • You have been out of the United States for less than five months
  • A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your reentry or, if you are from one of the countries listed below, a passport that is current through the date of entry
  • A valid, current visa or you travelled to contiguous country or adjacent island for less than thirty days
  • Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses

If you are from a visa exempt country, you do not need a visa to reenter the United States from the western hemisphere, but make sure that you present your I-20 to be admitted as an F-1 student and not a visitor.

What if I have an expired passport or one that will expire in less than six months?

You must renew your passport before re-entering the United States. In most cases, to enter the United States, you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date you enter or re-enter.

However, the countries listed below have an agreement with the United States that allows you to enter on a current passport up to the actual date of expiration.

Try to keep your passport current at all times. You need to determine your country’s requirements and timelines for renewing passports . Many countries will allow you to renew your passport while in the United States. The other alternative is to renew your passport when you return home for a visit.

In some cases, you may want to delay leaving the United States until you have renewed your passport. You will not be able to re-enter the United States without a valid passport.

If your expired passport has a valid visa, you can still use that visa if you kept the old passport. Present the old passport, along with the new passport when you reenter the country.

The countries that have an agreement with the United States allowing entry with a passport until the date of expiration are as follows:

  • Algeria
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cote D’Ivoire
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • Hong Kong (certificates of identity and passports)
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Laos
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Madagascar
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Nigeria
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Senegal
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Zimbabwe
 

What if my F-1 student visa has expired?

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 Form I-20, endorsed for travel and signed by your DSO (see your DSO before you travel)
  • Original evidence showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses
  • 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 Form I-20 endorsed for OPT and your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), if you have one

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 (DoS) website at http://travel.state.gov/.

You can apply in a third country for a visa, but you will not be able to return to the United States until DoS issues your visa. In some cases, this could take several weeks if DoS requires a background check. If DoS denies your visa, you will not be able to return to the United States. Be sure to check the DoS website for specific information pertaining to each embassy or 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.

As a continuing student, will I need to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee if I travel outside the United States?

No. See the I-901 FAQ for detailed information on the I-901 SEVIS fee.

I wish to travel to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands (other than Cuba) adjacent to the United States. Can I return if my visa is expired?

Yes, in most cases. You can usually revalidate an expired visa automatically when returning from a visit of less than thirty days to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the United States (other than Cuba) provided that you have a valid Form I-20 and a valid unexpired Form I-94. 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 DoS has not yet issued it to you
  • You applied for a new visa and DoS denied the application
  • You have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status
  • You have been out the United States for more than thirty days

(8 CFR 214.1(b)(3))

Which islands are defined as “adjacent islands”?

The adjacent islands are:

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

( INA, Section 101(b)(5))

Do I need a valid visa to visit Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands?

No, unless your travel plans include entry to any other country en route to these U.S. territories. You will need a valid Form I-20 and a valid unexpired Form I-94. Be sure that you do not have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status.

How do I know if I have a terminated record in SEVIS?

Your DSO can tell you your SEVIS record status and give you appropriate travel related advice.

I want to travel outside the United States, but my SEVIS record is in terminated status. Can I return if I travel?

If you need to travel on a terminated record, you must first visit your DSO. If your school has requested a data fix, the DSO will put your help desk ticket number on your Form I-20 and report your pending travel to SEVP.

There is no guarantee that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will readmit you to the United States if you travel on a terminated record. In most cases, CBP inspectors will allow you to reenter the United States if you are otherwise admissible and your DSO has properly annotated your Form I-20. It is likely, however, that the CBP officer at the port of entry will send you to secondary inspection while they determine whether you are eligible to return to the United States.

Can I travel outside the United States if I have a Form I-485 adjustment of status application pending?

No, not without advance permission. If you depart the United States with a pending Form I-485, you have abandoned your application unless you receive permission in advance from USCIS to return to the United States. We call this Advance Parole. Additionally, CBP may also consider you ineligible to return to the United States as an F-1 student because your application to change status to that of a permanent resident is evidence of intent to immigrate, which is inconsistent with nonimmigrant student status.

