Travel Information

It is essential to remember that you must take full legal responsibility for maintaining your status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). That is, you are responsible for finding out, knowing, and following pertinent regulations.

Travel Inside the U.S.

If you are traveling within the U.S., you must carry with you a valid passport, valid visa, valid I-20, and passport visa stamp (or I-94 card), and even though you do not need any extra documentation or signatures from our office, we recommend you have a valid travel signature on your I-20.

Travel Outside the U.S.

If you are traveling outside the U.S. you must obtain a travel signature on your I-20. In order to do that you need to:

  • Fill out the online application for the Travel Signature Request and bring your I-20 to the International Education Office
  • Make sure your U.S. F1 Visa is still valid
  • Make sure your passport is still valid
  • Be enrolled full time for the next semester by the time you apply for the travel signature request

Please contact our office two weeks before leaving the country.

For more information on the process to obtain a travel signature on your I-20 please click HERE

Note: Staying outside of the United States for an extended period could lead to your status being dropped. If you must do so, you need to contact an International Advisor.

Travel Documents

If you are re-entering the US you must carry with you:

  • A valid passport - your passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future when you re-enter the U.S.
  • A valid I-20 or DS-2019 - your I-20’s program date should still be valid and it should also show the school you are currently attending. Every semester we recommend you check your I-20’s expiration date and if your I-20 is about to expire, act accordingly. Please visit this page for more information.
  • A valid travel DSO signature on your I-20 or DS-2019 - Your I-20 should also contain a valid travel signature on page 2 (each signature is valid for up to 6 months). To make sure that you are always traveling on a valid signature, have your I-20 signed by an International Student Advisor before the end of each semester. To get a valid travel signature you will need to submit an online travel signature request form. For more information please visit the following page.
  • A valid US visa and visa stamp (or I-94 card) - You won’t be able to reenter the country if your visa has expired. If your visa has expired while abroad, make sure that you renew it before re-entry. You cannot renew it inside of the U.S. you will need to do so with a US Consulate or Embassy abroad.

Other Recommended Documents

  • Evidence of financial support (ie bank statements or bank letters)
  • Proof of enrollment (you can print out your unofficial transcript from your student center and/or your account inquiry from the next semester)
  • Your MCC student ID card, and proof of full time registration for your current, or next, semester.

For those who have changed status within the USA

Though you have obtained F-1 Status, you have a different visa in your passport.

As long as you remain in the United States studying and maintaining your status, you do not need to obtain an F-1 visa in your passport. However, if you leave the United States, you will need to return to your home country to obtain an F-1 visa.

Please know that there is a chance that your F-1 visa could be denied. It is a risk to travel. If this is your situation and you must return home, please make an appointment with an International Student Advisor for advice on what documents you should bring to your consulate in your home country.

If you have an expired visa

You are permitted to stay in the United States on an expired F-1 visa as long as you maintain your international student status. However, if you are traveling outside of the United States, you must revalidate your visa in your home country, or a contiguous territory. Please note that there are challenges with revalidating your visa in a contiguos territory. It is recommended that you revalidate your visa only in your home country.

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, endorsed for travel and signed by your International Student Advisor, and your original Form I-20.
  • Original evidence showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses.
  • Documentation that you are a full time student at MCC.
  • Evidence of your registration for your current semester, or the following semester.
  • 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.

Travel on OPT

PLEASE NOTE: We do not advise that you travel outside of the U.S. while your OPT authorization is pending or you have been authorized for opt have not yet found a job.

Travel on OPT can be tricky if the OPT Application is still pending. If you need to travel while your application is still pending please email an international advisor at ie@mesacc.edu.

Traveling When OPT Has Been Approved

Requirements are similar to F-1 students traveling. However there are a few extra documents the student will need to carry with them when traveling outside of the U.S.

Documents to carry when re-entering the U.S.

  • Valid OPT I-20 with a valid travel signature (again, no older than 6 months).
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card
  • Employment verification: it can be a letter from your employer indicating that you will be returning to your current job or an employment offer letter
  • I-94 Record
  • Valid passport
  • Valid U.S. visa (with the exception of trips to Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands for 30 days or less under Automatic Visa Revalidation)