International travel by students and scholars in non-immigrant status requires advance planning and careful attention to details. The most important thing is to make certain you have the required documents with your passport (not packed in your suitcase) when you arrive back in the U.S. Check your immigration status for a list of required travel documents. Check with ISSS before you leave if you have any questions, particularly if you need to apply for a new visa.
Arriving in the U.S.
Upon admission (initial and re-entry) into the U.S., you will be given an automated arrival form call I-94, which shows proof of legal visitor status. You can retrieve your I-94 admission number/record online. If you have difficulty, visit this link for for tips on how to retrieve your I-94 card.
We would encourage you to review your I-94 information online to make sure your record is marked correctly. Your I-94 information should indicate visa classification and the length of time you are allowed to stay in the U.S. For F or J visa classifications, the duration should be noted as "D/S" meaning duration of status. For all other non-immigrant visa classifications, it will be date specific according to your immigration document.
Departing the U.S.
If you are one of the few students who still posseses a paper I-94 card, the airline will usually take your I-94 card when you depart the U.S.. However, students who are citizens of Canada in F-1 or J-1 status or scholars in TN status may be allowed to retain their I-94 card and use it multiple times. Those entering Canada, Mexico or a contiguous island using automatic revalidation should not relinquish their paper I-94 card (if you have one) upon U.S. department.
The following information assumes that you:
- have maintained your legal full-time student status in the U.S. AND
- will be returning to resume studies at Florida Tech and for the degree for which your I-20 was issued OR you have applied for and received your EAD card for post-completion Optional Practical Training.
If you do not meet these conditions, you should check with an adviser in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services before traveling to determine if you are eligible for re-entry to the United States and/or if you need a new I-20 for a legal admission.
Leave of Absence
While in the United States, students in F-1 non-immigrant status must be continuously enrolled full time during the academic year until the completion of their programs of study. If you are required to take a non-medical leave of absence, dismissed or required to withdraw from the University, be sure to set up an appointment with an international student advisor to discuss your situation, as well as refer to ISSS's Leave of Absence page for important information.
Documents for Travel and Re-entry to the United States to Resume Studies:
- Valid F-1 Visa
- Valid Passport
- Form I-20 from Florida Institute of Technology endorsed by and International Student and Scholar Services advisor for re-entry. If you have had an absence of more than five months outside the United States, you will need to re-enter using an I-20 designated "initial attendance." In this case, your immigration "time clock" begins again as if you were entering the United States for the first time. No off-campus employment will be allowed until you re-accumulate the required nine months of full-time student status.
- Proof of financial support may be required.
Documents for Travel and Re-entry to the United States to Resume Optional Practical Training:
- Valid F-1 Visa
- Valid Passport
- Form I-20 from Florida Institute of Technology endorsed by an International Student and Scholar Services advisor for re-entry to resume Optional Practical Training.
- Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).
- Proof of employment, such as a letter from your employer which states the purpose of your trip outside the United States and that you are expected to return to continue employment, is highly recommended.
Documents for Travel Inside the United States
You do not need immigration documents or permission of any kind from anyone to travel anywhere within the United States. Travel between the 48 contiguous states is totally unrestricted. However, new regulations require you to carry a state issued picture ID with your date of birth “plus” your passport (at least a photocopy of it, if you are not carrying the original. In case you carry the original passport be very careful not to lose it).
For details concerning travel to Alaska or Hawaii, please consult with the Office of International Students and Scholar Services. To be prepared for the unusual possibility of an immigration check by U.S. officials, we recommend that you always carry photocopies of your passport (photo, signature and expiration date pages), your visa, and I-20.
Renewing your F1/J1 Visa in your Home Country
If you or your dependents need to renew your visa stamps in order to re-enter the U.S., you must apply in person to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. In most countries, you must make an appointment with your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Before you apply for the visa, it is important you understand the process and rules governing the renewal. Full details can be found on the Department of State website.
Applying for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy in Canada or Mexico
If you are interested in renewing your current visa without returning to your home country, you may renew in Canada or Mexico. Change of status from one visa category to another is not recommended. Your must be a current F/J visa holder, maintaining your immigration status, have a valid passport and its advisable that your visa is current for 60 days. Renew your passport if it will expire within 6 months. For more information on obtaining a visa as a third country national present in the U.S. visit the Department of State U.S. Visas website.