Can I re-establish F-1 student status by obtaining a new initial Form I-20 and reentering the United States?

Yes. However, you will be considered an initial student for SEVIS purposes. You will have to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee again and you will lose any time that you have accrued toward qualification for training (OPT) or employment.

You must have the new Form I-20 showing that you are entering on a new SEVIS ID number.

You should be aware that the CBP inspecting officer will determine whether or not to admit you to the United States with the new Form I-20. If you did not comply with the terms of your status during a prior stay in the United States, the CBP officer may decide that you are not eligible to reenter.

Can I reenter during the 60-day period after finishing my program or OPT?

No. The 60-day “grace” period is only to prepare to leave the country.

Can I reenter if my request for OPT is pending?

Yes, but traveling during this time should be undertaken with caution. USCIS may send you a request for evidence while you are away, however, so you would want to make sure you have provided a correct U.S. address both to your DSO and on the application and would be able to send in requested documents. Also, if USCIS approves your OPT application, you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States. Like a request for further information, USCIS can only send the EAD to your U.S. address.

Can I reenter if I left while on OPT?

If USCIS has approved your OPT you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States, in addition to your Form I-20, valid passport and visa, and a letter of employment if you have one. If you exceed the limits on unemployment while outside the United States, you will not be eligible to re-enter the United States in F-1 status.

Are there any other requirements for travel outside the United States?

The questions above outline the general requirements for reentry for F-1 students. However, because individual circumstances vary, consult your DSO, embassy, or legal advisor before traveling. Planning for your trip early ensures that you have enough time to get all of your travel documents in order.

If you are not returning to your home country, you should check the requirements of the country you are visiting. Some countries require a visa. You may also need a transit visa for countries where you are making a connecting flight. Be sure to check before you travel. Most countries have immigration websites that provide visa information. If you have additional questions, please contact SEVP at SEVP@ice.dhs.gov or call us at 703-603-3400.

 

3. Renewing Your F-1 Student Visa

Can I stay in the United States if my student visa has expired?

Yes, as long as you are maintaining your status, you may legally remain in the United States with an expired F-1 or M-1 visa.

Can I renew my student visa while in the United States?

No. For more information about visa applications, visit the Department of State (DoS) website.

Can I renew my visa while outside the United States in a country other than my home country?

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

Before you travel to a country other than yours to renew your visa, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in that country.

If you exit the United States and apply for a visa, you cannot return to the United States until DoS issues you a new visa. This could require a lengthy stay. If DoS denies your visa application, you will not be able to return to the United States as a student.

Can I go to Canada or Mexico and apply for a new visa?

In some cases, you can. Contact the individual U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Canada or Mexico. However, you cannot return to the United States until DoS issues you a new visa. If DoS denies your visa application, you will not be able to return to the United States as a student. For more information about visa applications, visit the DoS website. You can also visit www.nvars.com, which provides appointments for U.S. Embassies and Consulates in Canada and Mexico.

Applying for a new visa is not the same as automatic visa revalidation. You cannot apply for a new visa and take advantage of automatic visa revalidation at the same time.

What is automatic visa revalidation?

Automatic visa revalidation allows most F-1 students to take a trip of less than 30 days to countries contiguous to the United States and reenter on an expired visa provided you have proper documentation and have not applied for a new visa during the visit. This process revalidates your visa (making it eligible for the single trip), but does not renew it.

 

4. Re-entry for F-1 Students or Conducting Research Abroad

5. Initial Entry for F-2 Non-immigrants (Spouses and Minor Children of F-1 Students)

6. Re-entry for F-2 Non-immigrants

What documents do the dependants (accompanying spouse and minor children) of a continuing F-1 or M-1 student need for readmission to the United States after travelling abroad?

If you are the dependent of a continuing F-1 or M-1 student, previously admitted into the United States in F-2 or M-2 status, traveled outside the United States, and are now seeking readmission, you need to have the following:

  • A current Form I-20 in your name that certifies your admissibility, (i.e. DSO signature on page 3 approving travel (Each dependent must have an individual Form I-20)
  • A valid visa unless you are from Canada or Bermuda
  • The primary (F-1 or M-1) must be in active student status - check with DSO before traveling to verify the primary's status
  • Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

Do dependants have to travel with the primary?

