4. Pre-Departure Document Check
When was the last time you checked the expiration date in your passport? In order to travel, your passport MUST be valid at least six months into the future. Passports may be renewed at your country's embassy or consulate in the United States. If you have access to the world wide web, you can obtain up-to-date information on passport renewal. Point your web browser to http://www.embassy.org/embassies/
You should be traveling using your SEVIS I-20. However, be sure to save all of your previous I-20s, as they represent your immigration "history" in the United States. If you will need to apply for a new visa, check the front of your I-20 carefully to be sure the field of study, level of study, and source of funds are still correct. If you will need a new I-20, you must provide updated proof of financial support, unless current information is already on file. Allow three to five working days for the Admissions Office to prepare new visa documents for you.
Special Registration Applicants
If you were required to go through the special registration process within the past twelve months because you are male and from one of the 25 designated countries, there is a special exit procedure that you must follow before you can depart the United States. Generally, this exit procedure will take place at the airport where your overseas flight will depart. The exit procedure can add several hours to your departure schedule, so be certain to allow plenty of extra time so that you do not miss your flight! You should have been given information regarding the exit procedure when you went through your special registration inspection. For a list of designated exit ports and specific information on their locations and hours of operation, go to: http://uscis.gov/graphics/shared/lawenfor/specialreg/srindividuals.pdf
I-94 Arrival/Departure Card
You will need to surrender your I-94 card upon your departure from the United States. You will be issued a new I-94 card upon your re-entry to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it will now issue a new admission number each time a non-immigrant enters the United States. However, your SEVIS ID number (printed at the top right of your SEVIS I-20) will not change. SPECIAL NOTE: F-1 students with expired U.S. visas who are traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for up to 30 days AND who will be resuming their studies upon their return should NEVER surrender their I-94 card. Canadian or Mexican nationals returning to their home country should surrender their I-94 card as they enter their country, and obtain a new I-94 card the next time they enter the United States. Canadian nationals should be sure to carry with them their financial documentation that verifies the information on their I-20 when getting ready to return to the United States.
Check your U.S. visa stamp inside your passport. Has your visa stamp expired? If it is still valid, is it for multiple entry, or has the entry been used up? Finally, is the category for which the visa was issued the status you currently hold (for example, if your visa is F-2, are you currently in F-2 status or did that status change after you entered the United States)? If you are in F-1 status and traveling to Canada, Mexico, or islands adjacent to North America, you do not need a valid U.S. visa as long as you have been maintaining your status, have a valid passport and I-20 and are entering those countries for tourist purposes and your stay will be thirty days or less (you DO need a valid U.S. visa if you are a citizen of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, or Cuba). However, travel to all other countries will require that you have a valid U.S. visa before you may re-enter the United States. This is especially true if you changed your non-immigrant status while in the United States (for example, changed from F-2 to F-1). This will mean applying for a new visa at the U.S. consulate in the country you will visit. Be sure to see section 8, "Applying for a New Visa at a U.S. Consulate Abroad."
UTS ID Card
Carry your current UTS ID card with you as supporting documentation.
Letter of Certification
This is a letter issued by the Admissions Office that verifies that you are a student at UTS and that you are maintaining valid status. It is required for a new visa application. Any international student traveling outside the United States who will be applying for a new F-1 should request such a letter from the Admissions Office at least five days prior to travel.
Have you been maintaining the conditions of your non-immigrant status? If you are an F-1 student, this means maintaining full time registration each semester at the school you are authorized to attend, reporting changes of address to the Admissions Office within ten days, refraining from unauthorized employment, not letting your I-20 expire, and following the appropriate procedures for school transfer and extensions. If you think you may have violated the conditions of your status, be sure to speak to staff in the Admissions Office BEFORE departing the United States, as you may risk being denied permission to return.
Have an official copy of your UTS transcript with you ONLY if you will be applying for a new student visa abroad, to show the consular official that you have been making satisfactory progress towards your degree. An increasing number of consulates are beginning to ask for transcripts when students come to renew their student visas. In addition to the transcript, also have with you a printed copy of your Fall 2003 course registration, stamped by the Registrar's Office.
If you are visiting a country other than your own, you may need a visitor's visa to enter. If you have access to the world wide web, you can find out about entry requirements for other countries by pointing your web browser to http://www.embassy.org/embassies/
Documented proof of financial support that appears on your I-20 is only required if you will be applying for a new student visa abroad, OR if you are a national of Canada or Mexico who is traveling home to Canada or Mexico for the intersession break.
If you have completed your studies and have applied for Practical Training, you must have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with you, as well as your SEVIS I-20 endorsed for practical training, in order to re-enter the United States. If you are on Practical Training and will need to obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the United States, it is strongly advised that you have with you a letter from your employer, verifying your employment status. Federal regulations state that an F-1 on authorized practical training may depart the country temporarily and re-enter the United States to "resume" employment, which means not only must you have a job offer, but employment must have already commenced. Students are warned that visa issuance for individuals on practical training can be highly problematic, since you may have a hard time proving that you do not intend to immigrate to the United States.