No. However, your primary must be maintaining status. Consult the DSO from your primary’s school to ensure your primary is in status before traveling. You will need a valid passport. See section 2.

If your primary stays in the United States and has a request for optional practical training (OPT) pending or approved, you will need additional documentation. Make a copy of the primary’s Form I-20 with the page 3 annotations and/or employment authorization document (EAD) and be prepared to present it at the port of entry.

If the primary travels, can dependants remain in the United States?

Dependents may stay in the United States without the primary if the primary:

  • Is in valid status
  • Will return after a temporary absence using the same SEVIS ID number

What if I do not have a valid passport?

See the related questions in the F-1 section or M-1 section.

What if my visa expired?

See the related questions in the F-1 section or M-1 section.

If you are not traveling with the primary visa holder and your primary has a request for optional practical training (OPT) approved or pending, you will need additional documentation. Make a copy of the primary’s Form I-20 or EAD and be prepared to present it at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and the port of entry.

I wish to travel to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands (other than Cuba) adjacent to the United States. Can I return if my visa is expired?

See the related questions in the F-1 section or M-1 section.

Are there any other requirements for dependants to travel outside the United States?

The questions above outline the general reentry requirements for dependents. If you have questions, consult with the DSO at your primary’s school or seek advice from your embassy or legal advisor. However, if you are not returning to your country of citizenship, you should check the requirements of the country you are visiting. Some countries will require a visa. You may also need a visa for countries where you are making a connecting flight. Be sure to check before you travel.

 

SEVP made every effort to provide complete answers to these common questions. However, each person’s individual circumstances differ. So while these questions and answers serve as a general guide, they may not provide all the information you need to determine whether it is appropriate to travel or whether U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will readmit you to the United States. You can contact your designated school official, officials at your embassy or consulate or your legal counsel for further assistance.

Please remember that the CBP officer at the port of entry decides whether to admit nonimmigrants in to the United States. The facts and circumstances presented at the time you apply to enter are the basis of this decision. SEVP cannot guarantee that CBP will admit or readmit you into the United States.

1. Initial Entry For M-1 Students

2. Re-entry for M-1 Nonimmigrants Traveling Outside the United States for Five Months or Fewer

This section of the FAQ applies to continuing M-1 students who travel outside the United States for five months or less.

An M-1 student should consult the designated school official (DSO) before traveling. Your DSO generally works in the international student office. You must have a current Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” endorsed for travel, and your DSO must be able to verify that your SEVIS record is accurate and up-to-date.

What are the basic requirements for an M-1 student to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad on pleasure or personal business?

  • A Form I-20, endorsed for travel and signed by your DSO ( talk to your DSO before you travel)
  • You have been out of the United States for fewer than five months
  • A current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your re-entry or, if you are from one of the countries listed below, a passport that is current through the date of entry
  • A valid, current visa ( unless you traveled to a contiguous country  for less than thirty days)
  • Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses
  • Be sure that you are able to return before your current program end date

Bringing your most recent Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record,” will facilitate your re-entry through a land port of entry. If you are flying to the United States, airline officials will collect your Form I-94 before departure. You will complete a new one upon re-entry.

If you are from a visa exempt country, you do not need a passport or visa to re-enter the United States after travel in the western hemisphere. You will only need a Form I-94W and an Electronic System for Travel Authorization print-out.

What if I have an expired passport or one that will expire in less than six months?

You must renew your passport before you re-enter the United States. Usually, to enter the United States, you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date you enter or re-enter.

However, some countries  have an agreement with the United States that allows you to enter on a current passport up to the actual date of expiration. Try to keep your passport current at all times. You need to know your country’s rules for renewing passports as well as the amount of time it will take.

Many countries will allow you to renew your passport while in the United States. The other alternative is to renew your passport when you return home for a visit.

You may want to delay leaving the United States until you have renewed your passport. You must have a valid passport to re-enter the United States. If your expired passport has a valid visa, you may still use it if you kept the old passport. Present both the old and new passports when you re-enter the United States.

The countries that have an agreement with the United States allowing entry with a passport until the date of expiration are the following:

  • Algeria
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cote D’Ivoire
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • Hong Kong (identity certificates and passports)
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Laos
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Madagascar
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Nigeria
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Senegal
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Zimbabwe
 

What if my M-1 student visa has expired?

You You must maintain your student status to stay in the United States on an expired M-1 visa. 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.

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

You can apply in a third country for a visa, but you cannot return to the United States until DoS issues you a new visa. In some cases, this could take several weeks if a background check is necessary. If DoS denies your visa, you cannot return to the United States.

If you must re-apply for a visa, remember to bring the following items with you:

  • A Form I-20, endorsed for travel and signed by your DSO and your original Form I-20 ( talk to your DSO before you travel)
  • Original evidence showing proof of necessary funds to pay for tuition and living expenses
  • Evidence showing your intent to return to your home country upon program completion with evidence of compelling social and economic ties to your home country
  • Information on your area of research if it is on the Technology Alert List

If you have an expired visa and a terminated record, we strongly advise you not to 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.

As a continuing student, must I pay the I-901 SEVIS fee if I travel outside the United States?

No. See the I-901 FAQ  for detailed information on the I-901 SEVIS fee.

I want to travel to Canada or Mexico. May I return to the United States if I have an expired visa?

Yes, in most cases CBP will allow re-entry to the United States. Usually, you can revalidate an expired visa automatically if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Returning from a visit of fewer than thirty days to Canada or Mexico
  • Have a valid Form I-20
  • Have a valid unexpired Form I-94

This process is known as automatic visa revalidation.

However, if you meet any one of following criteria, 8 CFR 214.1(b)(3) mandates that you cannot automatically revalidate your visa:

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

I want to travel to one of the islands adjacent to the United States. May I return if my visa has expired?

No. An M nonimmigrant cannot automatically revalidate a visa when traveling to the adjacent islands. You may travel to these islands only if you have a valid visa.

Which islands are defined as “adjacent islands”?

The definition of adjacent islands is in INA, Section 101(b)(5):

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

Do I need a valid visa to visit Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands?

No. You will need a valid Form I-20 and a valid, unexpired Form I-94. Be sure that you do not have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status.

How do I know if I have a terminated record in SEVIS?

Your DSO can tell you your SEVIS record status and give you appropriate travel-related advice.

I want to travel outside the United States, but my SEVIS record is in Terminated status. May I return if I travel?

If you need to travel on a terminated record, you must talk to your DSO. A DSO who has requested a data fix will put your Help Desk ticket number on your Form I-20 and report your pending travel to SEVP.

There is no guarantee that CBP will readmit you to the United States if you travel on a terminated record. In most cases, CBP will allow you to re-enter the United States if you are otherwise admissible and your DSO has properly annotated your Form I-20. It is likely, however, that CBP will send you to secondary inspection while they determine whether you are eligible to return to the United States.

May I travel outside the United States if I have a Form I-539, “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status,” request for extension of stay application pending?

Yes, you may travel. However, you must return at least 15 days prior to your current program end date.

May I re-establish M-1 student status by obtaining a new initial Form I-20 and re-entering the United States?

Yes, you may re-establish M-1 student status. However, in SEVIS, you will be an Initial student. You must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee, and you will lose any time that you have built up towards qualification for practical training.

May I re-enter the United States during the 30-day grace period after finishing my program or after finishing optional practical training (OPT)?

No.

May I re-enter the United States if I have a pending request for OPT?

No.

May I re-enter the United States if I left while on OPT?

If USCIS and your DSO have approved your OPT but you depart before you get a job, your OPT ends and you cannot re-enter. If you have a job, however, you may travel and re-enter to resume work.

Are there any other requirements for travel outside the United States?

Previous questions give the general requirements for M-1 student re-entry. However, because individual circumstances vary, consult your DSO, embassy officials or legal advisor before traveling. Discussing your travel plans as soon as possible will allow time to ensure you have proper documentation for travel.

Some countries will require a visa. If you are not returning to your home country, check the requirements of the destination country. You may also need an in-transit visa for countries where you are making a connecting flight. Be sure to check before you travel. Most countries have immigration websites that provide visa information.

 

3. Renewing Your M-1 Student Visa

Can I stay in the United States if my student visa has expired?

Yes, as long as you are student in good standing and have not violated your status, you may legally remain in the United States with an expired M-1 visa. As an M-1, you may stay for up to one year from the date you arrive in the United States, also according to your I-20 in SEVIS.

Can I renew my student visa while in the United States?

No. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov/. If you need to stay longer than one year to complete your program of study, you may work with your school official to apply for an extension with USCIS.

Can I renew my visa while outside the United States in a country other than my home country?

Yes, but 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 at http://travel.state.gov/.

Before you travel to a country other than yours to renew your visa, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate.

If you exit the United States and apply for a visa, you cannot return to the United States until the visa is issued. This could require a lengthy stay. If the visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the United States as a student.

Can I go to Canada or Mexico and apply for a new visa?

In some cases, you can. Contact the individual U.S. embassy or consulate in Canada or Mexico. However, you cannot return to the United States until your visa is issued. If the visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the United States as a student. For more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov/. You can also visit www.nvars.com, the site that provides appointments for consulates in Canada and Mexico.

Applying for a new visa is not the same as automatic visa revalidation. You cannot apply for a new visa and take advantage of automatic visa revalidation at the same time.

What is automatic visa revalidation?

Automatic visa revalidation allows most M-1 students to take a trip of less than thirty days to countries contiguous to the United States and reenter on an expired visa provided you have proper documentation and have not applied for a new visa during the visit. This process revalidates your visa (making it eligible for the single trip), but does not renew it.

 

4. Initial Entry for M-2 Non-immigrants (Spouses and Minor Children)

5. Re-entry for M-2 Nonimmigrants

What documents do the spouse and minor children of a continuing M-1 student need to reenter to the United States after traveling abroad?

If you are the spouse or minor child of a continuing student you need to have the following:

  • A current SEVIS Form I-20 in your name (and one for each M-2 traveling)
  • A valid passport (see section 2.B.) unless you are from a visa exempt country
  • A valid visa unless you are from a visa exempt country or, in some cases, you are traveling to a contiguous country
  • The primary (M-1) must be in active student status

Do M-2 nonimmigrants have to travel with the primary (M-1)?

No. However, you must be able to show that your primary (M-1) has been admitted and has maintained student status. We recommend that you consult with the DSO from your primary’s school to ensure the M-1 is in status before traveling. You will need the documents listed in section 2.B.

If your primary has optional practical training (OPT) approved, you will need additional documentation. Make a copy of the primary’s Form I-20 with the page 3 annotations and/or EAD (employment authorization document) and be prepared to present it at the consulate and POE.

If the primary (M-1) travels, can the M-2 nonimmigrant family members remain in the United States?

M-2 nonimmigrant family members may stay in the United States without the primary if the primary:

  • Is in valid status
  • Will return after a temporary absence using the same SEVIS ID number

What if I do not have a valid passport?

See the related questions in the M-1 section

What if my M-2 visa expired?

See the related questions in the M-1 section

I wish to travel to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands (other than Cuba) adjacent to the United States. Can I return if my M-2 visa is expired?

See the related questions in the M-1 section

Can I re-enter if my primary has OPT pending?

No. You can travel after OPT is approved. (See traveling without your primary.)

Are there any other requirements for M-2 nonimmigrants to travel outside the United States?

The questions above outline the general reentry requirements for M-2 nonimmigrants. If you have questions, consult with the DSO at your primary’s school or seek advise from your embassy or legal advisor. However, if you are not returning to your country of citizenship, you should check the requirements of the country you are visiting. Some countries will require a visa. You may also need a visa for countries where you are making a connecting flight. Be sure to check before you travel.